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How the cast of the 2019 Hellboy movie should really look

Writer-artist Mike Mignola had already been working in comics for a decade when the first Hellboy story was published in the second issue of San Diego Comic-Con Comics in 1993. The following year, Dark Horse comics published Hellboy: Seed of Destruction, the first installment of what would become the extensive "Mignolaverse," spanning not just the Hellboy series, but also B.P.R.D., Abe Sapien, Lobster Johnson, Witchfinder, and many other spin-offs, one-shots, and story collections. 

Aside from being numerous, though, Mignola's works are distinct. With his heavy inks and sharp angles, frequently paired with superb moody colors by Dave Stewart, it is impossible to mistake Mignola's work for anyone else's. And his universe of cryptids, mythical beings, and Nazi-punching heroes is rich and elaborate, drawing in readers even 25 years after its initial run.

There have already been two Hellboy films, starring the stony-faced Ron Perlman and helmed by visionary director Guillermo del Toro. On April 12, 2019, audiences will be treated to a new big-screen interpretation, one that seems to delve into Hellboy's origins more than previous adaptations have. And as with every new adaptation of literature, there is some question as to whether or not these new cast members fit the bill for the discerning fan. Let's investigate.

Hellboy

Though he is the hero of what is ostensibly an action comic, Hellboy himself really fits into the mold of a grumpy private-eye from a noir flick. While on assignment for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense (B.P.R.D.), he chain smokes, grouses about getting beat-up, and has a penchant for pancakes. Summoned by occult-minded Nazis during World War II, Hellboy was quickly rescued, relieved of his enormous horns, and raised to beat back the forces of evil and keep the world's monsters in check with the aid of his powerful red right hand (itself a reference to John Milton's Paradise Lost).

To this end, actor David Harbour seems like an excellent choice to play Big Red. Best known for his work as Sheriff Jim Hopper in Netflix's sci-fi nostalgia-fest Stranger Things, Harbour is accustomed to playing the irascible hero who is better at and more dedicated to his job than he seems at first glance. This perfect grouchy detective demeanor, coupled with his large build and square jaw, got him started out with many of the right traits for this role. He did have to buff up a bit, which he accomplished with great success. The only quibble some die-hard fans may have is that, while of course there needs to be a decent amount of special effects makeup in order to complete the Hellboy look, Harbour's own face — already a decent match for our favorite half-demon — has been almost totally obscured under layers of prosthetics.

Professor Bruttenholm

Professor Trevor Bruttenholm (pronounced "Broom") is Hellboy's adoptive father, as well as the first director of the B.P.R.D. He was the one to rescue Hellboy from the clutches of Rasputin and the Nazi occult leaders who brought him into our wrold. He treated Hellboy like any other child, raising him as his own son after legally adopting him in 1946, two years after the demon-child was summoned to Earth. Bruttenholm is a kindly scholar, depicted as thin and bearded and, by the time Hellboy is fully grown, he's an elderly man with thinning white hair and liver spots on his head.

Ian McShane seems like both an odd and an appropriate choice, by turns. He is best known for playing duplicitous rogues and anti-heroes, but his most recent work as Mr. Wednesday in the Starz adaptation of American Gods shows him blending those qualities with more fatherly tendencies. He does appear a bit too young and spry, with dark hair and a full, chiseled face. But it will be interesting to see what kind of interpretation McShane, with his incredible acting prowess, will bring to Hellboy's beloved only family member.

Ben Daimio

Ben Daimio doesn't actually appear in the original Hellboy comics, but in several of the concurrent series centering on the B.P.R.D. He is a former U.S. Marine captain who had an unfortunate encounter with a cult that left him a werejaguar. He is serious, straightforward, and forceful, sporting a vicious scar along the left side of his face.

Actor Ed Skrein was initially cast in the role of Daimio, but because the character is Japanese-American, there was a great deal of fan backlash against this whitewashing. After learning that the character was of Japanese heritage, Skrein graciously stepped away from the role, leaving it open for Korean-American actor Daniel Dae Kim. Kim, who is best known for his role as Jin Soo Kwon in Lost, is honestly a perfect match for Daimio. His square jaw and piercing gaze lend credibility to the character's history as a military man, and though his scar makeup could be a bit more gruesome considering Hellboy has achieved an R-rating, it will be a treat to watch him take charge in April.

