Following in the footsteps of Guillermo del Toro is an unenviable task. While the Hellboy movies might not have been the most glorious of blockbusters, they have strong supporters within the fan community, and many of them still have their fingers crossed that Ron Perlman could one-day close out his trilogy of films. Sorry folks, that’s just not going to happen.
Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones) has taken over the franchise and he has promised that this reboot starring David Harbour (Stranger Things) will be much more in tone with Mike Mignola‘s cosmic-gothic comic book series. As much as I’ve enjoyed the other films, I recognize that they are more del Toro than Mignola, and I believe a more faithful adaptation could produce something truly cinematically unique. We finally have the first trailer, so let’s click on it, and take a gander.
Huh. Harbour is certainly more Ron Perlmany than I was expecting, and I’m not so sure about that song choice. This trailer screams fun, and that’s not an adjective I’d first choose to describe the comic book that I love so much. However, this is the first trailer, and they’re trying to grab mainstream popcorn attention. With the aid of the pause button, we actually do catch quite a bit of the source material. So, let’s dig in.
The first image we see is a ground level shot of Hellboy looking down from a tenement building. A tiny red figure in a sea of concrete. Nothing particular to write home about. Someone says, “He warned us that something was coming.” We cut to this shot of Hellboy carrying a person/corpse across a rock bridge with agent Ben Daimo following closely behind. The world of man is behind, the world of legend lays ahead. Ian McShane‘s Professor Bruttenholm chillingly prophesizes, “If there is ever an end…”
“…to this forever war…” Hellboy approaches Excalibur. The famous Arthurian sword played a major role in Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo‘s “The Wild Hunt” mini-series which Neil Marshall has said is a major basis for the 2019 reboot. Nothing fancy with the design here, it appears just as plainly as it does in the comics. Don’t let that fool you, though; she packs a mean fiery swing.
“…it will be because of you and your strong right hand.” Our first proper look of David Harbour as Anung Un Rama, the beast of the apocalypse. As bat demons fly above, an itchy trigger finger is pulled, and a cop takes a shot at Hellboy. Big Red is none too happy about that, “Hey, I’m on your side!” The comedic release from pomp and circumstance is very much in tune with modern MCU adventures and what Guillermo del Toro established in the first couple of films.
Cut to the Summit Entertainment logo and Billy Idol’s rendition of “Mony, Mony” kicks in. While the song certainly elicits a grand time at the movies, it doesn’t necessarily jive with the broodier aspect of the comic book series. Maybe Marshall’s film will have more in common with del Toro’s than originally anticipated. Daniel Dae Kim‘s Benjamin Daimio leads Hellboy and Sasha Lane‘s Alice Monaghan into a secret B.P.R.D. (Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense) safehouse. Hellboy saved Alice from nefarious fairies as a child, and she appears to have been kicking it with him ever since.
In his films, del Toro called this monstrosity The Samaritan, but when Mignola gave it a name in the books, he called it the Big Baby. Whatever its moniker in Marshall’s film, we can bet it will carry one hell of a blast. We see it in action a couple of times in the trailer and heads do go pop.
Here Hellboy leads the charge of “The Wild Hunt.” A group of British noblemen requests that Anung Un Rama join them on one of their giant-slaying campaigns. Hellboy is always down to smash monsters, but I wouldn’t trust these Brits if I were you H.B. They are fully aware of his destiny as the beast of the apocalypse, and naturally they do not want him to take his rightful throne.
The curious men that surround Hellboy are the Osiris Club. They’ve associated with the noblemen of The Wild Hunt but not necessarily the same guys. They’ve been granted immortality by the spirit of Larzod so that they may bear witness to the last days of man. They believe Hellboy will lead the final army in the last battle of humanity. Dark, trippy stuff. They’re far more aware of the power behind Hellboy’s Right Hand of Doom than the B.P.R.D. agent. Hellboy is just happy that it makes for a good monster-bashing tool. He’s hard to ignore with that thing hanging by his side.
Oh hell. Well, to be more precise, that’s Pandemonium, the capital city of Hell. It’s where the comic book series climaxed, so I wouldn’t get too attached to it here. Marshall’s film will offer glimpses, but we won’t get a good walking tour until a few sequels down the line.
I’m guessing/hoping that this bat-beast will open the film. You have to look quickly, but the creature is depicted in the center of a wrestling ring. Hellboy has ventured down to Mexico to get drunk and battle a particular Mayan demon as a luchador.
This is Camzotz, and he’s one mean dude. One of my favorite elements of the book is how Mignola will gift his character to another talented cartoonist like Richard Corben and let them go nuts with the setting and design. While Mignola was concerned with marching Hellboy towards his destiny as the Beast that would unleash Revelations, he also wasn’t afraid to grant him his own Twilight Zone/Tales from the Crypt-like spin-off stories. If Marshall’s film is successful enough to grant sequels, it would be fantastic if each one opened with a standalone adventure a la this showdown with Camzotz.
An apparent escapee from Silent Hill terrorizes the streets of England. The beast explodes some poor fool with one swipe of his sword arm. Splash. This Hellboy is obviously upping the gore quotient from del Toro’s take on the character. Hard-R.
Milla Jovovich as Nimue, the Queen of Blood that’s orchestrating all these evil shenanigans. She was a lover of Merlin who fell under the spell of the Ogdru Jahad a.k.a. those Lovecraftian space dragons we saw in the del Toro movies. The witches of England chose her to lead them in a victory over man after Hellboy turned them down (see the “Darkness Calls” mini-series). She wants to rain down that ancient, infinite evil and wipe the slate clean of humanity. Big Red has a problem with that scenario.
Zap to a quick glimpse of Hellboy’s origin. Rasputin and his Nazi goons are also in league with the Ogdru Jahad, and when they attempt to reach out to them, they accidentally summon Hellboy into our world. For the first several series of comics, Rasputin and Kroenen were major threats, but Nimue ultimately revealed herself to be an even greater disaster-in-waiting.
Another classic character from the books is revealed as Hellboy plummets from Baba Yaga’s chicken leg shack. Yep, Russian folklore folks. It’s nuts. The Baba Yaga is a legendary witch and tremendous thorn in the side of Hellboy. She has played the role of the antagonist as well as an assistant. Her motives are all her own, and Hellboy will never quite understand what side she’s operating on. By embracing the weirdest of fairy tales, Marshall can separate this comic book adventure from the run-of-the-mill spandex theatrics.
The Wild Hunt brings Hellboy face to face with a couple of giants, and they make quick work of him. BOOM! Red goes flying across the fields of England.
A possible peek at the climax. Nimue is summoning the great darkness from beyond, and we also get a good shot of another fairy tale henchman. Entering the portal is the pig-man Gruagach. He is a fairy trapped inside the deteriorating body of a boar-shaped giant. He’d rather destroy the world than spend another day in it as this wretched creature. If there was ever a more pathetic being in comics, I have not met them.
Here’s the money shot. Let’s all go out and spray it on our vans and rock out to Led Zeppelin. Hellboy’s horns have grown out, the crown of the beast sits atop his head, and he wields a fiery Excalibur. This is not necessarily a sign that all things are going according to plan. When he reaches this state, it means a devastating end to all mankind. We may be pumping our fists now, but we’ll be praying later.
Hellboy hits theaters on April 12, 2019.