Who is the next Darna?

Pia Wurtzbach, Jessy Mendiola, Maja Salvador, Yassi Pressman and Lovi Poe (Publicity photos from Gandarrapiddo!: The Revenger Squad, Extra Service, Wildflower, Camp Sawi and Mulawin vs. Ravena respectively)

With Liza Soberano’s sudden withdrawal from the long overdue big screen reboot of Darna due to a finger injury, the search is on for the actress to play the Filipino wonder woman.

Netizens have already weighed in on their choices and many names have been thrown around. But as much as it’s always possible for any promising or established lead actress to play Darna, there are some reasons the project has failed to get off the ground. And one has something to do with the physical challenges of the title role.

Our choices then have more to do with the ability to meet those challenges in addition to being blessed with the face, the physique, the talent, body of work and other factors to become the next Darna. And except for our wildcard, all the other selections are contract stars of ABS-CBN. Given that the Kapamilya network owns the film rights for Mars Ravelo’s komiks classic, it’s just logical for them to give the coveted title role to one of their own.

Bearing these in mind, we think any of these five ladies, in no particular order, will be an excellent choice to swallow that stone.

Pia Wurtzbach

Pia’s film career after her Miss Universe reign has been very promising as evidenced by the box-office success of the 2017 Metro Manila Film Festival top-grosser Gandarrapiddo: The Revenger Squad where she was cast as, yes, a superhero. Even before Soberano begged off as Darna, the 29-year-old beauty queen was also rumored to be involved in the project where she was supposed to play the heroine’s arch-nemesis Valentina — at least according to the Internet Movie Database entry of the film that remains unchanged. If that is actually true, then now is a good time for Pia to be “upgraded” to protagonist status.

Jessy Mendiola

Jessy, now 26, was one of the reported contenders for the role of Darna after Angel Locsin dropped out of the project in 2016. Jessy, who topped FHM’s 100 Sexiest Women list that year, even went on to wear a Darna costume in the gag show, Banana Sundae, and posted photos of herself in Darna character on her Instagram account. As for the physical demands of being Darna, Jessy has portrayed a secret agent who solves crimes by night and works as a massage therapist by day in Chris Martinez’s Extra Service in 2017.

Maja Salvador

At 30, Maja is one of the oldest contenders in our list but keep in mind that Angel Locsin was right around the same age when she withdrew from the role. The question is, is Maja fit for the role? Well, she did play a track and field athlete in Paul Soriano’s Thelma in 2011 and a policewoman in FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano. Her underrated dancing skills were also put to good use as a judge in World of Dance Philippines. So yes, she does bring a lot to the table if cast as Darna.

Yassi Pressman

Like Maja, Yassi is also an accomplished dancer and always looks fantastic in a swimsuit. Although she has yet to prove herself in the action genre both on TV and in film, what 23-year-old Yassi has going for her is her extended stint in FPJ’s Ang Probinsyano, which has not only provided her with her fair share of action scenes but has also effectively turned her into a household name and into one of the most recognizable faces today — which could translate into box-office success if cast as Darna. Her effervescent charisma doesn’t hurt, too.

Lovi Poe

A bit of a wildcard since she’s identified with GMA Network, Lovi, now 30, is no stranger to the fantasy genre, having played Magindara in Mulawin vs. Ravena in 2017. Her biggest advantage, however, is she is the only one on this list that has the distinction of having worked with Darna director Jerrold Tarog not just once but twice: in Aswang in 2011 and again in Sana Dati in 2013. If Tarog were to be given a say in the casting, there’s a good chance the filmmaker will push for someone he’s already familiar with. Lovi fits that bill and while it’s a remote probability, GMA may relent and loan her to a rival network as they had done with their other talents.