Chief Hopper himself, David Harbour, is a battle-scarred Hellboy in the latest image from director Neil Marshall's reboot. The Hellboy live-action films have been on ice since Guillermo del Toro's sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army was released in theaters to largely positive reviews from critics, but underwhelming box office returns ($160 million worldwide against an $85 million budget) in 2008. Since del Toro's vision for Hellboy 3 was even more expensive, it was ultimately rejected in favor of a less costly franchise relaunch.
A leaner budget isn't the only thing that's different about the new Hellboy movie. The film also swaps in Stranger Things' David Harbour for Ron Perlman as Big Red and hews closer (tonally and story-wise) to the original comic books by Mike Mignola. Further, both Mignola (who cowrote the movie reboot) and Marshall have made it crystal clear: unlike del Toro's Hellboy adaptations, their version is a hard R-rated affair that leans heavily into the property's supernatural horror and monster elements.
Empire has unveiled a brand-new image of Harbour in the Hellboy reboot online, ahead of its inclusion in their January 2019 issue. The outlet also conducted an interview with Marshall for the issue, in which the filmmaker talked a bit about his harder-edged approach to the franchise and its faithfulness to Mignola's source material. You can read Marshall's quote below, then scroll on down for the photo of Harbour in costume:
“It was always a case of, ‘When in doubt, go back to the source material.’ Some of the stuff is pretty sick. More violent and more bloody. We weren’t making it with handcuffs on.”
Based on Marshall's previous work as a director, there's no reason to doubt that he will make good on his promise to deliver a decidedly gore-heavy Hellboy reboot. The filmmaker made his feature debut on the bloody B-movie Dog Soldiers in 2002 and went on to make equally violent genre fare like Doomsday and Centurion, as well as the cult horror-thriller classic The Descent. Marshall has worked more in TV than film in recent years, but continued to deliver impressively bloody episodes of cable series like Game of Thrones, Black Sails, and Westworld during that time (to mention nothing of his efforts on Bryan Fuller's highly-stylized gorefest Hannibal).
The latest image of Harbour as Hellboy similarly indicates that his version of the character will be more gruff and ragged than Perlman's iteration, as evidenced by the battle scars on his chest and face. Of course, Big Red has always been a superhero who balances his inner turmoil and rough appearance with a wry sense of humor and heart of gold, much like Harbour's Chief Hopper on Stranger Things. That makes Harbour pretty much the perfect candidate to lead Marshall's darker and more gruesome vision of Big Red and his adventures working for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (BPRD).
- Hellboy (2019) release date: Apr 12, 2019