I’m not a fan of remakes, reboots, reimaginings, or any other repeat that Hollywood can come up with. Most end up being hollow, overly commercialized money-making schemes using the love of a pre-existing fanbase to market a cliché, uninspired imitation of the original. Some remakes, however, become exceptional in their own right. The 2013 remake of Evil Dead provided the non-stop gore and physical horror that the 1981 original brought audiences but with a larger budget and more advanced practical and special effects. By far, it’s one of the few exceptions to the rule but it does give you hope that a classic can remain pristine while the story itself is grown and brought to life for a new generation. Enter Hellboy. Guillermo Del Toro and Ron Perlman brought this beloved 90s comic book hero to life in two live-action and two animated movies. With designs, dialogue, and stories that paid tribute to their source material while creating an entirely new Hellboy universe, fans were treated to the ongoing adventures of the B.P.R.D. and their ongoing mission to battle the paranormal forces of evil plotting against mankind. But it’s been nearly ten years since Hellboy II: The Golden Army, our last venture into the cinematic universe born from Mike Mignola’s seminal series, and even after a very public social media campaign by Perlman to resurrect the hero for one final, Del Toro backed adventure, it simply wasn’t meant to be. It wasn’t long after the demise of Perlman’s media blitz that the announcement was made that a new Hellboy film was in the works, sans the original cast and director. Fans were livid, many still so months after the announcement. To them, there can be no Hellboy without Ron Perlman. Like Freddy Krueger’s Robert Englund, they just can’t accept the thought of another actor playing the titular character. Despite the wailing and lamentations, the gnashing of teeth and bitter weeping that has all ensued from this development, I can’t wait to see it. Go ahead, throw some stones at me for saying it but it’s true. I am looking forward to a brand new Hellboy hitting the theaters and I can give you so many reasons why. To begin with, I’m a huge fan of the comic book series and the Hellboy universe featuring the B.P.R.D., Roger the Homunculus, and Lobster Johnson. I’ve been reading them since the late 90s when I was both young and broke. Well, let’s be clear, I’m still broke but my fandom devotion to these wonderfully crafted characters and their unique story has never wavered. Born from a failed Nazi experiment to create a paranormal super weapon, Hellboy was rescued by the soldiers and scientists (including Professor Broom) who would eventually become the B.P.R.D. and became a sometimes reluctant hero torn between his demonic nature and his love of humanity. Together with Abe Sapien, pyrokinetic Liz, Roger the Homunculus, and an ever-increasing, ever-changing crew of other paranormal beings and experts, Hellboy has had a generation spanning career both in his own timeline and since ink first touched paper in 1993. The Del Toro/Perlman universe that introduced a new wave of fans to the character in 2004 had its hits and misses with comic purists but, honestly, what comic book based movie doesn’t end up pissing off some fanboys? Even so, I went so far as to rewatch the two live action films (Hellboy, Hellboy II: The Golden Army) after reading about the reboot and, I have to say, they haven’t held up as well as I would have hoped. While the acting and storytelling are solid, the makeup and practical effects inventive and fun, there just seems to be something left out, something missing from the heart of it all. There’s no true exploration of the depths of Hellboy’s supernatural heritage, no room to explore the characters and find a true, lasting connection to them beyond the superficial (i.e. Selma Blair’s “performance” as Liz Sherman). While Perlman captured the sarcastic, almost petulant attitude of Mignola’s Hellboy, it still feels more like Ron Perlman as the character rather than the character itself. I’ll try to explain. Ron Perlman has this sort of snarky charm, this thick, booming voice that conveys more emotion and depth than any expression or movement he could ever hope to make. But looking at him in I still see Perlman. He creates a convincing enough Hellboy but I still see him the same as I did in Quest for Fire, Sons of Anarchy, The Tick, or any other live action role. Now, in the two Hellboy Animated movies, Sword of Storms and Blood and Iron, the writing allowed him to actually become Hellboy, not just Perlman in a Hellboy Costume. While the storytelling was on a par with the live action films, the medium allowed for more time to focus on the story rather than the cinematic design. Next, a reboot would allow us to finally see more of the rogue’s gallery of villains that the comic Hellboy has battled over the years. Personally, I’m hoping and praying to see a showdown between Red and the Baba Yaga, an enduring semi-villainous character with a rich backstory between herself and the demon savior of humanity. There’s also a much more sensible and clear overarching story involving Rasputin and his Nazi connections. Also, we have the potential to be introduced to live-action versions of some other fan favorites including Herman von Klempt and his Kriegraffe. For those unfamiliar, von Klempt is a talking head in a jar with a swastika carved onto his forehead. He is the mad scientist progenitor of an ongoing series of mechanically and genetically enhanced apes (usually chimps and gorillas) designed to be used as weapons for the Nazi war machine. He’s an excellent, unnerving choice for a villain or, at the least a nemesis, and besides all that, who wouldn’t love to see Hellboy kicking the shit out of some Nazis on the big screen? The answer is no one. Plus, we might actually learn what it is that’s so damned powerful about pancakes. While Del Toro brought to life some very memorable, very unique iterations of Mignola’s universe, they all had what is a very definitive style that the director is known for which is somewhat in opposition of the overall style of the Hellboy universe. What we have with a Hellboy reboot is the chance to wipe the slate clean and see a completely new story be brought to life with some of our favorite characters on the big screen once again. The great thing about adapting a comic book as opposed to a novel is the freedom it gives writers and directors inside the established universe. You can take whole story lines or elements of story lines and blend them with fresh ideas into something one of a kind that has never been seen before. Think it can’t be done. Look at Harley Quinn from Batman. The character didn’t appear until the early 90s and made her debut in Batman: The Animated Series. Since then, the Joker’s main squeeze has taken on a life of her own becoming a pop culture icon and villainess turned antihero. You can find even more examples of expanded universes influencing the direct canon of a series but I’ll stop there before this article rambles on a little too far. I loved the original Hellboy movies. Like watching Deadpool for the first time it was absolutely phenomenal to see a character I’d read for years brought to life on the big screen. That said, sometimes change can be a good thing. It’s time to introduce a new generation to Mike Mignola’s fantastic, often creepy world and the marvelous cast of characters that exist inside. Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. are a globe spanning group of researchers and soldiers protecting us from the Frogmen, the Servants of the Left Hand and the King of Fear, and, of course, all those fucking Nazis. From Lovecraftian gods to madmen driven by forces beyond what we understand as reality, it’s a very broad universe that deserves another chance to be explored on film. Perlman and Del Toro have met with Stranger Things star David Harbour who will be playing the titular hero and has received a sort of blessing from them as he introduces a new generation to the character and the virtually innumerable host of monsters that have sprang forth from Mignola’s mind over the last 25 years. It’s a great time to be a comic book fan and the future is still looking bright. The title of the film, slated for a 2018 release, has been announced as Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen not so much hinting as slapping us in the face with one of the more mythically rooted foes appearing in what will, hopefully, become a prelude to an entirely new series of films. Don’t take my word for any of this, though. Pick up volume one of the series, Seed of Destruction, and read it for yourself. Follow that up with Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy and then Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron and see what you think. Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.