Alice Monaghan

Alice Monaghan first meets Hellboy as a fairy-abducted infant. Even once she is rescued, Alice remains attuned with the fairy world, and her youthful visage is a testament to that continued link. She is of Irish descent, and it shows in her stereotypically red hair and freckled face.

Aside from her youth, Sasha Lane seems to be completely different from the traditional depiction of Alice in just about every way possible. Lane is an American actress of African-American and Maori heritage, who got her start in film playing opposite Shia LeBeouf in the 2016 film American Honey. For the film, she wears her hair in long locks, in deep contrast with the character's rust-colored waves in the comic. And while Alice is an actual love interest for Hellboy in the source material (unlike Liz Sherman, who filled that role in the previous movies), Lane has divulged that she is not a romantic lead in this particular interpretation. It will be very interesting to see what new dimensions Lane brings to this fae-touched woman who is so close to Hellboy's heart.

Lobster Johnson

Truly an odd character, Lobster Johnson (also known simply as "the Lobster") is a vigilante who was active in New York in the 1930s. Though he is thought to be merely the fabrication of a pulp fiction author in the present day of the Hellboy series, he was in fact very real, and very well-known for his violent vigilante deeds, which included branding his lobster claw symbol into the foreheads of his victims. In the 1950s, there was also a series of lucha libre films about Lobster Johnson, starring Adolfo Flores, who met Hellboy during the half-demon's "drunken weekend" in Mexico in 1956. It is unclear which version of Lobster Johnson is going to be portrayed in this upcoming flick, but seeing as he's being played by Thomas Haden Church, one hopes it will be the original lobster legend himself.

Church is no stranger comic book films, having played the Sandman in Spider-Man 3, and his ability to play both a villain and a reluctant ally might prove useful for depicting the complex and mysterious Lobster Johnson. Since this vicious vigilante is most frequently portrayed with half of his face covered, there should hopefully be no real discrepancy between the film version and the comic version.

Nimue the Blood Queen

In Arthurian legend, and indeed in the Mignolaverse, Nimue is also known as the Lady of the Lake, and she is an extremely powerful witch, lauded as the greatest of all of Britain's witches. Having been dead for centuries, she was resurrected after Hellboy's banishment of Hecate to become the leader of the witches. Also known as the Queen of Blood, she is frequently depicted as red-skinned and donning a warrior's helmet, having declared herself not the Queen of Witches, but rather the Goddess of War.

From the brief glimpses we've gotten of Milla Jovovich's interpretation of the character, it is clear that she will be able to bring the rage necessary to the role. The team seems to have gone in a very different direction with her image, though, leaving her entirely humanoid in every respect, and opting to show some skin instead of burying her in crimson fabric like her comic counterpart. Still, in the new Red Band trailer we can see that she's at least donned a red cloak and doused in blood in what looks to be a very dramatic moment of seduction.

Merlin

It would be a huge oversight to talk of Nimue without also mentioning her erstwhile lover, the famous (and infamous) wizard Merlin, whom she buried alive after learning all his secrets. Merlin is perhaps the most iconic visual definition of a wizard, almost always depicted as an ancient man with long white hair and beard, distinguished in his flowing robes. So, too, is he portrayed in the Hellboy comics, though as a spirit instead of in the flesh.

In the upcoming film, this stately sage is being played by Irish actor Brian Gleeson, who is currently 31 years old. We haven't yet had a glimpse of him in any of the trailers, so it's hard to say if he'll be playing a younger version of the great wizard (say, in a flashback sequence with a young Nimue), or whether he'll be heavily made-up to resemble the Merlin that fans expect.

Gruagach

He may not look like it, but Gruagach is one of the fairy folk, doomed to reside in the body of the giant Grom, who is essentially a boar who walks upright. Believing that his horrible fate is Hellboy's fault, Gruagach was the one who nominated Nimue to be the new Queen of the Witches, against the advice of nearly everyone else involved. It is he who unleashed her terrible evil on the world, so it would be impossible to tell this story without him.

