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Film / Hellboy (2019)

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"Save the world. Just for the Hell of it."
Hellboy: You made me a goddamn weapon.
Professor Bruttenholm: I just wanted to help you become the best... you.

Hellboy (Hellboy: Call of Darkness in some regions) is a 2019 supernatural superhero film based on the Dark Horse Comics character of the same name created by Mike Mignola. It is directed by Neil Marshall.

The story has Hellboy (David Harbour), the red-skinned demon who was adopted and raised by humans, squaring off against Nimue the Blood Queen (Milla Jovovich), a medieval sorceress who seeks to destroy mankind.

The cast also includes Ian McShane as Professor Trevor "Broom" Bruttenholm, Sasha Lane as Alice Monaghan, Brian Gleeson as Merlin, Daniel Dae Kim as Ben Daimio and Sophie Okonedo as Lady Hatton.

The film is a Continuity Reboot of the two previous films by Guillermo del Toro. It shares no cast members with the earlier films and has an R rating. However, due to its lackluster performance with critics and audiences, the series will be rebooted again with Hellboy: The Crooked Man, to be directed by Brian Taylor (Happy!, Crank) and co-written by Mignola himself.

Previews: Trailer. Trailer 2

Hellboy contains examples of:

  • Abnormal Ammo:
    • When Alice threatens Hellboy with a shotgun during their first (conscious) encounter, she claims to have loaded it with shells made from angel bones. Judging by Hellboy's face, this is not only entirely possible, but would actually be dangerous to him.
    • Daimio commissions a special weapon for the sole purpose of killing Hellboy. The result is a single massive bullet that contains, among other exotic ingredients, parts of the silver coins Judas received for betraying Jesus.
  • Accent On The Wrong Syllable: Nimue's name is pronounced as "Nim-way" throughout the film, when usually it is pronounced more along the lines of "Ni-moo" or "Nim-yoo-ay".
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • In a very unconventional way with Daimio's beast mode: in the comics he looked like a viscerally red Animalistic Abomination, while he looks like an average jaguar hybrid man in the movie, who is far less monstrous in comparison. Downplayed with Daimio in his normal self who retains his facial scar, but it's nowhere near as massively disfiguring as in the comics.
    • Professor Bruttenholm is usually a plain man even in his youth, here he is played by the more robust and devilishly handsome Ian McShane.
  • Adaptational Badass: Bruttenholm in the comics was not one properly equipped to deal with action and was quickly killed in the first chapter of Seed of Destruction. Ian McShane's Bruttenholm showed up to the site where Hellboy was first summoned dressed like something out of a pulp adventure and armed with a double-barreled gun aimed right at the young Hellboy's head in caution.
  • Adaptational Nationality: Alice Monaghan (Irish) and Ben Daimio (Japanese-American) are both British in the film (both played by American actors).
  • Adaptational Ugliness: While he's still built like a tank, this version of the title character is less classically handsome than the comics' version, lacking Puppy-Dog Eyes and looking somewhat harsher, scruffier and more slovenly overall, with messier hair, hairier body, a heavier brow, larger teeth and ragged horn stumps.
  • Adaptational Wimp: Rasputin was an Arc Villain whose mystique and power almost qualified him for Humanoid Abomination. When summoning Hellboy to Earth, it was also clear that the Nazis were nothing more than tools for his goals. Here, he appears to be just a regular mystic helpless against the Nazis when they decide he's no longer of use, and easily dies at Lobster Johnson's hand.
  • Adaptation Relationship Overhaul:
    • In the comics Hellboy had a fairly positive relationship with Professor Bruttenholm. Here, Hellboy has a strained relationship with him due to believing that he was raised to be Bruttenholm's weapon.
    • Hellboy and Ben Daimio never actually met in the comics, with Hellboy vanishing before Ben joined the BPRD, and Ben in turn dying before Hellboy returned.
