By Ani Bundel
The current shutdown over the pandemic has made this the most unusual San Diego Comic-Con in history, and not just due to the virtual nature of events. Some of the usual yearly highlights were canceled due to a lack of material to present, like the Marvel Cinematic Universe panel, which has been a Hall H anchor for over a decade. At this point, all the Disney subsidiary has is The New Mutants, which is technically a 20th Century film, and Helstrom, the last remaining vestige of the once-proud Marvel TV division, coming to Hulu later this year.
With Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. coming to an end, and all the other Marvel TV series canceled, the division was folded into the MCU’s Marvel Studios division late last year. The division will now be overseen by Kevin Feige and the MCU streaming series on Disney+ and the big-screen films. This makes Helstrom a bit of a bridge between masters. Developed under Jeph Loeb and originally planning to stream alongside S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff Marvel’s Ghost Rider, it was deemed the only concept worth saving, while the rest of the TV division’s projects were iced ahead of the merger.
With such a dramatic behind-the-scenes history coming in, fans were curious why this show survived the culling when no one else did. Luckily, the panel brought along the first trailer to give fans a taste of the series.
There’s a lot of potentially interesting choices the series seems to have made. One is the spelling of the character’s name, which in the comics is “Hellstrom,” to emphasize his ties as the only superhero who also happens to be the Son of Satan. The trailer feels like the show plans to play up the horror elements that go along with such a character while de-emphasizing the satanic connections.
As for the panel itself, moderator Laura Prudom of IGN was joined by showrunner Paul Zbyszewski and the Helstrom cast — Tom Austen, Sydney Lemmon, Elizabeth Marvel, Robert Wisdom, Ariana Guerra, June Carryl, and Alain Uy. The panel also let fans see the cast watch the trailer for the first time. It’s something of a staple at Marvel panels, but usually, it’s dark, so fans can’t see them respond in real-time. (Check it out around the 13:30 mark.)
Everyone was super delighted by the footage. It seems, despite pulling back on the “hell” parts of the show, the focus will remain on the horror. And that’s a surprisingly timely story to be telling, even though Zbyszewski was unequivocal that there is a difference between this kind of horror and what’s happening now in the real world: “We’re supposed to be doing a show that is a horror story, but it’s not real horror. Real horror is eight minutes and forty-six seconds.”
Even so, actress June Carryl summed up why a horror series featuring superheroes is perhaps more timely than one might expect. “This show is timely, because it is about people trying to figure out who they are in the face of pure evil, and that is exactly where we are right now.”
Marvel’s Helstrom premieres on Hulu on Oct. 16, 2020.
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