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What the Hellboy Reboot Has To Take From Its Predecessors

by  in CBR Exclusives Comment
What the Hellboy Reboot Has To Take From Its Predecessors

Last week, the comic book world was surprised to learn that Mike Mignola’s signature creation, Hellboy, is returning to the big screen. As Mignola revealed, an R-rated reboot from The Descent director Neil Marshall starring actor David Harbour (Stranger Things, Suicide Squad) as Big Red will make its way to theaters in the near future. The film, with a script by Andrew Cosby, Christopher Golden and Mignola himself, is tentatively titled Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen. Though confirmation last fall that a Hellboy 3 from director Guillermo Del Toro and star Ron Perlman wouldn’t happen, to fans, this is welcome news indeed.

Having marathoned all four films since this announcement — 2004’s Hellboy, 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army and the two direct-to-video animated films, Hellboy: Sword of Storms  and Hellboy: Blood & Iron — we’ve come up with a list of things the previous movies brought to the table that would be a shame to jettison in the character’s silver screen reboot.

Keep Mignola Actively Involved

This, thankfully, is something we’re already assured of happening. Not only does Mignola have experience working in film and TV (famously designing the DCAU Mr. Freeze and serving as a production artist on Atlantis: The Lost Empire), he was heavily involved in the creation of each previous Hellboy film. Credited as the story co-writer on each one, Mignola not only gave each production his blessing, but made them feel as personal and meaningful as the comics that birthed the characters. In an age where the most a comics creator often hopes for from an adaptation of their work is an on-screen creator credit or cameo, Mignola’s involvement speaks volumes.

Furthermore, while it was really cool to see the frozen zombie Ivan look like a Mignola drawing come to life in 2004, special effects can do that much better, now. Thanks to advances in makeup and computer technology, crafting creatures that faithfully honor Mignola’s designs should be no problem for whatever FX house gets this job.

Preserve the Source Material’s Tone

Hellboy teams up with a Cow to fight Aliens

Specifically, the reboot needs to capture the unique blend of pulp adventure, supernatural horror and heartfelt humor that’s always been Hellboy‘s stock in trade. What’s important is ensuring the script finds the time to properly explore each in a balanced manner. The del Toro Hellboy films have tons of action and spooky monsters, but their most memorable scenes aren’t when they speed up but rather, when they slow down. Whether it’s the first film’s tender scenes between Liz and Hellboy, or the second film’s single best fight scene coming right after Abe and Hellboy popping cold ones and talking through their relationship problems, the franchise works best when it blends real emotion with exciting action. Hopefully, Rise of the Blood Queen won’t ignore that crucial aspect.

Hellboy Is A Wiseass, Not A Badass

The most striking thing about the previous Hellboy films is just how much the title character gets knocked down. Sure, he’s functionally indestructible, but that doesn’t mean he never gets the stuffing kicked out of him. But despite his nigh-invulnerability, what’s truly endearing about him isn’t how badass he is (though he’s plenty badass), but how snarky and funny he is. His last line in Sword of Storms is a perfect example of this. “OK, I’m gonna get some aspirin and some breakfast. Who’s with me?” he quips after narrowly avoiding an apocalypse by stabbing two elemental demons and going on a quasi-mystical journey involving flying heads and giant spiders. If the new film even has one moment like that, it’ll have gotten it right.

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