Director Guillermo del Toro bears no ill will toward the planned R-rated Hellboy reboot. Amid the early 2000s wave of comic book movies that brought us mainstream studio titles like X-Men, Spider-Man and the first attempt at the Hulk, Guillermo del Toro unleashed the oddball film Hellboy based on a relatively underground comic from the artist Mike Mignola. While the famous comic book movies starred traditional leading-man actors like Hugh Jackman, Tobey Maguire, and Eric Bana, Hellboy was headed up by the decidedly non-traditional Ron Perlman, a character actor best-known for playing the Beast in the cult TV series Beauty and the Beast.
Despite its unlikely source material and even-more-unlikely lead actor, Hellboy caught on well enough with audiences to spawn the sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army, also directed by del Toro. Years later, the acclaimed director would try to get a third Hellboy movie off the ground but would ultimately be frustrated in his efforts. Though del Toro is no longer involved, Hellboy will continue to have cinematic life thanks to a forthcoming reboot titled (for now) Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen to be directed by Neil Marshall, starring Stranger Things actor David Harbour as the title character.
One might think after his failed efforts to continue his own line of Hellboy films that del Toro might have some bitter feelings about having the property removed from his hands, but that’s not the case. As reported by THR, during a talk at the Annecy Animation Festival, del Toro discussed losing Hellboy and said he has no hard feelings over the coming reboot:
“I don’t own Hellboy, Mike [Mignola] does. So, you know, he is the father of the character and if he wants to reboot it, it’s perfectly fine. I got to make two – that’s two more than I thought I would get to make … So you know, as far as I’m concerned god speed and god bless.”
Del Toro has gotten to make a lot of films in his storied career, but he’s also seen some notable projects slip through his fingers over the years. He was famously slated to direct Peter Jackson’s Hobbit films before dropping out of the project, forcing Jackson himself to step in as director. Del Toro also was at one point prepping an ambitious Lovecraft adaptation At the Mountains of Madness that appears to be dead. Fans can only imagine the incredible alternative del Toro filmography featuring three Hobbit films, the Lovecraft movie, Hellboy 3 and the version of Mimic he would have made had the studio not tampered with his vision.
Del Toro does have a few projects in the pipeline at present, including the 2017 release The Shape of Water and the upcoming Pinocchio adaptation he is co-directing with stop-motion animator Mark Gustafson. Del Toro also has reportedly discussed Star Wars ideas with Kathleen Kennedy, so don’t slam the door on the director some day visiting a galaxy far, far away.
Though the original Hellboy films may have been inspired by Mignola’s works, there’s no question that they are steeped in the particular sensibilities of del Toro, who besides being a fine storyteller is a director with a very distinct visual style. Producers of the new Hellboy film are already trying to distance their movie from del Toro’s PG-13 vision of the character by promising a more gruesome, R-rated take.