The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) may be the most profitable and well-loved franchise in movie history, trumping the Harry Potter and Twilight sagas, and possibly even rivalling the gargantuan galaxy of Star Wars. With Avengers: Endgame being the most successful movie to grace cinemas, reaping in almost USD 2.8 billion, it’s not hard to understand why the MCU is so revered.
However, heroes and villains rotating around this universe lack one thing: diversity (at least in the films). Only recently did we get the unanimously celebrated Black Panther and even then, the MCU continues to whitewash their characters (read: Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One).
With that, Joko Anwar, the director of critically-acclaimed Satan’s Slaves (better known as Pengabdi Setan) and actor in Netflix flick Fly by Night, has helmed his latest film Gundala and pitched it as the first of Indonesia’s very own MCU.
For those unaware, Gundala is about a young orphan boy growing up in the streets of Jakarta. He learns martial arts and soon gains supernatural abilities after being struck by lightning. Recognising his calling, the boy, now using the name Gundala, uses his powers to battle his enemy, Pengkor, who is a mob boss who exploits young orphans such as himself. Watch the trailer below.
Set to be released in cinemas across North America, Gundala will show the westerns a fresh new twist to the superhero genre by injecting Indonesian lore and mythologies – a feature that will be common for all of Joko’s upcoming superhero films.
Being a culturally rich country, Indonesia has over 500 superheroes to choose from, all originating from different comics. However, the focus will not be hammers that emit lightning or bodysuits with technology way beyond our years. According to Joko,
“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. We’re dealing with our country’s oppressors and their super powers will come from our mythology,”
His film has since sparked an interest for local superheroes within Indonesia and catalysed a movement to further educate themselves on all the interesting mythology surrounding the characters. Joko says, “I think the exposure is even greater with the Gundala movie as it raised the curiosity of both comic and film enthusiasts about local superheroes.”
He’s right, I bet before Gundala, you didn’t know that there was Mandala, a machete-wielding warrior who can destroy objects without even touching them, and Si Buta Dari Gua Hantu, which tells of a blind martial arts fighter and his pet monkey sidekick.
Grossing 4.7 million dollars at the box office, it’s safe to say Gundala is not a cringey exploitation of folklore such as Badang starring Aliff Syukri. *shivers*
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