‘Victor Magtanggol’ has been on the air since the end of July, but Filipinos still haven’t stopped watching it… or talking about it on social media, for that matter – so much so, in fact, that I think it’s probably going to keep going for a while, thanks to all of the free publicity it gets on a regular basis.
Despite all of the backlash of the show, though, we’ve wondered: is this ‘hating on copycats’ thing just a Filipino thing? Would other countries really care if their countrymen made their own versions of Thor and translated his story to the big screen?
We sat down with some of the stars and showrunners of Netflix shows ‘Iron Fist’, ‘Luke Cage’, ‘Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters’, and ‘Castlevania’, to ask them their thoughts on how they would feel if a Filipino version of their shows were to show here and here’s what they had to say:
Raven Metzner, showrunner of ‘Iron Fist’, points out that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. In fact, he encourages Filipinos to do their thing, even if it is something that people might consider to be an ‘Iron Fist’ ‘rip-off’. “I think if anybody wants to make something, they should go make it,” he says. Finn Jones, who plays Iron Fist himself, says he would be fine with a Pinoy version of Iron Fist, as well, “as long as it’s done respectfully and with grace and with love”.
Fred Lo, a Filipino cosplaying Iron Fist at this year’s AsiaPOP Comicon
Mustafa Shakir, who plays the Bushmaster in ‘Luke Cage’ Season 2, reminisces about how he used to watch Superman or The Hulk back in the day. “It was so exciting to watch those shows,” he says, “but I can only imagine what it would have felt like if I saw somebody who looked like me. You define yourself based on these shows. I think we overlook the importance of representation and what arts mean for our lives and how we define ourselves. To have someone who emulates and looks like you is usually important.”
Cheo Hodari Coker, showrunner of ‘Luke Cage’, points out that watching Harrison Ford being Han Solo and Indiana Jones as a kid never prevented him from wanting to be either one of those characters. “But there was always a certain disconnect,” he explains. “So I would absolutely be okay with a Pinoy Luke Cage.”
The ‘Luke Cage’ team, including Mike Colter aka Luke Cage himself, says they would simply have some rules if ever there were a Pinoy version in the future. “The only important elements is that he or she has to be bulletproof, they have to drink coffee, they have to have sex appeal, and they have to be righteous protectors of the people,” he enumerates. “If you translate that, you can do a version of Luke Cage with different cultures around the world. I think that plays universally,” says Cheo. “I think because Luke Cage is a man of the people, I would be offended if there wasn’t a Pinoy version.” “It’s just like a hip hop beat, man, throw your lyrics on it,” adds Mustafa. Cheo points out that this is merely their opinion, though, and that Marvel might have a different opinion on it. :p
Takashi Yoshizawa, creator of ‘Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters’, thinks it would be interesting to have a Filipino show modeled after Godzilla, for example. While interesting, however, he suggests to make another story with our own Filipino legends and our own Filipino stories and then put Godzilla into that story. “It might be interesting to do see that particular Godzilla version with local mythology and legends,” he raves.
Adi Shankar, creator of ‘Castlevania’, is especially passionate about doing shows like ‘Victor Magtanggol’ that are inspired by international entertainment. “You should do it,” he urges, explaining that it’s not really ‘copying’. “There’s a difference between ‘Oh, here’s a DVD of ‘Iron Man’. I’m gonna go upload that onto YouTube.’ That’s illegal. That’s basically like me taking your jacket and selling it on ebay. That’s not cool. But if I see your jacket and I go, ‘You know what? If I make it gold and I put a bunch of stars everywhere, and I put wings on it and sold that on ebay…’ So it’s not your jacket. I went and bought a similar jacket and customized it and changed it and made it my own. That’s different.”
This really isn’t surprising, though, because Adi has attempted to create original content with existing shows and movies, like Power Rangers… but what about you? Do you have any thoughts on this?