Gundala (film)

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Gundala (2019) poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJoko Anwar
Written byJoko Anwar
Based onGundala
by Harya "Hasmi" Suraminata
Produced bySukhdev Singh
Wicky V. Olindo
Bismarka Kurniawan
CinematographyIcal Tanjung
Edited byDinda Amanda
Music byAghi Narotama
Bemby Gusti
Tony Merle
Screenplay Films
Bumilangit Studios
Legacy Pictures
Ideosource Entertainment
Distributed byScreenplay Films
Release dates
Running time
123 minutes[1]
119 minutes[2] (TIFF)
BudgetRp30 billion[3]
($2.11 million)
Box officeRp67.67 billion[4]
($4.78 million)

Gundala is a 2019 Indonesian neo-noir superhero film based on the comics character Gundala created by Harya Suraminata (Hasmi) in 1969. The film was co-produced by Screenplay Films and Bumilangit Studios, and distributed by Legacy Pictures. It is the first installment in the Bumilangit Cinematic Universe (BCU).[5] The film is directed and written by Joko Anwar, and stars Abimana Aryasatya as Sancaka/Gundala, alongside Tara Basro, Bront Palarae, Ario Bayu, Cecep Arif Rahman, Rio Dewanto, and Muzakki Ramdhan.[6] In the film, Sancaka uses his superpowers to defeat the corrupt crime boss Pengkor. After his allies poison a large shipment of rice, Pengkor uses his undue political influence to force the local legislature's hand in passing a bill to approve the hasty production and distribution of an unproven antidote – unknowingly made by a pharmaceutical company he secretly owns – that will ultimately harm pregnant women.

The first official news about the film was announced on April 4, 2018, on the social media accounts of its director and production houses.[7] At Indonesia Comic Con on October 28, 2018, a press conference was held to introduce the main casts and to hold the first screening of video footage from the film, with a release date set around mid-2019.[8] Filming was done from September to October 2018.[9]

Gundala had its local premiere on August 28, 2019, and was released in Indonesia on August 29, 2019.[10] It had its international premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2019.[2][11] The film received positive reviews from audience and critics with praise for Abimana's performance, Anwar's direction, and the visual effects, costume design, and originality.

A sequel, Gundala the Son of Lightning, is planned as part of the first volume of films in the Bumilangit Cinematic Universe, and was announced ahead of Gundala's release.[12]


Sancaka is an astraphobic son of an Indonesian factory worker, who with his fellows stage a protest on income inequality, which results in some of Sancaka's father's fellow workers going to the factory's boss to discuss the situation. Days later, they still haven't been seen in the neighbourhood; it is revealed that they have been kidnapped. As the angry workers clash with security guards, Sancaka's father is stabbed by an unknown man and dies. Sancaka's anger releases lightning blasts from his body; he then faints. A year later, Sancaka's mother leaves for another city to find a job, never returning. Thus, he becomes homeless in Jakarta, and meets a fellow homeless boy, Awang, who teaches him self-defense. They plan to freighthop and travel to a safe haven in Tenggara, but only Awang is able to jump onto the train. Now an adult, Sancaka works as a guard and mechanic in a newspaper printing factory.

Most of Indonesia's corrupt legislature is controlled by crime boss Pengkor, who commands an army of orphans, raised as assassins. Pengkor was once left to die by his abusive uncle in an orphanage; he later rallied the others to help him kill the adults as revenge. Pengkor plots to poison rice supplies with a drug that makes the fetuses of pregnant women immoral. Many people then demand that the legislative release an untested antidote, formulated by an unknown pharmaceutical company, to the public. The debate splits the legislative into two factions: one is led by legislator Ridwan Bahri and his colleagues, who create a bill to distribute it, and the other is controlled by Pengkor and his allies, who oppose it.

One day, Sancaka helps his neighbour Wulan fend off harassing thugs. In a second fight, Sancaka is struck by lightning, awakening his superpowers. Wulan begs Sancaka to help defend a vulnerable local market. Sancaka is unready – thinking of what Awang taught him: to look out for himself before caring about the plight of others – which allows the thugs to burn down the market. With the help of Wulan, her little brother Teddy, and Sancaka's fellow guard Agung, Sancaka realizes his powers and creates a homemade costume to harness them. With that, Sancaka starts fighting the thugs, including violinist Adi Sulaiman, part of Pengkor's nationwide network of orphan agents.

