Why Hellboy will be the Next Hero on Netflix
In pop culture, there’s only one question that matters anymore – can it be made into a Netflix series? As evidenced by the recent announcement that Resident Evil will join Luke Cage, Daredevil, Stranger Things, and House of Cards on the streaming TV platform, the answer is usually “yes”.
Between “Jill sandwiches” though, let’s talk about something else: Hellboy, specifically Ron Perlman’s portrayal of the Red Man-Beast. Hellboy’s movie career has languished in limbo ever since filming wrapped on Guillermo del Toro’s 2008 film based on the character (the well-received Hellboy II: The Golden Army), despite Perlman’s enthusiasm for a third entry in the movie canon.
In the comic books, the most recent and reportedly final Hellboy storyline (Hellboy in Hell) ended in June with a cut to black. The comic’s long-suffering artist and writer, Mike Mignola, has left the scene to learn how to paint watercolours. And despite three appearances in a side-story, Hellboy and the B.P.R.D, late last year, it’s not looking good for Dark Horse’s flagship demon.
All the above considered, Hellboy is the perfect candidate for a dedicated Netflix show – and here’s why:
Now that Hellboy 3 is officially not happening, it is the perfect time for Netflix to step in. “We don’t talk about [Hellboy 3] anymore”, Perlman told Screen Rant late last year, adding that del Toro is too busy to make the film. That comment echoes one he made to Variety earlier in 2016: “It probably will never happen”. The third film, aborted in 2010, would have been called Hellboy III: Dark Worlds.
While there are obvious rights issues, Hellboy is a franchise with a cult following that isn’t really doing anything for them. However, as far as TV is concerned, Dark Horse is doing something, making its first foray into TV in almost a decade in 2015 with an adaptation of space series Dark Matter, which has been picked up for a third season by Syfy.
As Dark Horse’s most famous property (Sin City) is still making the rounds in Hollywood, and much of its paper output is owned by third parties (Mass Effect, Star Wars, Alien, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, etc.), Hellboy represents a natural option for Dark Horse on TV, even if it’s a part of a wider B.P.R.D (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense) series – think Fringe with Hellboy.
Tooth Fairy Terror
As mentioned, Hellboy has a dedicated audience that goes beyond comic and movie fans. The character has appeared in three video games, the critically panned Hellboy: Dogs of the Night, del Toro and Mignola’s Hellboy: The Science of Evil, and a rather embarrassing iPhone game subtitled Tooth Fairy Terror.
Hellboy also features in the range of online slots from 32Red UK, an award-winning casino with almost 300 different slot machines available to play on mobile or via a free piece of gaming software. The slot, a 5-reel, 20-payline game, follows the character on a quest for the Relic of Power and includes appearances from Abe Sapien, Liz Sherman, and other Hellboy characters.
Hellboy is one of several slots branded with pop culture references on the 32Red site, along with Jurassic Park, Hitman, and Tomb Raider. The brand also takes cues from the comic book genre with games like Agent Jane Blond, Thunderstruck II, and Tarzan, another of Dark Horse’s staple characters.
Superheroes are some of casino’s most bankable faces: Hellboy can also be played at SinCity Casino while slot machines based on The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, Thor, and the rest of Marvel’s The Avengers franchise, can be found all over the web. SuperCasino has a slot based on Spider-Man, for instance.
Speaking of Marvel, the company apparently holds the key to small-screen success. While it’s hard to find numbers directly from Netflix, the comic giant’s series all rate well on IMDb – Luke Cage (7.8/10), Jessica Jones (8.2), Daredevil (8.8) – and there are three more to come; namely, Iron Fist, The Punisher, and The Defenders.
Maybe that success has nothing to do with Marvel or Netflix though. Judging by the overwhelming popularity of Marvel and DCs respective movie universes, as well as films from other comic brands (The Mask, The Crow, V for Vendetta, and Dredd), it’s arguably harder to make an unpopular superhero movie than a blockbuster, Superman IV notwithstanding.
Finally, if all else fails, Perlman can make Hellboy himself. While far more of an actor than a writer or director, Perlman owns his own studio – Wing and a Prayer Pictures. Again, pending licencing and a willingness to go around del Toro (Netflix has a stable of great writers and directors on their books, including Drew Goddard and Phil Abraham), Perlman surely has enough cachet with Dark Horse to make a Hellboy series or even Hellboy III a reality.