David Harbour has compared the poor reception of Hellboy to that of Masters of the Universe. Released earlier this year, the comic book reboot’s box office tally didn’t even match its relatively modest $50 million budget, and was received poorly by both critics and audiences, with myriad criticisms including its disjointed plot, unwelcome attempts at comedy, inconsistent character development, and failed attempts to evoke stylings of the comics’ mythological mashup, with conflicting reports over the true cause of the film’s production woes.
In comparison, Masters of the Universe was also a big screen version of a beloved property, featuring the ‘80s ideal of masculinity He-Man battling his archenemy, the power-hungry sorcerer Skeletor. It too failed to perform, being poorly served by a generic and derivative story where its muscular and monosyllabic hero was seen as too similar to Conan the Barbarian and the hybrid of fantasy tropes and sci-fi technology as highly reminiscent of Star Wars, while the camp tone and unconvincing action only entertained on an ironic level. As He-Man, Dolph Lundgren’s acting was roundly criticized, it being only his third role after Ivan Drago in Rocky IV and bit part in James Bond flick A View to a Kill. Despite the film’s reputation, Frank Langella considers Skeletor one of his favorite roles he has ever played, and originally accepted the part due to his young son’s love of the property and the character.
Harbour’s comment was made in a video posted to the YouTube channel of Architectural Digest in the latest of a series showcasing celebrities’ multi-million-dollar homes. At 4:09, where Harbour shows a framed Masters of the Universe poster he mentions Langella’s role, played under heavy effects makeup. Harbour’s comment, “I like the fact that a really great actor that I admire can do a film in full prosthetics that wasn’t received very well,” tacitly references his own eponymous role in Hellboy, which similarly was under heavy prosthetics and a film roundly criticized for its numerous shortcomings.
The previous attempts at adapting Hellboy were far better received: Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy and Hellboy: The Golden Army, released in 2004 and 2008 respectively. It remains a point of contention amongst fans that the Mexican director never got to make the final chapter in the trilogy, instead leaving them with a different version that ended up being vastly inferior.
It’s encouraging that Harbour is able to be grimly humorous about the reception Hellboy received, as he was genuinely disappointed that audiences didn’t take to it. With the critical and financial failure of the reboot, it’s highly unlikely we will see another attempt at a movie version for quite some time, if ever, which creates another parallel via a post-credits stinger of Masters of the Universe that promised a sequel that never materialized, the sets and costumes presumptuously created in advance instead being repurposed for Jean-Claude Van Damme clunker Cyborg.
Source: Architectural Digest