For the purposes of this film, Gruagach is played by two actors: Stephen Graham for his voice, and Douglas Tait for his physical performance. Tait has many stunt credits to his name, and he is accustomed to working in special effects makeup, as with his many roles in series like Grimm. Since Gruagach is rendered with computer graphics, it was easy to make him exactly what he is: a giant, bipedal boar, of whom we can only get a glimpse in the Red Band trailer. What remains to be seen is how effectively Graham, who has played varied roles such as Scrum in two of the Pirates of the Caribbean films and Baby Face Nelson in Pubic Enemies, can bring the appropriate voice performance for this vengeful fae.

Ganeida

A minor character in the comics, Ganeida is one of Nimue's witch courtiers. She is depicted in a very traditionally witchy fashion: old and hunched with white hair and shrouded in a dark cloak. In the new film, however, she is played by the young and lovely Penelope Mitchell. She's seen briefly in one of the trailers, and it appears that the production team elected to keep her youth and beauty, completely divorcing her from the image in the comics and focusing on sex appeal in the same way they are doing with Nimue. 

Supernatural stories are no mystery for Mitchell, who played the witch Liv Parker in The Vampire Diaries. So, while it may be disappointing to many fans that this new Hellboy film is going for sexy sorceresses instead of spooky hags, one hopes that Mitchell will bring some of her previous witchy experiences to bear in this new endeavor.

Lady Hatton

Lady Hatton is a seer and mystic for the Osiris Club, a secret society founded in 1866. This club believes that Hellboy is a prophesied king, and they approach him in a couple of instances to assess whether or not this is the case. Lady Hatton is depicted as an elderly woman in a modest dress with her hair under a kerchief. For the film, she is being portrayed by London-born actress Sophie Okonedo

While Okonedo is not quite the shriveled old seer from the comics, she knows how to play women of gravitas and stature. Perhaps best known for her part in Hotel Rwanda, Okonedo's most recent film role was as the elegant Cleopatra in the 2018 adaptation of Shakespeare's Antony & Cleopatra. She provides the voiceover at the beginning of Hellboy's new Red Band trailer, and we get a brief glimpse of her, looking lovely in a white fur coat, with a perfect white coif and blanked-out white eyes. The look is reminiscent of some combo of Storm and Emma Frost from the X-Men, so at least some comic imagery is being referenced, even if it's very different from the actual source material.

Lord Adam Glaren

Lord Adam Glaren is another member of the Osiris Club, albeit a member from its earlier days. He is depicted first in B.P.R.D. as a British gentleman with mutton chops wearing a fez, and his work involved resurrecting a mummy named Panya. He taught Panya how to read and write and live in modern Victorian society. Later on in the series, he is revealed to have died and been resurrected himself, but it is unclear which form, living or undead, he will be taking in this new film. He will be played by Alistair Petrie, perhaps best known for his role as General Draven in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Petrie has the right air of dignity to portray a learned British gentleman, so all that remains to be seen is how he pulls off some extremely fashionable mutton chops.

Leni Riefenstahl

Leni Riefenstahl is an odd character to show up on the Hellboy cast list. Not a comic book character, but rather a real-life woman, Riefenstahl was Adolf Hitler's film propaganda director, one who received quite a lot of acclaim in her day, especially for her 1935 film Triumph des Willens and 1938 documentary Olympia. While it is impressive that such a young woman in the 1930s was able to rise to such artistic prominence, her skill will be forever overshadowed by her subject matter. She denied ever having known about the actual Holocaust atrocities as they were occurring, despite her close working relationship with Hitler. 

While Hellboy has direct ties to Nazis, having been summoned by a group of them in the first place, it remains to be seen how Riefenstahl will fit into the picture. She will be played by Kristina Klebe, herself half-German, who has a varied acting career in television, film, and video games. With a little bit of '40s glamour applied, there is no reason Klebe couldn't be a very good likeness for the Fuhrer's favorite filmmaker.