He’s one of Hellboy’s most iconic villains so let’s explore all versions of Karl Ruprecht Kronen, from the comics to the movies. The first Hellboy comic was published in 1994 and Guillermo del Toro (The Shape Of Water) quickly fell in love with Mike Mignola’s creation. The comic followed a demon who was summoned by Nazis to bring about the end of the world but was instead rescued during an army raid and recruited to fight Lovecraftian monsters.
Guillermo del Toro would spend years developing a film adaptation, and could only see actor Ron Perlman in the lead, while the studio wanted a bigger name like Vin Diesel. The success of del Toro’s Blade II finally got del Toro's Hellboy a green light, and while the film changed a lot of character details from Mignola’s comic, it was still a fun, pulpy adventure. While the movie was a modest success in theatres it did great business on DVD, leading to Hellboy II: The Golden Army. While del Toro planned a trilogy of films, the filmmaker became busy on other projects like Pacific Rim and the middling success of The Golden Army gradually saw his version for a grand, expensive finale slip away.
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Neil Marshall helmed the 2019 reboot of Hellboy with David Harbour (Stranger Things) playing the title role. Nazi villain Kroenen also returned for the Marshall’s new vision, so let’s take a look at the character’s history in both the comics and the movies.
Karl Ruprecht Kroenen In The Hellboy Comics
Far from the sleek assassin seen in del Toro’s movie, the Karl Ruprecht Kroenen from the Hellboy comic is a meek Nazi scientist. He was forced to wear a protective mask and bodysuit following an experiment gone wrong and worked for the Nazis in the occult Thule Society. Kroenen worked alongside Grigori Rasputin to create an unkillable army for the Nazis and was a key figure in the ritual that summoned Hellboy during World War II, which was part of a plan to awaken the Ogdru Jahad and end the world.
After being frozen for over 50 years he was resurrected in 1994 to continue his work in creating an unstoppable army. Kroenen was a recurring villain in the comic until he was betrayed and murdered by Rasputin’s daughter Varvara when he questioned her motives.
Kroenen Ruprecht Kroenen In Hellboy 2004
Kroenen was given a completely different backstory in del Toro’s Hellboy, where he’s depicted as a masochistic assassin. In the new backstory, Kroenen was once a beautiful prodigy who soon became addicted to surgeries to alter and perfect his body, which included removing his own lips and eyelids. He eventually donned a mask to filter out germs and became a member of the Nazi party. He was present during Operation Ragna Rok to summon Hellboy, where he killed numerous soldiers during the army raid with his swords before seemingly being killed.
He reappeared in modern-day and replaced his heart with a clockwork device, which allowed him to turn himself "off" and appear dead. He later infiltrates the BPRD and kills Hellboy’s mentor, with Big Red later tracking him down to Rasputin’s base and crushing him with a giant cog. The character may have reappeared in del Toro’s planned third Hellboy movie, with Johann Krauss apparently having a history with Kroenen.
Karl Ruprecht Kroenen In Hellboy 2019
While Karl Ruprecht Kroenen can briefly be glimpsed in the trailer for Neil Marshall’s Hellboy during a flashback to Operation Ragna Rok, it's unknown how big a role he’ll play in the final movie. Considering del Toro’s movie already used the character, he probably won’t feature heavily beyond taking part in Hellboy’s summoning, but it might reappear in a future sequel.
- Hellboy (2019) release date: Apr 12, 2019