The legislature passes the antidote bill, but Ridwan soon discovers that the "poison" is non-lethal; it is the antidote that is poisonous, with the pharmaceutical company revealed to be owned by Pengkor's shell company. Ridwan asks Sancaka to stop the distribution, causing Pengkor and the team to attack Sancaka, seizing Agung, Wulan, and Teddy. Sancaka unleashes his powers, defeating most of the attackers, but Agung dies. Ridwan arrives and shoots Pengkor. Sancaka catches up with the distribution convoy and tries to stop them; thanks to the help of a mysterious woman (later revealed to be the superhero Sri Asih in a mid-credits scene),[13] he succeeds, and uses his powers to break all the antidote bottles.

At a museum, Pengkor's partner Ghazul breaks open one of the walls to reveal an ancient tomb buried inside. Using Sancaka's blood, which he secretly and unwillingly extracted, he breaks the seal of a container containing an old head; he then combines the body and the head, resurrecting Ki Wilawuk, a powerful medieval warrior, and tells him of Sancaka's arrival, calling him "Gundala" ("Thunder" in ancient Javanese). Ki Wilawuk orders Ghazul to gather his army, "for a great war is coming."


Main characters[edit]

  • Abimana Aryasatya as Sancaka / Gundala
    a security guard who was struck by lightning, giving him superhuman powers and turning him into the superhero Gundala.
  • Tara Basro as Sedhah Esti Wulan / Merpati
    Sancaka's neighbour and love interest, who inspires Sancaka to take up the responsibility as a superhuman and a hero.
  • Bront Palarae as Pengkor
    a disfigured crime boss who controls the city's underworld. Pengkor was disfigured as a child, after his father's plantation workers burned down their house, leaving him bitter and vowing revenge on the world. ("Pengkor" means "limp" in Indonesian.)
    • Zayen Aqilah portrays young Pengkor.
  • Ario Bayu as Ghani Zulham (Ghazul)
    Pengkor's partner and confidant, who is himself bent on world domination. The character remains nameless for most of the film, only revealing his name to Ki Wilawuk at the end of the movie. Ghazul is one of Gundala's most famous nemeses from the comics.
  • Lukman Sardi as Ridwan Bahri
    a politician allied to Sancaka and the leader of Rumah Perdamaian (the House of Peace).

Supporting characters[edit]

  • Arswendi Nasution as Ferry Dani
    a politician who does not try to hide his disapproval of Pengkor and other legislative members on Pengkor's payroll.
  • Rio Dewanto as Sangaji
    Sancaka's father.
  • Marissa Anita as Sancaka's mother.
  • Pritt Timothy as Agung, Sancaka's mentor and co-worker.
  • Faris Fadjar Munggaran as Awang, a street kid who taught Sancaka how to fight and left Jakarta for a better life in Tenggara. Awang later grows up to become the superhero Godam. (He is to be portrayed by Chicco Jerikho in future movies.)
  • Paul Agusta as Anggara Sasmi, a legislative council member who appears on TV.
  • Donny Alamsyah as Fadli Aziz, a local thug.
  • Tanta Ginting as Ito Marbun, a local thug.
  • Dea Panendra as Bonita.
  • Dimas Danang as Hasbi, Ridwan Bahri's assistant.
  • Zidni Hakim as Dirga Utama, a young, recently-elected legislative council member who opposes Pengkor.
  • Aqi Singgih as Ganda Hamdan, Pengkor's subordinate in the legislative council.

Pengkor's orphan assassins[edit]

  • Cecep Arif Rahman as Swara Batin the Dancer.
  • Ari Tulang as Kamal Atmaja the Hypnotherapist.
  • Hannah Al Rashid as Cantika the Nurse.
  • Daniel Adnan as Tanto Ginanjar the Blacksmith
  • Cornelio Sunny as Kanigara the Painter.
  • Asmara Abigail as Desti Nikita the Student.
  • Andrew Suleiman as Jack Mandagi the Chef.
  • Kelly Tandiono as Mutiara Jenar the Model.
  • Aming Sugandhi as Sam Buadi the Carver.
  • Rendra Bagus Pamungkas as Adi Sulaiman the Composer.

