Argentina’s most popular actor Ricardo Darin confirmed he will star in Netflix’s adaptation of the iconic comic book El eternauta, a 1957 story about an alien invasion in Buenos Aires that became a cultural classic.
The Argentina, 1985 star told CNN Radio that the adaptation project is “huge and very complex” and will be “an updated version” of the story that aims to have “a wider reach, beyond the borders of our country.”
“It’s based on the original comic, but it’s a new version, and we’re all very excited and moved by it,” he said
Originally published as a weekly comic strip in the magazine “Hora Cero” in 1957, El eternauta (“The Eternaut”, a Spanish neologism that describes an astronaut of eternity) is one of the most popular comic books in the history of Argentine graphic novels.
Written by Héctor Germán Oesterheld and illustrated by Francisco Solano López, El eternauta tells the story of a 1963 alien invasion of Buenos Aires that begins with a deadly fluorescent snowfall and includes military combats in landmark Buenos Aires areas such as the River Plate stadium. The hero, Juan Salvo, is a common family man who joins the meager local resistance forces in order to protect his wife and daughter from the invaders.
“I’m preparing for some very hard work. It’s going to demand a lot both physically and mentally,” said Darin, who will be playing Salvo in the series.
The adaptation will be directed by Bruno Stagnaro —a pioneer of the New Argentine Cinema in the late 1990s who co-directed Pizza, Beer and Cigarettes and the cult tv show Okupas. It will be produced by Netflix and K&S, one of the biggest production companies in the country, responsible for high-profile films such as Damian Szifron’s Oscar-nominated Wild Tales and Santiago Mitre’s The Summit, both starring the lead actor of Argentina, 1985.
A politically-driven writer who tapped issues like imperialism and colonialism in Latin America, author Héctor Oesterheld wrote several renowned comic books, including a biography of Che Guevara that was censored in 1968, as well as a second, more outspokenly political version of El eternauta in 1969, illustrated by Alberto Breccia.
By the time of the 1976 coup, Oesterheld was an active member of Montoneros, one of the main guerrilla organizations that fought the dictatorship. He eventually had to go into hiding, where he continued to work and finished El eternauta 2. He was kidnapped by a military task force in La Plata on April 27, 1977, and became one of Argentina’s 30,000 “disappeared”. Before his abduction, the entire Oesterheld family had been decimated by dictatorship forces. They kidnapped and killed his four daughters —two of whom were pregnant— and three of his sons-in-law.
Since the return of democracy, there have been several projects for the audiovisual adaptation of El eternauta, something long awaited by generations of comic book fans. Renowned Argentine directors such as Adolfo Aristarain and Fernando “Pino” Solanas were some of the filmmakers who considered making a film version of the Juan Salvo story. The latest one involved art-house director Lucrecia Martel, who officially announced she was working on an adaptation, but the project didn’t come through due to artistic differences with Oesterheld’s heirs.