  • Adapted Out
    • Abe Sapien and Liz Sherman don't appear in this adaptation as a means to differentiate it from the previous movies. Abe appears in his tank at the end of the movie, though.
    • Like with most of Hellboy's major stories the Ogdru-Jahad was heavily involved in the original comic arc, with Nimue having been corrupted by it and even becoming its avatar for her final clash with Hellboy. Nothing like that is implied to be happening here.
  • An Arm and a Leg: If you took a shot every time limbs go flying in this film, you'd be hospitalized by the time the credits roll. Nimue losing an arm to Excalibur in the prologue is just the most prominent example.
  • And I Must Scream: After Nimue's first defeat in the 5th century, her body was chopped up into half a dozen pieces, sealed in iron chests and hidden throughout the world. Unfortunately for her, her head remained conscious the whole time it was locked in this dark and quiet box for well over 1,500 years. She's remarkably sane when pieced together after this ordeal. Sure, she wants to wipe out mankind, but that's no different from her plans before she was put away.
  • Atrocity Montage After Nimue kills Trevor Bruttenholm, Hellboy decides to pull out Excalibur at Saint Paul's Cathedral and transforms him into the Destroyer of All Things out of desperation to kill her. In the process, it allows demons to emerge from Hell and graphically slaughter the populace of London in a bloody fashion which include a demon breathing fire to incinerate citizens, a man being ripped in half by winged demons, and a demonic giant destroying Tower Bridge by simply walking through it.
  • Asshole Victim: While hunting for three giants, the Osiris Club turns their back on Hellboy, claiming that he will bring about the apocalypse. Not too long as they're about to execute him, they are promptly killed by the giants they're hunting, the leader getting decapitated first.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: London is attacked by a giant skinless demon with blade-like limbs during the finale. There's also a trio of bog-standard (though heavily armed) giants terrorizing the English countryside that Hellboy is called upon to deal with.
  • Autobots, Rock Out!: Pretty much every action scene, and even some of the "quieter" ones, are underscored with epic rock and metal riffs. The final "Six months later" scene features Hellboy, Alice, and Daimio tearing through a secret Siberian bunker while Motley Crue's "Kickstart My Heart" plays.
  • BFS: One of the giants Hellboy tangles with halfway through the film wields a crudely fashioned sword about five times Hellboy's size. Big Red eventually disarms the monster and turns the enormous weapon against its owner.
  • Big "NO!": Nimue, when Hellboy drops her decapitated head into hell.
  • Bloodier and Gorier: The film is way gorier than the original source material. The original comics could get pretty dark and grim at times, but they were more about Gothic menace and sinister monster designs than gore, and what bloodshed we did see was more artistic than gratuitous thanks to Mike Mignola's unique art style. This film, by contrast, is filled with blood and gore and contains many scenes of people being sliced up, squashed, ripped to pieces and flayed alive by monsters.
  • Blood Magic: The blood she lost when King Arthur hacked her up is the last part of her body that Nimue needs to complete her own resurrection. Sure enough, she eventually reclaims it from the ancient tree that absorbed it upon her death, which reverts her from a disturbingly pretty Frankenstein-esque creature to, well, Milla Jovovich in all her scantily-clad glory.
  • Bloodstained Glass Windows: The final showdown with Gruagach and Nimue takes place in St. Paul’s Cathedral.
  • Boom, Headshot!: Unlike Ron Perlman's Hellboy, this one is a crack shot with his massive Hand Cannon. Almost every hit he lands that is shown on-screen is a headshot with predictably gory results, and he rarely, if ever, seems to miss his target.
  • Bottomless Magazines: Hellboy is never seen reloading his six-shooter regardless of how many shots he fired in any given scene.
  • Broken Masquerade: Unsurprisingly averted. Unlike in the original movies, Hellboy's existence is no secret, and although his sudden appearance may be cause for some alarm among the populace, it is because of his Doom Magnet and Destructive Savior tendencies rather than any shock about coming face to face with a supernatural creature.
