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Earlier this morning, the first trailer for the Hellboy reboot leaked online, a day earlier than Lionsgate originally planned to release it. Now the studio has officially posted the trailer for all to enjoy, and it's... an interesting look at what this new adaptation of the Dark Horse Comics property has in store. In terms of entertainment value, Hellboy certainly isn't lacking in excitement and thrills, but the tone of the trailer is a sharp contrast to what we've been sold on this movie being: a darker, more horror-infused tale.
To wind the clock back a little bit, we first learned that a Hellboy reboot was on the way in May 2017. Since the numerous attempts to get Hellboy III off the ground over the previous decade all fell through, it was decided to give Big Red a fresh start on the silver screen, this time with Stranger Things star David Harbour wearing the red makeup and The Descent's Neil Marshall directing. That's fair enough; we've seen numerous cinematic versions of Batman, Superman and Spider-Man, so why can't Hellboy join those ranks?
Then we started learning more about how the Hellboy reboot would differentiate itself from the Guillermo del Toro-helmed films. First off, it would be R-rated, thus making it a more adult offering than the PG-13 adventures Ron Perlman starred in. More importantly, though, it was going to feel more like a horror movie, with co-writer Andrew Cosby saying that Neil Marshall wanted to "walk a razor's edge between horror and comic book movie." Hellboy creator Mike Mignola reiterated that earlier this year, saying:
While del Toro did a more fanciful version of Hellboy, Neil has done a darker, more horror version of Hellboy. The both started with the source material but then they each have led it in very different directions.
Having now seen the trailer, there's hardly any sense that we are indeed getting a darker Hellboy movie next spring. Frankly, it seems like it would pair nicely with the Guillermo del Toro movies, and for a reboot, that's not a great sign, as usually the point of pressing the restart button is primarily to deliver something that feels different from what came before. Obviously the same source material is ultimately being used, but it's a welcome challenge for the new creative minds to come up with a fresh spin, and that's not the vibe the Hellboy trailer gave off.
First off, the tone of this Hellboy trailer comes off as energetic rather than scary. Even ignoring the strange song choice, Billy Idol's "Mony Mony," the action-packed footage presents Hellboy more as if its your standard superhero blockbuster. And there's nothing necessarily wrong with that, but it flies in the face of what we've been sold on this movie being for more than a year. If you're wanting to present this Hellboy adaptation as scarier, wouldn't it have been better to give the trailer a subdued, moody feel?
There's also a lot of lighthearted and humorous moments in the first Hellboy trailer, from the eponymous protagonist freaking out at fellow B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) agents shooting at him to being asked for identification after he, Alice Monaghan and Ben Daimio arrive at the B.P.R.D.'s secret headquarter (he's the last person on Earth who needs to break out ID). Just like with the action, there's nothing wrong with having a Hellboy movie with humor. The character has always been witty in the comics, so David Harbour's version of the character would be depicted similarly, just like how Ron Perlman's version was handled. Still, emphasizing humor over scares with this footage was an odd move.
Also, slight digression, but did anyone else find it strange that Hellboy was walking around in broad daylight in the middle of a city and nobody batted an eye? Maybe there's some kind of magic at work that makes Hellboy look normal in front of humans, or maybe this movie takes place in a world where the general population knows about monsters and other magical entities. It's worth thinking about, although if it's the latter option, that would seem to further move this reboot away from the horror realm, as rather than being initially seen as some frightening beast, the average person might instead have their fear melded with simple curiosity.
To be fair, it does look as though the Hellboy is deserving of an R rating through both cursing and gore. As an example of the latter, we see Hellboy shooting a guy in the head, and naturally, there's a lot of blood splatter. And as one would want and expect from a Hellboy movie, there will be plenty of horrific monsters. Nevertheless, if you were to compare Hellboy to another comic book movie using just this trailer as the basis, tonally speaking, it's more similar to Guardians of the Galaxy than the upcoming The New Mutants, the latter of which is also touted to be filled with horror.
I can't say with certainty whether or not Hellboy will be any good. As much as you might like or dislike a trailer, that should never be taken as indication of the final product's quality. And maybe the next Hellboy trailer will do a better job of selling the reboot the way that David Harbour, Mike Mignola, Neil Marshall and others have promised us. But as of right now, there's definitely a disconnect between what's been promised to fans and what's being advertised. I have to admit, though, that last shot of Hellboy with his horns fully grown, a fiery crown floating above his head and a flaming sword in his hand was pretty awesome
Hellboy opens in theaters on April 12, 2019, and will follow the demonic character and his B.P.R.D. allies trying to prevent a medieval sorceress from destroying all of mankind. Along with David Harbour, the main cast includes Milla Jovovich as Nimue the Blood Queen, Ian McShane as Trevor Bruttenholm, Sasha Lane as Alice Monaghan and Daniel Dae Kim as Ben Daimio. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for continuing coverage. In the meantime, find out what else is coming out next year by browsing through our 2019 release schedule.