Whenever a comic book adaptation gets close to being adapted but, for one reason or another, fails to make it to the screen, an obvious question tends to emerge: why not publish that story as a comic, and get some return-on-investment for all the money spent developing the project? Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, speaking during Comic Con International in San Diego last week, has a pretty simple answer: because it creates unnecessary confusion for readers to publish "alternate universe" stories for most characters. While DC and Marvel superhero fans are used to having multiple versions of their favorite characters coexisting within sprawling multiverses, creator-owned comics are rarely set up for it.
Mignola admits that filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, who directed the fan-favorite Hellboy movies starring Ron Perlman back in 2004 and 2008, had approached him about the idea of adapting his Hellboy III screenplay into comics form, but said that he was not interested. The film, which was in limbo for years as del Toro and others tried to find a way to make it work. Ultimately those attempts failed and the franchise was rebooted earlier this year from filmmaker Neil Marshall and star David Harbour.
"I think del Toro mentioned it to me once, and I said no," Mignola told ScreenRant. "I think, let the comics be the comics. Comics are confusing enough for people. Let's not have two different versions of the Hellboy comic out there. My vote would be (to say) no."
The decision makes a kind of sense: the whole reason DC's Crisis on Infinite Earths event happened in the '80s was the confusion that new readers felt when entering a world where there were dozens of variant Supermen and Batmen. Still, it seems a bit of a stretch to suppose that a single original graphic novel tying into a popular film series might throw off the film franchise -- especially if it wasn't drawn by Mignola, which could have been a way to distinguish it from the "real" Hellboy comics.
The latest film adaptation of Hellboy, which was reportedly made with more direct involvement from Mignola, was released on DVD and Blu-ray this week. You can get it digitally on streaming video services including Amazon Prime and Vudu.