The First Taste of the Hellboy Reboot Is Violent, Cheeky, and a Hell of a Lot of Fun

By Beth Elderkin on at

It’s a new dawn, it’s a new day, it’s a brand-new Hellboy. And he’s feeling good. The first look at Neil Marshall and Mike Mignola’s Hellboy reboot was shared with fans at New York Comic Con, and — if you’ll pardon the Northern California lingo — David Harbour’s Hellboy is looking hella cool.

The Hellboy panel at New York Comic Con unveiled a two-minute con-exclusive sizzle reel to the delight of the crowd. It gave us our first look at Harbour’s Hellboy — who immediately sets himself apart from Ron Perlman’s original rendition. While Perlman’s Hellboy was gruff and worn down with age and experience, Harbour’s feels younger, impetuous, and not up for anybody’s shit. For example, one of the first shots we see — after a glimpse of him walking through a large cavern toward Excalibur, which is a key part of the Wild Hunt storyline being used for the film — was him screaming at a police officer who shot at him after he arrived at the scene of a mass murder.

“Hey, I’m on your side!” Hellboy yelped, practically jumping up and down with stubborn fury.

As Billy Idol’s “Mony Mony” pumped in the background, Hellboy emerged as the powerful, dangerous, and fully coiffed new member of B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) —  much to the delight of Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane) and the chagrin of Ben Daimio (Daniel Dae Kim). He blew bad guys’ heads clean off, then ate the shotgun shells (basically confirming that it’ll get an R-rating). He smoked and smirked. He rode on horseback and kicked people in the face. He even faced down Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich), who’s rocking a sweet crown of black branches. Hellboy was an unstoppable, and hilarious, force. And Harbour sold every second of the damn thing.

Then, it closed out with Hellboy emerging from a hole in the ground — horns outstretched, flaming sword in hand, and a crown of fire on his head. It was the shot that made the crowd lose its collective shit.

During the panel, Mignola and Harbour emphasised how this version of Hellboy is much closer to the original comics. They remarked on how much they love and respect Guillermo del Toro’s original series, which Mignola said had more of a “fairy tale” quality to them, but that they were going for more of a horror feel this time around (with some comedy thrown in for good measure, after all, it’s Hellboy). Commenting on the original films, Harbour called Perlman’s Hellboy “iconic,” and remarked on how his rendition is different as well as why having two versions of the character is okay:

My Hellboy feels a little younger — like he’s got hair, which is a big thing. He’s got a lot more inner turmoil. He’s a little more lost in the universe. He’s got more of what I bring, and in that way it has a completely different feel. I can enjoy both [versions of Hellboy], and I hope that you can as well. Because, to me, this character deserves a life and it deserves more movies. I love this character and I want to see this character grow and change. And I want to get to the score of Mike’s stuff, which is horror in a certain way, even existential horror... To me, it has more of a Magnolia feel than a Guillermo del Toro feel. And both are great, but this is what me and Neil wanted to do.

One of the things that excited Harbour the most about making Hellboy was the practical makeup since he said he’s a big fan of practical effects, adding that there are several different monsters in the film that were created using makeup and practical effects (though he wouldn’t reveal anything about them). He lamented how Hollywood tends to rely too much on CGI, and commented on how that led to expectations that his Hellboy was going to be digital – like a certain famous Marvel villain.

“There were fanboys online who were like, ‘Oh, this is gonna be totally CGI, you know, like Thanos,’” Harbour said, jokingly adding. “I’m not going to start this scandal — the headlines are gonna be like ‘Harbour Hates Marvel,’ which I don’t. I think [Avengers: Infinity War] is a great movie.”

However, the sad truth is that those aren’t his abs. Even though Harbour buffed up big time for the role, losing the famous Stranger Things “Dad Bod” (which he said he’s currently regaining for season 3), he did wear a body prosthetic for the part. It was mainly because, without the prosthetic, his Hellboy head looked way too big for his body. Since Harbour had to move around in a full-body prosthetic, including for some stunt work, he shared how he went to a sports shop in New York and bought a scuba suit, hockey pads, and a boxing helmet (with glued-on horns) to make a practice version. The panel moderator then asked whether we’ll get a behind the scenes video for that, and I’m hoping the answer is yes.

“I really wanted to get into this guy and I couldn’t wear the makeup every day,” Harbour said. “For those three weeks, I rehearsed in this homemade Hellboy suit, because I wanted to feel that stuff. And it really helped! Because, once I got into the costume, it felt like a second skin.”

Hellboy comes out April 12, 2019 in the US. UK release date TBA.