Hellboy Reboot Strives To Be Closer To Mignola’s Vision

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Hellboy 2: The Golden Army Revolution Studios

Production is officially underway for the upcoming Hellboy reboot, starring David Harbor in the title role. There isn’t a ton of information available at the present, but the bit of news that occurs the most frequently regarding production seems to reiterate the cast and crew’s desire to demarcate themselves from Guillermo Del Toro’s well-received adaptation released more than a decade ago. While Harbor has expressed a great deal of reverence for Del Toro’s and Ron Perlman’s interpretation of Mike Mignola’s work, the cast of the original films have been less charitable. Ron Perlman isn’t exactly ecstatic about the reboot, and refuses to talk about it.  Selma Blair, who portrayed Liz in the Del Toro films, recently opened up to Cinema Blend on the topic:

“God, you know, people are fans of Hellboy and also fans of Guillermo, so part of us, the ones that were so loyal to Guillermo, our hearts are broken that it didn’t work out with the greatest third installment ever written that I wish I could play more than anything in the world. But I truly hope that Mike Mignola has his vision out there for the darker Hellboy come to light, and I’m sure he will, and David Harbour is excellent and everyone involved, but no my heart is broken.”

The emphasis on how “dark” this new Hellboy will be has been the only real thing to cause me concern. I think the cast is spot on, the filmmakers are competent, and there’s a lot to mine from the source material. Though I am one of the fans that loved Del Toro’s Hellboy films, especially the first one, and I believe Perlman absolutely embodied that character, the adoption didn't feel quite like the definitive take it should have been. The first one got the tone right, but the story felt a little too small in scale. Hellboy should feel bigger than a red brute in a trench coat bustin’ up monsters in sewers and train stations. The second film felt much more sweeping, but the humor became too broad.  

I don’t know that Harbor will resonate with me the way Perlman did, but everything I’ve heard suggests the tone of the film and charizations will be closer to Mignola’s vision. Ian Mcshane, who will play Professor Broom, had a lot to say about how his and Hellboy’s relationship will differ in the way it was portrayed in Del Toro’s films:

“You don't start with the birth of Hellboy, but the relationship between Hellboy and Broom is quite crusty. Does he trust his father? Hellboy asks, 'Why didn't you kill me? I'm a monster.' It's a little bit of a psychological battle against Hellboy. There's one important moment in the film when Hellboy sort of thinks he's fighting his own people, the outsiders. So, he's being used by the insiders, which is me, if you like.”

I like that this new Hellboy reboot is striving to be more than a pulpy monster movie. Emotional depth seems to be driving the narrative more than style. It’s interesting and we’ll have to see.

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