Pevita Pearce makes a brief appearance at the end of the film as the superheroine Sri Asih, a character she will reprise in a standalone film directed by Upi Avianto, alongside Zack Lee, who will portray Arjuna. Senior poet, musician, and actor Sujiwo Tejo also briefly appeared as Ki Wilawuk, who is rumored to be the supervillain of the film series.[14] Cinematographer Ical Tanjung and composer Aghi Narottama make cameo appearances as one of the politicians and a pharmacist, respectively.


In 1981, the popularity of the Gundala comics in Indonesia reached the big screen. By purchasing the licensing from the author, PT. Cancer Mas Film adapted the comic to a film, Gundala Putra Petir (Gundala, the Son of Lightning), which was directed by Citra Award-winning director Lilik Sudjio. Teddy Purba, the actor who was appointed as Ir. Sancaka or Gundala, was famous as one of the best Indonesian action stars at that time. His mortal enemy, Ghazul, was played by the character actor W. D. Mochtar, while Sancaka's lover, Minarti, was played by Anna Tairas. Other actors and actresses involved in the film included Ami Priyono, August Melasz, Pitrajaya Burnama, HIM Damsyik, Gordon Subandono, A. Hamid Arief, Rini Ratih, Dewanti, and Ratno Timoer. Even though the setting was changed from that of the comics, the film remained faithful to the story told in the comics series written by Hasmi – in which an engineer, Sancaka, managed to find a chemical anti-lightning-strike formula. Unfortunately, this discovery resulted in Sancaka having to break up with his lover, Minarti, after forgetting to attend her birthday party. Plagued by sadness, and in the midst of a heavy rain, Sancaka was struck by lightning and taken to the world of Emperor Kronz. There, he was given the powers and costume that turned him into Gundala. Meanwhile, a group of organizations, led by Ghazul, began the rampant circulation of narcotics; that is when the battle between good against evil began.[15][16]

In 2010, Iskandar Salim, a photographer and graphic designer, created promotional material for a movie that was not being made about Gundala, after noticing that there had never been a movie featuring an Indonesian superhero and wishing to start a public debate on the subject. He created an official website, a Facebook page, posters, and staged photographs that allegedly showed the movie being made. As a result of the attention generated by this hoax, Gundala's creator, Hasmi, became involved in negotiations to produce a real film based on the character.[17]

Development and production[edit]


Bumilangit Studios, as the owner of Gundala's intellectual property, has been developing the idea of making a Gundala movie since 2014. The search for the right director and scriptwriter for Gundala was not easy, and took Bumilangit years to finally find the perfect match. On April 4, 2018, Joko Anwar was announced as the writer and the director for the film. He is one of Indonesia's most prolific and celebrated film directors.

Joko Anwar admitted that the scriptwriting process for Gundala has been the hardest work of his career so far. Usually, he spends one to two months on a typical script, but he eventually ended up spending a total of seven months for this project. Reinterpreting Gundala's origin from the original 1969 comic, he reworked the story in a way that could attract Millennials and Gen Z. Hasmi's comics and notes about Gundala helped him write the script.[18]


Joko Anwar felt that Abimana Aryasatya was the perfect actor to portray Sancaka/Gundala, due to his vulnerable and strong aura. After several attempts, Joko finally convinced Abimana, and he finally accepted the offer.[19]

Gundala's costume was a team effort between Iwan Nazif (Bumilangit Creative Engine) and Chris Lie (Caravan Studio). The production was handled by Quantum Creations FX, based in Los Angeles, known for their works in Daredevil, Watchmen, Supergirl, The Hunger Games, Star Trek, and Iron Man.[20][21]

Filming for Gundala took 53 days in 70 locations, including Jakarta, Cilegon, and Purwakarta, and involved 1,500 extras and 300 film crew. Principal photography began in Purwakarta on September 1, 2018, with Ical Tanjung serving as director of photography. Filming wrapped on October 31, 2018.[22]

Post-production began in November 2018, and was completed around June 2019. Gundala involved many of the best film workers in Indonesia, one of them being Khikmawan Santosa, who often won the Best Sound Designer award at the prestigious Indonesian Film Festival. Gundala was one of his last projects before his death on May 11, 2019.[23]


