Church officials are defending their decision to allow Lionsgate's Hellboy reboot to shoot inside Wells Cathedral in Somerset, England. The reboot is set to star David Harbour as the demonic comic book superhero in a story that sees him journeying to England to do battle with Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich).
Based on a series of comic books by writer-artist Mike Mignola, the 2004 Hellboy movie and its sequel Hellboy II: The Golden Army were directed by Guillermo del Toro and starred Ron Perlman as the titular hero. After del Toro tried unsuccessfully to get Hellboy 3 up and running, Lionsgate decided to hand the franchise off to director Neil Marshall, who replaced Perlman with Stranger Things actor Harbour. The Hellboy character is a Lovecraft-inspired half-demon summoned to earth as a child who grows into a hulking red creature with filed-down horns, cloven feet and a gigantic stone hand dubbed "The Right Hand of Doom."
Despite the demonic nature of the lead character, church officials have given their permission for Hellboy to shoot inside Wells Cathedral after reportedly being paid an undisclosed sum of money. Those officials are now defending their decision to allow the shoot after complaints from concerned parishioners, via the following official statement:
The Cathedral accepts bookings from a range of organisations for the use of its space and the Dean and Chapter agreed to let M11 use the Cathedral to film a small element of the forthcoming feature film, Hellboy 3.
We realise that the idea of this filming may cause concern with some people who aren’t familiar with the stories and character. Hellboy originated, in fact, as a superhero in a series of novels created by Mike Mignola. His true nature is one of a hero and he becomes a defender against the forces of darkness.
The eternal battle of good over evil which this story examines helps us to encourage an intelligent faith which does not hide from controversy and one that looks for the good inside people no matter their outward appearance.
Movies shooting inside or around churches, cathedrals and other religious sites is certainly nothing new, so it's no surprise that Wells Cathedral would open its doors to Hellboy (after reaching a financial agreement with producers). However, one can certainly understand the concerns of parishioners after seeing David Harbour in full-on Hellboy costume tromping around the cathedral doing his superhero things. And even if folks didn't specifically object to a demonic movie character occupying their sacred space, there at least might have been concerns about a giant film crew possibly doing damage or making a mess on the premises.
It sounds like cathedral officials did their due diligence before allowing the shoot to proceed. As they learned (and as Hellboy fans already knew), Hellboy may look like someone who at the very least is closely acquainted with Satan, but he is in fact a good guy who wants to protect humanity from the forces of darkness and evil. There are those who will argue that no movie should be allowed to shoot inside a place of worship, regardless of what that movie's messages might be, but clearly the people who run Wells Cathedral would beg to differ there.
Source: Wells Cathedral [via CBR]
- Hellboy (2019) release date: Apr 12, 2019