‘Hellboy’ Reboot: First Look at David Harbour and More

Hellboy is getting a much-needed and highly anticipated reboot. Game of Thrones director Neil Marshall has stepped up to the plate to bring the red demon hunter back to life, with Stranger Things’ David Harbour starring in the titular role.

A fairly modern superhero who first debuted in writer-artist Mike Mignola’s 1993 comic book, Hellboy (also known as Anung Un Rama) is a demon that the Nazis summoned during World War II. Luckily, the U.S. Military and Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm, who would later become a father-figure to Hellboy, saved him from the dark side. In 2004, director Guillermo del Toro first brought Hellboy to life with Ron Perlman starring as Big Red.

Now, in a moment when the world is very much on edge, Marshall’s reboot might be the very thing we need to continue to press forward. From a first look at Harbour in the fantasy adventure to a casting controversy and highly coveted R-rating, here is everything we know about the upcoming Hellboy reboot.

An intense transformation

Though he’s been a fixture in the film and television industry for nearly two decades, Harbour was finally able to flex his acting chops as Police Chief Jim Hopper in Netflix’s acclaimed Stranger Things. Now, the Emmy nominee is ready to take on something even darker.

To become the massive demon monster that is Hellboy, Harbour worked with celebrity trainer Don Saladino. The duo wanted to make sure that when Hellboy hit someone on screen, it looked like they were being hit by a truck.

A fearsome background

Hellboy stands in front of a long staircase.

David Harbour, who plays the new Hellboy, shared this look at the coming reboot. | Lionsgate

The paranormal investigator is not from this world, but you probably figured that out already by looking at him. During World War II, the Nazis were desperately looking for a way to shift the war back in their favor, so they asked the sorcerer Rasputin to help. Rasputin used his magic and summoned a small red demon.

Luckily, the Allies got wind of the spell and were present when Hellboy appeared. Professor Boom took him in as his adoptive son and showed him the ways of the world.  As an adult (though hard drinking and impulsive), Hellboy works at the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense as their top agent. He also doesn’t seem to have aged or matured past his teen years.

A demon by nature

Hellboy running in the snow wearing a jacket.

Will Hellboy battle with his inner dark side? | Dark Horse Comics

Anung Un Rama translates to “upon his brow is set a crown of fire.” Hellboy’s destiny is to bring about the end of days and his oversized right hand, The Right Hand of Doom (which he often uses as a club during fights), is actually the key to the end of the world.  The Right Hand of Doom can unlock the gates of Hell and unleash the Apocalypse.

Luckily, Hellboy rejects his dark destiny and helps those desperately in need. However, that doesn’t mean Marshall won’t drag him to the dark side in this film.

A much-needed R-rating

Hellboy holding a weapon while holding a cigarette in his hand.

The new film might have an R-rated type of humor. | Lionsgate

One of the best things about Hellboy’s trajectory is how realistic it is. In Big Red’s world, things are destroyed and torn apart, and there is no magic superhero wand to fix it. Since the forthcoming Hellboy has been granted an R-rating, it’s going to give Marshall and comic creator Mignola the opportunity to get a bit more grotesque. Marshall told Post Mortem podcast:

We’ve been granted permission to do it R-rated, which for me is just like taking the cuffs off. It’s like, okay, so now we can just make the movie we want to make. 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. So, that’s the main [difference]. And I’m sure, obviously, the success of things like Deadpool and Logan have not hurt that cause. But, also, when you go back the original material, it is kind of bloody, so I’m going to embrace that.

Casting chaos

Harbour is thrilled about picking up Hellboy where Ron Pearlman left off. He told The Wrap, “I’d always been a fan of the comics, and there’s a darker tone to it, and I think in the climate we have now there’s kind of a darker … a desire for more of that.”

American Gods‘ Ian McShane and Resident Evil’s Milla Jovovich have also stepped in to play Professor Boom and Blood Queen respectively, but Hellboy has already made some missteps when it comes to casting other roles. Initially, GoT alumni Ed Skrein was cast to take on the role of Major Ben Daimio, a member of the Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D). Major Daimino is also supposed to be Japanese.

Just a few days after the casting was announced, Skrein stepped away from the role, saying he was unaware of the character’s ancestry. He said in a statement, “It is our responsibility to make moral decisions in difficult times and give voice to inclusivity.”

Now it looks like Hawaii 5-0 alum Daniel Dae Kim will be playing Major Daimio, which is pretty great, although it should be noted that Kim is Korean-American, not Japanese.

Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen

Hellboy with a cigarette in his mouth standing in front of the blood queen, thorns and the moon.

Fans are excited about the film poster’s artwork. | Lionsgate

Before titling the film Hellboy, the forthcoming flick was going under the name Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen. Played by Jovovich, the Blood Queen, also known as Nimue, is a powerful witch who snatched away wizard Merlin’s power and sealed him away somewhere. Though she was eventually contained herself for decades, Hellboy’s enemies find out about her and unleash an apocalyptic war on the world.

Andrew Cosby, who is co-writing the script with Mignola and Christopher Golden, spoke with Silver Screen Beat about the new film.

I can’t really talk about specifics with regard to the story, which they’re keeping a pretty tight lid on at the moment, but I can say that this is a darker, more gruesome version of Hellboy. Neil said from the very beginning that he wanted to walk a razor’s edge between horror and comic book movie, which was music to my ears, because that’s what I was shooting for in the script, and precisely what Mignola does so well with the comics.

Surviving the apocalypse 101

Hellboy sits on a bed while a cat jumps on him.

We can’t wait to see the new version of this character. | Giphy

We could learn a lot from Hellboy. In our increasingly tumultuous and uncertain times, it will be fantastic to see Hellboy kicking Nazi butts, as well as a plethora of other horrific monsters. There’s also a lot of sadness and depression that runs throughout the comics, and yet Hellboy endures until the very end. Perhaps it’s something we can all aspire to.

No release date has been set for the film just yet, but it is set to begin filming any day now.

Follow Aramide on Twitter @midnightrami.

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