For many casual viewers – to which I mean moviegoers and not comic collectors – the name HELLBOY is synonymous with two names: Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman. After all, del Toro’s visual style and Perlman’s grumpy personality brought the character to life in a big way. While the 2004 original film gained a sort of cult following, the second film – THE GOLDEN ARMY – was released in 2008 and proved to be one of the best comic book movies of all time.
The tone of the films blended weird with action and a liberal dose of humor, in many ways sharing personalities with the popular Marvel films to date. This formula has clearly worked for movies, as the MCU films are smash hits almost always. While Hellboy or Hellboy 2 never managed to pull in the numbers of the Marvel properties – one could assume this has to do with having a correlation with Hell in the title – both films were critically acclaimed.
Recently, rumors have swirled that del Toro pitched his plan for a third film, but this one with a quarter BILLION dollar budget. When you consider that Hellboy 2 has a budget of $85 million, requesting three times the amount for the final film of the trilogy seems perhaps a bit steep. And perhaps that is why the powers that be decided to go in a different direction altogether.
Hellboy creator Mike Mignola recently announced that the character would be rebooted. The newest film, this one reportedly titled as HELLBOY: RISE OF THE BLOOD QUEEN will be directed by Game of Thrones alum Neil Marshall and starring Stranger Things lead David Harbour as the big red monster hunter.
The internet predictably exploded.
Many fans were clamoring for a completed del Toro/Perlman trilogy. With this reboot in the works, combined with Perlman’s age, it seems unlikely that fans will ever get that sense of closure with characters that they already love. In other unsurprising news, many of these same fans have vowed to boycott the new film.
Frustration with a movie studio abandoning directors/actors can be frustrating for fans, but there are a few things to consider before joining a toothless boycott.
1. A CHANGE IN TONE
The most glaring difference between the source material and the del Toro films is the abundance of humor. While most of the comics have an occasional laugh, they are more often moody and foreboding. In some ways, the films seemed to be poking fun at the characters from the comics.
While I’m no fan of a “serious” comic film, early reports claim that the new film will be as much a horror movie as a comic book film. This would be a refreshing take that also pays respect to the original comic as well.
2. HARBOUR GETS HIS MOMENT
David Harbour carried himself admirably in the first season of Stranger Things, but despite his top billing the story was told from the perspective of the kids. That said, he carried himself like a star in his moments.
His gruff personality in the Netflix hit shows that he can carry the personality of Hellboy. He may not be Ron Perlman, but who is? He’s a good choice for restarting the series, and if it works, he could carry the role for many years to come.
3. THE BPRD
The Bureau of Paranormal Research and Development largely felt like a Monster Squad in the previous Hellboy films. But in the comics, the BPRD is full of normal humans that work alongside Hellboy and a few other colorful characters. I’m still waiting for a Roger the Homunculus appearance; maybe we will see him here!
It will undoubtedly be a hard sell on fans of the previous film entries, but if handled properly, this new Hellboy franchise could go a long way in making R-rated superhero flicks a great genre.