Long before the character would go on to become a giant freakin’ robot in his graphic novel series, Hellboy received a pair of Guillermo del Toro-directed films that remain cult classics to this day. The iconic demonic character’s first-ever feature film outing, 2004’s Hellboy, is currently available to stream on Netflix. Though the franchise has since been rebooted with a new cast and crew, many fans still prefer the original Del Toro films, which received wide critical and audience acclaim.
The original Hellboy, from 2004, is now streaming on Netflix.
2004’s Hellboy is based on the Dark Horse Comics character of the same name and stars Ron Perlman in the titular role. Perlman leads a cast that consists of Doug Jones, Selma Blair, John Hurt, Rupert Evans, Karel Roden, and Arrested Development’s Jeffrey Tambor. Guillermo Del Toro wrote and directed the film, which is based on Mike Mignola’s debut comic in the hit series titled Hellboy: Seed of Destruction.
Guillermo Del Toro and Mike Mignola had been working on getting the film off the ground for years before any studio would green-light the project, as their original script was far too violent, bloody, and brooding for any major studio to take a chance on.
Del Toro has even stated in interviews that he would have been prepared to shoot a script as early as 1998 if he’d secured the funding, noting a series of issues with getting Hollywood executives on board. Before Ron Perlman was attached as the lead, studio executives had reached out to both Vin Diesel and Jeremy Renner to portray Hellboy, though Del Toro maintained Perlman would be the best choice throughout the casting process.
Hellboy centers on a humanoid demon creature with a massive fist made of unbreakable stone who accidentally comes into the world through a portal built by Nazi engineers in the midst of the Second World War.
Hellboy apparently went through a grueling shooting schedule that saw actors donning heavy makeup and prosthetics to shoot for six days a week for over four months straight. Guillermo Del Toro personally worked on the film for 130 uninterrupted days, reserving Sundays for viewing dailies and editing footage. Luckily, this hard work and effort paid off in droves, as Hellboy is widely recognized as one of the greatest comic book adaptations in cinema history.
Hellboy centers on a humanoid demon creature with a massive fist made of unbreakable stone who accidentally comes into the world through a portal built by Nazi engineers in the midst of the Second World War. Once the Allied powers defeat the Nazis and successfully close the portal, American scientist Trevor Bruttenholm resolves to adopt Hellboy, raising him with a set of fundamental morals to prevent him from succumbing to his demonic origins.
Years later, Hellboy and Bruttenholm have taken on the responsibility of preventing and solving paranormal activity and crimes within the mortal realm, working under the umbrella of the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense.
Hellboy was a small hit when it was released in 2004, earning just under $100 million, but it spawned a sequel a few years later, a reboot, and a prequel movie.
Hellboy is joined on this mission by his love interest, Liz Sherman, a newly reassigned FBI agent named John Myers, and Abraham Sapien, a psychic amphibious creature portrayed on screen by famed contortionist Doug Jones. Together, the BPRD team searches for and destroys demonic powers which interrupt normal life with their paranormal origins, including an immortal Russian Mystic named Rasputin, who was originally summoned through the portal by Nazi scientists.
Though the film’s theatrical run was mired by boycotts from religious groups that took issue with the use of “hell” in the film’s title, Hellboy managed to do well at the worldwide box office, taking in just under $100 million against an estimated production budget of between $60 and $66 million.
The movie was forced to take on the alternate title of Helloboy in some foreign markets, partially due to the vitriol inspired by The Passion of the Christ, which premiered in the same year. Regardless, the film wowed critics and general audiences alike, earning an 82 percent certified fresh critic score on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes.
The film received a sequel in 2008’s Hellboy 2: The Golden Army, which featured a return from nearly all of the main cast as well as writer/director Guillermo Del Toro. Unfortunately, Del Toro never received the opportunity to helm a third film in the franchise, though tales of another installment were rumored for many years. If you haven’t yet had the pleasure of catching the classic film, Halloween may be the perfect time of year to sit with some friends and catch Hellboy, which is available to stream on Netflix today.