MANILA — “Lipad, Darna!” was the apt title of the climactic episode of the superhero series on Friday, which finally saw lead actress Jane de Leon flying in full battle gear as the iconic title character.
In the August 19 broadcast of “Mars Ravelo’s Darna,” Narda (de Leon), an emergency medical technician on her first day on the job, undergoes a baptism of fire when an earthquake strikes Nueva Esperanza.
Driven by values of service and compassion for others — instilled in her by the “first Darna,” her late mother Leonor (Iza Calzado) — Narda stops at nothing to save those whose lives are in peril when a building crumbles due to the tremor.
In her human form, Narda has limitations, however. When an aftershock hits just as she scales a collapsed wall to help a wounded man, she falls to the ground and faces the reality that she does not bear her mother’s powers. Or so she thinks.
Followed by an apparition of Leonor, the Martean stone that grants Darna’s abilities falls from the sky, signaling that Narda, who once shunned being its “chosen” protector, is now ready to become the superhero.
Swallowing the stone and shouting “Darna” — the iconic imagery of the Mars Ravelo comics since the 1950s — Narda transforms as her warrior alter ego.
Now with the ability to fly, Darna saves dozens of wounded in the building — an act of heroism seen on TV, inspiring many and rousing suspicion from Narda’s brother Ding (Zaijian Jaranilla).
The pivotal episode proved to be a thrilling viewing for fans on Friday night, going by the hashtag #LipadDarna becoming a top Twitter trend not only in the Philippines but worldwide.
De Leon’s transformation in full Darna regalia came three years after she was first introduced as the lead actress of ABS-CBN’s adaptation, which hurdled delays and a format change (from film to series) primarily due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Helmed by acclaimed filmmaker Chito S. Roño with Avel Sunpongco and Benedict Mique, “Mars Ravelo’s Darna” airs weeknights on TV5, A2Z, Kapamilya Channel, CineMo, Kapamilya Online Live, iWantTFC, and TFC.