Of all this summer’s plentiful comic book movies, the one we’ve been looking forward to the most is HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY, because…well, it just looks so crazy and Guillermo del Toro is a true visionary. It’s currently at a laudable 87% on Rotten Tomatoes, and a big opening weekend is expected.
There are a few ways that HELLBOY’s success is notable: unless we’re forgetting something big, he’s the first creator-owned comic-book character since the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to reach icon status (as confirmed by his appearances with James Lipton.) In that, he remains an inspiration rather than the first of many, alas.
HELLBOY is also notable because after the first film, the original distributor, Columbia, decided against a sequel, making it a very rare two-studio franchise. Borys Kit at THR details the film’s rocky road to the screen:
When Gordon and Dark Horse publisher Mike Richardson began shopping del Toro’s first “Hellboy” screenplay in 1998, they met with plenty of resistance. Why does he have to be red? Does he need to have a tail? Can we call him something other than Hellboy?
Although they managed to set up the project at Joe Roth’s Sony-based Revolution, the project continued to face an uphill battle. Executives were reluctant to make the film without a star, pushing such actors as Bruce Willis and Vin Diesel on the filmmakers. With the project stuck in development hell, del Toro hopped on New Line’s “Blade 2.”
A week after that action horror movie opened to $32.5 million in March 2002, Revolution greenlighted “Hellboy.”
“Why does he have to have a tail?”
Indeed. Hellboy is still an iconoclast — because of the very title, there aren’t many licensing opportunities. And maybe that’s why we like him the best.
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