2004’s Hellboy and its belated 2008 follow-up Hellboy: The Golden Army are two beloved cult favourites, so there were naturally a lot of mixed reactions when it was announced that director Guillermo del Toro and star Ron Perlman’s long-awaited third movie had been cancelled to be replaced by a reboot.
Directed by Neil Marshall and featuring Stranger Things‘ David Harbour as Big Red, the new Hellboy will go for a hard R-rating instead of the more family friendly PG-13 originals. But in what other ways will the reboot differ from the two Hellboy films that have come before?
In a new interview, Harbour explained that the key factor that separates the two versions is the presentation of the protagonist himself. In particular, the actor thinks that his portrayal will have more “complexity,” though he does say that the del Toro films were “fantastic.”
“The Guillermo Del Toro-helmed movies were so fantastic in their own way, but we wanted to do a different version where he goes through a lot more struggle, a lot more angst. That’s the complexity I bring to it. In a sense, there are many similarities. It has the same complicated sensibility which is certainly what drew me to the project.”
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Though Ron Perlman’s version wasn’t exactly a traditional straight-laced hero, you can see what Harbour’s getting at with his comments. del Toro’s Hellboy had his hang-ups, but ultimately, his demonic nature was offset by his sardonic sense of humour and his undying love for Selma Blair’s Liz. In contrast, it sounds like the rebooted Hellboy will double down on the angst that comes from being a creature of darkness destined to bring about the apocalypse who actually wants to do good and be a hero.
Harbour went on to say that he saw Hellboy’s predicament as very “Hamlet-esque,” which just shows how seriously he’s taking his role, drawing as much inspiration from Shakespeare as he is comic books. While Perlman’s cigar-chomping, wisecracking demon was a perfect fit for del Toro’s films, let’s hope that Harbour’s more complex approach will work just as well in the context of this darker take on the franchise.
Hellboy is currently filming, with production split between the UK and Bulgaria. A release date has yet to be revealed, but we’ll let you know when that changes.