A just-released red-band trailer for the Lionsgate revival of the Hellboy franchise is one for the ages. The trailer shows that, as a character, this version of the Dark Horse Comics character — now portrayed by an unrecognizable David Harbour of Stranger Things — is played as a younger, rougher and more volatile edition than Ron Perlman’s take in the original two Hellboy films, which were released in 2004 and 2008.
But while the horn-headed hero is portrayed younger the red-band trailer shows that the franchise around him wants to be viewed as decidedly more grown-up. The supernatural violence is bloodier this time around and it’s accompanied by f-bombs and a less fanciful tone than the previous two installments. The original pair of films were directed by Guillermo del Toro (in the days before The Shape of Water put an Oscar on his mantle) but this time around the occult hero is being resurrected by Neil Marshall, the filmmaker who came up with The Descent (2005) and crowned that achievement with two memorable Game of Thrones episodes (Blackwater and The Watchers on the Wall, the latter earning him an Emmy nomination).
A less-glib Hellboy in a darker tale with more gruesome action takes the hero closer to the original comic book version by writer-artist Mike Mignola but Harbour’s Hellboy won’t have the benefit of his best buddy, Abe Sapien, the fastidious, fish-faced colleague played so elegantly in the del Toro films by Doug Jones (who joined the director to play a similar aquatic character in The Shape of Water and now portrays Saru on Star Trek: Discovery.) That may make the new film less fun. Harbour’s Hellboy, in the new trailer, seems to offer a reply to that: “I’d appreciate a prophecy with more relatable stakes…”
The new Hellboy from Lionsgate’s Summit Entertainment rolls out April 12.