Neil Marshall’s Hellboy is a reboot that does the source material little justice in terms of the quality of the adaptation, but it is jam-packed with nods and references to the comics, one of which suggests that, at least in theory, there might (have) been plans for future films.
As taxing as sitting through Hellboy is, those with the stamina to remain in the cinema after the credits begin rolling are treated to a pair of stingers that further build out the world established in the film. Hellboy might have saved the day in this particular battle against the Blood Queen witch Nimue, but there are plenty of other terrors out there with designs on bringing about the end times.
One of the few interesting twists Hellboy manages to pull off is strongly hinting that the film’s apocalypse will involve Hellboy fulfilling his destiny by using his demonic right hand, when in reality shit begins to hit the fan when Nimue unleashes a magical plague upon the world. In his quest to figure out how to defeat Nimue, Hellboy is spirited away to the dimension where the ancient witch Baba Yaga is trapped and, reasoning that she might be able to give him advice, Hellboy agrees to give her one of his eyes in exchange for information. Unbeknownst to Hellboy, Baba Yaga is actually the person who first sets Hellboy’s events in motion when she gives the demon Gruagach the idea to resurrect Nimue. Because Hellboy’s got no real reason to uphold his end of the bargain, he ultimately decides to escape Baba Yaga’s house with both of his eyes and, in a fit of rage, the witch promises that she’s put a curse on him that will destroy the thing he loves most.
After Hellboy returns to Earth, Baba Yaga doesn’t make another appearance in the movie, and it’s unclear whether the curse he’s been burdened with is actually real and if you witness its consequences. In the final battle against Nimue, Hellboy’s adoptive father Trevor Bruttenholm is murdered and, given how tense their relationship is from the beginning of the film, one could see his death as the great loss Baba Yaga promised.
But Hellboy’s full of dead people, and within moments of his passing, Bruttenholm’s able to return in spectral form thanks to Alice Monaghan’s ability to channel spirits. But Hellboy’s mid-credits scene where Hellboy bumps into Lobster Johnson (played by Thomas Haden Church)’s ghost in a graveyard makes it seem as if any number of dead humans have the potential to return as ghosts, meaning that their presence within the movie itself aren’t really gone. It isn’t until the film’s post-credits scene that it becomes clear Baba Yaga hasn’t given up on her goal of snatching Hellboy’s eye. She explains to someone off screen that wants the eye badly, and she’s willing to hire someone to retrieve it for her:
“I’ve had enough. Kill Hellboy and bring me his eye. Can you do that? I will grant you your greatest wish: I will finally let you die.”
While the person Baba Yaga’s speaking to is never named or seen it’s strongly implied that it’s Koshchei, a man who became immortal after a dragon resurrected him from the dead, separated his soul from his body, and hid his soul in an animal that Baba Yaga now has in her possession. Because Baba Yaga holds Koshchei’s soul hostage, she’s able to force him to do whatever she wants, and his immortality makes him an invulnerable asset of hers.
Baba Yaga presenting Koshchei with an opportunity. Image: Mike Mignola, Duncan Fegredo (Dark Horse Comics)
While the details are slightly different, Baba Yaga’s offer to the unseen character seems to be based on parts of Mike Mignola and Duncan Fegredo’s Hellboy: Darkness Calls in which Baba Yaga attempts to murder Hellboy with a variety of monstrous creatures of Russia folklore like Koshchei. Considering how Hellboy’s performing at the box office, though, it doesn’t seem like that that story’s going to be part of a sequel any time soon.
Featured image: Lionsgate