Thoughts on the Hellboy Reboot

Posted: September 16, 2017 by patricksponaugle in Comics, Movie Review, Opinion
Tags: , ,

I’ve been meaning to post some of my thoughts on the in-production reboot of the cinematic Hellboy.

For those of you who have no idea what I’m talking about, Hellboy is the creation of comic book artist/writer Mike Mignola. He’s a big red demon. A heroic one.

Back in 2004, Ron Perlman (look him up, kids, he’s been in everything) brought Hellboy to life in the first Hellboy movie. In 2008, the sequel Hellboy II: the Golden Army appeared in theaters. I’m still amazed that these movies were made at all. Director Guillermo del Toro directed both movies, and also wrote the 2008 sequel.

It’s not even been 10 years since Hellboy was last on the screen, so I know some people are questioning if we need a reboot. Straight up, I’m very happy that they’re doing this.

No offense intended towards director Guillermo del Toro. He’s a solid director, particularly of fantasy. His movie Pan’s Labyrinth was amazing and everyone should see it. I’m even a fan of his movie Pacific Rim, which people either love or hate.

But I’m not really a fan of his Hellboy movies. The second one in particular felt very Harry Potter-esque in imagining a mystical world of relatively benign creatures living outside the awareness of humanity.

That made it kind of – silly.

The first movie, which was loosely based on the recognizable plot of the first Hellboy graphic novel Seed of Destruction, had a truer tone to the comics but had an element that I didn’t quite agree with.

Hellboy works under the umbrella of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD.) In the movie, the bureau is a secret organization as is Hellboy’s very existence. It’s kind of a fantasy Men in Black homage. Just demons instead of aliens.

I’m not cool with that. The BPRD and Hellboy are a known quatity in the Hellboy universe of the comics. Everyone in the world knows that things go bump in the night.

Hellboy doesn’t sneak about fighting supernatural crimes, he shows up like a weary trenchcoat-wearing private eye and investigates. To be fair, people may not understand exactly how bad things are; the BPRD probably shields them from sanity-wrecking revelations. But no one would be shocked to see Hellboy walking around, checking up on witch sightings. That’s business as usual.

That’s the universe that I want to see presented on-screen. Not something silly, but something Lovecraftian. And kind of film noir too.

There’s been some good buzz already on the production. LOST/Hawaii-5-0 actor Daniel Dae-Kim will be playing BPRD Major Ben Daimio (a part originally offered to non-Asian Ed Skrein.)

I don’t mind Ed Skrein as an actor, but it should be reasonably obvious why Scandinavian-looking Skrein wouldn’t be right for the role.

The first shot of David Harbour (the grumpy sheriff from Netflix’s Stranger Things) as Hellboy looks fantastic.

I’m pleased how much he looks like Ron Perlman’s version.

Do we need a reboot every decade? Probably not. But I’m not opposed to see a course correction when possible. The latest Spider-Man movie with Tom Holland was very enjoyable, and has fit nicely in with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But I can still see the Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield Spider-Men movies. They still exist, yo.

I’ve read a fair amount of Hellboy comics (and Lobster Johnson comics, oh my gosh, LOBSTER JOHNSON) but there’s so much to read to be on top of all of the BPRD lore. So I’m looking forward to seeing some more paranormal research and defense happening, with a newly refurbished bureau.

Maybe it won’t be all that silly. As non-silly as a big guy painted red with ground-down horns can be. I’m not expecting a miracle. This is Hellboy after all, not Heavenboy.


Images are from Hellboy (2004) Hellboy II: the Golden Army (2008), and the Hellboy comics.

I make no claims to the images but some claims to the text. So there.

© Patrick Sponaugle 2017 Some Rights Reserved

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Comments
  1. I remember not liking the first movie when it came out, but then thinking better of it when I saw it again. I liked the second for an…interesting reason. I couldn’t disagree with Prince Nuada’s reasons for being angry, though I suppose it’s not all that interesting when sympathetic villains are my specialty 😉 I had no idea the actor who played Hopper was cast as Hellboy. He looks amazing in that role. I agree with you about the course correction even if I don’t share as much of your dislike for the second film. It was VERY necessary for Spider-Man, though I haven’t seen that yet. I did love the kid that played him in Civil War, and when I say, “Kid,” I mean it and I was very happy with it. I think the actor is 19, so legally an adult, but much closer in age to what Peter is supposed to be.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I appreciate what you’re saying about the second movie, which I think might be better than the first one, just not better for *me*

      My daughter really liked Hellboy 2, I’m trying to remember if I showed her HB 1 or not. I suspect I’ll be able to get her to go see the reboot in the theaters.

      Totally on board with your Spider-Man observations. Peter Parker in High School was a fun time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Merlin says:

    As much as I like Golden Army, on its own, I am quite interested in this version.

    Liked by 1 person

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