MANILA — (UPDATED) Darna is finally set to return to a new generation of viewers, as ABS-CBN announced Friday that the Mars Ravelo creation will be adapted into a series, after its movie production was halted due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Jane de Leon, who was attached to play the title role in the Star Cinema project, will still don the superhero’s costume in the series.
“Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series” is slated to air in 2021.
The project was confirmed during a media conference of ABS-CBN’s talent agency Star Magic, where de Leon signed an exclusive contract with the network along with other Kapamilya talents.
“Masaya po kaming ibalita sa inyong lahat. Tuloy na tuloy na po ang paglipad ni Darna,” said ABS-CBN COO of Broadcast Cory Vidanes.
“Ang gaganap bilang Darna ay walang iba kung 'di si Ms. Jane de Leon, na patuloy na nagpapakita ng sipag at determinasyon sa paghahanda sa muling paglipad ni Darna.”
De Leon, 22, who appeared tearful at the announcement, said, “‘Yung pakiramdam ko po ngayon, nag-flashback ‘yung time na in-announce po sa akin ‘yung Darna.”
“Hindi ko po talaga in-expect,” she said. “I’m so overwhelmed. Sobrang mixed emotions — siyempre, kinakabahan po ako, and I’m really, really happy na makita po kayong lahat. I’m really happy to be here, and I feel so blessed to be a Kapamilya.”
After her contract-signing, de Leon — together with other ABS-CBN executives including Star Magic head Laurenti Dyogi, president and CEO Carlo Katigbak, and chairman Mark Lopez — unveiled a life-size figure of Darna.
“Mars Ravelo’s Darna: The TV Series” is the latest development in ABS-CBN’s long-anticipated version of Darna, an enduring pop culture icon who has been played by some 15 actresses since her big-screen debut in 1951.
ABS-CBN obtained the rights to Darna in 2013, when it signed a partnership with the Ravelo estate that included 12 more titles or characters created by the komiks master.
Development of the Darna movie started shortly, with the announcement of Angel Locsin as the lead actress in June 2014.
The project, however, encountered roadblocks in the succeeding years, with the exit of Locsin, and then Liza Soberano from the project, due to respective medical reasons. Original director Erik Matti also left the project because of “creative differences” with ABS-CBN Films.
De Leon was introduced as the new Darna in July 2019, after an open audition that drew 300 aspirants, including established actresses and fresh aspirants.
De Leon and director Jerrold Tarog, who was attached to helm the film version, had finished 16 days of shooting when the coronavirus lockdown prevented further progress.
Production of the film adaptation has since been “postponed indefinitely,” according to ABS-CBN, as the country continues to grapple with the global health crisis.