The original version of Captain Barbell depicted him as shirtless because during the more whimsical comics age in the Philippines that occurred in the 1960s (Silver Age), Mars Ravelo based the good Captain's look on circus strongmen, but with the addition of a mask. Since the original Enteng's look was a really thin guy in a tank top (emphasizing his bony features), it was decided that Captain Barbell's "shirtless circus strongman" look could provide a much more dramatic contrast to his mortal persona. Recent comics depicted him wearing a long-sleeved yellow shirt instead of being shirtless. Captain Barbell is, obviously, created after the DC character, Captain Marvel (Shazam).
Ravelo vent out a sort of retaliation on the Captain Marvel character. This time, he admitted doing the spoofing himself, and out came Captain Barbell. He tailor-made the character Tenteng (Captain Barbell’s alter-ego), to Dolphy, who was then a comical skinny actor, as a pun or insult, as opposed to the matinee-idol type Billy Batson (Captain Marvel’s alter-ego). He specifically told illustrator Jim Fernandez about that, and you can see the obvious similarity between Dolphy and Tenteng in Fernandez’ drawings (“Captain Barbell,” Pinoy Komiks, 1963). He even intended the character to have a funny transformation, that Captain Barbell would turn into a skinny bungling superhero (Ravelo, however, later changed that story, which became “Captain Barbell vs. Flash Fifita”). (Un)Fortunately, Captain Barbell became a great hit and Dolphy made his character Tenteng quite a sensation. So, Ravelo changed his mind and continued the legacy of Captain Barbell.
In the original Captain Barbell komiks series (May 23, 1963 – June 18, 1964), and in the first movie, Tenteng was a laughable skinny young man very much maltreated by his four step-brothers, Bruno, Badong, Baldo and Banong. Tenteng’s full name as revealed by Ravelo in an interview was originally Penitente Mumolingot. According to Ravelo’s wife, she didn’t know about the “Mumolingot” surname but told that Tenteng was actually taken from the name of a tall lanky boy who bullied Ravelo as a kid.
In the original story, Tenteng released a genie from a bottle and in return the genie gave him three wishes. His first wish was for a fried chicken. His second wish was a barbell he alone can lift that possesses the power to transform him into a super being the moment he shouts “Captain Barbell” (much like “SHAZAM” in Captain Marvel). His third wish was for the genie to become small again. Unfortunately the genie got eaten by a cat.
The start of the story was filled with comedy (with Dolphy’s unequalled portrayal of Tenteng in the movie). The original Captain Barbell (portrayed by Bob Soler) had an eye maskand a real barbell made of “magical” solid gold. Captain Barbell and his alter-ego Tenteng each has a separate identity and portrayal. Tenteng is funny and a weakling while Captain Barbell is a serious character, and superstrong and invulnerable to any man-made weapons. He doesn’t, however, have superspeed as being portrayed on the television series. In fact, GMA 7’s adulterated version of Captain Barbell is almost entirely different from the original character, in storyline, costume and characterization.
Furthermore, after the power of the magical barbell left Tenteng (in the end of the original series), the barbell was thrown into the sea. In the succeeding series, the magical barbell re-emerged and found new rightful owners: Captain Barbel hence became the alter-ego of the limping Dario (“Captain Barbell Kontra Captain Bakal,” Pinoy Komiks, July 2, 1964), and the legless cigarette vendor Gomer (“Captain Barbell Versus Flash Fifita,” Liwayway, December 26, 1966).
In every version of the story, major changes in the story plot are applied, but the core story remains the same. Enteng, a poor, wimpy and skinny but kindhearted boy always gets bullied by other people because he is undersized and easy to pick on. He tries to practice weight training and exercise to improve his physique, but his poor status prevents him to do it properly. He ends up buying (or finding in other versions) an old, secondhand and rusty barbell for him to practice on. He later discovers that the Barbell contains hidden powers, when he lifts it in one hand and shouts the name "Captain Barbell", he transforms to Captain Barbell, a superhero possessing invulnerability, super strength, x-ray vision, incredible speed and the power of flight. With his newfound powers, he fights evil forces and protects the weak and helpless.
In the 2006 TV series, Captain Barbell is shown to have a weakness: Exposure to the element, Askobar.
The movie versions of Captain Barbell had to be redesigned from the comic's original because they're not as muscle bound as the comics version and were not body builders but actors. That's why they have the yellow top and now carry the "CB" symbol on their chest as opposed to the belt buckle logo-and-shirtless-look of 1963.
During times of great upheavals, nature finds a way to expel the magic rock to restore the balance between good and evil and seeks out a host to wield its great power and champion its cause. (There seems to be a possibility that this power source may be the same as Darna's and Lastikman's, both of whom's origins also involved magic "falling stars"). The champions it chooses are usually those who have been victims of society's evils, the disenfranchised, and the meek ones. This is why the power found four social outcast individuals to wield its abilities. But there is a condition: the wielder must only use the power for unselfish purposes and the good of humanity. The abuse of this power holds dire consequences. Unfortunately, when the rock first hit the Earth and got absorbed into the ground, fragments of the rock broke off and in the wrong hands could be very destructive. This is exactly what happened when (in addition to Enteng) extra fragments homed in on the beings that eventually became "Lagablab", "Freezy", and "Dagampatay".
Powers and Abilities
- Ultimate Vision - he is capable of performing any Vision Faculty or Ocular Powers by possessing one or more eyes that grants them all. With this ultimate eye in the possession, any new vision powers can also be copied by the ultimate eye.
- Super-Human Strength - He glaringly, obviously and super/unnaturally stronger than His Other Allies, like Darna and Flash Bomba because His capabilities are pushed to the superhuman level, He is able to lift up cars to trucks, buses, and trucks of great size. He is also capable Being able to lift heavier structures from battleships to massive air-crafts.
- Flight & Levitation - He has the power to fly in without any outside influence.
- Super-Human Speed - He is able to move at extraordinary physical speed.