Hellboy is blazing back into theaters next April in a reboot of the iconic comic book character's big screen franchise rather than a continuation, something that creator Mike Mignola says has a lot to do with the tone of the new film.
Speaking with Deadline, Mignola explained that when Guillermo del Toro, who helmed 2004's Hellboy and 2008's Hellboy II: The Golden Army, chose not to return for another installment there was discussion about how to proceed with the ultimate choice being to start over and go a bit darker than the previous films.
"We went back and forth on that," Mignola said. "Early on there was some idea of continuing the storyline that del Toro had started but would that be fair to a new director? So we decided to just start over. Neil is a horror director, so the idea then was to make a darker film. If you are going to use a guy, let him do what he does best. So we went through the script taking out the del Toro-isms and in some ways go out of our way to make sure we are doing a different Hellboy with its own distinct character [as a project] but still adhering to the comics."
The result is set to be a fresh take on the comics which will be more R-rated than del Toro's films, and it’s something that Mignola recently told Entertainment Weekly comes from his deeper involvement with the upcoming film's creative process.
“It’s funny, because my involvement has been very different than the del Toro movies,” Mignola said. “The difference is I had known del Toro for six years by the time we did the first movie. Neil I met a couple months before he worked on the movie. It was very different, but I have been involved ever since they said, ‘Hey we’re gonna make another Hellboy movie, and we’re gonna do this story.’ I’ve bounced back and forth with them about how to adapt this particular Hellboy story. At various times I’ve jumped in and been much more active in the screenplay than I ever was on the Del Toro movies. But I did nothing so far as design stuff on the movie. Guillermo wanted me as a concept artist, but on this movie, there were other concept artists. I came in and I looked at some stuff, but they were trying to do something so close to what’s on the comics that they really leaned on what had been done by Duncan [Fegredo] and me in the comics.”
As for the film's title, Mignola explained in the Deadline interview that even though Hellboy shares a single-world name with the 2004 film, he things fans will see it as a signal of a fresh start.
"Honestly, I was a little surprised that they didn't give it a subtitle," Mignola said. "They would like this to be the first of many new Hellboy movies and if they had a subtitle it might make it a little confusing. Is it a sequel like the second del Toro film? I suspect calling this one just Hellboy sends the message that this is the first one in a new series of movies."
Hellboy is set to hit theaters on January 11, 2019.