One of the biggest names in comics outside of the two main powerhouses (Marvel and DC Comics,) has to be Dark Horse Comics very own Hellboy. The story of a half-witch/half-demon creature summoned to our world by scientists, only to be rescued and trained by a lone professor to be humanity’s ultimate protector, is one of the world’s best horror based comic book heroes around. From his unique style of fighting, his humor and the inner struggle with the prophecy that predicts his role in the apocalypse and his need to save the innocent, Hellboy has become a fan favorite among comic book fans around the world.
Years ago, two films came out that brought the epic story of Hellboy to life: Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy and Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. These films brought the demonic hero to life perfectly, with legendary actor Ron Perlman taking on the titular role and showcasing an epic mix of horror and fantasy that only the famed director could bring to life. Yet after years of hiatus and negations breaking down, the director and actor stepped away from the franchise, and allowed for a new take on the story of Hellboy to come to life.
With Stranger Things star David Harbor taking over the titular role, the time has come to examine the long story of Hellboy, from the ins and outs of his cinematic debut to ways the films differed and stayed the same as the comic books they are based on. Here are thirty things only super fans know about Hellboy.
30 Hellboy 3 Would Have Pitted Liz Against Hellboy
As we all know by now, the upcoming Hellboy film is not meant to be another film in the original film series by Del Toro, but rather a reboot of sorts that brings a whole new story and side of the demonic hero to life. However a third film in the Ron Perlman led franchise was scheduled, and according to Del Toro would have featured Hellboy facing his toughest enemy yet: his love interest Liz.
The film would have explored his ultimate destiny to become the beast of the apocalypse and how his half-human/half-demon nature would have played into the overall narrative with Liz as his destiny came to the forefront.
29 Hellboy’s True Birth
The first thing audiences see when the first film begins is the rise of Hellboy. Summoned by Rasputin during WWII, a child version of Hellboy is unleashed on the world. Yet the scientist Professor Bruttenholm decides to take the demon child in, raising him to be a good and heroic figure rather than the monster he was made to be. Yet when audiences meet the child Hellboy, it isn’t necessarily his birth. In fact his true birth came in the 17th century, when a witch birthed him from the ashes of her body, making him half-human and half-demon. Also, it makes him a lot older than he looks.
28 Horns Make The Hellboy
One of the most iconic features of Hellboy has to be his sawed off horns on his head. Half a demon and destined to be the head of the apocalypse, the horns made him and his fellow officers at B.P.R.D. uncomfortable to say the least. And so in order to fit in a bit more, he sawed the horns off, rejecting the demonic side of himself. However, the horns prove to be more powerful than just for looks. The horns allow Hellboy in the film to open a portal that will bring forth powerful entities from a hellish world.
27 Hooves For Feet
A big indicator of his demonic nature has to be the fact that Hellboy has cloven hooves rather than human feet. While often featured in the comics, the hooves only make the briefest of appearances in the films. Shown during the adult Hellboy’s introduction to the franchise, we see the hooves during a workout scene. However to better perform stunts, Del Toro opted for Hellboy to appear in boots from then on out, eliminating the need for the hooves altogether.
26 Right Hand Of Doom
One of the more iconic parts of Hellboy has to be his giant right hand that appears to be made of stone. The story of his hand plays heavily into the first film’s plot, as it is in fact an ancient artifact that holds the essence of the dragon Ogdru Jahad inside of it. The stone object was said to be capable of bringing about Ragnarok, which as many fans of Thor know is the Norse version of the apocalypse.
The artifact was given to his demonic father Azzazel, who in turn cut off his infant son’s hand and replaced it with the artifact to make his son capable of bringing on the apocalypse himself. This was used in the first film to help give him the power to the dimension where Ogdru Jahad resided.
25 Hellboy’s Real Girlfriend
Only hardcore fans will know that the character of Liz from the original film series was not in fact the same girlfriend Hellboy had in the comics. In fact, his real girlfriend’s name was Alice, a young woman who met Hellboy as a child, but was spirited away and raised by fairies, giving her the ability to see them when other humans can’t. This also allows her to age slower than other humans, giving her the ability to be in a relationship with the near immortal Hellboy as well. Liz, however, was a welcome change in the original film franchise, with Selma Blair bringing the pyrokinetic agent and heart that keeps Hellboy’s humanity intact to life in a wonderful way.
24 Aging In Reverse
The strangest thing about the Hellboy character is his strange way of aging. The film franchise that began it all describes Hellboy's aging process as reverse dog years, allowing him to maintain a mostly adult body throughout most of his life as it lasts decades, very different from the average human. This is proven in Hellboy II, when the supposed “child” Hellboy is listening to a bedtime story, but in fact the actor playing him is a 30-something aged woman.
23 World’s Best Paranormal Investigator
Due to his half-human/half-demon nature, Hellboy is known to the world as the best paranormal investigator on the entire planet. Throughout the years, he has managed to make a career out of it and the franchise centers quite heavily on this portion of his life. He is able to communicate in many supernatural languages, can see things that human’s can’t in investigations, and carries many relics that fight or protect him from paranormal threats. It’s his abilities that allow him to lead the B.P.R.D. in investigations.
