We’re getting another Hellboy film! In April!
I’m actually excited about this reboot because the first two are highly underrated. If there’s one weakness that all comic book heroes share, it’s a tendency toward the formulaic. The first couple X-Men, Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Daredevil, Hulk, and Blade films all have similarities in the poster, set, and costume design. Why, one asks, did everybody from 1998-2007 use metallic silver fonts and climaxes that are lit at midnight? Compare these to sunshiny daytime battles between the Avengers and the Chitauri in The Avengers (2012) or between Batman and Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and Christopher Nolan’s middle-school crush on Arial.
Well, back in 2004 the first Hellboy fell victim to this trend a little. Everything was X-Men level dark, they introduced the curious John Myers as a life buoy to normalcy, and the plot had a “Vader-kills-Obi-Wan-inspires-Luke” familiarity. Yet, the darkness worked because this comic series is so gothic and everything surrounding a character named Hellboy naturally takes on the supernatural. Plus, those films had Guillermo del Toro. del Toro, the master of gothic and weird, took the costumes and set to the great, looming dimensions they needed. And then, in 2008, they cranked it up to eleven with Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Hellboy II reflected the comics’ tendency to bounce around between horror and fantasy seamlessly by introducing elves and the crazy steampunk underworld where the titular Golden Army lives. Did the transition blanch the series? Maybe. It also came out right around the time that everyone and their cat lined up to see The Dark Knight so that could not have been good on the box office. After that, it appears that del Toro just got busy with little projects like Pacific Rim and The Shape of Water.
So, we’re getting a reboot helmed by horror and sword-and-sandal director Neil Marshall. No trailer yet, but some rad hand-drawn posters on IMDb reminded me of the dark visuals that made the comics so memorable. This film promises plenty of dark content which is reflected by it’s promised R rating, but that’s always been comfortable territory for Hellboy, so it probably won’t produce the kind of source-material apostasy that Batman vs. Superman did. From the few promos released so far, Hellboy will not disappoint on the dark visuals front either. We’re getting some characters back like Broom, who died back in ’04 Hellboy, and rumors abound concerning the appearance of Lobster Johnson. Perhaps most famously, this film will feature werejaguar Ben Daimio, played by Daniel Dae-Kim from LOST.
If there’s a better actor to play Red than David Harbour, I can’t think of him. We know from his turn as the lumbering co-anchor Elliot Hirsch on The Newsroom, that David Harbour can bring the dry, physical comedy necessary to Hellboy. Fans probably recognize Harbour better from his leading (or rather, most prominent adult) status in Stranger Things, where he got to prove that he’s a capable action hero in his white cotton undershirts that he has clearly ditched for this picture.
Hellboy comes to theaters April 12, 2019! Check out the official website here and subscribe for email updates on the upcoming film.