When the initial cast for the upcoming Hellboy reboot was announced, severe criticism for was garnered its casting of Ed Skrein (Deadpool, Alita: Battle Angel) as Ben Daimio, a were-jaguar. Many saw it was whitewashing of Daimio, a character of Asian background, and Skrein ended up relinquishing the role to Korean-American actor Daniel Dae Kim.
Now, longtime franchise producer Lloyd Levin revealed how this highly-publicized incident ended up happening in the first place. The thinking around whitewashing occurred as the movie's creative team was simply trying to create English characters for the film's British background, which was heavily informed by stories such as "The Wild Hunt."
"When we started talking about this and we started talking about Daimio, it was years ago and we had already established a story where Daimio was… You know, the story takes place in the U.K.," said longtime franchise producer Lloyd Levin to Collider.
"So we were creating Daimio as giving him an English background and we lost track of who he was in the comic books and we made a mistake." he added. "Ed was very very gracious and it was something we all felt we wanted to correct."
This announcement came hot on the heels of the Ghost In the Shell controversy with Scarlett Johansson over a similar whitewashing issue. Fans were also vocal at the time about Asian characters being altered, with others also referencing how Marvel Studios swapped in Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in 2016's Doctor Strange.
In the Dark Horse Comics source material, Daimio was a Japanese-American and the former leader of a squad of U.S. Marines assigned to a rescue mission in the Bolivian jungle. When the mission went awry, he died only to return to life with his mystical shapeshifting powers and subsequently, he went on to work for Hellboy's handlers, the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.
In addition to "The Wild Hunt," the upcoming film will adapt elements of "The Wild Hunt" and two other Hellboy story arcs: "Darkness Calls" and "The Storm and the Fury." The R-rated reboot will be darker than its predecessor and is set to tell a different story with a slightly different take on the character.
Arriving April 12, 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.