Fans have seen Hellboy on the big screen twice already, but David Harbour’s version of the brawny red monster hunter is hairier, angstier, and more immature than what’s come before — as you can see in EW’s exclusive first-look photo from next year’s Hellboy movie, directed by Neil Marshall (The Descent).
“It’s not an origin story, but it’s his coming to terms with where he came from,” says Harbour. “He’s been Hellboy for a long time, but there’s a new turn of events at the start of the film, where people start to bring up the fact that he might bring about the end of the world, and it’s really the first time he’s heard anything like that. The question that comes up in the movie is where does he really belong?”
Longtime fans of Hellboy comics and the movies directed by Guillermo del Toro should know by now that Hellboy is prophesied to be the Beast of Apocalypse, who will one day bring about the end of the world. His massive stone right hand isn’t just for show: Supposedly, that hand is the only thing capable of releasing ancient demons from their cosmic prison so that they can kick-start the apocalypse.
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Harbour’s Hellboy is unaware of all that when the film begins. As he learns more about it, though, he begins to question his already-strained relationship with the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Development, run by his adoptive father, Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane). Bruttenholm (pronounced “broom”) was killed off early in the Hellboy comics, so his survival gives him a bigger role in the film.
Bruttenholm is the founder and director of the BPRD. On the ground, Hellboy is more often accompanied by foot soldiers like Major Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim) and civilians like Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane), who retains a connection to the magical world after being kidnapped by fairies as a child. These working relationships can get bumpy in their own way; Daimio in particular is not exactly welcoming, even though his own facial scars also set him apart from normal-looking humans.
“He’s definitely got a point of view about Hellboy,” Kim told EW at New York Comic Con. “Just because they all exist in this universe doesn’t make them all friends. There are suspicions and rivalries. As far as how he holds his own, let’s just say Daimio has a few tricks up his sleeve.”
While he’s figuring out how to feel about his human allies, Hellboy is also getting appeals from the monsters to join their side. This ongoing existential crisis opens Hellboy’s mind to the arguments of Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich), a powerful witch who’s angry about what humans have done to her kind. This Hellboy film is adapted from the three-part comic saga written by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and illustrated by Duncan Fegredo (comprising the separate miniseries Darkness Calls, The Wild Hunt, and The Storm and the Fury), in which Nimue was the grand villain. The film will show us some of the reasoning behind her actions.
“We really three-dimensionalized her in the movie,” Harbour says. “She was brought up in a culture that treated her kind a certain way, and it wasn’t always deserving. That’s the point that becomes compelling to Hellboy and spins his head around.”
Hellboy hits theaters April 12.
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