Next year's Hellboy reboot has the unenviable task of following the well-received (if ultimately unsuccessful) Guillermo del Toro films, which first introduced the character on screen to a wide audience. To stand out from it's predecessor and succeed in a way they did not, the reboot will have to tell Hellboy's story in a new and different way. One way that the film will be differentiating itself from the original is in the relationship between Hellboy and his adoptive father Professor Trevor "Broom" Bruttenholm. Taking over in the role of Professor Broom from the late John Hurt is actor Ian McShane, who spoke about how the relationship will be different in this film.
You don't start with the birth of Hellboy... but the relationship between [Hellboy and Broom] is quite crusty. Does he trust his father? [Hellboy asks], 'Why didn't you kill me? I'm a monster.' It's a little bit of a psychological battle against Hellboy. There's one important moment in [the film] when [Hellboy] sort of thinks he's fighting his own people, the outsiders. So, he's being used by the insiders, which is me, if you like.
The original, 2004 Hellboy opened with the birth of Hellboy and his discovery and adoption by Professor Broom. Based on Ian McShane's comments to Fandom, it sounds like this reboot will go back further, and perhaps show more of the origins of Professor Broom and the B.P.R.D. It also sounds like Hellboy and Professor Broom will be butting heads quite a bit, as Hellboy struggles with who he is. Hellboy is very much a story about nature versus nurture and destiny versus agency. The relationship between Hellboy and Professor Broom is central to who Hellboy is, and what side he fights for. We didn't see much of this internal conflict in Hellboy in the first films, but it seems there will be a bit of self-loathing to the character here as he struggles to find his place in the world.
It seems like part of that internal struggle will come in a pivotal moment where Hellboy thinks he is being used to slaughter his own people. That is some emotional stuff and should be really interesting to watch play out with talented actors like David Harbour and Ian McShane. Ultimately, if Hellboy is to succeed, the audience needs to care about and empathize with the main character. Discovering who you are and deciding who you want to be is part of growing up, and oftentimes that process sees you lashing out at those who mean the most to you. Hopefully this film can tap into that universal theme, and tell a compelling family story.
Hellboy is not Batman. Audiences have seen Bruce Wayne's parents gunned down enough times that it is common knowledge, but I would argue that the average moviegoer does not know Hellboy's story. Therefore, I do think that the reboot should show how Hellboy came to be, hopefully including some new familial scenes between he and his father. With any luck moviegoers will appreciate this new Hellboy, allowing a fresh start to a great new franchise.
The reboot is being directed by Neil Marshall and stars David Harbour, Milla Jovovich, Ian McShane and Daniel Dae Kim. Hellboy arrives in theaters on January 11, 2019.