As Neil Marshall prepares to bring Hellboy to our screens, creator Mike Mignola reveals how the latest movie will lean much more on his comic book source material.
With a character created back in 1993, Mignola's Hellboy series hit the shelves a year later and has gone on to become a monster hit as a gritty superhero franchise. Fans of the horned Anung Un Rama will know that Guillermo del Toro brought him to life in 2004's Hellboy and 2008's Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Sadly, with a third outing languishing in development hell, Marshall has taken over to reboot the series with a (currently untitled) Hellboy coming out next year.
Mignola will again be involved behind-the-scenes, but speaking to EW, he promised one key difference between the way del Toro used him and the way Marshall does:
“It’s funny, because my involvement has been very different than the Del Toro movies. The difference is I had known Del Toro for six years by the time we did the first movie. Neil I met a couple months before he worked on the movie. It was very different, but I have been involved ever since they said ‘Hey we’re gonna make another Hellboy movie, and we’re gonna do this story.’ I’ve bounced back and forth with them about how to adapt this particular Hellboy story."
While the first Hellboy movie could be seen as a loose adaptation of the comics, del Toro went almost completely off-piste when making The Golden Army, imagining his own world in a similar vein to the critically-acclaimed Pan's Labyrinth. Many loved the sequel just as much as the original, but it veered down a more fantasy path that was decidedly different to the uber-dark universe Mignola imagined. It sounds like Hellboy's creator was used sparingly on del Toro's movies, but this time, he has a bigger part behind the scenes:
"At various times I’ve jumped in and been much more active in the screenplay than I ever was on the Del Toro movies. But I did nothing so far as design stuff on the movie. Guillermo wanted me as a concept artist, but on this movie, there were other concept artists. I came in and I looked at some stuff, but they were trying to do something so close to what’s on the comics that they really leaned on what had been done by Duncan [Fegredo] and me in the comics.”
Although del Toro introduced characters like Johann Krauss from the comics in The Golden Army, it always felt like he was using it to set up a third movie or a possible Abe Sapien B.P.R.D. spinoff. Neither of these ever came to be, meaning that some die-hard Hellboy fans and stars are still holding a grudge toward the Marshall takeover of their beloved series. However, if Mingola is hyping up a darker - and possibly R-rated - Hellboy, then what isn't there to be excited about?
Now, as we usher in a new era, there is some fresh meat in the form of Marshall taking over from del Toro and Stranger Things star David Harbour replacing Ron Perlman as the lead. The storyline is currently being kept a secret after Hellboy 2019 lost its Rise of the Blood Queen subtitle, but according to the man himself, audiences can expect it to be pulled straight from the bloody pages of Mignola's books themselves.
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