With the new Hellboy movie just about seven months away from release, Big Red's creator had a few things to say about what to expect from it — and what not to.
When the first two Guillermo del Toro-directed Hellboy pictures came out in 2004 (Hellboy) and 2008 (Hellboy II: The Golden Army), comics-based films and TV series still did not dominate the cultural landscape as they do now. Yes, there were successful Spider-Man and X-Men films, but Batman was still getting back on his feet as a box-office force and the Marvel Cinematic Universe was just being born.
It's a whole different ballgame these days, as we all know, with four major film "universes" in various stages of existence and other comic book material popping up on TV or at the movies seemingly every week. In an interview with io9, Hellboy creator, writer, and artist Mike Mignola hinted at how the reboot might set itself apart from the crowd:
"If anything, we’re trying to do something very different. Basically, there’s no part of Hellboy that was ever going to be like other superhero movies. And the more Marvel stuff there is, the more DC stuff there is, Hellboy never really feels like — even in the del Toro things — a superhero movie."
He elaborates on how he sees superhero movies now, and why Hellboy won't go down the same road:
"It’s so much 'big teams of guys, in costumes, running around and saving the world from big cosmic menace stuff...' I believe the new movie will feel even less like a regular superhero thing. The idea with this one was to make it play much less like a superhero film, to downplay the superhero elements even more than del Toro did. This one is much more folklore/mythology/horror, and not 'big team rushing into to do battle with whatever kind of stuff.'"
Those three words — folklore, mythology, and horror — have always been an essential part of the Hellboy canon in the comics, and the key to making that part of the movie as well may simply come down to its director, Neil Marshall.
Marshall's resume includes one of the scariest horror movies of the last 15 years (The Descent), a dark war thriller set in a period of early British history (Centurion), a movie about werewolves (Dog Soldiers), and two of the most acclaimed episodes of Game of Thrones ever. He's got a grittier, perhaps earthier sensibility than the more grandiose del Toro (which is not a knock on GDT, by the way).
Marshall probably wants very much to differentiate his movie from the previous two, and is apparently going for a look that's much closer to the comics than the earlier movies. The plot itself — with Nimue the Blood Queen raising an army of demonic fairies, an ancient giant-hunting ritual, and more — is also more rooted in the source material and the kinds of folklore and legends that Mignola was talking about.
We'll find out if Marshall and Mignola pull it off when Hellboy — which stars David Harbour in the title role, Milla Jovovich as Nimue, and Ian McShane as Professor Bruttenholm — arrives on January 11, 2019.