One of the songs complementing the film was the 1962 song "The End of the World", popularized by Skeeter Davis. The production team agreed that the lyrics represent the main theme of the film; when many people in a country do not upheld justice, they will head on towards the "end of the world".[13]


In order to raise public awareness regarding Gundala, M&C! and Koloni have published two types of Gundala comics, a remastered version of the classic Gundala comics (published in July 2019), and new Gundala comics adapted from the events of the film (published in August 2019). The remastered version targets the fans of the Gundala comics' original 1970s–1980s run and collectors of Indonesian old-school comics, while the film tie-in version targets Indonesian millennials, who may not have been aware of Gundala before.[24] The Gundala comics is also available in digital form on WEBTOON, targeting Indonesian teenagers who frequently access the platform.[25] Koloni, along with Gramedia and Bumilangit, also held several roadshows around Indonesia. The Gundala film roadshow began on June 15, 2019 in Jakarta.[26]


Gundala had its local premiere on August 28, 2019, and was in released in Indonesia on August 29, 2019.[22] It had its international premiere at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2019.[2][11] It was acquired by Premiere Entertainment Group, who began shopping the film to domestic and international buyers at the AFM on November 9, 2019.[27] On April 30, 2020, Well Go USA Entertainment announced it would be releasing Gundala via digital, Blu-ray, and DVD in North America on July 28, 2020.[28]


Box office[edit]

Throughout its domestic run, the film garnered over 1.6 million admissions, with an estimate gross of $4.7 million.[29]

Critical response[edit]

On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an 83% approval rating, based on six reviews, with an average rating of 7/10 as of October 2021.[30]

Richard Kuipers wrote for Variety that the film is "an action-packed and emotionally satisfying adaptation of the treasured Indonesian comic book created by Harya "Hasmi" Suraminata."[31] Victor Stiff from praised the film, stating, "From beginning to end, Gundala delivers fast and furious action and rarely stops to take its foot off the gas."[32]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Recipient Result
2019 39th Citra Awards Best Actor Abimana Aryastaya Nominated
Best Adapted Screenplay Joko Anwar Nominated
Best Cinematography Ical Tanjung Won
Best Art Direction Wencislaus Nominated
Best Original Score Aghi Narottama
Bembi Gusti
Tony Merle
Best Sound Khikmawan Santosa
Mohamad Ikhsan
Anhar Moha
Best Visual Effects Abby Eldipie Won
Best Costume Design Isabelle Patrice Nominated
Best Makeup & Hairstyling Darwyn Tse Nominated
2019 8th Maya Awards Best Actor in a Leading Role Abimana Aryastaya Nominated
Best Cinematography Ical Tanjung Nominated
Best Art Direction Wencislaus Nominated
Best Original Score Aghi Narottama
Bembi Gusti
Tony Merle
Best Sound Khikmawan Santosa
Mohamad Ikhsan
Anhar Moha
Best Visual Effects Abby Eldipie Nominated
Best Costume Design Isabelle Patrice Nominated
Best Poster Design Caravan Studio Nominated
Best Young Performer Muzakki Ramdhan Won
Arifin C. Noer Cup for Best Brief Appearance Pevita Pearce Nominated
2019 3rd Tempo Film Festival Best Actor Abimana Aryastaya Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Bront Palarae Nominated
2020 Asian Film Festival Best Art Direction Wencislaus Nominated


