Created by writer-artist Mike Mignola in 1993, Hellboy is a half-demon summoned by the Axis Powers during World War 2. He was rescued by the US Army and had a hand in developing the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.) which polices supernatural events.
The character’s appearances in Dark Horse Comics have paved the way for two films starring TV’s ‘Sons of Anarchy’ actor Ron Perlman as Hellboy and a 2019 reboot starring Netflix’s ‘Stranger Things’ David Harbour as the demonic protagonist. The latter was poorly received by critics and audiences alike, causing it to be a box office bomb.
In an interview with Den of Geek, director Neil Marshall, who helmed the reboot, explained why he thinks the movie failed and that ‘the script was never any good.’
The director explains that he wanted to do a horror adaption of the character, considering his nine-year absence from directing a feature film, while others wanted to see a more traditional approach similar to the two films directed by Guillermo del Toro.
“That appealed to me, and obviously getting a chance to do a feature was a big thing,” he said. “Despite my reservations or whatever, I jumped at it, because it was a chance to do a feature after nine years. I wanted to get back in the game. But I made an unwise decision, because I should have based my choice purely on whether the script was any good. Unfortunately, the script was never any good, and there’s only so much a director can do.”
“Even the best director in the world can’t make a masterpiece out of a script that was substandard,” he said. “This was a confused script from the start, combining different stories and sticking rigidly to the comics, which worked fine as graphic novels. But when you translate them to the screen, there are gaping plot holes.”
Marshall continued, “Ultimately, it came across that they brought me in so they could tell me what to do. They didn’t really want to make a horror version of it at all, because I was the most experienced horror person involved in the entire production, and I wasn’t allowed to touch the script. I wasn’t allowed to bring any kind of horror essence to it. So it just ended up as a disaster, really. It was just a mess, and a deeply unpleasant experience.”
The ‘Dog Soldiers’ director elaborated that the studio “just didn’t care” about any opinions he had about retooling the script. Marshall added, “I’ve said it a few times before, you can’t polish a turd.”
He compared the making of ‘Hellboy’ with his upcoming horror flick ‘The Reckoning,’ saying that with the latter he had a smaller budget, but more creative influence on the film.
“On Hellboy, I had lots of money and no creative input,” he explained. “On (‘The Reckoning’), I had full creative control over the piece and no money. But that was a good sacrifice to make because the experience of making ‘The Reckoning’ was just creatively way more satisfying.”
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