22 Abe Sapien’s Big Break
When plans for a third Hellboy film felt all but lost, creators began playing with the idea of a spin-off Hellboy film where Abe Sapien was the star of the film, and Hellboy himself would play only a supporting role. The film would focus once more on the second film’s villain, Prince Nuada, and all the adventures he saw after his exile.
It would have shown Abe exploring his psychic connection to the Prince’s sister and would have taken place at a new B.P.R.D. headquarters. However when the reboot of the film franchise was announced, plans for this film were cancelled altogether.
21 Hellboy’s True Name
Fans of the first film with Ron Pearlman have heard this name before, but never its meaning. In the final epic moments of the first film, it is revealed that Hellboy’s name is Anung Un Rama, which translates to “and upon his brow is set a crown of flames.” This is when Hellboy’s destiny of being the beast of the apocalypse and future leader of hell comes to play, with his horns revealing flaming crown when intact. This leads to Hellboy once more breaking off his horns and rejecting their power over him.
20 Transforming Into Hellboy
Taking on the mantle of the demonic hero Hellboy is no easy task. While we haven’t seen the extent of actor David Harbor’s transformation into the character, before him, Ron Pearlman took on the role, and it was a big one. No stranger to transformations in film or television, Pearlman not only worked out to bulk up for the role, but spent 4 hours a day getting painted, fitted for prosthetics and in the makeup chair getting the right look of Hellboy down. That is a lot to put your body through, making the actor’s dedication to the role that much more impressive.
19 Incredible Strength
In order to become a massive hero in the supernatural world of Hellboy, the titular character has to have some abilities of his own, right? One such ability includes his incredible strength. In the films especially, we see Hellboy often have to fight foes much larger than himself, yet he is able to fight them off either equally or without challenge. He even has lifted foes three to four times his own weight, and has hurled large objects at enemies while in battle, making his strength’s true power unknown.
18 Nearly Indestructible
The true power of Hellboy’s indestructibility is up for debate. While some say that Hellboy cannot be injured so long as he remains good and not evil, other’s point to the fact that he was in fact injured in Hellboy II, when the plot turned to saving Hellboy’s life after he was stabbed by the spear of Prince Nuada. However he is able to deflect and remain uninjured by most conventional weapons that are used by enemies, both human and supernatural alike.
17 Fighting From The Shadows
Unlike many superhero stories, Hellboy’s battle against the forces of evil are hidden by the B.P.R.D., who are not government agents and keep the supernatural world hidden from humanity (for the most part.) This is changed however when the second film in Del Toro’s original film franchise creates a situation where Hellboy and the department are revealed to the world at large. However, this storyline was never further explored, as the planned third film changed into a reboot rather than the third film in a trilogy.
16 Troll Market Nearly Inspired By Star Wars Cantina
One thing the filmmakers had to fight to make sure they didn’t do was make the infamous Troll Market scene from Hellboy II look like the famous cantina scene from Star Wars. Leaning too heavily into homage would have robbed the world of the film its own identity. Rather than have close up shots off all the different supernatural creatures in the marketplace, filmmakers made a conscious decision to treat the creatures as extra’s in the background, leaving their identities briefer and more mysterious than the cantina scene.
15 Two Different Abes
The role of Abe Sapien was a popular one in Del Toro’s two films. While notorious creature actor Doug Jones was the man behind the prosthetics in both films, he was not the voice of the character in the first film. Instead famous actor David Hyde-Pierce was the character’s voice, bringing Abe to life. However, when the second film came around, Jones would finally get the chance to match his physicality with his vocals, giving him complete control over the role.
14 Abe’s Love Story
In recent years, Del Toro has received critical acclaim, most notably at the Oscars, for his storytelling and theme of finding love in unexpected places, and not letting looks determine who we fall in love with. This came to fruition in his recent film The Shape of Water.
However, this theme was featured (albeit in a different way) in Hellboy II, when Abe was given his own love interest, Princess Nuala. While Nuala is herself a supernatural being, both Abe and the creature from The Shape of Water are water based creatures who find love despite their aquatic and supernatural nature.
13 Maturity Returns To Franchise
While Del Toro’s vision for Hellboy was a masterpiece by far in the character’s story, the upcoming reboot of the film is returning some of the maturity and horror based elements of the character’s story from the comics. The upcoming film is being directed by Neil Marshall, whose credits include The Descent, Game of Thrones, Black Sails, and Hannibal. This will allow the demonic hero to bring the language, brutality and action fans of the character know and love him for.
12 Bring On The Witches
One element of the Hellboy comics that never got realized in the original films was the use of witches. Hellboy’s mother was an ancient witch, and many elements of his story revolve around both good and bad witches throughout time. Well, it looks like the upcoming film is taking a page out of the witch handbook, as the main antagonist of the film will be an ancient blood witch queen played by none other than Mila Jovovich, adding a new layer to the Hellboy mythos.
