The 10 Biggest Differences Between Hellboy Comics & Films

Hellboy lovers were torn between excitement and apprehension when David Harbour took up Ron Perlman's mantle this year, particularly since many have wanted a third installment in Guillermo del Toro's adaptation of Mike Mignola's comics for years. Since that is very unlikely to occur, many of us pumped ourselves up for the adrenaline-fueled, grisly adventure that... kind of wasn't.

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Even if you didn't love 2019's Hellboy, which at least featured some pretty cool monsters, you should know that it did contain some canon material that del Toro's didn't. Both films weren't entirely true to the comics, but it's still quite possible to enjoy all three entities, plus the animated features.

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Ron Perlman as Hellboy in Hellboy II
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10 Comic Hellboy Is Not A Jovial Red Ape

Ron Perlman as Hellboy in Hellboy II

While Hellboy is known to do some wisecracking, he's definitely not as funny as Ron Perlman's version of the character. He's even better known for falling asleep on the job in the comics than making jokes. Longtime fans of Mike Mignola's comics don't even see the films as a canon adaptation of the works, but a loose interpretation of the grim character and his adventures, which are often solo.

In this way, 2019's Hellboy is more canonical to the source material. Harbour's Hellboy is a much more stoic character, and even when he makes a joke it's delivered in a much more deadpan fashion.

9 Del Toro's Movies Are Sillier

Hellboy 2

There is nothing wrong with del Toro's Hellboy interpretation. In fact, both movies are highly enjoyable, but they have moments you wouldn't find in the comic books that are downright goofy. From HB freaking out over Liz taking Agent Myers' photo to him and Abe getting drunk and singing a cringe-worthy love song together as they commiserate over their girlfriends, del Toro's works get sillier than we'd expect from anything featuring Hellboy.

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The silliness that readers experience usually involves some sort of trickster giving Hellboy a hard time or witnessing him catastrophically wipe out during a fight where he's in way over his head.

8 Everyone Knows Who Hellboy Is In The Comics

Daniel Dae Kim David Harbour and Ian McShane in Hellboy

There is such a focus on keeping Hellboy hidden away as some sort of conspiracy theory in the first two films that you would never guess that he's a popular public figure who is very well known in the comics. Manning even bribes him with cigars to stay quiet, but in the comic books there is certainly no need to hide him in garbage trucks or go on national television to denounce the existence of the BPRD.

The reboot doesn't really work to conceal Hellboy, but he's not really a public figure, either. It's closer to the comics than del Toro's in this regard.

7 The Comics Are Much Grittier Than Del Toro's Movies

A big fan complaint regarding the del Toro films, which were loosely based on the comics, was that they just didn't match the tone of the comics. Hellboy is a violent, dark and gritty Dark Horse comic, and while del Toro's adaptation was definitely stylish, complete with gorgeous costumes and fantastic creatures, it really didn't match Mignola's world.

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The reboot attempted to address this with its R rating, complete with a bloodbath in every scene, but it failed to do what Deadpool did and reign in the viewers. Instead, it often came off as gratuitous, particularly when up against Mignola's more subtle world in which what you don't see is often scarier than what you do.

6 Comic Hellboy Faces Deep Inner Conflict

In the films, we either see HB dealing with other monsters or his own brooding feelings for Liz Sherman, his resentment over new coworkers and other drama. We don't see the existential crises he faces in the comic books, which is one of the things readers enjoy most about the demon.

It's refreshing that even a devilish character such as Hellboy might wonder if he's done his best at the end of the day, and question his very existence and humanity like the rest of us do as human beings. Hellboy's inner conflict often mirrors or rivals what he's facing in physical conflict, particularly when he ventures into Hell.

5 Comic Hellboy Isn't Cute

Hellboy comics and 2019 movie reboot

Not only is HB not the smirking smart aleck who rivals Raphael the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle in terms of attitude and joke-telling in the comic books, he's also not good looking. At all. Perlman famously has the face for monster masks, but he still comes off as way too attractive, even with horns.

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The actual comic Hellboy is more on par with Harbor's scarred, scraggly demon. He looks like he will rough you up, not cuddle you away from Rasputin, and he even has goat legs. No judgement, as all Hellboys are valid Hellboys, but they're definitely very different.

4 The Best Source Material From The Comics Is Ignored

Baba Yaga in Hellboy 2019

Profesor Broom's doom? He met his end by frog monster in the comics, which was the beginning of Hellboy's dealings with the monsters sent by the Ogdru Jahad. Baba Yaga's deep hatred for Hellboy? That came from an epic battle he had against her and entire army, which would have made for such a better film for David Harbour to star in. In fact, had the plot stuck to just that, it would have likely had a sequel coming with more fantastic monsters and fights for us to enjoy.

One of the most enjoyable things about the Hellboy comics is that they are deeply rooted in mythology and folklore. While Golden Army and the reboot both incorporate some of this, it's really the backbone that should've been used in each film.

3 The Setting Itself Is Vastly Different

Hellboy - David Harbour, Daniel Dae Kim and Sasha Laine as Hellboy Major Ben Daimio and Alice

Mignola's comics all take place in castles, nature or the underworld. The artist and writer abhors using modern day inventions and settings in the comics and almost strictly sends HB to more supernatural areas, which makes a lot of sense. It's one of the many ways the straight-to-DVD Hellboy animated features, Sword of Storms and Blood and Iron, are actually more true to his works.

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The newer film honors this tradition more than the del Toro movies, which mostly take place in the city, and while both do manage to insert the big red guy into some more natural settings at some point, they are a big leap from the source material's settings.

2 The Comics Make More Sense

Sasha Lane David Harbour and David Dae Lin in Hellboy

2019's Hellboy has been criticized for being too true to it source material, but that wasn't the issue. The issue was that nearly all of the source material was crammed into the film, making it fail as a cohesive unit and flop at the box office.

The pacing of the comic books, coupled with the simple story telling they contain, give everything from Alice's back story to the Wild Hunt much more room to breathe. Using three separate arcs to fill one movie was a terrible mistake, as it crammed too much exposition into the movie without enough actual storytelling or explanation, which we get in the comic books.

1 Liz And Hellboy Aren't An Item

"Say it ain't so," the shippers wail, but it's to no avail: HB thinks of Liz Sherman more as a little sister than a partner, making the animated films more true to the comics than the first tow films. They are not romantically involved in Mignola's works.

That doesn't mean we still can't ship them, as they are not only a pairing in two films but they are expecting twin demon babies, per The Golden Army's final scene. This ultimate cliffhanger, along with the team leaving the BPRD, are why so many fans anticipate a third movie that will likely never happen, since del Toro has alluded to it including Red's demise.

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