Heroic Argentine goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez has become a national hero, and now the story of his childhood will be brought into the world of animation. We spoke with one of the producers, Argentine actress Magui Bravi, about the upcoming project, tentatively titled Emi On Off.
Emiliano “El Dibu” Martínez has become a national treasure in his native Argentina. The 31-year-old Aston Villa netminder became a hero basically overnight due to his antics in Argentina’s 2021 Copa America triumph, and he skyrocketed to superstar status after his performance in the 2022 FIFA World Cup, which Argentina won as well.
Like fellow Albiceleste goalkeeper Sergio Goycochea before him, Martinez made penalty kick saves just as important as every goal scored. Not bad for a goalkeeper that came onto the scene in 2021 and in 36 caps can claim to have three major championships with Argentina, who had suffered a nearly 30-year-long title drought before their Copa America victory.
Born in Mar del Plata, Argentina, a part of the country better known for its beaches than world class footballers, Martinez has always known how to do it big. He first showcased his talents with Independiente in Argentina during his youth, before a shock move to Arsenal in 2012. After a series of loans, Martinez had his coming out party with Aston Villa, where he’s been the Birmingham side’s consistent starting keeper since 2020.
Flamboyant like Latin American goalkeepers of the past, Martinez has the youthful antics of Jorge Campos and the cheeky abilities of René Higuita. Add to that an in-your-face attitude more similar to legendary Puerto Rican boxer Héctor “Macho” Camacho, and you get El Dibu, a guy who can come up huge at the World Cup final with a brilliant last second kick save, and then take his Golden Glove trophy and place it over in his groin to get some laughs from the crowd and side-eyes from tournament officials.
Long before he became a national hero, Martinez was a boy with big dreams, and famed Argentine cartoonist Ricardo Siri (aka Liniers) along with journalist Hernán Casciari are telling the story of his youth in a unique way.
El mejor proyecto del año. pic.twitter.com/VOandtaC42
— Hernán Casciari (@casciari) August 4, 2023
One of the producers of the project, which is tentatively titled Emi On Off, is notable Argentine actress Magui Bravi. After starting her career off as a dancer, Bravi transitioned into acting and has become well-known as a “scream queen,” starring in several horror films in addition to a handful of comedic roles.
Her acting career sparked an interest in what goes on behind the camera, and she now is getting an opportunity as a producer on Emi On Off through production company Orsai Audiovisuales.
The Origins of Emi On Off
Una noticia + para Enero ! De la mano de @ComunidadOrsai vamos a producir la serie animada del Dibu Martinez 🎬 “Emi On Off” 2024 se las trae . Casciari + Liniers + El Dibu 🤗 🎊!!!!! pic.twitter.com/T0FLZd9kwt
— Magui Bravi ❥ (@magdalenabravi) January 16, 2024
Emi On Off is one of five projects petitioned by Orsai Audiovisuales. According to Bravi, it was a near landslide as to which project would be taken on first. The animated project, which will either be a film or series, will tell the story of a 12-year-old Dibu, who wants to be the best goalkeeper in the world and finds out that he has super powers.
The project also has the input of Martinez himself, which gives it added legitimacy.
“After the World Cup, El Dibu became a national hero,” Bravi said. “When this idea came about, I loved it, I wanted to be a part of it, because above all it’s targeted to kids. It’s the first project that I am involved in that the audience is children.
“It’s an animated series that will be drawn by Liniers, one of the most famous cartoonists in all of Argentina, and written by Hernán Casciari, and El Dibu himself is involved. His people reached out to Casciari, because at first El Dibu wanted to do a book, but Casciari changed his mind to do an animated project.”
Martinez has been contacting the production staff via chats from England and while the story does involve a kid with superpowers, Martinez’s life is the basis, and he has input as to where the story goes.
“Nothing is done without his approval,” Bravi said. “It’s one big collaboration.”
The project itself has recently announced the addition of 4,200 producing partners who are helping the project launch and tell this fictitious-yet-inspiring story, hopefully on various platforms.
“(Martinez) has something in his personality that makes him very likable to people,” Bravi said. “He’s a kid from the neighborhood, a person who became a superstar, and you don’t see him as an unapproachable person. I think that generated a lot of interest from the people to learn more about his life story.”
Emi On Off is still in its final stages of pre-production, although the filmmakers hope to have the animated work done by the end of 2024. The project will be an ambitious one with the animated shows being voiced in various languages, considering it’s the life story of the most flamboyant goalkeeper in all of football. If done right, it will show just how a young kid from Mar Del Plata went on to conquer the world.