It’s interesting that the character who would come to define Mike Mignola’s entire career began as little more than a comic convention doodle. Despite the creature’s humble beginnings, something about Hellboy stuck with his creator. Details eventually began to take shape, with Mignola drawing on the unflappable attitude of his own father to flesh out Hellboy’s personality. The character made his first proper appearance in a 1993 SDCC-exclusive comic, before getting his own Dark Horse series beginning the next year. Since then, Hellboy has continued his incredible adventures across several decades. Mignola crafted a universe for him populated by delightful creations such as Abe Sapien, Lobster Johnson and of course, the B.P.R.D.
Hellboy’s true name, Anung Un Rama, loosely translates to “and upon his brow is set a crown of flames." This refers to his destiny to bring on the apocalypse, a future that the character does everything in his power to avoid. He may not have ever been a household name like Spider-Man or Batman, but Hellboy did reach new levels of fame after Guillermo del Toro’s two films, released in 2004 and 2008. Although only minor box office successes, both movies were very well-received by fans. Those won’t be the only big screen adaptations for Hellboy though. A reboot starring David Harbor in the titular role is now playing in theaters.
Hellboy is no mere mortal, so his physiology is vastly different from our own. Let’s delve into what separates this fan-favorite hero from the rest of us. Here are the 20 Craziest Things About Hellboy’s Anatomy.
Mike Mignola was still an artist for hire when his sketch was featured in a pamphlet for the 1991 Great Salt Lake Comic Con. The doodle looked quite different from the creature that fans would come to know and love. Mignola finished off the drawing by writing Hell Boy on the character’s belt. The writer/artist has stated that he simply thought the name was funny and hadn’t considered any sort of future for his creation.
At that point, Mignola had never even really thought about penning his own series, so Hellboy’s inception was nothing more than a lark. However, this character would go on to define not only Mignola’s career, but also to become one of Dark Horse’s most successful properties.
One of Hellboy’s defining characteristics is his stone appendage or “Right Hand of Doom”. This body part is actually the key to triggering the Apocalypse. However, the danger of anyone else using it for that purpose remains regardless of whether the hand is attached to him or not, so it became Hellboy’s burden to bear. He was given the hand by his father, Azazel, shortly after his birth. In fact, Azazel hacked off the child’s original right hand to do so.
Interestingly, the casting of Ron Perlman saved Hellboy in more ways than one. Very early concept art for the film featured a Left Hand of Doom, because it wouldn’t be easy for an actor to perform with his dominant hand essentially tied behind his back. However, Perlman is left-handed, solving the potential problem.
Hellboy’s origins were originally fairly mysterious. His appearance clues you in immediately to his demon heritage, but the causal fan might be unaware that while his father was a demon, his mother was actually a witch. It was eventually revealed that sixteen-year-old Sarah Hughes sought to gain power from Azazel and Hellboy was conceived within her soul that very night.
Sarah eventually turned over a new leaf, getting married and giving birth to two human children. Having renounced her evil ways many years prior, Sarah begged her children to keep her soul out of Azazel’s hands after she passed on. However, the demon did indeed take it and our hero Hellboy was born.
As earlier stated, Hellboy was quite different upon his inception. Aside from the fact that his look has gone through many changes, the character was initially pitched to DC Comics. It’s crazy to think that a hero who has become so synonymous with Dark Horse could’ve wound up at a different publishing company altogether.
Apparently, DC loved the idea of Hellboy, but were not fans of his name. It’s somewhat understandable that DC balked at a demonic character with “Hell” in the title, particularly during that time period. Really though, Dark Horse was always going to be a better fit for the kind of stories that Mignola wound up telling. The character did eventually find his way into a two-issue crossover titled Batman/Hellboy/Starman.
Most fans would agree that although del Toro’s vision for Hellboy was decidedly different from Mignola’s comics, Ron Perlman was the perfect actor to portray the central character. You might think that he was forced to endure an arduous audition process, but the DVD commentary reveals that both the writer and auteur were on the same page when it came to who should wield the Right Hand of Doom.
