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Hellboy 3 - Will It Ever Happen?

In the early 2000s, with the "Spider-Man" and "X-Men" movies booming, Sony decided to keep the superhero train rolling with "Hellboy," the indie action-horror comic from creator Mike Mignola. Directed by Guillermo del Toro — who'd helmed "Blade II" a few years earlier — the film released in 2004, starring character actor Ron Perlman as the titular crime-fighting demon. In the film, he's a cigar-chomping, veteran investigator working for the clandestine Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, and he's joined by fellow oddballs and castoffs that include flame-wielding Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) and the amphibious Abe Sapien (Doug Jones).

Though the first film wasn't a hit in theaters, it still got a sequel, 2008's "Hellboy: The Golden Army." Once again directed by Guillermo del Toro, it was the second in what many were hoping would become a trilogy of films that would tell the full story of Hellboy's arrival on Earth from Hell and a prophecy that foretold him as the Beast of the Apocalypse. Unfortunately, a third movie failed to materialize, leaving fans severely disappointed. Those involved in the films have continued to press for a threequel, only to be gifted with a dismal reboot. Bu even though it's been more than a decade since the last movie, the del Toro faithful are still asking for a threequel, so we've got to know — will "Hellboy 3" ever happen?

Why isn't a Hellboy 3 happening yet?

In 2004, Sony's "Hellboy" movie may have been met with plenty of fanfare in the comic book fan community — especially as a rare indie title to get a high-profile release helmed by a well-regarded director — but it didn't muster much excitement from the wider audience. Despite being made on a relatively modest budget for a spring action movie, it was a dud in theaters, not even scraping past the $100 million dollar mark. In fact, it's actually quite remarkable that it even got a sequel at all, and it remains one of the few box office bombs to still get a follow-up.

That "Hellboy" did manage a sequel may be thanks to director Guillermo del Toro's newfound clout in Hollywood following the Academy Award wins for his 2006 film, "Pan's Labyrinth." Arriving in 2008 and distributed this time by Universal, "Hellboy: The Golden Army" may be an even better movie than the previous film, and it did manage to do a bit better at the box office too. But with an $82 million dollar budget, it still couldn't be considered a hit, and two consecutive lackluster performances weren't a good sign for the franchise. 

To put it simply, after the under-performance of two "Hellboy" films, a third just didn't seem to make much sense, and the prospects of a trilogy fizzled out quickly.

What has the cast and crew said about Hellboy 3?

Over the years, the cast and crew behind the "Hellboy" films have had much to say about their hopes to see a third film in the series. Unfortunately, it's all been pretty sobering commentary, including from the film's director and driving force, Guillermo del Toro. Since the release of "The Golden Army," the filmmaker has acknowledged that the big budget needed to make his third film happen is probably never going to get studio support. "It's very unlikely it'll happen because you need things to converge so strongly," he told Collider back in 2013. 

Del Toro went on to say, "[Producer] Larry Gordon, Universal [Studios], the rights, Ron [Perlman's] and mine's availability, [comic creator] Mike [Mignola's] blessing; we have pieces of that, but we don't have all of that. You need so many things to confluence and then you need about $150 million." Given the mediocre response at the ticket counter for the first two films, it seems unlikely to happen. Even star Ron Perlman seems to admit that we've probably seen the last of his version of the character.

"The Hellboy saga was always meant to be a trilogy," the actor told Inverse in 2021, adding, "The ending was going to resolve all of the aspects about this mythical creature that was introduced in the first two films. The result was going to be dramatic, super-violent, biblical in nature, Greek mythology. It was a shame the audience, who had hung in with us for the first two films, was deprived of seeing that finish because it would have been a big beautiful finish."

What would be explored in Hellboy 3?

Guillermo del Toro has long expressed his hopes to turn the "Hellboy" films into a trilogy, and according to the director, it's all he ever really wanted. He wasn't quite as keen as other studios about turning Hellboy into an unending, sprawling, cinematic franchise, and he had solidified plans on how to end Hellboy's story in a third movie.

"If there was ever a third one, I would really make sure that we at least sign a contract that there is no more," del Toro told SciFi before the release of "The Golden Army." "No prequels and no sequels — nothing. ... There is a third one we have planned, and the seeds are planted in this film." According to the director, the plot would also have seen the gun-toting, BPRD agent Hellboy taking on a new breed of Nazis in the modern day. "It's not this group of freakies that hide in the sewers but people that are incredibly rich."

In a 2016 Reddit AMA, del Toro went into even more detail. "The idea for it was to have Hellboy finally come to terms with the fact that his destiny, his inevitable destiny, is to become the Beast of the Apocalypse and having him and Liz face the sort of, that part of his nature, and he has to do it in order to be able to ironically vanquish the foe that he has to face in the third film. He has to become the Beast of the Apocalypse to be able to defend humanity, but at the same time, he becomes a much darker being."

Who would star in Hellboy 3?

The first two films in the "Hellboy" series both had impressive casts. In addition to star Ron Perlman, there was Selma Blair as firestarter Liz Sherman, Doug Jones as fish-man Abe Sapien, John Hurt as Professor Broom, and a supporting cast that included Jeffrey Tambor and Rupert Evans. If there ever is going to be a third film in the series, though, you can bet that at least Ron Perlman will be back if he has anything to say about it, even if he is well past retirement age.

"Am I eager to do 'Hellboy 3?' No, I'm 71 f*****g years old," he told the Independent in 2022. Yet, even if he is getting to a point where playing an action hero puts him at risk of serious injury, he just can't seem to say no. "We owe this to the fans," he said defiantly, responding to years of outpouring of fan support, "and we should give it to them because it would be an epic conclusion. So Guillermo, if you're reading, I'm not done pounding you to get this f*****g thing done."