  • Cold Iron: The Gruagach is repeatedly shown to be deathly allergic to iron. He is part of The Fair Folk after all, so this shouldn't come as a surprise.
  • Composite Character: Lobster Johnson takes on elements of the Torch of Liberty (a Captain America Expy tied up in some rights issues) in being involved in the attack on Project Ragna Rok.
  • Continuity Cameo: Rasputin, Kroenen, and Ilsa Haupstein appear in a flashback to Project Ragna Rok.
  • Continuity Reboot: It has no ties to the previous Hellboy films that were both directed by Guillermo del Toro.
  • Covert Group with Mundane Front: The BPRD team up with MI11, which apparently has a secret base in a London chip shop.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death: Too many to list, but Nimue slowly crushing two of her treacherous coven witches in on themselves with what looks like telekinesis deserves some special mention.
  • Darker and Edgier: The movie has a fairly hard R-rating, with plenty of gratuitous gore and swearing, in comparison to the previous two PG-13 films. The filmmakers even said they wanted to improve the horror instead of the superheroics.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the comics, Merlin was still imprisoned at the end of the arc. Here he dies after using the last of his magic to summon Excalibur.
  • Death of a Child: Baba Yaga's chicken-walking hut has the corpses of several butchered children shown hanging from meat hooks in her larder.
  • Dying Vocal Change: Suffered by Gruagach as Nimue shrinks him down to size, his voice growing steadily more high-pitched and shrieking up until he pops like a pimple.
  • Dragon Rider: Hellboy has a vision of himself riding a chained dragon.
  • Exact Words: Used by Hellboy, Baba Yaga demands one of his eyes as payment for information and he agrees, but when she tries to collect he refuses saying "When I'm done with it. Should have specified when before making the agreement."
  • Eyeball-Plucking Birds: The film begins with a close-up shot of a corpse's eye being plucked from its socket by a crow.
  • Eye Scream: A motif throughout the film. It begins on a close-up shot of a corpse's eye being plucked from its socket by a crow. There's a long Gross-Up Close-Up of Baba Yaga's missing eye, and she tries to take one of Hellboy's. Nimue is reassembled by a hag with sewn-up eyes. Nimue's eye gets shot out and dangles out of its socket for a while. Numerous other enemies are shot or stabbed in the eye.
  • Fan Disservice: Baba Yaga is shown wearing even more of a Navel-Deep Neckline than Nimue does. Too bad she's a hideously disfigured old hag with emaciated, sagging breasts that couldn't be less titillating if she tried.
  • Fanservice Extra: Part of the flashback that tells of how Hellboy was conceived shows his mother, a beautiful young woman, topless from the side for a second or two. Nipple and Dimed is in place, though.
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink: As usual for a Hellboy adaptation. Besides the titular demon resurrected by Nazi superscience, there's human-eating giants, a WWII-era superhero, an Evil Sorceress from Arthurian mythology, a man who turns into a were-jaguar, the Russian mythic witch Baba Yaga, a woman who can speak to ghosts, and Excalibur.
  • Flaming Sword: Hellboy wields Excalibur, which burns when it is wielded by him.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Daimio is repeatedly shown fighting off his transformation into his were-jaguar form by jamming a syringe into his leg. When he sees an empowered Gruagach beating the living shit out of Hellboy, he's visibly torn but eventually throws the syringe away and embraces his inner beast to save Hellboy's life.
  • Gorn: The film aims deep into R-rated territory by positively overflowing with violence, gore and other disgusting imagery. Even when things aren't getting skinned alive or their eyeballs ripped out, the camera will focus on gross visuals to maintain the theme.
  • Gross-Up Close-Up: We get lots of unnecessary insert shots of close-ups on gross things, including Baba Yaga's missing eye and the necrotic flesh of the hag who reassembles Nimue. The camera virtually pushes the viewers' face into it.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Inverted. Although Alice eventually starts using a handgun, most of the time she's seen punching the crap out of her opponents while Hellboy and Daimio focus much more on their guns.
