It's like we said: Alden Richards is definitely not Thor in GMA's new TV series Victor Magtanggol. We've gathered as much from the series' new "trailer," which is called a trailer but is really a 16-minute featurette that reveals the general premise and the characters' backgrounds. There's a lot to take away, but if you have about 16 minutes to spare on this new thing that GMA is cooking up, it's best you see it for yourself:
When we last took notice of the series, we couldn't help but draw the comparison with Marvel's Thor franchise of comic books and movies. Because, well, come on. Look at it.
But a few representatives of GMA took exception to that comparison and how damn near everyone on the Internet sees it. Showrunners told us to do our research, while claiming that Victor Magtanggol is based solely on Norse mythology (which, they're keen to remind everyone, is public domain!) and not at all on Marvel's Thor. To which we replied: OK, man, whatever you say!
But now that the "trailer" is out and we're beginning to get a sense of the story and characters of Victor Magtanggol, perhaps it's worth taking another look. We watched the whole thing (yes, all of it), and it's left us with a few questions:
1) If this is based on Norse mythology alone, why does Mjolnir "choose" Victor Magtanggol?
Filipino sci-fi writer TJ Dimacali dug deep into what we've seen so far from GMA's upcoming series. He notes in a long Facebook post that some aspects of Victor Magtanggol are nowhere to be found in the Edda, which are the chief sources of information in Norse mythology; and were only ever put forward by Marvel's Thor. One of these is the concept of Mjolnir "choosing" a worthy wielder, ostensibly based on virtue.
Now, we don't doubt that Victor is worthy—look at those dimples and tell us you don't see altruism—but the real, non-Marvel Mjolnir isn't supposed to care.
2) Why the hell is Ex Battalion part of this anyway?
A new teaser shows that in Victor Magtanggol, Mjolnir falls to Earth and gets stuck in the ground, prompting townsfolk to gather and attempt to pull it out. This sounds awfully familiar, and quite unlikely to have come from anywhere else but Thor or Arthurian legend. But here, instead of knights or midwestern truckers, we have two members of Ex Battalion gathered around Mjolnir's landing site. Who let them into the set, and why did no one immediately call security to escort them out? Why were they even allowed to make the show's theme song?
3) Why does the Bifrost look so...familiar?
Dimacali also points out that in Norse mythology, the Bifrost is a literal arched rainbow bridge, impassable to Thor himself. Only by Marvel was the Bifrost ever imagined as a flat, fluorescent kilometric road—until Victor Magtanggol. So if Norse mythology was their only source material, this is must be an uncanny coincidence, right?
4) Why is The Mountain still on Philippine television?
Conan Stevens, who briefly played Ser Gregor Clegane in HBO's Game of Thrones, previously had a role in GMA's Encantadia. Back then, we thought maybe he enjoyed his time here, and decided to take a few acting gigs for the hell of it. But Stevens seems to have been sticking around for longer than expected, because he plays Thor in Victor Magtanggol. So it looks like he's here for more than just the hell of it. Now, it's only a matter of time before he co-stars with Sarah Geronimo in a Bb. Joyce Bernal rom-com. (You just know the title would be Climb Every Mountain.)
5) What's the point of the incest?
The trailer reveals that one of the subplots involves an incestuous conflict between Victor's romantic interest Gwen (Janine Gutierrez) and her stepbrother Lance (Some Guy). As Gwen struggles to fend off her stepbrother's inappropriate advances, we're left to wonder why anyone felt that this story element needed to be in the show. We just hope that whoever thought this up remembered to browse in Incognito while he was doing "research" for this arc.
6) Was there really no better name for the superhero than 'Hammerman'?
OK, fine, this is all based on Norse mythology, and we can assume that the fundamental and aesthetic similarities with Marvel's Thor are mere coincidences. But in creating a Filipino interpretation of Norse mythology and making him also a superhero with a hammer, could they not have thought of a better name than "Hammerman"?
Never mind that this is also the title of an MC Hammer cartoon (true story). It just seems like they stuck to first name on the whiteboard after five minutes of brainstorming, deciding that "Hammerman" was better than "Marty Martilyo" and then calling it a day.
But fine, maybe we're splitting hairs here. So based on what we've seen, let's throw the question out to you, our reader: How original is Victor Magtanggol in its portrayal of Norse mythology?
Sure, none of this is necessarily illegal. No one ever said it was. But just because an interpretation of mythology falls within copyright laws doesn't mean it can't still be grossly unoriginal. And while we don't doubt the value cross-cultural interpretations, we can't help but think that Filipino audiences deserve, if not more originality, then at least credit for recognizing a ripoff for what it is.