I wrote about Bruka: Queen of Evil, which this movie is related to. For example, one of Darna’s villains is her former friend Valentina, who becomes the snake-haired Serpina. That character inspired Bruka.
But who is Darna?
Darna is a Filipino superheroine created by writer Mars Ravelo and artist Nestor Redondo. It’s tempting, with her costume, to call her a Wonder Woman clone. She’s really a deceased extraterrestrial warrior who uses the body of an Earth woman named Narda to rescue those who can’t fend for themselves.
Fourteen different actresses have played her over 21 movies and TV shows, starting with Rosa del Rosario. The character is so famous that she’s even appeared in several ballet performances.
The 1991 version of the character was directed by Joel Lamangan and written by Frank Rivera. Darna is played by Nanette Medved. The origin is changed here so that Narda is granted a magical stone by an angel that can transform her into Darna. The enemy takes the form of a satanic conspiracy created by philanthropist Domino Lipolico and his henchwomen, the aforementioned snake goddess Valentina and the batwoman Impakta.
Where the world looks at Darna and sees Wonder Woman, you may watch this movie and see a lot of the plot of Superman with Narda leaving her small town to become a big city reporter, glasses as a disguise and all.
Valentina is over the top, which is great, as she’s played by Pilar Pilapil and seems to be a high fashion disco villainess with an anthropomorphic snake named Vibora that must be seen to be believed. As for Impakta (Bing Loyzaga), she uses a teddy bear to lure a child to her doom and kills the kid. Filipino superhero action has no idea how to pull a punch.
In How the World Remade Hollywood, author Ed Glaser suggests something pretty incredible: while in the 70s, 80s and 90s Darna looked to Diana Prince for inspiration, our Wonder Woman started to seemingly look to her Filipino sister for costume advice and finally decided to leave behind the invisible plane and learn how to fly on her own.
You can watch this on YouTube.