Perlman isn't the only one interested in coming back, though, and it sounds like a potential threequel would reunite much of the original cast. In 2019, Selma Blair told CinemaBlend that she wished she could film the third entry "more than anything in the world," while Doug Jones was equally enthusiastic about returning as Abe Sapien when speaking to ComicBook.com. "If they were to do such a thing, and I was offered that, and I was free to do so, hell yes. I would be involved."

What happened to the Hellboy reboot?

By the late 2010s, the lights had dimmed on the notion of Ron Perlman and Guillermo del Toro re-teaming on a trilogy ender for the "Hellboy" films. Yet Hollywood just couldn't shake the idea that the demonic paranormal investigator was a cult favorite with untapped potential waiting to be mined. Perhaps with a new, buzz-worthy actor and a fresh take on the material, they could turn Hellboy into the next franchise, so in 2019, a reboot of the film was released to theaters.

This time, it was "Stranger Things" actor David Harbour in the title role, and he seemed perfectly suited to the character — a larger-than-life figure with a gruff attitude and a unique charm. But any hopes for out-doing del Toro's original films were immediately dashed when it bombed in theaters and was met with woeful reviews from both critics and audiences. Just barely making back its budget, the film had none of the style or substance of del Toro's version, and many felt it was a completely unnecessary reboot that wasted the good will still left from the previous movies.

Original star Ron Perlman was quick to express a complete lack of interest in the reboot, admitting that he didn't plan on watching the movie. "It was none of my business," he told Empire. "It would only provoke me into whatever things I didn't need to add to my list of grievances." As for whether he'd ever play the character in a new version, he made it clear it had to be with del Toro at the helm. "Without him, I have no interest in donning the make-up again."

Fans still want the Hellboy trilogy completed

If there's anyone who's been more vocal about seeing another "Hellboy" sequel than star Ron Perlman, it would have to be the movie's admirers. Despite the first film's disappointment at the box office, it became a cult classic among sci-fi, horror, and superhero movie fans, which is partly what helped get the first sequel made in the first place. And after "The Golden Army" didn't perform to expectations, those same fans began campaigning for a threequel to be made.

Petitions online have popped up frequently over the years, and while they failed to gain enough traction to make any studio wake up to the demand for another movie, they showed that fans meant business. "It's so deserved by the fans who hung in there for the first two that I really feel as though it's essential that we make it," Perlman said in an interview with Red Carpet News TV. But he wasn't the only one to acknowledge the support from people around the world who'd been crying out for more than a decade to get the planned "Hellboy" trilogy.

On his Twitter account in 2017, director Guillermo del Toro himself thanked the fans for their support. At the time, the fandom was reacting with a mixture of astonishment and disappointment at the news that "Hellboy" would be getting the eventual 2019 reboot instead of a third film. But even that reboot didn't stop fans from pushing for more of del Toro's vision. "Bring back Ron Perlman," said one Twitter user in 2023.

What's standing in the way of Hellboy 3?

Considering the cost associated with producing Guillermo del Toro's third "Hellboy" film and the mediocre performances of the first two films at the box office, we already know how unlikely "Hellboy 3" is going to be. Nevertheless, some of those involved, like Ron Perlman, continue to push for it, hoping against hope to finish out the character's story. But there remains one more thing standing in the way of doing just that — yet another "Hellboy" reboot, which was announced in 2023, spearheaded by director Brian Taylor, whose most recent comic adaptation was the 2017 series "Happy!" starring Christopher Meloni.

The second attempt to reboot the character by Millennium Films, who bought the rights to Hellboy back in 2018, "Hellboy: The Crooked Man" will put a new spin on the story. This time, the adventure will take place in the 1950s and be a creepy period piece that makes Hellboy a more fresh-faced BPRD agent investigating a coven of witches in a small Appalachian town. Jack Kesy is set to star as Hellboy, while "Yellowstone" alum Jeffrey White and "Riverdale" star Adeline Rudolph will appear as Tom Ferrell and Bobbie Jo Song, respectively.

Going back to the comic book's roots, this second reboot will also feature a script from Hellboy creator Mike Mignola and fellow scribe Christopher Golden, who has penned several Hellboy novels himself. Should it find success, it could be the final nail in the coffin of del Toro's "Hellboy 3."

Why there is no better time for a Hellboy 3

Though for many — including director Guillermo del Toro — all hope may seem lost in rounding out the originally-planned "Hellboy" trilogy, there may be a unique opportunity for it to finally come to fruition. Today, lesser-successful cult hits that were duds at the box office have been making a comeback, with films like "Blade Runner" and "Wet Hot American Summer" receiving long-awaited follow-ups. Similarly, some critics have pointed out that del Toro's "Hellboy" may have been a bit too far ahead of its time, just missing the superhero movie boom started by Marvel's MCU, which kicked off the same summer as "The Golden Army."

With some 15 years having now past since the last film, there's been time for a new generation to discover the movies on streaming and home video while the demand among diehard fans remains strong. Meanwhile, the popularity of mid-budget horror and tongue-in-cheek sci-fi has never been higher, making it as ripe a time as its ever been for the original Hellboy to storm back into cinemas or as a streaming original. The return of fan favorites like Andrew Garfield and Tobey Maguire in "Spider-Man: No Way Home" and David Tennant in "Doctor Who" have also shown that there's an appetite for the previous generation's heroes alongside their newer counterparts.

And while Ron Perlman is indeed getting up there in years and may be running out of time to play Hellboy, stories about older heroes are more popular than ever. In fact, the likes of "Halloween Ends," "Logan," and "Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny" prove that audiences can still appreciate aging heroes at the end of their journey.