First 'Hellboy' Footage Electrifies New York Comic Con

Hellboy 2018 Movie First Look - Publicity - H 2017
© Dark Horse Entertainment
David Harbour and Mike Mignola led a panel Saturday morning that won over fans of the character.

The Hellboy panel on Saturday morning at New York Comic Con thrilled fans with their first glimpse at Neil Marshall’s cinematic reboot of the Mike Mignola comic book character — and the exorcism of the ghost of Guillermo del Toro.

A two-minute sizzle reel for the movie was shown to a wildly appreciative crowd, not least of all because star David Harbour made it clear before the footage aired that it wouldn’t be shared online. Fast-paced and filled with action, the offering showcased Harbour’s Hellboy as a witty, violent hero who has little patience for the supernatural world around him, or even the other members of the B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) who aren’t thrilled at working with him. “I thought we were supposed to be fighting monsters, not working with them,” says Daniel Dae Kim’s Ben Daimio at one point, only for the hero to point out that he’s not that impressed by the scarred warrior’s face, either.

The panel, which featured Harbour, Kim, Sasha Lane and Mignola — as well as a video appearance from Milla Jovovich teasing her role as the Blood Queen — talked about the difference between this movie and the earlier Del Toro version of the characters, who appeared in films in 2004 and 2008. With everyone expressing their admiration for the earlier movies, a common sentiment was that Marshall’s take on the character is far closer to the comic book original.

“It’s a little darker and it’s a little funnier. Neil is a very funny man, and that’s something that a lot of people don’t get to see,” Kim said. “It has a completely different feel,” Harbour asserted. “I want to get to the core of Mike’s stuff, which to me is horror, even an existential kind of horror. It has a bit more of a Mignola feel rather than a Guillermo del Toro feel.”

Talking about how he approaches playing Hellboy following the fan-favorite performance of Ron Perlman, Harbour said, “Even approaching the character I was nervous because Ron’s iconic and he’s a great Hellboy. So I was like, I’m not going to imitate that. I’m going to do my own thing because I do not do what he does. My approach was a little bit more down and dirty. My Hellboy feels a little younger. He’s got hair, which is a big thing. He’s got a lot more inner turmoil, he’s a little more lost in the universe. He’s got more what I bring.”

For Mignola, who is one of the credited screenwriters, working on something so faithful to his work has an additional benefit. “What I’m looking forward to is having the conversation after this comes out to figure out what the next movie is,” he said. “I’m really excited to be part of those conversations. This version is so close to the comic that we will be able to go back to the comic to pick what happens next.”

Marshall, who wasn’t present at the panel, was praised by his stars and Mignola, with his sensitivity with collaborators being repeatedly mentioned. “It was actually very sweet, when the producers were initially talking about Neil, they asked me if I would write an email and tell him that I wanted him to do the movie,” Mignola said. “I was like, ‘What the hell would he care what I think?’ But I think he was really appreciative.”

Harbour said that Marshall is “a really great director, for horror stuff especially. He knows how to do scares and monsters, which is so great for this. At its core, it’s a monster movie, more than it is a superhero movie.” One that, as the final scene of the sizzle reel showed, features its central character with a flaming crown and sword to the soundtrack of excited cheers and applause.

Hellboy will be released April 2019.