'Gundala' director Joko Anwar with actors Abimana Aryasatya and Tara Basro. (TP/Gugun)

Gundala Is the Patriot We Deserve


JUNE 28, 2019

Jakarta. The long-awaited new film adaptation of Gundala, a classic Indonesian comic starring its eponymous superhero, a mashup between DC Comics' "fastest man alive" The Flash and lightning-wielding Javanese mythical hero Ki Ageng Selo, will be out on Aug. 29 with Pengabdi Setan's Joko Anwar at the helm. 

The original comic character Gundala was created by Harya Suraminata, better known as Hasmi, in 1969. Its first movie adaptation came out in 1981 with Teddy Purba playing the titular hero. Joko's Gundala will be played by Abimana Aryasatya.

Joko, known for his light-gore chops in horror-thrillers such as Pintu Terlarang (The Forbidden Door) and Modus Anomali, said his version of Gundala will be different from how the superhero was depicted in the comics, but the "Son of Lightning" will remain a fearsome vigilante. 

"The film will be about Indonesia. Pak Hasmi used his comics to satirize the government of his day. In my movie, we will see the problems all of us are facing today. Indonesia needs a patriot [to solve them]," Joko said during a media visit to the BeritaSatu office on Wednesday. 

Abimana (Dono in Warkop DKI Reborn: Jangkrik Boss! Part 1 and 2, Sabtu Bersama Bapak) was Joko's instant choice to play Gundala. 

"I wrote the script with Abimana in mind. Gundala is never selfish and always puts others before himself. That's also the Abimana I know," Joko said.

The actor found the part daunting at first, especially since Joko wanted him to lose at least 10 kilograms and beef up for the role. 

"I gave it my best shot. This film, I think, can open the door for other [Indonesian superhero movies]. So we really pushed ourselves, we had to make this first one really good," Abimana said. 

The film will also star Joko's muse Tara Basro (A Copy of My Mind, Pengabdi Setan) as Gundala's love interest Wulan and her alter ego, the Supergirl-like heroine Merpati, Muzakki Ramdhan as the young Gundala and Ario Bayu (Headshot, Buffalo Boys).

Tara said she had to beat 40 other contenders in the audition to get the part of Wulan/Merpati. 

"I'm very happy. This is a film by Joko Anwar, and one that might make history," she said. 

A fan art competition is underway to create a hype for Gundala. The best of them will be displayed during the film's premiere. Take a look at some of them:

Marvel and DC Comics illustrator David Ross also drew his own Gundala fan art. Ross met the late Hasmi back in 1988 and said he's been a fan of Gundala ever since.

Gundala first appeared in the comic Gundala Putra Petir (Gundala, Son of Lightning) in 1969. The character's resemblance to The Flash is unmistakable, but Hasmi was also inspired by Ki Ageng Selo, the Javanese superhero who can catch bolts of lightning with his hand. He took the name Gundala from the Javanese word gundolo, which means lightning.

Up to the time of Hasmi's death in 2016, a total of 23 Gundala titles have been published, the last in 1982.

In 1996, there was an attempt to revive the Gundala franchise with a new title, Patriot. And then starting in 2013, Bumilangit Entertainment produced a new Gundala comic strip for the national newspaper Kompas.