  1. ^ "Gundala". Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  2. ^ a b c Kuplowsky, Peter. "Gundala". Toronto International Film Festival. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  3. ^ Chua, Monica (2019-08-21). "Film 'Gundala' Habiskan Dana hingga Rp 30 Miliar" ['Gundala' film spent up to Rp30 billion]. CNBC Indonesia (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  4. ^ "Data Penonton | 2019" [Moviegoers Data | 2019]. (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2019-09-25.
  5. ^ Wira, Ni Nyoman (2019-07-24). "Three fun facts about Joko Anwar's 'Gundala'". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2019-08-12.
  6. ^ "Official poster of Joko Anwar's 'Gundala' released". The Jakarta Post. 2019-05-30. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  7. ^ Barus, Ramadani (2018-04-04). "Joko Anwar akan Menggarap Film 'Gundala' – Pahlawan Super Indonesia" [Joko Anwar will work on 'Gundala' film – Indonesian superhero]. IDN Times (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  8. ^ "Pemeran Utama Film 'Gundala' Diperkenalkan di Indonesia Comic Con" [Main cast of the film 'Gundala' introduced in Indonesia Comic Con]. Liputan 6 (in Indonesian). 2018-10-28. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  9. ^ Pangerang, Andi Muttya Keteng (2018-06-11). "Ini Dia Aktor yang Akan Terlibat dalam Film 'Gundala'" [These are some casts who will be involved in 'Gundala' film]. Kompas (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  10. ^ Scott, Mathew (2019-07-19). "Indonesia's Screenplay Bumilangit Plans 'Gundala' Superhero Franchise (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  11. ^ a b Lang, Brent (2019-08-08). "Toronto Film Festival Unveils Documentary, Midnight, Discovery Lineups". Variety. Retrieved 2019-08-30.
  12. ^ Media, Kompas Cyber. "Setelah Gundala, Bumilangit Umumkan 7 Film Jagoan Barunya Halaman all". (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2021-01-31.
  13. ^ a b Riantrisnanto, Ruly (2019-06-17). "Makna Lagu "The End of The World" di Film 'Gundala'" [The meaning of the song "The End of the World" in 'Gundala' film]. Liputan 6 (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  14. ^ Irvan. "Mengenal Ki Wilawuk, Villain di Bumilangit Cinematic Universe | Greenscene" (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2021-01-31.
  15. ^ "Gundala Putra Petir (1981)" [Gundala The Son of Lightning (1981)]. (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  16. ^ "Gundala Baru yang Mengejutkan" [New Surprising Gundala]. Viva (in Indonesian). 2018-10-30. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  17. ^ Veal, Sara (2010-06-06). "Holding on for a superhero". The Jakarta Post. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  18. ^ Setiawan, Tri Susanto (2019-06-17). "Joko Anwar Ramu Cerita 'Gundala' Lewat Catatan Pribadi Mendiang Hasmi" [Joko Anwar wrote the 'Gundala' story through the personal notes of the late Hasmi]. Kompas (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  19. ^ "Sempat Tolak Tawaran Main Film Gundala, Abimana Aryasatya Dapat 'Teror'" [Had Rejected the Offer to Play the Gundala Film, Abimana Aryasatya Got 'Terror']. Liputan 6 (in Indonesian). 2018-10-29. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  20. ^ Paramaesti, Chitra (2019-05-29). "'Gundala' Director Joko Anwar Talks about the Superhero's Costume". Tempo. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  21. ^ "Official poster of Joko Anwar's 'Gundala' released". The Jakarta Post. 2019-05-30. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  22. ^ a b "'Gundala' Tayang di Bioskop 29 Agustus 2019" ['Gundala' to be released in cinema on 29 August 2019]. CNN Indonesia (in Indonesian). 2019-05-28. Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  23. ^ Octaviany, Devy (2019-05-11). "'Gundala' Jadi Salah Satu Proyek Film Terakhir Khikmawan Santosa" ['Gundala' Becomes One of Khikmawan Santosa's Last Film Projects]. (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2019-07-09.
  24. ^ "Remastered 'Gundala' comic books launched in Bandung". The Jakarta Post. 2019-07-16. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  25. ^ "'Gundala Putra Petir' comic now available on WEBTOON". The Jakarta Post. 2019-05-19. Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  26. ^ Yuniar, Nanien (2019-08-10). "Menanti sambaran Gundala si Putra Petir" [Awaiting the strike of 'Gundala the Son of Lightning']. Antara News (in Indonesian). Retrieved 2019-08-13.
  27. ^ Kay, Jeremy (November 9, 2019). "Premiere Entertainment Group snaps up TIFF Midnight Madness entry 'Gundala' (exclusive)". Screen Daily. Retrieved 2019-11-13.
  28. ^ Ritman, Alex (April 30, 2020). "Indonesian Superhero Movie 'Gundala' Getting U.S. Release (Exclusive)". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2020-05-19.
  29. ^ "Data Penonton Tahun 2019". Retrieved 2021-02-06.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
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  31. ^ Kuipers, Richard (2020-07-09). "'Gundala': Film Review". Variety. Retrieved 2020-08-01.
  32. ^ Stiff, Victor (2019-09-17). "TIFF 2019: Gundala Review". Retrieved 2019-09-27.

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