WHISKEY AND NETFLIX - A FORLORN HOPE FOR HELLBOY 3

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Hellboy Movie So, it’s finally over: As many fans expected, 'Hellboy 3' has finally passed away, in February, 2017, which is a whole decade down the line from 'Hellboy: The Golden Army', with nobody but the fanbase interested in a revival of Ron Perlman’s horn-shorn demon. It perhaps doesn’t help that the superhero’s long-time writer, Mike Mignola, washed his hands of Hellboy back in May of last year to go and paint watercolours, resigning the character to a life of walk-on roles in 'Hellboy and the BPRD', of which there have been just five episodes since the climax of 'Hellboy in Hell'.


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Box Office

Not pursuing the third installment in the movie franchise stands out as a rather questionable decision. While the original Hellboy was hardly a box office smash, making $99.3m off a budget of $66m, the 2008 sequel was far more of a money-spinner ($160.4m from an $85m outlay), in a year that had nine superhero movies on the billing, including Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, the first Iron Man film, Edward Norton’s effort at The Incredible Hulk, Hancock, and DC’s The Spirit. No year since has had more superheroes at the movies at the same time.

Hellboy 3
Obviously, with the success of Marvel’s The Avengers, the appetite for superhero movies among the general public has only grown. So, in Hellboy, Universal Pictures has a character that not only went up against Marvel and DC’s finest while turning a profit, but whose genre also continues to appeal; had it been released in 2017 or 2018, Mignola’s character would be the 16th supermovie to emerge from a major comic brand. On saleability and relevance to the market, Hellboy 3 is a no-brainer. That’s just the business side of things though.

Much like the mythical Half Life 3, a video game that’s now more of a meme than anything approaching reality, Hellboy‘s problem is hype -- it’s hard, if not impossible, to meet the expectations of a decade in 90 minutes -- and nobody would blame del Toro for not wanting to paint that particular target on his back. Here’s where things get a little strange though. Hellboy definitely isn’t finished, not on the big screen or in the comic book, with both del Toro and Mignola coming out in defense of the demon’s future.


Hell Water cinnamon whiskey
Hell Water

At the end of February, the veteran director tweeted that the franchise “may move into a different direction”, adding that the cancellation of the third film was “not up to me”. The previous day, Mignola offered a similarly cryptic outlook for the character, suggesting that there was life left in the franchise yet. It’s not quite the confirmation of Hellboy’s permanence in the world of cinema that fans wanted, but it’s better than nothing; at present. The character is survived only by a range of video games and the usual superhero paraphernalia of stationary and underpants.




Hellboy: The Science of EvilWhile Konami Games put out Hellboy: The Science of Evil in 2008, much of the superhero’s exposure today comes from casino brands like Betway, which hosts a 5-reel slot machine featuring the likeness of the character, along with Abe Sapien, Johan Kraus, and Trevor Bruttenholm. There are also a handful of Hellboy mobile games, both on Android and iOS, and an old PC and PlayStation title available to play, Dogs of the Night. Before you run off to play the latter, you should know that it was reviewed very poorly (11% on GameRankings) and put both the developer and publisher out of business.

Merchandise wise, there is still some forward momentum in the Hellboy universe. A distillery in the United States recently launched the official Hell Water cinnamon whiskey, micro-distilled and hand bottled, and 66.6% proof for that extra marketing heft. It’s also possible to buy a replica of Big Baby: Hellboy’s rocket-revolver, albeit in a more harmless guise. Without regular comic books, video games, and / or movies to fall back on though, the demon’s days as a fixture of pop culture are numbered.


HellboyNetflix

As far as Hellboy’s acting career is concerned, there’s already a place superheroes call home: Netflix. Hellboy ticks every single box for small screen viability; as a comic book character, Ron Perlman’s alter ego is episodic by definition. The fact that there are already four Marvel properties on the platform and two more planned (The Defenders and The Punisher), all of which serve as an accompaniment to the wider Marvel Cinematic Universe, suggests that the superhero genre is as bulletproof as its various protagonists are on streaming services.

Just look at the numbers: Marvel’s biggest hit so far is Luke Cage, which attracted nearly 70m “demand expressions” (or “views”, in non-technical speak), closely followed by Iron Fist (63m), despite the controversy that surrounded its launch. Remarkably, Daredevil, for all its glowing reviews, only achieved 23m views at launch to the 51m of Jessica Jones. With the caveat that accurate numbers from Netflix are a rare beast indeed (Variety, alternatively, has Jessica Jones at 6.1m views), it’s not easy to see why Hellboy isn’t already bound for the platform.


Hellboy Action Figures
Re-Casting?

There is a problem to be solved in the event that our hypothetical series comes true -- Ron Perlman reportedly isn’t game for spending several more days in the make-up chair, meaning that the Hellboy character will need re-casting. It’s the same quandary that Marvel is likely to face post-Infinity War, if they ever decide to put Iron Man and Wolverine back on the big screen. The two actors, Robert Downey Jr. and Hugh Jackman respectively, have publically separated themselves from further super-roles in the Marvel canon.

Let’s try to keep one thing in mind though: Two years ago, Perlman told a Reddit page that he would “fight for Hellboy 3 as long as my cold dead hands are not cold and dead”. While the actor is still very much alive and posting pictures of his dog Nigel on Instagram in 2017, he's chosen to focus his attention elsewhere. For now?

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