The two men agreed to state the actor that they envisioned as Hellboy simultaneously and both uttered the same name: Ron Perlman. While the studio had hopes of casting someone more high profile in the role, del Toro fought for Perlman. At this point, he is so closely associated with Hellboy that many fans are nervous about seeing another actor take up the mantle so soon.
Hellboy doesn’t have a ton of hobbies, but the guy is really into bodybuilding. That, in conjunction with his extensive training and natural strength, make him a very formidable opponent. The intensity level that he brings to his workouts would make anyone tough, but his largest asset here is the super strength that he was born with thanks to his demon heritage.
Hellboy can be seen beating all manner of monster with his bare hands, oft times hardly breaking a sweat. The exact levels of his strength haven’t been explicitly stated, but he has been known to toss adversaries like a football, even those weighing in at several hundred pounds.
Hellboy may not have the same levels of regeneration as, say, Wolverine, but he does have a healing factor. The guy has certainly had his fair share of injuries, but what might send the rest of us shuffling off this mortal coil don't have quite the same impact on Hellboy. He can heal from pretty much anything. Hellboy has survived falling from great heights, being impaled and getting severely mauled by a werewolf, among many other things.
That’s not all, though. Hellboy’s ability to heal also renders him immune to disease. Aside from that, he has been shown to be a frequent smoker, which seems to have no affect at all on his natural athleticism.
Hellboy is not a huge fan of his horns. Aside from the fact that he has a frightening destiny that he’s constantly trying to avoid, the demon also feels like an outcast. His solution is to file his horns down to stubs. In the film, he does this to try to look a bit more "normal," confiding in Liz how desperately he wanted to find a way to change his appearance.
Hellboy is sometimes called a freak by the very people he's fighting to protect. He spends much of his time around humans, so it makes sense that the guy would want to do what he could to blend in, despite the fact that it’s an impossible task.
Hellboy may not always be fond of his demonic lineage, but it does have its perks. Being a human-demon hybrid enables him to age at a decelerated rate. Despite this fact, he matured far more quickly than a mortal child. In the comics, a two-year-old Hellboy looks to be the size of someone at least three times that age. By the time Hellboy was ten, he appeared fully grown.
His decelerated aging is unaffected by this rapid growth though. The comics span decades, but after reaching physical maturity, Hellboy doesn’t seem to age beyond that. In del Toro’s film, one of the B.P.R.D agents claimed that the demon aged in "reverse dog-years.”
Ron Perlman is a guy who’s not afraid to do his own stunts. During the subway scene in del Toro’s first film, he jumped onto a train that was moving at about forty-five mph. This resulted in a broken rib for the actor. It was one of many takes and apparently Perlman mistimed the jump.
Every bit as tough as his comic counterpart, the then fifty-four year old attempted to continue shooting the scene. However, he was given away by the tears of pain welling up in his eyes. When asked about the busted bone, Perlaman’s response was, "Yes, but it was just one rib. I have lots more.” Hellboy would approve.
This particular aspect of Hellboy’s abilities hasn’t been discussed much in the comics or even the films, but the hybrid can see better than us mere mortals. This shouldn’t come as too much of a shock, since the demon blood running through his veins makes him physically superior to humans in pretty much every way.
Hellboy’s signature yellow eyes do far more than just look super cool. They also enable him to see much farther than the average person. Aside from that, he doesn’t seem to have too much difficulty seeing in the dark, although not much has been mentioned about that in the comics either.
Hellboy already looks like a demon, but under certain circumstances, he can transform into a far more monstrous creature. In this form, his stumps become fully grown horns and he can even sprout wings. The transformation also leaves him with some powers that he doesn't typically have.
For one thing, Hellboy can control the very fires of Hell, unleashing massive infernos from his own body. He can also fly and even call down lightning all while in that form. Aside from that, Hellboy becomes even stronger than he was to begin with. While sometimes this transformation happened under duress, after gaining some acceptance of his demonic lineage, Hellboy was granted a measure of control over it.
This one might be a bit of a shock to the casual fan, but Hellboy’s ancestors aren’t only demonic. He’s related to royalty as well. His mother was descended from a child resulting from the union between King Arthur and Morgan Le Fey. This means that Hellboy has the potential not only to become the king of Hell, but also the King of Britain.
