WARNING: Spoilers for Hellboy 2019 ahead.
Hellboy 2019's ending introduces its version of Abe Sapien to the new movie universe. The movie comes to a close with Hellboy (David Harbour), Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane) and Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim) on a new mission for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense where they come across a very important new team member.
Before getting to the final scene, though, there's the newly-established status quo to deal with. Hellboy 2019 is mainly about Red grappling with being his own personal demon, confronting his destiny to destroy the Earth when taking on his full form upon retrieving Excalibur (he's a hellspawn of King Arthur's descendant and a demon). He starts to embrace this power it gifts but, thanks to the words of "father" (brought back to life thanks to Alice's seeing powers), ultimately rejects it and banishes the devious Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich) to hell (although many Londoners have died as a result).
Hellboy then jumps forward six months to the gang taking on the Oannes Society, another ancient cult-like organization akin to the Osiris Club (in the comics they are both offshoots of the Heliopic Brotherhood of Ra). What marks this group out is their belief that the God they worship - Atum - comes from the sea, leading to an obsession with the oceans (and mermaid tattoos). And when you bring aquatic origins into Hellboy, that can only mean one thing...
After beating out the soldiers, Hellboy comes across a tank labeled "Icthyo Sapien". Before he can begin to fully question it, a blue, webbed hand reaches out against the glass. Yes, that's Abe Sapien!
Abe Sapien's Comic Backstory Explained
Abe Sapien is the most famous Hellboy supporting character (thanks in no small part to Doug Jones' portrayal in Guillermo Del Toro's films). An amphibious humanoid (think The Shape of Water's creature, only deep blue and able to talk), he gets his name through a strange wrinkle of fate: he was discovered by the B.P.R.D. in 1978 in a tank labeled "April 14, 1865", the day Lincoln was shot: his name is a merging of the President and his official species designation, "Icthyo Sapien".
Upon discovery, he was experimented on by the BRPD before Hellboy stepped in and protected the creature. They became friends and, over time, Abe became a key part of the Bureau alongside Hellboy. As well as looking entirely opposite to Red, Blue's got a wholly different power set: he can breathe in and out of water, swims with incredible speed, has and accelerated healing abilities, while his time in the bureau has allowed him to develop astute sharpshooting skills.
What really makes Abe Sapien such a unique character is his drive to uncover his past: he doesn't remember his life before the tank, which forms the backbone to his early arc. It was eventually revealed in a near-death experience during comic story "Plague of Frogs" arc, with Abe having a vision through time to ancient sea god and an egg he left behind: he was Langdon Everett Caul, a member of the Oannes Society who bonded with the egg and was locked up by the surviving members.
Abe Sabien In The Original Hellboy Movies
Guillermo Del Toro made several changes to Abe Sapien for his Hellboy duology. Although the core origin and personality were there (no mention of Langdon Everett Caul, however), some alterations were made to fit the director's sensibilities: he was gifted mind-reading psychic abilities that played into his ethereal side, and a breathing apparatus to survive out of water highlighted his alienation. The seamless prosthetics and Jones' carefully inquisitive performance, melded with the strong source grounding and Del Toro's unique interpretation, turned Abe into one of the highlights of the films: his and Hellboy's drunken night in Hellboy II: The Golden Army is the high bar for the whole franchise.
So defining is Jones' performance that he may have actually been approached about returning. The actor said back in February that he was approached about a small cameo but turned it down due to a prior commitment to Star Trek: Discovery and a wish to keep the continuity's distinct. While it's possible this was more a winking appearance as himself, the concern about canon suggests that Neil Marshall and co. wanted him to play Abe again in Hellboy 2019.
Jones isn't in any way upset about an eventual recast, though, and provided strong advice for whoever is cast when interviewed by Screen Rant last year, advising them to embrace the Hellboy comics and the fandom.
Abe Sabien In The New Hellboy Movies
Beyond his hand upon the glass, there's very little context for the new Hellboy's Abe Sapien, although the introduction already marks a key divergence. Instead of being found decades before the main story begins below St. Trinian's Hospital, it's in the present day by Hellboy himself while on a BRPD mission. This needn't massively alter the pair's relationship, and in fact means a Hellboy 2 would surely serve as a full-blown origin story for the character, setting up - if not including - the "Plague of Frogs" reveal.
Abe Sapien isn't the only character introduced for a sequel. Hellboy has two post-credits scenes teasing the future, featuring the ghost of Lobster Johnson and Baba Yaga recruiting a former Hellboy nemesis to her cause. This suggests that, alongside Abe, a Hellboy 2 would adapt multiple comic storylines at once.
Of course, that will all depend on whether or not there is a sequel. Hellboy's early reviews have been resoundingly negative and its opening weekend box office predictions are as low as $14 million, which even with a reported $50 million budget is hardly what Millennium will want for their proposed shared universe. It's distinctly possible that Hellboy the series will end up in its own containment tube awaiting another reboot - and that Abe Sapien tease will remain as mysterious as his identity was originally.
- Hellboy (2019) release date: Apr 12, 2019