While it would be tough to construct Hellboy into a traditional superhero origin narrative, star David Harbour says the film will not follow that familiar film story staple.
The actor appeared on the MTV podcast, Happy. Sad. Confused. And in the midst of a wide-ranging conversation about being a working actor and finding success after 40, he answered a few questions about the Hellboy reboot. “It’s not really an origin story movie,” he said. “We kind of pick up the movie like we’re running and gunning. We do have a little bit of stuff where we show stuff, but it really is a story and you just drop in with this guy.”
He compared it to Raiders of the Lost Ark in the way “You start with him stealing the idol, but also you do go back to the university and you understand he’s an archeologist … but this is just a guy who goes and steals idols and fights Nazis and wants to steal the Ark of the Covenant.” Instead of explaining the whip or hat, Raiders “accept[s] that this is Indiana Jones and I think that’s what our story does too. You accept that there’s this half-demon guy running around the world, being a paranormal investigator and solving crimes and also dealing with his own issues at the same time.”
Which, of course, is the natural way to present Hellboy. His origin — such as it is — only fills minutes of screentime and only serves to inform his ongoing conflict with Hell, Rasputin and all the other forces hoping he will fulfill his destiny. When you look back at the first Hellboy tale, Seeds of Destruction, the relevant elements of his origin are parsed out as they become important to the plot. In regards to a film adpatation, moments like his first appearance on Earth, his first bite of pancakes and his decision to join the BPRD do not make for an interesting or clever film on their own.
Also, I have to say, listening to Harbour’s voice without a visual component, he has a very similar vocal quality to Ron Perlman. Which is a nice bit of continuity between the two film series; even if Perlman is less than thrilled about the situation. For his part, Harbour said he has a “different take” to the character. Where Harbour thought Perlman “embraces this machismo” in Hellboy, his version will struggle with that masculinity. “He’s a little less skilled at constructing that persona,” he said.
Until recently, the project was known as Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen, but changed its name to Hellboy to better reflect its reboot status. Directed by Neil Marshall, the film will also feature Ian McShane as Trevor Bruttenholm, Milla Jovovich as the Blood Queen and American Honey‘s Sasha Lane as Alice Monaghan. The film is set for a 2018 release.