11 Changing Characters
One thing that will differentiate the upcoming reboot from Del Toro’s film franchise will be the complete change of supporting characters in the film. Beside’s Hellboy and his adoptive father Professor Bruttenholm, none of the other characters from the first two films will be present. Instead of Abe Sapien and Liz, fans will instead be seeing a soldier for B.P.R.D. named Ben Daimio, a Japanese American soldier who can transform into a jaguar creature, and Alice, a young woman who retained magical abilities having been raised by fairies.
10 Professor Bruttenholm
The infamous Professor is the only character to return to the franchise, albeit being played by legendary actor Ian McShane in the latest film. The key difference fans will see between the previous Professor and the current one is the lack of empathy the character now has for Hellboy’s struggle to fit in. Other than that, he is still the same scientist who discovered Hellboy and taught him to use his demonic power for good rather than evil. It only makes sense he's back as he remains a staple of Hellboy's origin.
9 B.P.R.D. Headquarters
One of the things that truly defines the Hellboy comics and films is the inclusion of the unofficial organization B.P.R.D.. While the original film franchise saw the B.P.R.D. focused solely on its American branch, the upcoming film reboot will focus instead on its UK origins. The film will see its headquarters established in London, making the story’s focus point much more European focused than the first film. Which is an important distinction as this allows the reboot to solidify its own aesthetic independent of del Toro's films.
8 Demons…Why’d It Have To Be Demons?
The last time we see Hellboy on the big screen, his enemies consisted of more fantasy driven creatures and mechanical armies of unstoppable force. While this was a huge hit for fans and the cinematic evolution of the film series, the origins of the character are definitely more horror based. This reboot will return the character to its demonic, horror driven roots. In the trailer, fans will have seen many different demonic entities and seem to indicate a look into the inner workings of Hell.
7 Arthurian Influence?
One thing that is mysterious about the upcoming film reboot is the role of Mila Jovovich’s character. Her name in the film is Nimue, and she is playing a powerful and evil witch of ancient power. In mythology, Nimue is the lady of the lake from the story of King Arthur. Now what’s interesting about this is that Hellboy does have a connection to King Arthur, so it has left fans speculating whether or not the film will use any of this for the upcoming film reboot, or would instead keep his origin story similar to Ron Pearlman’s version.
6 Impervious To “Holy” Weapons
One thing that has always defined demonic entities in any film or entertainment field has been the use of “holy” relics and artifacts, which is like kryptonite to them. Unlike other demonic entities, Hellboy found in the films that he is impervious to holy artifacts and weapons.
Only those who are pure demons and born in the demon realms can be harmed by such artifacts, so Hellboy is unique in that he can use these holy weapons against the forces of evil without being harmed himself.
5 Fire Proof
Along with his near invulnerability, Hellboy has proven that because he harbors demonic properties on his father’s side, he is impervious to flames as well. So whether or not he’s running into a burning building or facing down some sort of fire demon, he is able to resist without any injury to himself. His ability to fight and heal from nearly all injuries is similar to that of Marvel Comics own Wolverine. Although it's likely that Hellboy's powers are much more potent than Wolverine's.
4 Wing Time
One of the things about Hellboy that we already discussed was his true demonic form of Anung Un Rama, which featured his full grown horns and a demonic fire crown. Another aspect of the character that only the most dedicated of fans will remember is that he also sports wings in the film. This brings the demonic look to completion, along with his ability to bring down gale winds and lightning. Hellboy's wings don't often play a major role in the films, but here's hoping the reboot will mitigate that.
3 Be The Hellboy
In order to become Hellboy for the upcoming reboot, David Harbor had to undergo severe training to bulk up and become the muscular hero fans know and love. However, Harbor took things a step further, creating his own DIY Hellboy suit that would allow him to mimic the feel of fighting and stunt work he’d be doing while filming in the full Hellboy prosthetics and outfit. This is true dedication to the role and that alone makes David Harbor an excellent successor to the role.
2 Lobster Johnson
One thing that fans of both the film franchise and character overall may remember is Hellboy’s love for comics, especially his favorite vigilante hero, Lobster Johnson. Lobster Johnson would take out enemies like New York mobsters and bad guys during WWII. Lobster Johnson would also often brand his enemies with his signature trademark sign. The role is being filled by none other than Thomas Hayden Church in the upcoming reboot, although the details of his story are being kept under wraps for now.
1 Living The Role
One thing that makes Ron Pearlman such a fan favorite among fans of the original films has to be his love and passion for the role. He was so dedicated that not only did he read as many of the comics as he could to prepare for the role, but he even injured himself doing his own stunts. During the infamous subway scene from the first film, Pearlman jumped onto a moving train going 45 MPH, which resulted in him breaking a rib. While not the smartest move for the actor, the shot came out great and proves his dedication to the role.