  • Hand Cannon: Hellboy still wields a ginormous custom-made revolver as his weapon, although this time around it doesn't get a name as the Samaritan did, at least not on-screen. It looks like a cross between a shotgun and a .50 Magnum revolver, with bullets that resemble .600 Nitro Express and are longer than would fit in the cylinder of the gun prop. (Nitro express revolvers do exist, but look just as stupid as you might think)
  • Half-Human Hybrid: Turns out Hellboy himself is one. His father was a demon lord, his mother a mostly normal human woman.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Nimue's first defeat way back when wouldn't have been possible if not for the betrayal of at least one member of her own witch coven. It's implied that this witch had a hand in forging Excalibur, the only weapon capable of actually wounding Nimue.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: Just as much a recurring theme throughout the film as the Eye Scream. The first attack on Nimue in the Action Prologue involves a javelin through her chest, Hellboy ends up on the receiving end multiple times as well, and several unfortunate Londoners get kebabed on a giant demon's legs, to name but a few examples.
  • I Need a Freaking Drink: After Hellboy takes out the Masked Luchador mentioned below, he goes to a bar to get hammered.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Heroic example. After rejecting Excalibur for the first time, Hellboy says he rejected it because he would bring about the end of the world. Daimio immediately calls him out on this, believing that he should have taken the sword if it could have killed Nimue, and that Hellboy's talk of the apocalypse is simply him being dramatic. Towards the end of the film, we find out that Hellboy was absolutely right. Taking Excalibur turns him into Anung un Rama, and immediately lets loose the forces of hell, including some horrific Eldritch Abomination-like creatures that begin slaughtering the people of London in various grotesque ways. Had Hellboy taken the sword earlier, the damage would have been even more catastrophic.
  • Knight Templar: The Osiris Club is introduced as another evil-hunting organization like the BPRD, with a long-standing alliance and friendship connecting both. They even don traditional medieval plate armor when they go giant hunting just to hammer the point home. Unlike the BPRD, however, they were never comfortable with letting hellspawn like Hellboy live amongst humans, and they literally stab him in the back the moment they have a reasonable chance to take him down.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After attempting to kill Hellboy for being a demon when he's supposed to be helping them fight giants, the Osiris Club almost immediately get wiped out by the same giants they'd been hunting, and getting eaten to the bargain. Their leader even gets smashed by a giant in the middle of his Evil Gloating.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: When the protagonists talk about some villain not being around anymore because of Hellboy, Alice quips that this probably means the guy won't be putting in an appearance in the sequel.
  • Lightning Can Do Anything: Hellboy is electrocuted while standing in water by two enemies who are also standing in the same water, yet neither of them get shocked.
  • Made of Iron:
    • This incarnation of Hellboy is even tougher than the original. He survives being impaled by multiple massive hunting spears, being electrocuted and virtually thrown off a bridge, followed immediately by being kicked and punched around by a pack of giants, without too much trouble. After that it takes only a couple hours at most plus some basic first aid for his wounds to heal almost completely.
    • Probably owing to his being a were-creature, Daimio is also much more resilient than the average human. This guy can tank a punch from Hellboy's giant right fist to the face without visible injury, and the abuse he suffers during the final showdown would've killed a normal man ten times over.
  • The Man Behind the Monsters: Though aided by some human cultists, Nimue has an army of monsters at her back and call to unleash havok upon the world.
  • Masked Luchador: Hellboy's first mission that the audience sees in the film is him going into a Lucha Libre arena to locate a BRPD agent who was supposed to take out a vampire cult. Unsurprisingly, the agent has been turned into a vampire himself, which is revealed when Hellboy rips off his mask, and ends up Impaled with Extreme Prejudice in short order.
  • Monumental Damage: During Nimue's siege of London in the climax, one of her demons completely wrecks the Tower Bridge.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Milla Jovovich as Nimue is sporting some serious Navel-Deep Neckline in her look. Justified since she is apparently trying to seduce Hellboy to her side.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • Nimue declares that from the ashes of the old world a "new Eden will emerge" similar to Grigori Rasputin's speech before opening the portal from the first movie.
