The first poster of the Hellboy reboot film reveals David Harbour sporting a look that is far more accurate to the original comics by Mike Mignola than that of Ron Perlman in the first two Hellboy films by Guillermo del Toro. This is an impressive accomplishment for the prosthetics team, given that the make-up effects used to transform Perlman into “Big Red” are widely considered to be some of the best ever seen in a superhero movie and indeed were nominated for an Oscar.
It speaks to the commitment and talent of the reboot’s creative professionals that they have managed to set a new standard in bringing the world of Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. to life. Then again, given that Mignola is taking a more direct hand in the production of the new Hellboy movie than he did on the first two films, perhaps it should not be surprising that what we have seen of the reboot seems to be sticking closer to the aesthetic of the comics. It has already been reported that the new film will be directly adapting one storyline from the comics – The Wild Hunt – rather than including several different classic scenes reassembled into a new narrative. It is also known that Mignola has been pushing for the new film to be treated more as a supernatural horror movie than a superhero film.
What few visuals have been revealed from the new Hellboy confirm Mignola’s commitment to a darker, more visceral take on his characters than in the previous films. The first Hellboy poster depicts actor David Harbour with long horns and flames dancing across his skin as he clutches a sword that is glowing white-hot. It is an image that seems far more appropriate to the cover of a Black Sabbath album than any four-color comic book.
A side-by-side comparison to the make-up for Ron Perlman further reveals the differing approaches taken by the respective make-up teams and how they went about bringing Mignola’s drawings to life in three dimensions. The team in the first two Hellboy movies attempted to match the squared angles and streamlined shapes that dominate Mignola’s art style. Though they did a good job of copying that unique aesthetic, this still created a figure that looked slightly unreal and blocky compared to the more rounded characters around him. Ironically, in perfectly capturing the look of Hellboy in the comics, they created a figure who didn’t fully fit into the world around him, though this idea suited the character’s status as an outsider struggling to fit in as played by Perlman and envisioned by del Toro.
By contrast, the make-up for Harbour captures the essence of Mignola’s designs while crafting a creature that looks like a living, breathing demon. The squared pectorals and blocky jaw are more realistically rounded, but the brow of the beast beneath his horns is still shaded in that unique way that largely obscures Hellboy’s eyes except for the occasional flicker of red fire. It is a fine detail in Mignola’s art that the first two movies didn’t quite manage to capture. The fact that such a thing is obvious in this first glimpse at the character in the poster suggests that the new Hellboy movie will be, as its tagline suggests, “Legendary AF.”