Hellboy, the demon with the right hand of doom, is headed back to the big screen in 2018.
Directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones) from a script by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, Andrew Cosby (Eureka), and Christopher Golden, Hellboy is inspired by the popular Dark Horse Comics series about an infant demon summoned by Nazi occultists during World War II, only to end up in the care of a kind British professor at the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense after the war. Raised within the BPRD, Hellboy becomes one of the world’s greatest investigators of the unknown, tackling all manner of occult and supernatural threats.
The upcoming film reboots the popular two-part franchise directed by Guillermo del Toro, with Stranger Things actor David Harbour taking over the role of the titular, red-skinned demon from Ron Perlman (Sons of Anarchy, Blade II).
With Hellboy expected to arrive in theaters in 2018, here’s everything we know about the movie so far.
In September 2017, we got our first look at Stranger Things actor David Harbour as Hellboy.
Hellboy creator Mike Mignola posted a photo on Twitter of Harbour as the popular demon detective, and it offered a hint at how the reboot of the Hellboy franchise is planning to tweak the visual aesthetic of the Dark Horse Comics character after two films in which Perlman portrayed the character.
— Mike Mignola (@artofmmignola) September 13, 2017
Along with some slight changes to the horn stumps on Hellboy’s head, Harbour’s version of the character also appears to have a slightly different spin on the character’s massive right hand — known as “The Right Hand of Doom” in the comic’s lore. Rather than a rocky look, Hellboy’s right forearm and hand have a weathered metal appearance.
One thing that clearly hasn’t been changed, however, is Hellboy’s bright red skin.
Deadpool actor Ed Skrein was initially attached to play BPRD field team leader Major Ben Daimio in the film, but he dropped out of the project in late August 2017 due to concerns that his character — who is of Asian-American descent in the comics — had been “whitewashed” in the film.
In a post on Twitter, Skrein explained his reasons for exiting the project and indicated that he was unaware of Daimio’s original ethnicity when he accepted the role.
— Ed Skrein (@edskrein) August 28, 2017
Just a few weeks later, Hawaii Five-O and Lost actor Daniel Dae Kim was confirmed for the role. The actor later posted a photo on Instagram of himself with Skrein, celebrating their new friendship and applauding him for the difficult decision he made.
The support team
Not too long after Harbour was cast in the lead role, Hellboy filled out its cast with several high-profile additions.
Deadwood and American Gods actor Ian McShane (pictured) was cast in the role of Professor Bruttenholm, Hellboy’s adoptive father at the BPRD, while Milla Jovovich (The Fifth Element, Resident Evil) also joined the cast as Nimue (a.k.a. “The Blood Queen”), a medieval sorceress with dire plans for humankind.
Skrein was eventually replaced by Kim in the role of Ben Daimio, and subsequent additions to the cast included Sasha Lane (American Honey) as Alice Monaghan and Penelope Mitchell (Hemlock Grove) as the witch Ganeida.
What’s in a title?
When the film was first announced in May 2017, the title given to it was Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen. This, along with the casting of Jovovich as Nimue, offered some indications of where the film would find its source material.
“The Wild Hunt” story arc from the Hellboy comic book series kicked off in December 2008 and chronicled the efforts of a witch from Arthurian mythology named Nimue who stole the wizard Merlin’s power, only to be defeated and locked away for centuries. Released from her imprisonment in the modern era, the witch sets a scheme in motion to destroy mankind, with only Hellboy standing between her and the annihilation of humanity.
Although this story does appear to be the inspiration for the film, the title was eventually simplified to Hellboy in August 2017. Jovovich remains in her role as Nimue, however, so that aspect of the film appears to still be in play.
When Hellboy creator Mignola first announced plans for a reboot of the franchise, he indicated that the new film will differ from its predecessors in one major way: It will have an ‘R’ rating.
Okay, here's some news–There IS going to be another HELLBOY MOVIE. It's going to be an R rated reboot directed by…
Both of the previous Hellboy movies were rated PG-13, but the addition of accomplished horror director Marshall, Mignola’s desire to forge a new path with the franchise, and the recent success of ‘R’-rated films like Deadpool and Logan appear to have pushed the film into more adult territory.
“We’ve been granted permission to do it ‘R’-rated, which for me is just like taking the cuffs off,” Marshall explained on an episode of the Post Mortem podcast. “It’s like, OK, so now we can just make the movie we want to make. It’s not like I’m going to force it to be ‘R’-rated, but if it happens to come out that way, just because of my own sensibilities, then fine. And nobody’s going to stop us. So, that’s the main [difference]. … Also, when you go back the original material, it is kind of bloody, so I’m going to embrace that.”
Basically, there’s reason to believe Hellboy’s skin won’t be the only red audiences see in the film.
Although Perlman and original Hellboy franchise director Del Toro expressed interest in doing another film at various points over the years, the pair confirmed that the character’s big-screen future wouldn’t include them in a series of February 2017 posts on Twitter.
Hellboy 3 Sorry to report: Spoke w all parties. Must report that 100% the sequel will not happen. And that is to be the final thing about it
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) February 21, 2017
Hellboy may move into a different direction. I tried & wanted this- but, not up to me. I, for one, wish everyone involved the best of luck! https://t.co/mnHQcABI4l
— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) February 22, 2017
— Ron Perlman (@perlmutations) February 22, 2017
The decision to part ways with the franchise director and star doesn’t appear to have created any bad blood, as Del Toro later commented that he’s just happy to have made the two films that he did.
“I got to make two — that’s two more than I thought I would get to make,” he told The Hollywood Reporter. “So you know, as far as I’m concerned, God speed and God bless.”
As for Perlman, actor and comedian Patton Oswalt brokered a meeting between the Hellboy stars past and future in June 2017 that appears to have gone well for all parties — with the possible exception of Oswalt’s wallet.
Not since Bill Clinton, Menachem Begin, and Anwar Sadat has there been such an epic summit yelding such a little result!…
“Apparently, Patton Oswalt, aka balvenieboy, thought it was a good idea to host David Harbour and yours truly for a detente dinner,” Perlman wrote on Facebook. “The result: I gained 3 pounds and ruined my liver. Meanwhile, good luck kid! Signed, the babe.”
“Patton brokered a peace, it was incredible,” Harbour told Yahoo of the meeting. “I had reached out to Ron because I’m a big fan of his. He’s a really sweet guy and we wanted to just talk shop, and I just thought Patton Oswalt would be the perfect chaperone in case Ron and I started to make out or we started dancing too close or if we started getting in a fistfight.”