Hellboy Movie Primer

Come April 12th we will have a new Hellboy movie arriving in cinemas and giving us another taste of the cat-loving demon known as Hellboy. It’s been eleven years since we last saw Big Red on the big screen, and with such a rich background in the comics, it might be worthwhile to take a look at the original comic book characters and story inspiration that might be seen in the upcoming film.

History of Hellboy

The character of Hellboy was created, written and illustrated by Mike Mignola in 1993. The first comic to carry the hellish hero was San Diego Comic Con Comics #2. The character has gone on to appear in many crossovers, miniseries, one-shots, two movies starring Ron Perlman in the leading role (2005 and 2008), a couple animated movies, and a few video games (most recently as a playable character in an Injustice 2 DLC). He’s a cult classic character and has had a steady run in Dark Horse Comics and the lore is ever expanding by Mike Mignola himself.

Anung Un Rama

The actual name of Hellboy (now played by David Harbour) is Anung Un Rama (meaning “and upon his brow is set a crown of flame”). He was the son of the Demon Azzael and a Witch named Sarah Hughes. Upon his mothers deathbed repentance, his father burned his mother and took the newborn Hellboy. Azzael removed Hellboy’s arm and replaced it with The Right Hand of Doom. Azzael was punished by the other princes of Hell for his actions and Hellboy was sent away into the nether. Sometime during WWII, Hellboy was summoned to Earth in his infancy by Nazi Occultists. Upon being discovered by Allied forces, Hellboy was raised by Doctor Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian Mcshane) who founded the United States Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.). Hellboy grew to be a muscular red-skinned demon complete with cloven hooves, horns (which he files down), and the Right Hand of Doom. He loves cat’s and smells of “roasted peanuts.” Despite being a literal demon, he’s fairly humane and humorous on account of being raised as a normal human boy (or as close as you could get to that). Hellboy gained honorary human status by the United Nations in the ’50s and began working for the B.P.R.D. to protect the world from occult threats as Earth’s mighty hellish defender.

Ben Daimio

Ben Daimio (played by Daniel Dae Kim) was born into a military family and joined the Marines as soon as he could. He became a captain and was tasked with rescuing a group of nuns in Bolivia. Here he came in contact with a cult worshiping the Jaguar Spirit, which he came in contact with during a battle with the cult. Most of Ben’s team was killed including himself, but he was brought to life by the Jaguar Spirit and later joined the B.P.R.D. The Spirit allows Ben to run fast, hit hard, have regenerative healing, and can sometimes turn into a jaguar. Though he bears a grisly scar across his face, he is a welcome addition to the B.P.R.D.

Ogdru Jahad

Ogdru Jahad are the Dragon of Revelation and the main baddies when it comes to Hellboy. Largely inspired by H.P. Lovecraft’s monsters, The Ogdru Jahad were created by the great Watcher Anum. They are cold and vengeful monsters bent on destruction, chaos, and madness. Just the look of them can cause insanity within the beholder. They once ruled over Earth, and gave birth to the Ogdru Hem which became the first living beings on the planet. The Ogdru Hem watched over Earth and went to war with the Ogdru Jahad and were defeated. Anum imprisoned the Ogdru Jahad, and was later destroyed by the other Watchers for creating such monsters. The only remaining aspect of Anum is the Right Hand of Doom (capable of releasing the Ogdru Jahad). Many Hellboy plots have revolved around the Ogdru Jahad manipulating others into getting the Right Hand of Doom in order to free them from their prison.

The Blood Queen

Nimue The Blood Queen (portrayed by Milla Jovovich), also known as the Lady of the Lake, is pulled straight from Arthurian legend, as is much of the Hellboy lore. She was trained by Merlin, and eventually imprisoned him eternally in a grave. With no direction or guidance following this, her knowledge of magic drove her mad and led to her worship of the Ogdru Jahad. She was later killed by other witches, but ultimately revived and was deemed a worthy vessel for the Ogdru Jahad to possess and wreak havok upon the Earth, bringing about the end of the world. She turns into a massive dragon-like creature when possessed and proves to be a formidable foe to Hellboy and his allies.

Alice Monaghan

As an infant, Alice Monaghan (played by Sasha Lane) was rescued by Hellboy from a band of fairies that wished to raise Alice as their own. After being rescued however, she continued to visit the fairies as a girl and because of this her parents sent her away to school. Upon her parents’ death she returned to England appearing quite youthful despite being nearly fifty on account of being around fairies so long. In the conflict with Nimue, the ghost of the old fairy queen bestowed her crown upon Alice in order to aid with the fight for the world.

Lobster Johnson

The Lobster (played by Thomas Haden Church) was a vigilante in the early 20th century primarily concerned with ridding New York of gang violence just prior to World War II. He was killed in 1939 preventing the launch of a Nazi space capsule in Austria. His story and character were immortalized in a pulp series and many came to believe that The Lobster, now known as Lobster Johnson, was just a myth. He was encountered by Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. in the 21st century as a ghost and routinely helped avert many crises, including the conflict with Nimue and Ogdru Jahad. Later Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. found his body and properly buried it giving rest to the spirit. Turns out he wasn’t completely gone and still lends aid to the B.P.R.D.

Abe Sapien

Abraham Sapien was found in an underground chamber in Washington DC, contained in a tube with a scrap of paper with the date of April 14th, 1865 inscribed on it (the date of Abraham Lincoln’s assassination). The amphibious humanoid creature was nicknamed Abe Sapien, and brought to the B.P.R.D. who tried to aw aken the comatose being. Many experiments were performed after awakening Abe and he was kept locked up until Hellboy found him and demanded that they release him. Abe has no memory of his life prior to his awakening, but has formed a tight bond with Hellboy and the two have been on many adventures with the B.P.R.D. He hasn’t been confirmed to appear in the movie, but he remains a large part of the Hellboy universe and could show up in a mention, or a cameo.

Comic Inspirations

It seems that this movie will draw on the Hellboy story-line called The Storm and the Fury in which the Ogdru Jahad seek out Nimue in order to break themselves free from their imprisonment and conquer the world. Hellboy must draw Excalibur and summon an army in order to defeat the Blood Queen and save the world.

Suggested Reading

  • Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. 1952
  • Hellboy Omnibus Vol. 1: Seed of Destruction
  • Hellboy Omnibus Vol. 2: Strange Places
  • Hellboy Omnibus Vol. 3: The Wild Hunt
  • Hellboy Omnibus Vol. 4: Hellboy in Hell
  • The Storm and the Fury

What elements of the Hellboy comics would you like to see in the movie? Let us know in the comments below!

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