When the general public considers comic book studios, chances are their first thoughts will be of Marvel and DC. These two studios, whether they are in-house projects or creations by 20th Century Fox and Sony, have well and truly conquered the superhero movie industry over the last 10 years. Still, every so often there’s a comic book studio that wants to enter the fray and give their comics, often ones that have been popular among readers for a long time, the cinematic treatment.
One of the most successful superhero movies to come from a studio besides DC or Marvel in the last two decades was Dark Horse Comic’s Hellboy. Under the expert direction of Guillermo del Toro and starring Ron Pearlman as the main demon himself, Hellboy received two movies that both received positive reviews. Alas, after the sequel was released in 2008 all chances of a third film disappeared and the Hellboy franchise became a clip note in the history of modern comic book movies.
At least, that was until earlier this year when it was finally revealed that Hellboy will be returning to the big screen as soon as 2019, which is more than we can say for the Uncharted movie. We’re not mad, you’re mad.
Hellboy’s Return Will Be Dark
Rather than a sequel, though, this release will be a reboot and, according to the rumours surrounding the movie, it will be pretty different from its predecessors. Though the film has yet to be rated by the MPAA as of the time of writing, it’s thought that it will receive an R-rating as it will be far more faithful to the source material than the previous movies were, focusing mostly on the Darkness Calls, The Wild Hunt and The Storm and Fury storylines.
According to Mike Mignola in an exclusive interview to Nerdist, the creator of the original comic series, though this movie may not be particularly violent, it does allow for more creative freedom. In the Guillermo del Toro-led movies of 2004 and 2008, Hellboy had the whimsy that many of the director’s other films such as 2006’s Pan’s Labyrinth and The Shape of Water (2017) share. This new reboot, though, will have a bit more of an edge, perhaps even entering horror territory. This is especially possible when we consider who the new director is. Picking up where Guillermo del Toro dropped off will be Neil Marshall, who is most well-known for Dog Soldiers (2002) and The Descent (2005), as well as episodes of Game of Thrones (2012 – 2014), Black Sails (2014), Constantine (2014), Hannibal (2015) and Westworld (2016). Clearly, Marshall is well-versed in fusing horror and action together to create a dark yet enjoyable experience.
Why This is a Smart Move
Though this may take fans of the older series by surprise, it is actually an incredibly smart move on the comic book studio’s part. After all, previous gritty adult-orientated comic book movies such as Logan (2017), Deadpool (2016) and Watchmen (2009) have all done incredibly well. This may be primarily due to the fact that, according to retailers surveyed by media outlet Newsarama, the majority of comic book fans are now in their mid-30s. This explains the release of series such as Jessica Jones (2015) on Netflix and Fox’s Gotham (2014), which are a long way from the old episodes of The Batman with Adam West. Games based on comic book heroes are also far more adult-orientated, even appearing at online casinos including Betway Casino in the form of slots, with The Dark Knight and Hellboy being just two leading examples. Injustice 2 is another example. Based on the Justice League, this 2017 console and PC title features Hellboy as one of many DC heroes.
As for merchandise, a quick search on Amazon reveals that many of the top products are Deadpool related – a character that couldn’t be any more aimed towards adults if they tried. There are also plenty of statues and other memorabilia that are for home display, such as near-exact replicas of Hellboy’s revolver available on Etsy, which are certainly not meant to be played with. There are even more superhero t-shirts available for adult men on sites such as Redbubble, with over 13,000 results. Clearly, superheroes are for the grown-ups and it’s about time Hellboy grew up.
Yes, Ron Pearlman’s Hellboy will be missed but we have high hopes that David Harbour, most known for his role as Jim Hopper in Stranger Things, will do a fine job alongside Neil Marshall. If all goes well and this new Hellboy movie is received well both critically and commercially then it could launch an entire series of movies. For now, we will simply have to wait until the movie is released on January 11, 2019. The scheduled date is great news, as many of the big Christmas blockbusters will have already been out for a couple of weeks and the only competition Hellboy should have, that we know of, is a sci-fi project by Brad Pitt currently entitled Ad Astra and M. Night Shymalan’s Glass. Let’s just keep out rock-hard Right Hand of Doom fingers crossed while we wait for the release.