WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Hellboy, now playing in theaters.
When the Hellboy reboot was announced, director Neil Marshall made it clear that, with the involvement of creator Mike Mignola, the film would be much closer to the comics than Guillermo del Toro's adaptations had been. This new version merges material from three comic book arcs -- "Darkness Calls," "The Wild Hunt" and "The Storm and the Fury" -- to revitalize the franchise, with David Harbour stepping into the title role.
Let's look the changes Marshall and screenwriter Andrew Cosby made from the comic books to weave those threads together, as Hellboy faces off against the Blood Queen, Nimue.
HELLBOY'S ARRIVAL IN ENGLAND
After a brutal war against the Baba Yaga and her army in the comics, Hellboy was left to ponder his future. Torn about being a monster who kills his own kind, he ended up in Italy, reclusive and contemplative. It was a letter from the Osiris Club in England, begging him to return for one last hurrah, that convinced him to get back into action.
In the film, it's his father, Professor Broom (Ian McShane), who bargains with Hellboy to go to England and kill the giants instead. Broom calls in a favor, as the society consists of dear old friends, and he begs Hellboy to get over his depression, which in this case isn't from the battle with Baba Yaga, but from murdering a former ally in Mexico, who transformed into a vampire.
THE WILD HUNT
This story, from Mignola and artist Duncan Fegredo, focuses on Hellboy's betrayal by the Osiris Club, with six giants then slaughtering the organization. Hellboy escapes their clutches after being rendered invisible by a magical flower. He then stumbles across the seer, Alice Monaghan, falls in love.
The movie shapes this differently, with three giants slaughtering the Osiris Club, and then battling Hellboy after he emerges from a nearby river. He goes on to kill them, only to be rescued by Alice, who finds him near-death. Here, though, he views Alice as a little sister, not a love interest, and they work with Ben Daimio (who wasn't in any of these comics) to go from the hunted to the hunters as Nimue's apocalyptic plan comes to light.
MERLIN THE MENTOR
"The Storm and the Fury" focuses on Morgan le Fay as the mystic who reveals the truth about Hellboy's lineage: He's the offspring of a demon and King Arthur's female descendant, Sarah (a former witch). In a vision, Morgan inspires Hellboy to focus on the man, not the monster within, and to use Excalibur to save the world.
The film transfers Morgan's role to Merlin, who was imprisoned in a cave for centuries. He provides Hellboy's origin story and summons Excalibur, only for Red to rebuke the offer. That leads to the wizard's death, and sets up a finale in which Milla Jovovich's Nimue tries to corrupt Hellboy into becoming her king.
HELLBOY'S BIG BATTLES
"The Wild Hunt" and "The Storm and the Fury" deliver the kinds of battles we'd expect from The Lord of the Rings. En route to learning that Nimue is indeed the destroyer people thought he would become, Hellboy fights off armies of the undead, and Nimue, who turns into a dragon. He eventually slays her, but as she's dragged to Hell, she tears his heart out and takes him down with her.
In the movie, when Hellboy has visions of becoming King of Hell, we actually see him riding a dragon, and commanding her demonic legion. Portions of this legion emerge when Nimue takes control of the hero in the finale, but sadly, Hellboy never gets to tussle with any of them. They all get sucked back to Hell when Red cuts off Nimue's head with Excalibur, and in this case, Hellboy throws her head into the fiery pits and remains alive on Earth.
GRUAGACH'S BLOODY FATE
The giant boar was a crucial part of these three stories, assembling Nimue's body so she could return to power and bring about a dark era in which monsters could roam freely. However, after he insults her plan, Nimue casts Gruagach aside, leaving him by the wayside to rot. The likes of Hellboy and Merlin ridicule him as he hangs from a tree, but Morgan later takes pity on him.
Gruagach doesn't evoke that sense of sympathy in the movie, in which he's a foul-mouthed brute doing Nimue's bidding so she will transform him back into his fairy form. However, his fate ends differently when his ego drives him to insist he must kill Hellboy. Nimue tells him Red is part of her master plan, and after the boar offends her, the Blood Queen destroys the beast, leaving nothing behind but a pool of blood.
In theaters nationwide, director Neil Marshall’s Hellboy stars David Harbour as Hellboy, Ian McShane as Trevor Bruttenholm, Milla Jovovich as Nimue, Sasha Lane as Alice Monaghan, Penelope Mitchell as Ganeida and Daniel Dae Kim as Ben Daimio.