    • Several of the deceased agents in the memorial were taken straight from the comics - some of whom should not have even been dead yet by this time!
  • Nerves of Steel: Hilariously Subverted when Alice and Hellboy are talking at her kitchen table. She mentions how the spirits she hears are all saying to kill Hellboy with the angel bone-loaded shotgun under her table. Hellboy responds with a nonchalant "you going to shoot me or what?" like a typical action movie protagonist. When Alice abruptly ducks under the table and does not fire, Hellboy immediately starts panicking.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: When Hellboy, in his desire to avenge his father's death, pulls Excalibur from its stone and thus turns into the Destroyer Of All Things, his transformation opens the gates of Hell and unleashes scores of murderous demons on London's civilian populace. It lasts only a minute or two at most, but that's enough to result in countless extremely violent deaths among innocent bystanders. It's downplayed, however, because Excalibur was Hellboy's only option to defeat Nimue for real.
  • Off with His Head!: A third violence-related theme in the film, lots of folks get forcefully relieved of their heads.
  • The Oner: The final action scene is shot in one continuous take.
  • Oop North: Gruagach has a strong Scouse accent.
  • Our Giants Are Bigger: About 30-40 feet tall at a rough estimate. And they wield giant swords, axes and clubs. And they have crude metal prosthetics that make them look like medieval steampunk cyborgs. Oh, and there's three of them. At once.
  • Panthera Awesome: Ben Daimio can transform into a were-jaguar under extreme duress. The transformation appears to be quite painful.
  • Pig Man: Gruagach, one of The Fair Folk, has a boar like head complete with tusks.
  • Race Lift: Alice Monaghan was a white, Irish woman in the comics; in the film she's a British woman portrayed by African-American actress Sasha Lane. There are still hints of Alice's Irish background, though, such as her last name and the fact that her white father speaks with an Irish accent in the flashback (while her mother is Black British).
  • Recycled Title: Uses the same title as the 2004 film, although in some countries it received an expansion to set it apart from the original. For instance, the German version was called Hellboy: Call of Darkness.
  • Resized Vocals: Once Nimue decides Gruagach has outlived his usefulness, she magically shrinks the formerly imposing boar man down to his original size, leaving him helplessly shrieking in a now high-pitched voice, "This ain't fair! Foock you, Hellboy!" These double as Profane Last Words, because seconds after, Gruagach explodes from Nimue shrinking him.
  • Ruder and Cruder: The 2019 film has much saltier language than the two Guillermo del Toro films, with greater numbers of hard swears and religious exclamations.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The moment Nimue regains her full power, a veritable army of dark creatures crawls from the shadows to witness their queen's return, followed by her whipping them into a frenzy with a hammy new-era-speech. Then Hellboy announces his presence by blasting half of Nimue's head off. Cue every single monster getting the hell outta Dodge instantly, leaving Nimue and Gruagach to fend for themselves.
  • Sequel Hook
    • Six months after the story wraps up, Hellboy, Alice, and Daimio discover a chamber containing Abe Sapien.
    • The Stinger teases the involvement of Koschei the deathless.
  • Shout-Out: Baba Yaga's walking home resembles the castle from Howl's Moving Castle, in contrast to the simple cabin she has in the Hellboy comics and the folklore.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Hellboy's battle with Nimue in the comics ended with him dying. Not so here.
  • The Stinger
    • Hellboy gets drunk in a cemetery and runs into Lobster Johnson's ghost.
    • Baba Yaga plots revenge on Hellboy with an unrevealed figure. Her last line (promising to let the figure in question die if they kill Hellboy) implies this is Koschei the Deathless.
  • Tag Line:
    • "Legendary AF".
