Ron Perlman might be 70 years old, but that doesn’t mean he has all of the action-star, comic book movie franchise energy out of his system yet. 16 years after he first jumped into the red-hued, hornless, bulky, and brooding Hellboy suit, Perlman appears ready to get right back into character. He recently said he’d be willing to reprise his role if a third Hellboy movie could get off the ground with Guillermo del Toro once again at the helm.
Ron Perlman expressing the willingness to continue on with the character isn’t a surprise though he did stipulate interest in the role was basically contingent on del Toro returning to direct the final film in the trilogy. And considering the first two films performed well critically, there’s at least some chance we one day get a wrap up for the trilogy. The second film did leave an opening for more stories to be told, especially around Hellboy’s upcoming family life, with the prospect of twins on the way. That thread could have lent itself to an entertaining flick about the character in the throes of demonic fatherhood.
2004’s Hellboy performed very well with critics, hitting 81% over at Rotten Tomatoes. The sequel, Hellboy 2: The Golden Army did even better, hitting 86% on the Tomatometer. and Ron Perlman’s performance was widely praised. But for all of their critical success, the first two Hellboy movies underperformed financially. Combined, they made about $270 million at the box office on a total of $150 million budget. By Hollywood standards, these just aren’t the kind of returns you want to see from a potential franchise tent pole. A third film wasn’t made.
But Ron Perlman returning to the Hellboy role could breathe life back into the franchise, even if the actor is getting a little long in the tooth when it comes to action movies. That being said, it doesn’t appear all that likely to happen. Originally, the third in the potential trilogy sat in pre-production for years without getting the green light. But del Toro detailed a number of different hurdles to get it cleared. His schedule was too busy, the budget was just too high and when he dropped out, the funding just wasn’t there.
Then, last year, a Hellboy reboot was trotted out with Neil Marshall in the director’s chair and David Harbour taking over for Ron Perlman as the titular character. By all metrics, this Hellboy was an utter failure. The critics panned it across the board and it barely scraped over it’s operating budget at the box office ($55 million in receipts on a $50 million budget). There was no reason to think we’d be getting another version in this universe considering the lack of performance both critically and financially.
In all, despite Ron Perlman’s potential willingness to get back into the Hellboy suit, I don’t think we ever get to see that happen. It just feels, at least for the time being, any momentum around the character has slowed down considerably. And there appear just too many potential pitfalls to making it happen. For now, you can catch Perlman in the recently-released Monster Hunter which is playing in limited release in some theaters now.