Indonesian Superhero Gundala Set to Electrify with North American Release

by Matthew Escosia
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By: AC Recio


American comic book characters have dominated pop culture and our collective imagination for the better part of the last decade, so it’s about time for Southeast Asia to throw its hat into the ring as the Indonesian superhero film Gundala is set to be released in North America.

Gundala, directed by Joko Anwar, is slated to be the first in a series of Indonesian superhero movies produced by Screenplay Bumilangit. With a library of over 500 comics at their disposal, and with the global demand for more diverse characters on the big screen, Screenplay Bumilangit is hoping to create a cinematic universe similar to Marvel and DC by bringing Indonesia’s colorful heroes to life, starting with the country’s preeminent superhero, Gundala.

Gundala by Harya “Hasmi” Suryaminata

Gundala originated from Harya “Hasmi” Suryaminata’s popular 1969 comic book series, and while Anwar’s film adaptation pays its respects to the source material, it ultimately grounds the story in a modern street-level perspective. Originally a genius scientist in the comics who gains powers after a failed experiment sends him to an alternate dimension, the protagonist Sancaka (Abimana Aryasatya) is recast in the movie as the son of factory workers and labor unionists. He grows up hardened by years of struggle, until a lightning strike grants him supernatural abilities, giving him the power to make a difference as “Gundala: Son of Lightning” by fighting corruption and injustice.

Abimana Aryasatya in Gundala. Photo from Screenplay Bumilangit and Erik N. Juragan.

“The story that people are going to see in our films is not about aliens attacking the earth because that’s not our problem. Hollywood is going to deal with that,” said director Joko Anwar in a statement to Agence France-Presse. “We’re dealing with our country’s oppressors and their super powers will come from our mythology,” he said.

Anwar, a prolific filmmaker known primarily for his modern sensibilities in horror films like The Forbidden Door (2009), Satan’s Slaves (2017) and Impetigore (2020), aimed to infuse the classic mythology of the original comics with a more grounded and socially relevant approach.

Gundala is set for release in North American theaters on July 28, 2020. Watch the trailer below and tell us what you think about Indonesia’s Son of Lightning!


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