The teaser poster of "Gundala" the movie by Joko Anwar. (Photo courtesy of Screenplay FIlms)

Joko Anwar to Direct Indonesian Superhero Film 'Gundala'

APRIL 04, 2018

Jakarta. After landing the top slot in the local box office with the modern horror flick "Pengabdi Setan" (Satan's Slaves), filmmaker Joko Anwar is set to direct an adaptation of the Indonesian superhero tale "Gundala" for his seventh feature film.

Produced by Screenplay Films and Legacy Pictures, along with Bumilangit Studios as the copyright owner of the iconic comic character, Joko's "Gundala" is currently in the pre-production stage of finalizing its script and cast. Joko said at a press conference in Jakarta on Wednesday (04/04) that the team plans to start filming in September, and is slated for a mid-2019 release.

Joko said he grew up reading Gundala comics and is happy that he landed the job to direct the movie.

The teaser poster for 'Gundala.' (Photo courtesy of Screenplay FIlms)

"This movie is going to be an entry point and a reminder for Indonesian youth that Indonesia has so many intellectual properties. Gundala is not the only famous comic character.  I have been asking young children about Gundala and other characters, and they are not aware of them," Joko said.

Gundala was created by Hasmi, or Harya Suraminata, who published 23 comic books about the character from 1969 to 1982. Gundala follows the story of Sancaka, a scientist who gets struck by lightning and is then transported to another planet. He returns to Earth as Gundala, possessing the ability to cast thunder from his palms and run as fast as the wind.

The first and only film of Gundala was made in 1981, by director Lilik Sudjio. It starred Teddy Purba in the title role.

The comic book version of Gundala is set in Yogyakarta, where the creator was based. However, for storytelling purposes, Joko said his film will be set in Jakarta.

"Gundala is a very beloved character and this movie wants to be able to depict his spirit. We do need to upgrade its tone and feel into something that is up-to-date. We must make the story accessible to Indonesian moviegoers. We must be able to understand their sensibilities," Joko said.

Imansyah Lubis from Bumilangit Studios said the team is trying to present something new.

"The term 'superhero' as we know it today is heavily associated with something that is created in the West. We are putting that mindset away, and we are trying to present local wisdom in a new presentation. We cannot share our design of Gundala's costume yet, but hopefully it's not disappointing," he said.

Joko hinted that he is working on a number of projects for Gundala.

"This first film will talk about the origin of Gundala, and how he became Gundala. We may have plans to develop other Gundala stories beyond this movie," he said.

"In (HBO series) 'Halfworlds,' I tried to present the many faces of our ghosts. Now, I want to display our very own superheroes."

The Gundala movie has been in talks for years. In 2014, director Hanung Bramantyo announced that he was going to make a Gundala movie with producer Erick Tohir from Mahaka Pictures.