From Ron Perlman to David Harbour: Hellboy is Coming Back – But Not as You Know Him Under the Direction of Neil Marshall
Hellboy is awesome. From his first appearance in 1993, the chimera-demon has battled Nazis, voodoo occultists, and the scary stuff of myths – and has been a powerful ‘superhero’ creature that exists outside of the Marvel/DC rivalry. And he’s coming back – but not as you know him.
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The Hellboy sequel has come at the right time. Despite the last film being released almost a decade ago, Hellboy is still a popular franchise, and there is still a lot of scope for engagement with both existing fans and new fans. The franchise straddles the line between outright superhero chique and folklore avenger, which helps pull together many different potential fanbases.
For example, the comic series Hellboy and the B.P.R.D still runs, featuring stories of Hellboy fighting the evil occult in the 1950s, a somewhat origins-style story. And fans can still play a casino game with the character with William Hills' slots of Hellboy, which combine three and five reel slot gameplay with the Hellboy franchised content, allowing fans to connect with the red-faced avenger despite the cameras having stopped rolling.
The last time we saw Hellboy in the mainstream was in 2008, in Hellboy II: The Golden Army, following the successful Hellboy film of 2004. Hellboy – directed and co-written by Spanish horror legend Guillermo del Toro – starred Ron Perlman as the crime-fighting demon. Box office figures were steady – grossing 99.3million - despite the clash of the film’s release with The Passion of the Christ, which resulted in the film’s promotion being watered down in some cinemas to prevent the devil intonations being run alongside those of Jesus Christ.
Hellboy did have a sequel planned, the third film in the trilogy titled Hellboy III: Dark Worlds (nice name there, don’t you agree Thor?), which was scheduled for production to begin in 2009. However, despite the franchise’s moderate fan base, development hell stilted the production on the film, which would have seen Hellboy married to Selma Blair’s FBI agent Liz Sherman, and living with their two children. In early 2017, the film was finally shelved, despite the stars' readiness to reprise their roles.
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In May 2017, Hellboy fans were stirred from their years of big screen inactivity when Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen was announced as a reboot in the series. David Harbour of Stranger Things fame would replace Perlman as the eponymous character. Fans have already compared Hellboy to Harbour’s Stranger Things police officer. The film is expected to be released in 2018, a full ten years since the latest on-screen Hellboy adaptation and will be darker in tone than the original series.
The cinema is one of the most accessible ways of interacting with a character, so the reboot of Hellboy will likely cause a spike in Hellboy related games, merchandise, and probably an influx of new comic readers. The franchise reboot will have left enough time for new fans to be coming of an age when they would enjoy it, and for diehard fans of the original Perlman films to have come to terms with the series finishing.
HELLBOY: RISE OF THE BLOOD QUEEN HITS CINEMAS IN 2018