Fans of Mike Mignola’s Hellboy—and specifically, Guillermo del Toro’s Ron Perlman-portrayed take on the stone-fisted, good-hearted bruiser—have not had a good couple of years. Neil Marshall’s recent reboot of the franchise was pretty much a no-win situation for them, after all: If it had succeeded, it would have meant more of David Harbour’s take on the character, and if it failed—which it did, to the tune of a bit less than its relatively small $50 million budget—well, then who would want to see another Hellboy movie, regardless of who was in front of or behind the camera? Either way, fans hoping to see del Toro’s vision of Hellboy 3 were out of luck.
Even more than they might have thought, as it turns out: ScreenRant reports that there was actually a chance for fans to get a look at del Toro’s intended conclusion to his little comic book franchise, but it was shot down by Mignola himself. Del Toro apparently approached the BPRD creator years ago about adapting his ideas for Hellboy 3—which would reportedly have seen Big Red finally wrestle directly with his destiny to doom the world, and which was eventually (over many, many rewrites) worked into the plot of Marshall’s movie—into a comic book, but Mignola said no. Per an interview published today, he expressed concerns at having a comic book version of Hellboy out there that wasn’t the main take on the character:
You know, I think del Toro mentioned it to me once, and I said no. I think, let the comics be the comics. Comics are confusing enough for people. Let’s not have two different versions of the Hellboy comic out there. My vote would be “no.”
That’s very in-line with comments del Toro himself made way back in 2013, telling Collider that, “I talked to Mike about making it a comic and Mike said very clearly, ‘Hellboy the movies is yours, Hellboy the comics is mine; I don’t wanna confuse them.’” (Fun fact: Del Toro was also bemoaning the box office “failure” of Hellboy II, which made a measly $75 million more than its budget , a number that now probably looks a whole lot more rosy to the studios in question.) Mignola also mentioned in the ScreenRant interview that part of the process of transforming the prospective Hellboy 3 scripts into a reboot package included stripping out “del Toro-isms” (which, from del Toro’s old comments, sounds like stuff like the romantic relationship between Perlman’s Hellboy and Selma Blair’s Liz, or the movies’ portrayal of Abe Sapien) from the film’s universe:
At the beginning, the idea was, how do we go from the Del Toro movies to continue into this storyline? Plot-wise, it’s always been similar. When the decision was made to reboot, it was really just a matter of saying, “well, okay, let’s take the Del Toro-isms that we put into the original script, let’s take those out. You know, I don’t know that there’s anything in there that really carries over that’s specifically Del Toro. It was more of an effort we made of putting those Del Toro-isms in there. It was easy to take them out. I know that was one reason why Neil Marshall wanted to do the Hellboy origin sequence, even though it was covered really well in Del Toro’s movie. He wanted to put his own spin on that, so it was a different version of the Hellboy origin scene.
So, yeah: Hellboy 3. Even deader than originally thought!