This was kind of a later addition to the character’s mythology, revealed when Le Fey herself presented Hellboy with Arthur’s sword, Excalibur. Much like his demonic destiny, he wanted nothing to do with this part of his lineage. However, eventually Hellboy did pull the sword from the stone, claiming his birthright in the process.
Contrary to what you might think, Hellboy wasn’t actually an easy sell in Hollywood when the film was in its infancy. Aside from balking at the fact that “Hell” was in the character’s name, the studio tried to make changes to Hellboy’s appearance. One suggestion was that he would look like a normal human unless someone made him angry, à la Bruce Banner.
The studio had many ideas of how to make Hellboy appear less monstrous, even offering up the thought that he could just be a regular guy with a demonic red dog. According to del Toro, “It’s funny when you say it, but it’s not funny when it happens.” Luckily, the auteur fought hard so that fans could see Hellboy as he was meant to appear.
Del Toro set out to make a trilogy of Hellboy movies from the beginning. The movie did moderately well at the box office, but it was how well it did on home video release that ultimately got the sequel green-lit. The Golden Army undoubtedly improved upon its already great predecessor and faired even better at the box office. Unfortunately, it didn’t do well enough that the studio felt confident in letting the director helm one more movie.
No one knows much about what that third installment would’ve been like and the upcoming reboot from director Neil Marshall is looking quite different from del Toro’s vision. Fans have been skeptical from the start, but Mignola himself has stated that the film is incredibly faithful to the comics.
Considering the fact that he’s a literal demon, it shouldn’t be too surprising that Hellboy is unaffected by fire. Although he needs to be in his more monstrous form in order to control the flames, Hellboy has a general immunity to them. Much of this comes down to his superhuman resilience. The guy can withstand far more damage than a person could.
Although his comic counterpart is quite resistant to fire and high temperatures in general, the film version of Hellboy simply could not be burned by any means. This particular immunity made him the perfect romantic companion for Liz Sherman.
The Seeds of Creation was an extensive documentary about del Toro’s Hellboy and one of many aspects that it covered was the makeup magic that transformed Ron Perlman into a demon. The process took about 4 hours and by the end, all that remained visible of the actor were his eyelids. As rough as that sounds, Doug Jones had it worse, with 5-7 hours a day in the makeup chair.
The Hellboy movie releasing this month hasn’t managed to really streamline the process too much. David Harbor stated that it took about 3 hours for him to become Hellboy. This involves paint, prosthetics, a bodysuit, teeth, horns and of course, the demon’s trademark yellow eyes. It takes an entire team to transform him.
One of the many innate abilities granted Hellboy by his demonic lineage is a talent for languages. He can understand all manner of tongues, whether they are mystical in nature or so ancient that they have been largely forgotten.
It’s also important to remember that Hellboy is the world’s greatest paranormal investigator. As a member of the B.P.R.D., it’s kind of his job to know the unknowable. However, the fact that he has this impressive mastery over languages both old and magical definitely helps him out immensely at work. The guy has seen things that the rest of us can only imagine.
Hellboy’s horns and reddish hue aren’t the only physical traits that give away his demon heritage. He also has cloven hooves. This feature of the character can be seen in the comics, though they are often hidden within the folds of his long coat.
The hooves make an appearance in del Toro's film during the scene in which viewers are introduced to Hellboy, but the lighting makes them a bit hard to spot. However, for the remainder of the movie, as well as the sequel, Perlman is seen sporting boots instead. Initially, the hooves were going to be featured more prominently, but it was decided that due to safety issues, Perlman should perform in regular boots.
Hellboy is a bodybuilding enthusiast, not to mention a super strong demon-human hybrid. In other words, the guy who plays him kind of needs to be jacked. David Harbor didn’t have to be in great shape to portray Hopper in Stranger Things, but after being cast as Hellboy, the actor had to go to boot camp. His training routine was quite rigorous, but the results are undeniable.
Ron Perlman also had to undergo an intense workout schedule in order to portray the character. The actor trained 3 hours a day, 5 days a week. It’s not so easy to become the hero known as Hellboy.
What do you think of these facts about Hellboy's Anatomy? Let us know in the comments!