The Netflix Sci-Fi Action Fantasy Is One Of The Best Comic Book Movies Ever

By Zack Zagranis | Published

When most people complain about “superhero fatigue,” they’re specifically referring to movies out by Marvel and DC. When it comes to a movie as weird as Hellboy, well, it’s hard to get sick of something so rare. If you’ve never taken the time to get to know the B.P.R.D., you can stream Hellboy right now on Netflix.

What are you waiting for, an engraved invitation from Rasputin himself?

Not Your Typical Superhero Film

Hellboy isn’t your typical superhero movie. In fact, it’s not much of a superhero movie at all. It’s more like Indiana Jones by way of Lovecraft, with some Buffy the Vampire Slayer thrown on top for good measure. Oh, and the “hero” is a literal hellspawn fated to bring about the apocalypse. Spider-Man, this ain’t.

Hellboy is based on the Dark Horse Comics character of the same name. He was created by comic book writer and artist Mike Mignola and is one of the few comic book characters not created by the Big Two to reach any kind of mainstream popularity. The only indie comic characters to make it big in Hollywood have been Hellboy, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and possibly Spawn.

Fighting Nazis

The movie’s plot begins during World War II. The Nazis, in collaboration with Rasputin—yes, that Rasputin—are attempting to summon an eldritch horror known as Ogdru Jahad to help them crush the Allied Forces. The ritual is interrupted by a team of Allies led by young scientist Trevor Bruttenholm, and instead of a dollar store, Cthulhu, a baby demon, crosses over into our world. Bruttenholm dubs the demon Hellboy and adopts the child as his own.Cut to sixty years later, and Hellboy has become a cigar-chomping, kitten-loving, beer-swilling member of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.). The B.P.R.D. routinely investigates supernatural occurrences and protects the world from paranormal entities that threaten its existence. Hellboy and his teammates, psychic fishman Abe Sapien and pyrokinetic Liz Sherman, are forced to stop a newly resurrected Rasputin from finishing what he started back in WWII.

Ron Perlman As Hellboy

Guillermo del Toro and Mike Mignola shopped a Hellboy movie around Hollywood for years before anyone actually gave the film a green light. Many studios passed on the project due to Del Toro’s unwillingness to compromise his vision of what Hellboy should be as well as who Hellboy should be. Studios weren’t keen on Ron Perlman heading up a major Hollywood production, but Del Toro knew in his heart of hearts that Perlman was born to play the Hellboy part and wouldn’t budge.Any Hellboy fan will tell you that Del Toro was right. Ron Perlman is Hellboy in the same way that Robert Downey Jr. is Iron Man. The role and the actor were practically made for each other.

Production Took A Grueling 130 Days

Luckily, Sony agreed, and Hellboy was finally given the green light to film in 2003. The movie was shot six days a week for 130 days, Monday through Saturday. Guillermo del Toro reserved Sundays for editing. The director took pains to stage all of the action as if it was a Ray Harryhausen film, using almost no camera movement and employing wide shots. The stop-motion legend was a huge influence on Del Toro as a filmmaker, and this was the director’s way of paying homage to Harryhausen and his unique stop-motion monsters.

The Cast

Aside from Perlman, the Hellboy cast included Selma Blair as Liz Sherman and John Hurt as Hellboy’s adoptive father. Famed creature actor Doug Jones brought the amphibious Abe Sapien to life, although his voice was dubbed later by David Hyde Pierce of Frasier fame. Hyde Pierce refused credit in the film as he considered Abe Jones’s character first and foremost.

Controvery Over The Title

Hellboy was released in theaters on April 2, 2004. The film’s lifetime theatrical gross was just shy of $100 million against a budget of $66 million Not too shabby considering all of the controversy surrounding the film’s name. Hell might seem like the most innocuous of curse words, but some theaters outright refused to carry the film because of it. A few theaters in the southern U.S. put “Helloboy” on their marquees in order to avoid sacrileges implications.

Some theaters even dropped Hellboy outright during Easter despite the movie still being in the middle of its theatrical run.

David Harbour In The Reboot

david harbour

Both critics and audiences loved Hellboy, and the movie did well enough to spawn a sequel, Hellboy II: The Golden Army, in 2008. The franchise was rebooted in 2019 with a film (again) titled Hellboy and with Stranger Things star David Harbour donning the red makeup and horns rather than Ron Perlman. Harbour did a respectable job, but audiences just couldn’t separate the role of Hellboy from Ron Perlman.We said it before, and we’ll say it again: Perlman is Hellboy.

If you’re looking for a comic book movie that’s more “gothic fairytale” than “glowing MacGuffin and grown-ups in colorful spandex,” go check out Hellboy on Netflix. You won’t be disappointed.