Stop Rebooting Hellboy and Let Guillermo del Toro Finish His Trilogy
Give us del Toro’s Hellboy III.
It isn’t the apocalypse yet, but someone somewhere wants to bring Hellboy back to the big screen, and again without the director who made him special.
The news is still in rumor territory, but DiscussingFilm reports that Millennium Media is aiming to give the Hellboy IP — based on Mike Mignola’s comics — another go with a new live-action film (presumably a reboot) with the rumored title Hellboy: The Crooked Man. Director Brian Taylor, whose last feature film was the 2011 Ghost Rider sequel Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, has reportedly been tapped to helm.
No offense to Taylor, who exhibited a sharp sense for rhythm and velocity with Crank starring Jason Statham. But Guillermo del Toro has long expressed a desire to complete a trilogy he started with 2004’s Hellboy and 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army. The man is a proven visionary who knows Hellboy, Hellboy’s complicated mythology, and had/has a story in mind about Hellboy that is just begging to be told in full.
Even now in a Hollywood marketplace crammed with comic book adaptations, del Toro’s duology stand out as pictures that command a wealth of spectacle, tone, and meaning. Which is why it’s a crime against humanity a third film was never produced despite del Toro’s own best efforts. With these rumors swirling there is a new attempt at a reboot, we beg the universe: Can’t we just let del Toro finish his trilogy?
In 2008, in an essay for The Guardian about Hellboy II: The Golden Army, del Toro made this thesis statement about his artistry: “I find monstrous things incredibly beautiful,” he wrote.
Del Toro, whose work is populated by monsters, wrote that the most beautiful things in cathedrals aren’t the paintings or stained windows but the gargoyles perched over the pillars, their teeth forever bared. Almost all of del Toro’s films exhibit the beauty of monsters, from his revered 2006 film Pan’s Labyrinth to his unlikely 2017 Oscar-winner, The Shape of Water.
But two of del Toro’s three superhero movies, both based on Mike Mignola’s comics for Dark Horse, are quintessentially his as both thrilling popcorn fares and textured gothic fantasies. And yes, there’s monsters. In his movies del Toro proved he knew the nuances of Mignola’s comics: an enthralling descent into Lovecraft-esque horror that contorts into a TV police procedural (complete with all the melodramatics it entails) and a Silver Age comic book.
This is why the 2019 reboot, simply titled Hellboy, was so infuriating. While Neil Marshall’s film matched the gore of the comics, it was artistically and philosophically callous with regards to everything else. It interpreted the material as something they aren’t, and as a consequence rendered itself indistinguishable from whatever else has ever been made. Hellboy isn’t Deadpool, but that’s the comparison the 2019 movie tried to pull off.
Studio suits only see Hellboy as an established comic book brand that could capably print money at Comic-Con if the right stars can align. But audiences know better that. Del Toro knows better that. Who else would walk into a church and profess more affection for the gargoyles than the saints? That’s the guy that should be directing Hellboy.