Can The Crooked Man Recapture The Hellboy Magic?

Hellboy is getting another film adaptation, courtesy of original creator Mike Mignola.

Hellboy (Jack Kesy) looks over his shoulder in Hellboy: The Crooked Man
Ketchup Entertainment

The Hellboy franchise has always been interesting — and bumpy. The 1993 comics by Mike Mignola subverted the superhero genre in a fresh way — but the creator of Hellboy hasn’t been a fan of the adaptations that have followed. Director Guillermo del Toro, alongside Ron Perlman as the paranormal investigator, brought Hellboy into the mainstream, effectively kickstarting the off-kilter superhero craze of the 2000s. But del Toro was somewhat disinterested in making his adaptation totally faithful — and the less said about its 2019 reboot starring David Harbour, the better. Mignola has been vocal since about the lack of control he’s had with the films, so it makes sense that his latest effort is designed to remedy that.

Following the failure of director Neil Marshall’s Hellboy, Mignola is taking matters into his own hands. The comic scribe is now the screenwriter of an all-new Hellboy film, and he’s teamed up with Crank and Jonah Hex director Brian Taylor to bring his own vision to life. Hellboy: The Crooked Man, is set to adapt one of Mignola’s later Hellboy arcs. The film will bring its title character to life for the third time — this time portrayed by Jack Kesy (Claws, The Strain) — but will this be the depiction that the character deserves? Or something worse?

The Crooked Man brings Hellboy to 1950s Appalachia, where he’ll find himself working with a rookie agent for the B.R.P.D (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense). Our unlikely duo will, of course, face off with the Crooked Man, an entity sent to Earth to collect souls for the devil. The film’s first teaser is surprisingly sparse, lacking the gonzo stylings of Taylor’s past work. On paper, he seemed like a good enough fit for a Hellboy movie, but The Crooked Man is already shaping up to be another lackluster adaptation, even with Mignola holding the reins this time. The trailer is exciting, but it also doesn’t really seem to be offering anything we haven’t seen before. For hardcore Hellboy fans, this may be great. But it’s difficult to imagine this trailer, or this movie, making any new fans.

Bottom line: Because this trailer seems to lack del Toro’s passion, it’s hard to get excited for yet another Hellboy reboot. For years, del Toro has been trying to complete a potential Hellboy trilogy, but to no avail. Why Mignola was uninterested in collaborating on another Hellboy film with del Toro is unclear.

It seems like the franchise continues to repeat the same mistake: rather than allow del Toro the space he needs to make another Hellboy film, the powers that be choose to go their own way. Even if del Toro strayed from the source material at times, the original Hellboy and its sequel, The Golden Army, are still two of the best comic adaptations ever made. The Crooked Man will likely be a faithful adaptation, one that relies more on horror than fantasy. But whether it can match the lightning-in-a-bottle tone of del Toro’s work remains to be seen.

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