To say that Neil Marshall’s upcoming ‘Hellboy’ reboot has a few challenges before it might be understating things a bit. On top of the usual creative challenges that come with adapting a pre-existing work, they also have to win over a fandom that has spent years holding out hope for a third outing by beloved (and now Oscar-winning) director Guillermo Del Toro.
On the latter front at least, they seem to have settled on the best possible approach. See, Del Toro’s fingerprints are all over his ‘Hellboy’ films. That’s certainly not a bad thing, but it does affect the tone and thematic content of the narrative. The shorthand way of summing up the extant ‘Hellboy’ movies has always been to say that the first is of a ‘Hellboy’ adaptation (specifically of the inaugural ‘Seed of Destruction’ storyline) while the second was more of a fantasy-infused affair of the sort for which Del Toro is famous. By contrast, the ‘Hellboy’ comics have always had a darker tone, influenced more by folklore than fantasy, and Marshall’s film is shaping up to be a more direct adaptation of a story that originally played out across a trilogy of miniseries: ‘Darkness Calls’, ‘The Wild Hunt’, and ‘The Storm and the Fury’.
Speaking to Entertainment Weekly, ‘Hellboy’ creator Mike Mignola contrasted the reboot with the Del Toro films, but in terms of his involvement and the filmmaker’s approaches more generally. With regard to his own involvement, Mignola explains that he was relatively hands off with Del Toro’s efforts, largely because he had known the director for several years at that point (and thus had a certain confidence that his characters were in the right hands), though he did provide some concept art. This time around, Mignola’s involvement has been more extensive, particularly with regard to the script. And as for the differences in the two directors’ approaches to the property? Well, I’ll let Mignola explain that in his own words:
“The first film was based on one of the comics, but Del Toro was looking to reinvent everything. I think the difference is here, the bulk of the Fegredo arc takes place in the real world. So instead of making up a whole fantasy world, it was “Let’s find locations that feel like these real-world locales that Duncan drew in the comic.” I think the bulk of the characters in the film are established in the comic. It was insane for me to walk in there and see that someone did a really nice rendering of a creature I created or Duncan created. It’s got a whole different feel from the older movies. Duncan’s not working on it, but I did see stuff in the movie that was so close to what Duncan drew, more so than what was in the previous movies. It was pretty exciting.”
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.