What if Thor perished in the flames of Ragnarok and Mjölnir was sent to find a new owner, if he be so worthy? That’s the question that Filipino soap opera Victor Magtanggol is asking, and it has the Internet going crazy.
The project was announced by the GMA Network in the Philippines and features Filipino actor Alden Richards in the lead role as Victor Magtanggol, a good guy who’s a bit down on his luck. Victor ends up having to leave the Philippines in order to land a job and figure out how to better himself, and that’s when he meets Magni, Thor’s son who guards the sacred treasures. Thor’s items immediately show an affinity for Victor, and when Mjölnir chooses Victor he becomes Hammerman, defender of the weak—unsurprisingly, “magtanggol” means “to protect.”
With the trailer showing scenes of Asgard, the Bifröst, Thor, Loki, and Sif, many Marvel fans have been quick to accuse the drama of ripping off the Thor franchise, all while featuring worse CGI to boot. Victor very obviously transforms into a superhero-type get-up (although it’s more like Falcon’s outfit than Thor’s), protects his neighborhood from bad guys, and even has a will-they-won’t-they romance with a reporter who knows his secret.
But Stan Lee himself drew heavily from Norse mythology when creating his own Thor character, and the basis of Marvel’s Thor comics are a near word-for-word adaptation of Eddic poetry from the 13th century.
In a Facebook post, GMA president Annette Gozon Valdes defended the project, saying, “Even before Thor was a comic book character…he already existed in mythology. Thor is a Norse God [therefore] part of Norse mythology. They [Norse mythology] belong to the public domain.”
As a soap opera, Victor Magtanggol looks like it has it’s cornball moments, sure, but it’s just one of many adaptations interested in mining the deep lore of Old Norse tales. The 2018 God of War game did the same thing, and pop culture franchises like Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, and Attack on Titan all derive aspects of their worlds from the very same mythology!
You can see this in the characters Magtanggol brings in. It appears Victor will clash with Modi, Thor’s other son, who is furious that his brother gave Victor the hammer and not him. There’s also Sif, but unlike Marvel’s dark-haired warrior, here she’s much more in line with her original counterpart, described in literature as a nurturing figure with golden hair. (The Neverending Story-esque creature on her shoulder, on the other hand, is as much a mystery to me as it probably is to you.)
Loki is designed with more of a South East Asian aesthetic here, and with him he brings the rest of his diabolical crew. The trailer gives us a brief glimpse of what is likely Fenrir, his son, and then the half-black, half-white painted character must be Hel, goddess of the underworld and Loki’s daughter. The serpent that Loki summons is likely Jörmungandr, his other son (monster?). This show looks wild, and perhaps at times hilariously bad, but it’s interesting to see all these mythological characters brought in and riffed off of.
And with any soap opera, the mythology and heroics don’t even appear to be the main focus—rather, that would be Victor trying to find and reconnect with his mom, and repair the rifts in his family. There are also issues of class and politics, as his romantic interest is part of a rich, political family, who surely wouldn’t approve of some poor man running around in a vigilante get-up.
Victor Magtanggol premieres July 30, 2018 on the GMA Network.
What do you think of the show? Let us know in the comments!
Images: GMA Entertainment