At the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center Saturday morning, Lionsgate treated the New York Comic Con main stage crowd to a presentation of their upcoming Hellboy film franchise reboot. Hellboy creator Mike Mignola was joined by some of the film’s stars—David Harbour, Daniel Day Kim, Sasha Lane, and (in pre-recorded video form) Milla Jovovich—in discussing how this third film about the cult favorite Dark Horse Comics character came to be. The actors enthused about their roles and the preparation that went into making the picture, and Mignola repeatedly stressed that this new iteration would be a completely different beast compared to Guillermo Del Toro’s 2004 effort and its sequel, 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army. As fun and well-realized (and deeply Del Toro-y) as they were, the Hellboy coming next year will veer away from the fancifulness of those previous films by highlighting the horror aspects of the property (even aiming for an R rating) and being more grounded—or at least as grounded as a film about the demonic Harbinger of Armageddon wisecracking through fistfights with witches, vampires, and werewolves can be.
Before a (mercifully brief) audience Q&A, the panel’s pièce de résistance was unveiled: a two minute sizzle reel of footage from Hellboy which, so far, seems to be as convention-exclusive as they claimed. Pulling a Guardians of the Galaxy (or, admittedly, a Suicide Squad), the footage brimmed with fun and vigor thanks to the punchy energy of an old pop track (in this case Billy Idol’s “Mony Mony”). With no real explanation of plot, the smattering of scenes showed off plenty of Harbour’s new, post-Ron Perlman Hellboy and the rest of his team—including last-minute cancelation Ian McShane playing a very Ian McShane-esque version of Hellboy’s adoptive father, Professor Bruttenholm—as well as being a confident showcase for the look of a Hellboy film as helmed by The Descent and Doomsday director Neil Marshall.
Most of the footage took place during the day, so there wasn’t much opportunity to emulate Mignola’s trademark chiaroscuro, but the desaturated grays and blues sure evoked colorist Dave Stewart’s moody, subtle work. The quippy dialogue also demonstrated a half-droll/half-jokey sense of humor that was one of the ways the footage didn’t seem to stray too far from Del Toro’s work. (Maybe it just seemed a little familiar because, realisitcally, there can’t be that many different ways of realizing Mignola’s images on the screen.) Harbour does indeed seem a good fit for the role in terms of look and an all-in attitude, (although his lines were difficult to understand a few times—perhaps a result of an unfinished sound mix or the booming Idol) and the weird tech-, monster-, and folklore-filled universe of Hellboy’s Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense seems to be very much intact. Harbour even tipped that we’d see more B.P.R.D. members in the film than have already been announced, so hopefully audiences haven’t tired of hardboiled egg-eating fishmen yet.
If Hellboy is as good of a time as its comic convention sizzle reel indicates, we’ll know when it’s released in theaters on April 12, 2019.