Fans have been waiting years to find out which new twists would be added to the story by the new creative team for the rebooted Hellboy franchise. We’re gritting our teeth, dusting off our tomes of BPRD history and casting a spell of blood magic to bring you all the small details you missed in the 2019 version of Hellboy. Hellboy starts the movie heading to Mexico to find a missing BPRD agent and close friend Esteban. He finds his old pal wrestling in a Lucha Libre arena under the name ‘Camazots’, seemingly indifferent to Hellboy’s concern.
In the comic storyline ‘Hellboy in Mexico’, Hellboy teams up with a group of 1950s Luchador Ace while fighting vampires in Mexico. After a night of heavy drinking, one of the brothers, Esteban, wanders out into the night and gets turned into a vampiric luchador called kama Zots. The movie closely follows the storyline as Hellboy is forced to battle against the giant bat creature impaling him on a ring post. The movie even includes the months-long drinking bendor that Hellboy goes on afterwards. When Hellboy gets picked up by BPRD agents in Mexico, Professor Broom lets him know he has to go to the Osiris Club to help them out with a giant problem that they’re having.
“When he shall call Society one in 1866 by the ranking members of the Helio Pat Brotherhood of Iran”.
In the comics the Heliopic Brotherhood is a group of supernatural obsessed cultists who went around causing trouble. They usually battled against Sir Edward Grey the Witchfinder of Victorian era precursor to latter-day heroes like Lobster Johnson and Hellboy. The Brotherhood’s referenced in the film isn’t just to show that the new film is firmly enmeshed within the larger Hellboy comics universe, it’s also a sly bit of foreshadowing to the Osiris club’s betrayal of Hellboy while on the wild hunt. If you got a phobia of eye trauma stay away from this movie. Hellboy himself blinds at least three different monsters on screen plus there’s Baba Yaga the witch who lost one eye to Hellboy before the movies events. She’s eager to pop one of Big Reds yellow eyes into her socket.
She offers Hellboy a deal for information on Nimue the Blood Queens next move in return for one of his eyes. Hellboy accepts but ends up reneging on the deal, telling the witch that she can have the eye when he’s done with it. That might not have been the right decision. He gets hit with a nasty curse and ends up losing out on some knowledge. The Hellboy probably should have remembered the Norse myth of Odin who is said to have traded an eye for divine wisdom. Hellboy is able to get out of the trade with Baba Yaga by telling the witch that she never specified a time frame to collect his eye. It’s a savvy trick that gives our hero a high ground for not staying true to his word when making a deal with a child killing cannibal witch and it also subtly connects Hellboy to Nimue.
A significant portion of the film is devoted to Hellboy struggling with his duel loyalties to humanity epitomized by Professor Broom and monster-dom represented by Nimue. She tells him that they’re bound by fate. That might be true but they’re also bound by how tricky they both are. After Gruagach defeats Hellboy in combat, Nimue takes the former’s power away. When Gruagach reminds Nimue that she promised to make him whole, she responds that she did she just didn’t tell him for how long. Nimue and Hellboy’s duel trickery connects the two characters. When Hellboy leaves her house with both his eyes Baba Yaga curses him that he’ll use both of his eyes to see the one person he loves most in the world suffer and die. Later in the film Alice is hit by one of Nimue’s poisonous needles and her outlook seems grim.
With Alice knocking on heaven’s door, it seems like the film is setting her up to be the unfortunate recipient of Baba Yaga’s curse but all she needed was a little Merlin magic to get back up on her feet. The curse’s real target seems to be Professor Broom who Nimue kills while Hellboy watches. The wild hunt is another element of the movie straight out of European myths. There are many many variations of the myth but one of the most consistent aspects of the hunt is that it presages an outbreak of war or plague. The wild hunt of Hellboy is a bit distinct in that everyone involved in the hunt except for Hellboy is a normal human.
Nimue is known for bringing with her plagues and destruction and there are definitely enough demons and soldiers milling about in the final scenes to qualify as a war. One of the most memorable lines is when Hellboy rebuffs Nimue’s offer of romantic alliance by telling her that;
“This is not gonna work you know coz I’m a Capricorn and you’re f*$#@ng nuts”.
It’s not actually accurate though, in the comics Hellboy’s given birthday is October 5th which would make him a Libra. It’s easy to see why screenwriter Andrew Cosby went with the Capricorn, the zodiac symbol is a goat, Hellboy’s demon father takes the form of a goat occasionally and Hellboy’s horns are goat like. One of the Huntsman asks Hellboy what his rocky right hand is used for;
“It smashes things real good”
That line might have come as a shock to superfans at the comics in 2004’s Hellboy since they know that Hellboy’s right hand of doom is the key to controlling the augur jihad Lovecraftian creatures from beyond space and time. None of that place into 29 teams Hellboy largely because his space worm controlling stone hand isn’t part of the movie’s doomsday prophecies. It’s more of a battle between his demonic evil and Arthurian good twin Heritage’s with the forces of evil kept decidedly in the folklore and hellish realms. While Hellboy’s appearance on a small Scottish island after a Nazi ritual is kept fairly faithful to the original comics, there is one noticeable twist. In the original comic the torch of Liberty a creation of John Burns that was loaned to Mike Mignola on a one-time basis is there. Since the character figured so prominently in Hellboy’s origin, you’d expect him to make another appearance but due to copyright issues Mignola has steered away from ever reusing the torch. In the movie the Pope hero who is there is Lobster Johnson. Whenever Mignola and his collaborators needed to use a pulp hero to fight Nazis in the Hellboy Universe, they used the Lobster. Making him an official witness the Hellboy’s arrival on earth is a pretty declarative statement that the film takes place within that larger universe. More importantly, they kept his catchphrase; ‘beware my claw for I’ve come to inflict justice’. The filmmakers are clearly trying to reboot the Hellboy franchise with this movie and they wanted to avoid audiences confusing it for a sequel, so a lot of familiar faces from the previous films don’t appear yet if the ending of the film is any indication they knew that they could only get in one movie without Hellboy’s good friend Abe Sapien.
Played by Doug Jones in Hellboy and Hellboy 2: the Golden Army, Abe Sapien is an Ichthyo sapien, a more humanoid creature from the Black Lagoon. The closing scene of 2019’s Hellboy features Hellboy, Alice and Ben Daimio raiding a warehouse in Siberia with a tank that reads Ichthyo sapien. If the film ends up earning a sequel it’s a sure bet Abe will appear. Hellboy’s post-credit scene finds the half-demon getting prodigiously drunk at his father’s grave, only to be interrupted by the lobster’s ghost. Hellboy geeks out at meeting his childhood hero and the lobster gives a stirring pep talk to get Hellboy back on his feet. If there’s one thing Hellboy loves doing, it’s getting drunk with ghosts.
“I’ll need some ID love” “Are you serious”?
In fact, that’s how the wild hunt storyline in the comics starts. Hellboy is called to lead the hunt after going on a boozy tour of Great Britain’s finest ghost houses. Some character beets are simply too important for any adaptation to ignore.