Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Hellboy’ Movies Were the Last of Their Kind — and They Knew It

IndieWire | 4/13/2019 | Staff
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Guillermo del Toro’s two “Hellboy” movies were made before a certain cinematic universe had a name. Marvel’s 21 (soon to be 22) films standardized the assembly-line approach to overlapping narratives and origin stories, and the comic-book adaptations that preceded them by even a few years — like “X-Men” and “Spider-Man” — skipped much of the throat-clearing and presented their heroes as fully formed beings by the second act.

Del Toro and his cast (especially Hellboy himself, Ron Perlman) were vocal about wanting to continue this chthonic franchise, a dream dashed against the rocky shores of Hollywood when Lionsgate passed over plans for a trilogy-completing installment in favor of a fresh start. That gave us Neil Marshall’s reboot, which opened in theaters April 12 (and, according to reports, appears to be on its way to a flop in its opening weekend).

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Del Toro’s diptych was full of occult trappings and religious iconography, but it eschewed gore in favor of mystical visuals and a familiar but effective message: It isn’t the circumstances of our birth that define us, but the choices we make. (“Batman Begins” repeated this sentiment almost verbatim a year later.) Hellboy’s real name is Anung un Rama, which has an objectively awesome translation — and upon his brow is set a crown of flame — but he’s more sarcastic than satanic.

However, Marshall’s reboot downplays the more endearing aspects of Hellboy’s personality (his affinity for cats and candy isn’t mentioned once) while upping the blood-and-gore quotient considerably. Gone is the charm of the earlier projects, replaced by an increase in violence that reduces a once-unique world into just another CGI battlefield.

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Another crucial difference between “Hellboy” and the unified-universe movies that now dominate the superhero space: Everyone and everything that dies in del Toro’s movies stays dead, including a literal Hound of Resurrection....
(Excerpt) Read more at: IndieWire
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