Hellboy’s journey recently came to an end — in the comics, at least. In 2016, creator Mike Mignola finished his Hellboy in Hell miniseries, which put a cap on decades of comics featuring the demonic detective struggling with his dual destinies as protector of humanity and bringer of the apocalypse.
Even though Hellboy’s quest finally reached its conclusion, there are still more stories to tell. Mignola has helped produce new comics set in various periods of Hellboy’s life, such as Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea. Biggest of all, he’s also greenlit a brand new Hellboy movie, the first since 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army (sequel to the 2004 film, both directed by Guillermo del Toro and starring Ron Perlman).
Here’s everything we know about Hellboy’s next big screen adventure.
How did it come about?
The first public indication that the Hellboy movie franchise would continue came on Guillermo del Toro’s Twitter feed. In February, del Toro polled his Twitter followers asking if he should have a meeting with Mignola and Perlman about possibly doing another movie together. That meeting did happen, but Mignola and his team ultimately decided to move forward without del Toro or Perlman involved.
In May, Mignola announced there was a new movie coming, this time directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent, Game of Thrones) and starring David Harbour (Stranger Things) as the hero.
Who’s in it?
As mentioned, Harbour will star in the title role. Based on his performance as Jim Hopper in Stranger Things, he definitely seems capable of pulling off Hellboy’s brash, hard-drinking, punch-first personality. He even got the okay from Perlman at a détente dinner arranged by comedian Patton Oswalt.
On Sep. 13, Mignola tweeted out the first image of Harbour’s Hellboy: bare-chested, long-haired, but still armed with his trusty Good Samaritan gun.
Ian McShane (American Gods, Deadwood) will appear alongside Harbour as Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm, Hellboy’s adoptive human father and the founder of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Development, or B.P.R.D. — the government organization that Hellboy works with to hunt down monsters. Bruttenholm doesn’t appear much in the original Hellboy comics (he dies in one of the first issues, in fact), so don’t expect too much of McShane, but if he does stick around he’ll probably offer sage advice and wisdom from his years of monster-fighting to the son he helped make a home for on Earth.
For the film’s villain, Milla Jovovich has been cast as the Blood Queen. In the Hellboy comics, that character is Nimue, the witch from Arthurian mythology who stole the wizard Merlin’s power and sealed him away. After being sealed away herself for centuries, the character is resurrected by Hellboy’s desperate fairy foes and unleashes an apocalyptic war on mankind. The extent to which this movie will adapt that story line, of course, remains under wraps.
British actor Ed Skrein (Deadpool‘s Ajax) was initially cast to portray Ben Daimio, who in the comics is a Japanese-American Marine captain (and an undead one, at that). He dropped out of the film a week later, following growing controversy over his hiring. “I accepted the role unaware that the character in the original comics was of mixed Asian heritage. There has been intense conversation and understandable upset since that announcement, and I must do what I feel is right,” he wrote in a statement posted on social media.
A few weeks later, Daniel Dae Kim (Hawaii Five-O) was cast as Daimio in place of Skrein.
“I applaud the producers and, in particular, Ed Skrein for championing the notion that Asian characters should be played by Asian or Asian American actors,” Kim said in a statement to the Hollywood Reporter. “He could not have addressed the issue more elegantly and I remain indebted to him for his strength of character.”
What will it be like?
Unlike the previous two Hellboy movies, this one will likely have an R rating. On an episode of the Post Mortem podcast, director Neil Marshall said this was like “taking the cuffs off … It’s not like I’m going to force it to be R-rated, but if it happens to come out that way, just because of my own sensibilities, then fine. And nobody’s going to stop us.” Marshall has previously directed the 2005 horror film The Descent, along with the Game of Thrones episodes “Blackwater” and “The Watchers on the Wall” — both of which featured memorable battle sequences.
Though they feature several grotesque monsters, the original Hellboy comics are not particularly bloody, and there’s almost no sex. In fact, as Hellboy: Into the Silent Sea artist Gary Gianni told EW earlier this year, the comics often lean in the opposite stylistic direction: “Mike does have a poetic element in a lot of his stories, where there are blossoms and leaves falling across great spans of churchyards and so forth. That kind of stuff removes it from some of the more base horror and puts it more into a Romantic genre.”
As for the plot, the movie has occasionally been given the working title Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen, which would indicate the film may cover the Jovovich character’s rise to power. Since then, it’s been taken back to just Hellboy, but more information will likely emerge when the film starts production this fall.