A Terrible Failed David Harbour Reboot Is Trending

By Nathan Kamal | Published

david harbour

2019 was a pretty big year for comic book movies. Four different comic book adaptations grossed over a billion dollars at the box office: Brie Larson’s MCU debut Captain Marvel, Todd Phillips’ extended Martin Scorsese homage Joker, Spider-Man: Far From Home, and Avengers: Endgame. That same year, another comic book adaptation tried to enter the game and was hopelessly swamped (not to mention the kinda-live-action remake of The Lion King and Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker). That movie was the attempted reboot of Hellboy starring David Harbour, which entered the arena and immediately flopped with audiences and critics alike. Despite that, the 2019 Hellboy is doing great on HBO Max, currently being the fifth most-watched movie on the entire streaming platform. 

david harbour

David Harbour had finally broken through to audiences with the massive Netflix hit Stranger Things, which turned a cast of children and little-known character actors (plus a resurgent Winona Ryder) into overnight stars. It makes sense that David Harbour would want to take his shot at leading man status, considering his years as a part of the supporting cast of movies like the Johnny Depp crime biopic Black Mass, the Liam Neeson revenge thriller A Walk Among the Tombstones, and the Denzel Washington reboot The Equalizer. It probably was irresistible after playing second (or third or fourth) fiddle to heavyweight stars for years but did David Harbour ever choose the wrong project. 

Hellboy stars David Harbour as the titular character, a muscular red half-demon who mysteriously appeared at the end of World War II as the result of a mystical ritual by the Nazi-supported Grigori Rasputin (Markos Rounthwaite). However, before we get the origin story of Hellboy (again), we get an origin story/exposition dump for the villain of the story, Vivienne Nimue, the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich). In Sin City-like black and white, Ian McShane (who stars in the movie as David Harbour’s adoptive father Professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm) makes the most of his over-the-top narration of how the evil and immortal Nimue was killed by King Arthur, but it didn’t take. Instead, her body was chopped into pieces and separated to keep her from ever coming back to life. Then David Harbour fights a demon luchador in a Mexican wrestling ring. 

All of this should be awesome. David Harbour commits as the grumpy demon monster hunter and looks pretty solid under the pounds of makeup. The always dependable Ian McShane commits to his role as the wise, fatherly, but also badass Professor, and Milla Jovovich could play icy evil queen in her sleep at this point. But the movie simply moves at a sludgy pace, with a generically metal score popping in occasionally as if the film itself has forgotten that it is supposed to be exciting. The storyline is surprisingly confusing for a movie that only needs to be “David Harbour in red makeup fights monsters,” involving Arthurian mythology, evil fairies, Thomas Haden Church as a Nazi-hunter named The Lobster, the throne of England, and Daniel Dae Kim as a were-jaguar. Suffice it to say, as usual, there is an apocalypse happening and only David Harbour can stop it.

david harbour

Hellboy was the third movie to adapt Mike Mignola’s cult supernatural anti-hero, and the first to not be written and directed by acclaimed filmmaker Guillermo del Toro. Fans of the comic and the well-received Ron Perlman-starring movies were already predisposed to dislike the David Harbour reboot and did they ever. It also does not help that there were consistent reports of conflicts between director Neil Marshall and the producers of the film; Marshall would later call it the worst experience of his career. The movie made a mere $55 million at the box office (off a $50 million budget) and holds a wincingly poor 18% on Rotten Tomatoes. All in all, not the career boost that David Harbour could have hoped for. 

Indeed, David Harbour recently revealed he took the failure of Hellboy so poorly that he called up none other than Ryan Reynolds to get some advice on what to do after your movie flops (which must have been fun for Reynolds). Fortunately, David Harbour had Stranger Things to return to, and soon after, his MCU debut as the more comedically badass Red Guardian in BlackWidow. But if there is ever a plan for another Hellboy movie, a phone call to Guillermo del Toro is in order.