Hellboy Reboot Controversies: Everything From Ed Skrein Exit To Wells Cathedral

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Everything is fine. Lionsgate

Like many fans of Mike Mignola's Lovecraftian pulp masterpiece Hellboy, I’ve had some serious reservations regarding the upcoming reboot. To me, Ron Perlman provided the definitive performance for the hero, on par with Tobey Maguire’s Spider-Man and Christopher Reeves’ Supes. Moreover, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, a modest box office success, was a little more than nine years ago. A reboot feels appropriate by today's standards, but a confirmed remake means one final nail in the Hellboy 3 coffin. Fortunately, everyone involved with the project, including Mike Mignola, seems committed to forging their own path with this new interpretation while maintaining all the fundamental elements of the property.

Star David Harbour had some kind words for Perlman's turn as the crime fighting demon, but said his portrayal will bear very little resemblance. To him, Del Toro and Perlman opted for a decidedly more “machismo” action star tone than he intends. Hellboy’s struggle with his masculinity is what fascinates Harbour, not the amplification of it. Harbour has in mind a hero who fumbles through the “badass” persona. I like that. It feels like an organic departure from what we’ve seen in the previous live action films.

The Hellboy in the comics, ostensibly, is the gun toting macho man Perlman brought to life so masterfully, but there’s plenty of room for nuance. This approach also makes a lot more sense for the kind of story Neil Marshall is attempting to tell, which has been described on several occasions as a “dark horror story,” full of gore and more adult themes. And if there’s anything that has me worried, it’s this.

I never like when films make a fuss about the degree of gore during pre-production. Gore isn’t an angle. In the world of film and comics, it’s always easy to spot the weirdos that remain true to their vision and happen upon a work that is brutal and unforgiving (Daredevil: Born Again) and the ones that are clearly playing dress up (fucking Spawn. Literally any Spawn comic).

Gore concerns aside, the cast so far looks really promising. Milla Jovovich as the Blood Queen is an inspired choice. She’s an actress that bears an undeniable physical charisma that I think has been hitherto underutilized. The kind of hammy performance she delivers in the Resident Evil franchise could do wonders for a more sober script. Ian McShane will take on Hellboy’s mentor Professor Broom, a role that John Hurt has become synonymous with, but McShane has such a contrasting vibe it could work. Daniel Dae Kim will be taking over the role of agent Ben Daimo after Ed Skrein bowed out following the whole whitewashing controversy. An admirably bloodless affair as far as these things go, the two even took to Twitter yesterday to assure the internet that everything is FUCKING fine, relax you animals.

It looks like everyone is on board for this reboot, even God. Amid backlash about allowing Lionsgate to shoot in Wells Cathedral, church officials released a statement declaring they stand by their decision. They were reportedly paid handsomely in exchange for the shooting space, which says absolutely nothing about the integrity of organized religion. Right?

Physically, I like what they’re doing with the character, but so far I much prefer the Perlman design. There was something about Perlman’s 1950s “in shape body” that lent itself to the otherworldly proportions of the character in the comics. Harbour is ripped, adding to the intimidation factor but I’m not sure that’s what I want out of Hellboy. Too early to tell.

There’s no official release date but expect to see this thing sometime 2018. Check back for more info as we get it, boners.

Harbour in full gear below:

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