FFE Magazine

Filipino Superhero Series: Captain Barbell

Ever heard of Captain Marvel? Well in the Philippines, we got Captain Barbell.

Captain Barbell is created by comic book writer Mars Ravelo and artist Jim Fernandez. As his name succinctly suggests, he gets his power from a magical barbell by lifting it and shouting, you guessed it right, “Captain Barbell!”

Captain Barbell first appeared in Pinoy Komiks #5 in May 23, 1963. As opposed to what most Filipinos think, Captain Barbell is not the Filipino version of Superman. Captain Barbell is inspired by the DC character Captain Marvel, later known as Shazam.

Like Captain Marvel, Captain Barbell has an alter -ego that is completely different from the superhero version. Captain Marvel’s alter-ego is a 12-year-old boy named Billy Batson. Similarly Captain Barbell’s alter-ego Tenteng, is a thin weakling. A great contrast from his impressive physique and incredible superpowers

 

Pinoy Komiks featuring Captain Barbell on July 1963

The story of Captain Barbell begins with Tenteng, an asthmatic young man who is constantly bullied by his four half-brothers, Bruno, Badong, Baldo and Banong. He wishes to be strong so he can stand up against his half- brothers and get the girl he likes. Tenteng’s life changes when he releases a genie from a bottle. In return, the genie (spelled Genii in the comics) gives him the barbell that brings him power. Tenteng then uses his powers to fight evil forces.


Courtesy of Unang Labas

What most of us don’t know is, Tenteng was not the only one who got to use the barbell. The original series established that Captain Barbell’s powers remain with the host as long as he is oppressed and in need of justice. When the first run of the comics ended (1963-64), the barbell is sent to the bottom of the sea by Tenteng after he finally resolved his personal issues. The barbell remains in the bottom of the sea until another worthy person finds it and wields its power.

In total, there are five different individuals who became Captain Barbell, and each has different costumes. After Tenteng comes Dario, appearing in Captain Barbell Kontra Kaptain Bakal (1964-65), and is a polio-stricken guy who works as a sweepstakes vendor.

The third series is called Captain Barbell versus Flash Fifita (1966) with Gomer, a crippled fisherman in Baryo Dagundong, acquiring the barbell.

From 1985-86, the final series by Mars Ravelo appeared with Enteng as the alter- ego who receives the barbell from a mysterious old man. Enteng’s yellow Captain Barbell costume is used by various spin-offs and adaptations in movies and TV show of the Pinoy Superhero.

In 2005, an online fan- comic of Captain Barbell appeared titled Digmaan created by Gilbert Monsanto. It features Captain Barbell fighting alongside several classic and modern Pinoy comic book characters. We get quite a surprise when it’s revealed that the alter-ego this time is the teenage Ding, Darna’s  little brother!



Source: Gilbert Monsanto

Qualities:

  • Brave
  • Strong
  • Serious
  • As his alter- egos: down-to-earth

Powers:

  • Super strength
  •  Able to fly

Weapons:

  • The Barbell- Enteng lifts the magic barbell to acquire his superhero powers

Enemies/Villains:

  • Captain Bakal- A robotic villain that Dario battles in Captain Barbell Kontra Captain Bakal
  • Flash Fifita- his nemesis in the third series Captain Barbell versus Flash Fifita

Captain Barbell was portrayed in different movies throughout the years. Earlier movies adapted the plots in the comics but the more contemporary versions, including a TV show produced by GMA 7, alters the plot and Captain Barbell’s qualities to fit their desired twists  but the core story stays the same.

Bob Soler played Captain Barbell in the first movie in 1964. Tenteng was played by none other than Dolphy, from whom who Mars Ravelo patterned Tenteng’s physical qualities from. A year later another movie was released; starring Willie Sotelo based on the second series and is also titled ‘Captain Barbell Kontra Captain Bakal.’

Other actors that played Captain Barbell in movies are Edu Manzano and Bong Revilla. Richard Gutierrez played the part in the TV series that aired in 2006 and 2011.


 Edu Manzano as Captain Barbell in 1986

Bong Revilla as Captain Barbell in 2003


Richard Gutierrez as Captain Barbell in 2011

Watch the complete 1973 movie Captain Barbell Boom! That featured Dolphy, who played both Tenteng and Captain Barbell, Babalu, and Panchito.

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