When the new Hellboy reboot hits screens, we won’t be treading familiar territory. While fans clamored for years to see Guillermo del Toro complete his Hellboy trilogy, comics creator Mike Mignola and the studio who owns the rights had other plans. It was announced earlier this year that Mignola was co-writing a brand new Hellboy reboot to be directed by The Descent helmer Neil Marshall, with Stranger Things breakout David Harbour filling the role of the titular half-demon.
The film—which was previously titled Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen and is now simply Hellboy—has been moving full-steam ahead, adding Ian McShane and Milla Jovovich to its cast, but we still don’t know too much about what kind of story we’ll see and if audiences will have to be reintroduced to the character. Appearing on Josh Horowitz’s Happy Sad Confused podcast, Harbour recently dropped some tantalizing details about this new Hellboy, confirming that the film won’t be fully retelling the character’s origin story and will instead take its cue from Raiders of the Lost Ark:
“There is something of [his origin], but it’s not really an origin story movie. We kind of pick up the movie like we’re running and gunning. We do have a little bit of stuff where we show stuff, but it really is a story and you just drop in with this guy. In a way, I feel like that’s kind of what Indiana Jones was. You start with him stealing the idol, but also you do go back to the university and you understand he’s an archeologist, but this is just a guy who goes and steals idols and fights Nazis and wants to steal the Arc of the Covenant. But you never go back when he’s a kid and you’re like, ‘How did he become Indiana Jones?’ It’s like no, we accept that this is Indiana Jones and I think that’s what our story does too. You accept that there’s this half-demon guy running around the world and being a paranormal investigator and solving crimes and also dealing with his own issues at the same time.”
While Jones’ origin story was eventually told in The Last Crusade, Harbour’s point stands—Raiders doesn’t go to pains to explain why Indy does what he does, but instead relies on good storytelling and Harrison Ford’s performance to make the character compelling.
But Hellboy offers another unique challenge in that another very recent and striking adaptation exists, and Ron Perlman’s take on Hellboy has been seen by many. Harbour admits it’s a strange thing as an actor to have an established performance of this character to follow, but also reveals he has some new ideas about where to take Hellboy:
“It’s unique and odd. There are things that I’m gonna do that are different. Hellboy is the same character from the comics and from what Ron did, there are certain things that are the same thing, but I do think that—I don’t know, there’s a different approach because I sort of highlight different things, I think, than Ron does. Ron sort of embraces this machismo in himself and in Hellboy, and I really like it and it’s super fun and it’s a super fun performance, but I think Hellboy has a certain psycho dynamic where occasionally he has to prove that he’s the lion, has to roar, and I think he struggles with his own masculinity. But I don’t think he needs that as much as maybe those other movies. I have a bit of a different take on his capability or his slickness. I sort of think that for me he’s a little less skilled at constructing that persona.”