One side-effect of social distancing and the shutdown of almost all non-essential business is that even celebrities are yearning for contact. Thanks to social media, they still have a direct connection to their fans. For example, The Tonight Show musician and legendary drummer Questlove does DJ sessions on his Instagram Live. Others use it, too. They communicated directly with fans and without a publicist in their ear. This is likely how David Harbour ended up blaming the failure of his Hellboy reboot on fans of director Guillermo Del Toro. The Oscar-winning director was responsible for bringing the character to the big screen the first time.
To be clear, David Harbour didn’t exactly “blame” Del Toro or his fans for the failure of the Hellboy reboot. Rather, he said that because fans were so passionate for the first films (and still hungry for more), there wasn’t an appetite for the new film. To him, the movie was doomed before it debuted.
“I think it failed before we began shooting because I think that people didn’t want us to make the movie and for some reason there was like a big… Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman created this iconic thing that we thought could be reinvented and then they certainly – the loudness of the internet was like, ‘We do not want you to touch this.’ And then we made a movie that I think is fun and I think had its problems but was a fun movie and then people were just very very against it and that’s people’s right but I learned my lesson in a lot of different ways.”
For a moment, consider this from the point-of-view of the Stranger Things star. Comic book characters are a big deal in a actor’s filmography. If you play Batman, Superman, the Joker, or any marquee name, you are always that character. No matter how many times its recast, Eric Bana will always be the Hulk. (Just like Lou Ferrigno, Mark Ruffalo, and whatever actor gets Hulked up next.) Yet, if you’re Batman, you want to be Christian Bale and not George Clooney. In the eyes of film history, Harbour’s Hellboy is more Clooney than Bale.
Why We Think The Hellboy Reboot Failed (Sorry, David Harbour, It Was The Story)
Image via Lionsgate
To be fair, David Harbour is a little right about the Hellboy reboot and its failure. From the get-go, Fans Online™ seemed to root for this movie to fail. They wanted more of Perlman and Del Toro’s take on Hellboy, and instead they had to go back to the beginning. Anyone can be a masked character like Spider-Man. It’s an eternally relevant human story: a person given power experiences a loss and uses their power to help others out of a sense of regret and responsibility. With Hellboy, however, there is little room for variation.
Harbour’s Hellboy had some great visuals and awesome moments. The scene with Baba Yaga, for example, is a stand-out. Yet, the story and the execution lacked in important ways. For example, they went with a kind of dated, rock-riff score instead of something more orchestral. As Star Wars proved, if you’re deal with silly stuff like magic and monsters, you need the gravitas of an orchestral score. Also, they didn’t try to rebuild the world but rather dropped us into what seemed to be the final film of a trilogy we hadn’t seen.
To his credit, Harbour was excellent in the role. Perlman leaves behind large shoes (hooves?) to fill. Harbour’s Hellboy was similar enough that it was recognizably the character, while still being unique enough that it wasn’t just a rehash of what came before. He deserves another bite at the forbidden apple. At least we’ll see him in Black Widow.
What do you think? Do you think the failure of the Hellboy reboot was because of fans of its first iteration? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Featured image via Lionsgate | h/t Bleeding Cool
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.