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Dark Horse Comics character Hellboy finally returned to the big screen last month after over a decade away, only rather than being played by Ron Perlman again, Stranger Things’ David Harbour donned the red makeup and sawed-off horns for this reboot. While its predecessors were met with mostly positive critical reception, the new Hellboy movie earned a lot of negative reviews, and it also ended up being a box office bomb, making only $40 million worldwide off a $50 million budget.
We did our best, but there's so many voices that go into these things and they're not always going to work out. I did what I could do and I feel proud of what I did, but ultimately I'm not in control of a lot of those things.
Making a movie is a complicated endeavor that requires a lot of people doing various tasks, but when it comes to planning out how said movie is supposed to unfold, having too many people piping in on what should happen can definitely cause issues. This wouldn’t be the first time a blockbuster, particularly a superhero movie, has dealt with such a problem, and going off David Harbour’s comment, this was the primary reason Hellboy failed to impress.
David Harbour didn’t provide specific details how how these “many voices” dragged Hellboy down, but in the previous report about the troubled production, it was said director Neil Marshall frequently clashed with producers Lawrence Gordon and Lloyd Levin, which “boiled over” when the producers replaced Marshall’s cinematographer. No official reasoning was provided on this firing, but it was apparently a “group decision” and not, as Marshall supposedly believed, a message that he wasn’t truly in charge.
Other issues that reportedly popped up during Hellboy included Lloyd Levin repeatedly interrupting Neil Marshall to give different directions, David Harbour walking off set numerous times after refusing to deliver extra takes Marshall wanted, multiple script re-writes and, perhaps most weirdly of all, disagreements over the design of a “surreal tree.” So yeah, even though Harbour didn’t comment on the full scope of Hellboy’s problems, clearly this wasn’t a smooth creative process.
That said, David Harbour also told Digital Spy and other outlets at MCM Comic-Con in London that he also thinks the movie was unfairly compared to the Marvel Cinematic Universe franchise. As he sees it, due to what Marvel has been delivering, moviegoers have been expecting a certain “flavor” with their superhero movies, like chocolate. Harbour continued:
So everybody goes chocolate is delicious and these guys make the best chocolate. So as you judge the movies, it's like, 'Well it's not as chocolatey as this, this does not taste like chocolate at all'. And I sort of want a world where there's more flavors than just comparisons to chocolate. So in that way when Hellboy is viewed on the chocolate spectrum, it does very poorly. That being said, it also has major problems.
David Harbour then said that if one were to watch Hellboy as a rental or while on an airplane, they’d think “Oh that was fun” because it is a fun movie, but ultimately, the reboot was “unfairly bludgeoned” because it was compared to Marvel’s offerings. Whether you agree with that sentiment or not, one thing is certain: Hellboy will not go down in film history as a well-received superhero movie. It ranks at just 16% on Rotten Tomatoes and earned a C grade on CinemaScore.
With critical reception like that, it’s extremely unlikely that Hellboy will get a sequel. Maybe it’s time to finally adapt the Mike Mignola-created property as a TV series? Regardless, this doesn’t mark the end of David Harbour’s comic book movie journey, as he’s lined up to appear in Black Widow. So even though Harbour felt that Hellboy shouldn’t have been judged the same way a MCU movie would be, he’ll soon get to leave his mark on that very franchise.
Let us know what you thought of Hellboy in the comments below, and for the David Harbour fans reading, you can see him reprising Chief Jim Hopper when Stranger Things Season 3 premiers on Netflix July 4. As for what is hitting theaters later this year, check out our 2019 release schedule.