When the upcoming ‘Hellboy’ reboot was announced, the reaction could perhaps best be described as “ambivalent.” After all, it’s hard not to be excited at the prospect of a new ‘Hellboy’ movie, let alone one presenting a darker, R-rated take on the character. But despite that, the announcement came as something of a crushing blow to fans who had been holding out hope for nearly a decade that Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman might yet get to finish their planned trilogy of ‘Hellboy’ films.
And that very sense of ambivalence, driven as it is by fan loyalty to del Toro, could well have cost the new film its star. While David Harbour was eager to take on the project when he was offered the part, he soon found his friends to be rather protective of the character. As he explained to The Hollywood Reporter:
“I was approached by some very prominent nerd whom I know very well, and I respect their opinions because they’re friends of mine, who were like, “Dude, step away from the ‘Hellboy’. Step away.”
While Harbour is sympathetic, he hopes that fans will come to embrace his version of Hellboy for precisely those elements that set it apart from Perlman’s, drawing comparisons to another comic book icon:
“I can like Michael Keaton’s Batman and I can like Christian Bale’s Batman. I can like Jack Nicholson’s Joker and I can like Heath Ledger’s Joker. There’s other Jokers I don’t have to like.”
And it’s precisely those differences that Harbour emphasizes when speaking of the upcoming reboot. While he has nothing but praise for del Toro and Perlman, he also has a clear affection for the comics by which the films are inspired. In fact, he’s quick to note that the reboot’s supposedly greater fidelity to the tone and style of those comics is precisely what drew him to the project:
“They (the comics) seem much more macabre to me, they seem much more melancholy, they seem much more primal, more struggle, more angst. And I felt like those other two movies were funnier and brighter and kind of sillier in a way, which was great for what it was. But I thought to approach this material in a different light and to do something completely different than what they had done.
“This was something I couldn’t pass up because I love those Mignola comics. And the mythos we are in now, I feel like two strains are running. They are making these kind of popcorn-y, somewhat two-dimensional comic book movies and then there is this strain like ‘Logan’ and ‘Deadpool’. That is what I am drawn to in the genre. I would love to do a ‘Hellboy’ where you love him, but you’re also not quite sure about him.”
Be sure to check back with ScienceFiction.com for more on ‘Hellboy’ as it becomes available.
Directed by Neil Marshall, ‘Hellboy’ stars David Harbour, Ian McShane, Milla Jovovich, Daniel Dae Kim, and Sophie Okonedo. The film is due for release on January 11, 2019.