Look up in the sky! It’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s… CAPTAIN BARBELL, superhero of the Philippines! The Good captain first answered the call of “Do you even lift, bro?” back in 1963 and the world of superheroes has never been the same since.
Skinny, mild-mannered Tengteng is a weakling who’s picked on by his four step-brothers. One day, though, he encounters a genie who grants him three wishes. His first wish is for… fried chicken. However, fo his second wish, he wishes for a magic barbell that only he can lift, and which has the powers to transform him into … CAPTAIN BARBELL, a man of superhuman strength and stamina, who can travel at fast speeds and fly! (Incidentally, the third wish was for the genie to be small. Due to a terrible miscalculation, he was accidentally swallowed by a small cat.)
In case you were wondering: yes, this character was originally supposed to be a joke. Creator Mars Ravelo intended this to be a spoof on American superheroes like Superman, Captain Marvel, and Thor. In fact, Tengteng’s appearance was based on Dolphy, one of the country’s most well-known comedians. (One of the earlier ideas was that the superhero alter-ego would also be scrawny and dorky, but that got scrapped fairly early.)
Captain Barbell kinda got popular, though, which means current incarnations aren’t quite so ridiculous. (Kinda like how fans stateside of a hero with a green wish ring powered by a railroad lantern started wanting epic space adventures.) He’s bee the star of many movies and TV shows, the latest airing on Pilipino television in 2011.
However… he’s probably not THE most popular Filipino superhero. Tune in two days from now to see who that is.