A New York Comic Con audience got a first look today at next year’s Hellboy, with exclusive footage (not available online, and not an official trailer) proving star David Harbour’s onstage claim: Yes, Hellboy is a monster movie.

Hellboy
Lionsgate

“There are a lot of CGI elements,” said Harbour, who plays the title character in director Neil Marshall’s new take on the comic and its horned hero, “but also a lot of practical stuff, like, crazy practical make-up.”

“And,” he continued, “there are so many monsters, not just Hellboy. Like, two practical monsters having a full scene with each other. And you feel the weight of that.”

Harbour expressed a decided preference for “practical” effects versus CGI, and named names – say, a certain villain from Titan.

“Like Thanos,” said the new Hellboy about heavily CGI heavies, then joked, “I’m not going to start this scandal like ‘Harbour Hates Marvel.’ I think [Avengers: Infinity War] is a great movie, but I do lament that [Hollywood] uses a lot of CGI right now, and I love the practical stuff.”

“That monster you see there [on the poster] is what we saw on set, except for the flaming sword on my shoulder.”

Asked to name some of the monsters, practical or otherwise, that might be dropping by Hellboy for a cameo, Harbour (Stranger Things) made a long, pained explanation of how Lionsgate wouldn’t allow him to reveal such things, making a claw-like gesture through most of his refusal. At least one person in the crowd said, loudly, “Lobster Johnson!”

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Whoever might play Lobster Johnson – or whether the character even has pinched a scene in the upcoming film – neither that character nor the actor who might or might not play him were onstage today. In addition to Harbour, the Hellboy panel was creator Mike Mignola, and costars Sasha Lane and Daniel Dae Kim (Ian McShane had been scheduled but had to cancel).

Mignola and the actors reiterated earlier statements that the new Ron Perlman-less take on the character amps up the horror aspects without losing the dark comedy of earlier incarnations (Guillermo del Toro directed the 2004 and 2008 films with Perlman in the role). “Existential horror” is one of the ways Harbour described the new film (set for release April 12, 2019).

The footage supports the description. After we see an elaborate, underground lake and cave, the clip moved to city streets and Law and Order-type courthouse steps littered with bodies. As Barbour’s Hellboy – sans horns, initially – gets out of a car to investigate, a cop shoots at him. “Hey,” he screams, “I’m on your side!”

From there we see plenty of fights, a bloody gunshot to a head (the film will be R-rated) and some internecine grouching (Daniel Dae Kim’s character at one point grouses, “I thought we were supposed to be fighting monsters, not working with them.”

As for Hellboy himself, he certainly has the wry sense of gallows humor we expect. Showing off a large gun that he’s apparently had for a long time, he says, “Some parents give their kids Legos…”

At another point, asked whether that big Right Hand of Doom can do anything special, Hellboy responds, “Yeah, it smashes things real good.”

When an audience member asks if Hellboy voices the loud “boom” that accompanies his comic-book punches, Harbour didn’t spoil, but did agree to say the word while miming a right hook.

“Give my nerds what they want,” he said, in true Hellboy style.

The producers of the film are Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin and Mike Richardson, the latter the owner of Dark Horse Entertainment, the Oregon-based publisher of Hellboy comics.

Liongate’s Summit releases Hellboy to theaters April 12, 2019.