Hellboy is one of many lesser known comic book adaptations to become a big success. Although Dark Horse Comics mostly sticks to licensed properties, Hellboy is one of their few original superheroes. Created by unique artist Mike Mignola, Hellboy was about as different as they come. A half demon misfit raised with a strong catholic upbringing who files his horns and works for a secret paranormal government agency. He was perfect for Guillermo del Toro. Who only increased his mainstream recognition after Blade II. Admittedly, the title did throw me off, but I became an instant fan of Hellboy after seeing the movie on FX. Like all great del Toro projects, Hellboy brings humanity to a monster. The movie follows the Seed of Destruction storyline. Closely recreating Hellboy’s origin as a baby demon let in by a portal opened by Nazi forces including occultist Grigori Rasputin, his right hand woman Ilsa, and deadly undead mechanical swordsman Kroenen.
Hellboy is raised by government scientist Professor Broom who forms the B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense). In secret, Hellboy becomes an urban legend with his own comic books. He’s ancient, but mentally a young adult with a love for candy and cats. Really there’s no one better to play him than Ron Perlman. He already has makeup experience and his wise cracking makes Hellboy all the more lovable. Hellboy leaps off the page with his red skin, tail, muscles, and trenchcoat, but his hooves aren’t really prominent. What is prominent is his trademark Right Hand of Doom. A giant stone hand used for smashing and something far worse. John Hurt brings a very caring relationship to his adopted son as Professor Broom. While Jeffrey Tambor’s frustration as government cover up agent Manning is mostly played for laughs.
Joining the outcast is psychic humanoid fish Abe Sabian. The first amphibious man played by creature expert Doug Jones. Selma Blair effectively plays misunderstood firestarter Liz Sherman as well. Although she’s just a friend in the comics, her romantic relationship with Hellboy is the heart of the story. Original character John Myers is newly recruited just to deliver exposition. Since Hellboy’s world is too complex for mainstream audiences. When Rasputin is revived, Hellboy locks & loads with a giant “Good Samaritan” gun to battle resurrecting Sammael hellhounds, face his world ending destiny as Anung Un Rama, and fight a giant Lovecraftian behemoth. Del Toro never disappoints with creature effects. While the action is even more fun with Hellboy’s sense of humor. Hellboy is how you tell an obscure superhero story right.
Followed by: Hellboy II: The Golden Army