    • "Give evil Hell"
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: While Hellboy and Alice hit it off like a house on fire, Big Red and Daimio really can't stand each other when they meet, with Daimio even going so far as to commission a holy weapon specifically to kill Hellboy. Naturally, they develop into Fire-Forged Friends over the course of the movie. At the end of it, there's still traces of rivalry, but it's more friendly. Although in the six-months later scene, trying to trigger Daimio's were-jaguar side ends in the Right Hand of Doom meeting his face and throwing him against the wall.
  • Touched by Vorlons: Alice attributes her numerous paranormal abilities to her abduction by fairies when she was a toddler.
  • Tragic Villain: In a sense, Gruagach can be considered one. As a changeling that was used by fairies to replace a human child they abducted (Alice, actually), his only "crime" was, well, being what he is. He hadn't actually done anything villainous by the time Hellboy came for him except weird out his adoptive parents with some unspecified behavior. One can't really fault him for wanting revenge on Hellboy, although the depths he stoops to in order to accomplish this squarely put him into villain territory.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The trailers show off bits from the Six-Months Later pre-credits scene. That said, the plot was still kept relatively unspoiled, probably because it was well edited.
  • Truer to the Text:
    • The reboot generally demonstrates more closeness to the source material than Del Toro's films. Del Toro's were more specifically based off of the first volume, Seed of Destruction, which itself was rife with a few Early Installment Weirdnesses while this film brings to focus the expanded lore in later volumes such as Hellboy's ancestral connections to King Arthur and Nimue being the Big Bad after Rasputin was quietly defeated and done away with. There's also the B.P.R.D.'s expansion from mostly consisting of generic men in black Red Shirts to including weird and colorful characters like the aforementioned Daimio.
    • Alice Monaghan is Hellboy's major Love Interest in the comics, not Liz Sherman (in the comics, Hellboy and Liz have a "big brother, little sister" relationship, which was one of several things Mignola disliked about Del Toro's films).
  • Ugly Hero, Good-Looking Villain: Hellboy's facial features - in contrast to the previous entry's more streamlined approach - are much rougher, grittier, and, well, uglier. Meanwhile, the main bad girl is Milla Jovovich, always looking as pretty as possible.
  • Video Credits: The end credits show pictures of the actors alongside their names.
  • Villain Opening Scene: The film opens with Nimue's origin story rather than Hellboy's, which is instead told via flashback toward the end of the first act.
  • Villainous Rescue: Hellboy only survives the Osiris Club's ambush because of the timely intervention of the three giants they were pursuing. Them making short work of the Osiris Club gives Hellboy enough time to get to safety and catch his breath for his own showdown with the monsters.
  • Walking Shirtless Scene: Hellboy never bothers to close his Badass Longcoat, nor does he wear a shirt underneath. Until of course the end of the movie, where he puts on the BPRD shirt with Alice and Daimio.
  • We Can Rule Together: Though not said verbatim, this is the Blood Queen's offer to Hellboy when she questions why he fights for those that fear and insult him. His obvious response is that she's fucking nuts.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Nimue only fell to King Arthur because one of her own witches betrayed her. This very witch reappears in the present, gets smacked around a bit by Hellboy, and then just disappears from the plot without a trace.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Merlin is furious when Hellboy doesn't take Excalibur the only weapon that could defeat the Blood Queen even after he sacrificed the last of his magic to bring it to him.
  • World of Ham: There's absolutely no major character in this film who doesn't devour the scenery every chance they get.
  • Worst Aid: At one point, Hellboy pulls a massive spear that pierced his shoulder all the way through out of his body, which is the opposite of what you should do in Real Life. Justified, however, because he was in the middle of a battle where not having a sharp piece of metal stuck in your arm might be more important for survival than worrying about blood loss. Also, Hellboy is not exactly human, so it's possible that his approach actually works better for his physiology.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Nimue does this to Gruagach during the final battle by shrinking him down to size until he pops like a zit.

Ben Daimio: I thought we were supposed to be fighting monsters, not working with them.
Hellboy: Who you calling a monster, pal? You look in the mirror recently?

Alternative Title(s): Hellboy Call Of Darkness