Hellboy Reboot To Be Darker And More Character-Focused

The Hellboy reboot, only recently announced, is moving forward at a pace that’s probably faster than anyone expected, which is awesome news. According to TheWrap, principal photography for the reboot is planned for this September. Actor David Harbour provided some interesting insights in their interview, who credits his performance in Netflix‘s Stranger Things as the reason he was cast as Hellboy:

“It’s good. It’s a whole new thing. I’d always been a fan of the comics and there’s a darker tone to it and I think in the climate we have now there’s kind of a darker…a desire for more of that…the script is good, and this guy Neil Marshall is directing who’s really good, and the aesthetic is great.”

RELATED – Hellboy: Rise Of The Blood Queen Promotional Art Appears At Cannes!

There’s a lot of information here, let’s break it down. First, Harbour reveals that he’s a fan of creator Mike Mignola’s source material — this is important, as Hellboy is a deeply nuanced character possessed of wit, gravitas, and action, which requires both an appreciation of Mignola’s intent, an ability to pivot between subtlety and scenery-chewing in a blink. Second, director Guillermo del Toro’s two Hellboy films sought to emphasize darkness, but often only achieved a kind of quirkiness and a goofy mood that lacked true menace — new director Neil Marshall (The Descent, Dog Soldiers, Game of Thrones) has shown a flair for the macabre and an understanding of how to best exploit an R-rating.

Harbour expands on his comments about the Hellboy character, which reinforces some of my assertions:

“It’s a character that I love, and sort of in the way, I think Mike [Mignola] and a bunch of other people saw me in Stranger Things and wanted me to play Hellboy and I think he has some parallels to him. I think he’s another complicated anti-hero who is not strictly good or bad, he’s just trying to do the right thing. I think he’s a demon, he’s crazy, and he’s also sweet and vulnerable and neurotic…so there’s a lot of complexity there.”

Actor Ron Perlman nailed the spirit of Hellboy in the previous films, but his portrayal only expressed a narrow interpretation of the character. In Mignola’s works Hellboy demonstrates a full-range of emotions, including sorrow, regret, anger, fear, humor, and love — traits not typically associated with modern-day superheroes, or action heroes.

Harbour concludes his interview by saying:

“Superhero movies can be really fun and I want this to be really fun, but I also want it to be more of a character piece and more about this dude’s struggle. I think it could be interesting.”

The struggle that Harbour describes is based on Hellboy’s origins, as a demon sent to earth at the end of WWII to bring about a Nazi victory; a struggle that Hellboy resists, often at his own peril. A “character piece” is intriguing too, as the previous films were more of a team adventure and the storytelling was a bit sprawling — not suggesting that the reboot won’t contain these elements, but a greater focus on Hellboy himself is intriguing.

As a huge Mignola fan I’m tremendously excited to see a new interpretation of Hellboy, and his universe. There are so many characters, settings, and story lines that can be leveraged (Hellboy debuted in 1993). Harbour seems to have a solid grasp on the character, and Marshall knows how to film dark material. With respect to the tremendously fun del Toro and Perlman collaboration, all indications are that this reboot has the potential to be the definitive version of Hellboy.

Are you surprised that the Hellboy reboot is ready to start shooting in September? Let us know in the comments down below!

Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen hits theaters in 2018 (TBD).

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SOURCE: The Wrap [Italics]

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David Kozlowski

David Kozlowski is a writer, podcaster, and visual artist. A U.S. Army veteran, David worked 20 years in the videogame industry and is a graduate of Arizona State University's Film and Media Studies.

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