The comic book movie machine is running so strongly, complete with a new, good “Spider-Man,” it may even revive Hellboy. According to Hollywood Reporter, Lionsgate is in final negotiations to reboot the demonic comic, which had previously been fodder for two movies, made in 2004 and 2008, both by director Guillermo del Toro. David Harbour — one of our favorite character actors, and we haven’t even seen “Stranger Things” yet — will star.
Great as Harbour is — and his no-nonsense, irritated-at-everything vibe is perfect for Mike Mignola’s big gun-shooting, cigar-chomping, evil-fighting demon — he’ll have a hell of a fight wiping away memories of the original movies’ star, Ron Perlman.
Hellboy was the role Perlman was born to play. The movies had him painted red and fixed with horns, but he still looked like himself. Perlman has that vaguely simian look — a huge, square jaw, a slight underbite, a hulking build — that makes him perfect for playing a Neanderthal (“Quest for Fire”), a brooding monster-man (on TV’s “Beauty and the Beast”) and definitely a reluctant superhero born in the nether regions of hell itself.
Del Toro’s two “Hellboy” movies came out before the current Superhero Industrial Complex took over, but they still stuck out from the pack. It was an age when comic book movies still felt like auteur projects. You had Sam Raimi’s gee-whiz Spider-Man movies, Christopher Nolan’s heavy Batman movies. And you had del Toro, who with “Hellboy” and “Hellboy: The Golden Army” sort of played it safe, giving the fans the comic book goods. But more often than not, they were elaborate art films on a huge budget, resplendent with colors and weird creatures and very short on plot.
Del Toro and Perlman spent years campaigning to get a third one off the ground, but no dice. This definitely puts the nail in that coffin.
Presumably “Hellboy” 2.0 will play it even safer, conform more to the comic book movie norms. Or not! In talks to direct is Neil Marshall, a brute of a filmmaker, best known for bloody gorefests like “The Descent,” “Doomsday” and two of the most action-packed episodes of “Game of Thrones.” So at least it might be a hard R.