One might almost think that the latest “Darna” movie in development under ABS-CBN following their acquisition of exclusive rights to the Mars Ravelo media stable has some curse on it. First the initial choice to play – or rather reprise – Darna, Angel Locsin, was nursing an injury, and then later declined for reasons of age. Liza Soberano was then chosen as a replacement only to make her exit as well, due to a painful-looking finger bone fracture that required surgery. The studio has since been spending months searching for a new actress to portray the greatest Western-style Philippine superhero. Finally, they got their new Darna actress.
The Manila Bulletin tells us that ABS-CBN has decided on Jane de Leon as the one to play Darna in their still-in development film. The network announced the casting just this Wednesday, July 17. Further elaboration reveals that de Leon was one of nearly 300 talents from ABS-CBN and beyond that have both been considered and auditioned for the role of Darna, but ultimately is was Jane that became the personal choice of the film’s director, Jerrold Tarrog (“Heneral Luna” and “Goyo: Ang Batang Heneral”).
Tarog described de Leon as possessing a quality that made her an instinctive actress, in his definition, and therefore appropriate for an action role like Darna. His opinion is supported by Olivia Lamasan, managing director of ABS-CBN Films. Jane, only 20 years old as of her being tapped to play Darna, was fit for the character according to Lamasan due to her youth. As the “Darna” movie is being framed as both a “coming-of-age” and “superhero origin” story in one, they needed an actress who could convey “an air of innocence, but also at the same time, strength of character.”
Jane de Leon’s previous appearance have been as a member of the TV girl group “Girltrends” on ABS-CBN’s noontime show “It’s Showtime!” plus roles in tele-seryes “La Luna Sangre” in 2017 and “Halik” in 2018. With her casting, she now joins the elite circle of Darna actresses that spans decades, and includes the likes of Vilma Santos, Gina Alajar, Gina Pareño, Sharon Cuneta, Regine Velazquez, Marian Rivera and Angel Locsin.
While the casting of de Leon has been greeted by many Darna fans with joy, now that the question of an actress is settled, there has also been a vocal sector of social media that considers her a “safe” choice that offers nothing substantial to the iconic role. They point out that Jane is relatively untested when it comes to big-budget films and established franchises, which may affect the reception of ABS-CBN’s “Darna” film, which could at least begin filming on this or next year.
Image courtesy of CNN Philippines