Hellboy (film)

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Whatever they're looking at, there's only one proper response: "Oh, crap."
"As you entered the lobby, there was an inscription: 'In the absence of light, darkness prevails.' There are things that go bump in the night, Agent Myers. Make no mistake about that. And we are the ones who bump back."
Dr. Trevor Bruttenholm

Guillermo del Toro's films based on Mike Mignola's comicbook series, starring Ron Perlman as the big red guy. They take a lot of liberties with the source material (which Mignola himself was perfectly fine with), to the point where it's better to think of them as an Alternate Continuity rather than an adaptation.

Hellboy (2004)[edit | hide | hide all]

In the final days of World War II, the Nazis and Grigori Rasputin open a portal to the Void, attempting to summon the Ogdru Jahad to destroy the world. Allied soldiers, with the help of occult expert Trevor Bruttenholm, destroy the portal, but not before something comes through: A baby demon. Dr. Bruttenholm adopts him and names him "Hellboy."

Sixty years later, Hellboy is one of the best agents in the US government's top-secret Bureau of Paranormal Research and Defense, alongside Abe Sapien (a fish-man with Psychic Powers) and Liz Sherman (a pyrokinetic who vacillates between wanting to be on the BPRD and wanting to be a normal human). They're joined by Naive Newcomer FBI agent John Myers, who was chosen specifically by Dr. Bruttenholm to provide the moral support for Hellboy to become a man.

And Hellboy will need all the support he can get: Rasputin has been resurrected by his lover Ilsa Haupstein and his dragon Karl Ruprecht Kroenen. The villainous trio frees the Hell Hound Sammael, as the first step in a plan to force Hellboy to fulfill his destiny and destroy the world.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army (2008)[edit | hide]

It's been a few years since the last movie. Myers has been (literally) Reassigned to Antarctica. Hellboy and Liz are an Official Couple, but their relationship is going through a rough patch. Hellboy, chafing under the bureaucratic leadership of Tom Manning, decides to break the Masquerade and reveals himself to the public—but the public's reaction is far less pleasant than he expects. To rein Hellboy in, the BPRD upper brass sends Johann Krauss (a spirit medium who's been reduced to ectoplasm) to take leadership of the team.

Meanwhile, Abe meets a nice elf girl, Princess Nuala of Bethmoora, and they hit off quite well. Unfortunately, her twin brother Prince Nuada has declared war on humanity. He plans to reawaken the Golden Army—invincible automatons that nearly drove humanity to extinction the first time they were used—and he kills just about everyone who stands between him and the crown that would allow him to control the Army.

It falls to Hellboy and his pals to stop Nuada, but given the way humanity's been treating them lately, our heroes can't help but feel a little sympathy for the genocidal Jerkass.

A third film is reportedly in conceptual stages.


Tropes used in Hellboy (film) include:
  • Actor Allusion: Many to Ron Perlman's previous role in the TV series Beauty and The Beast.
  • Adaptation Distillation: The first film is a rough condensation of the plots of Seed of Destruction, The Right Hand of Doom, and Box Full of Evil, with a sprinkle of Wake the Devil.
  • Adaptation Dye Job: Liz has black hair now.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Dr. Bruttenholm's relationship with Hellboy (as father-son) gets a lot more focus here than in the comics.
  • Adaptational Badass: In the graphic novels, Kroenen was just a gas-masked Nazi with a Morally-Ambiguous Doctorate. The first movie turned him into a Surgery Addicted Clockwork Nazi Cyborg Assassin with a taste for arm blades...and a Morally Ambiguous Doctorate.
  • Affably Evil: Rasputin allows Professor Bruttenholm a moment to prepare for his death and assures him that it will be quick. And it is. Kroenen generally preferred efficiency over sadism anyway, but still. Considering that the professor was seriously ill, it may even have counted as a Mercy Kill. Their little theology discussion beforehand, while decidedly antagonistic, was still very civilized.
  • All Myths Are True: The premise of the series.
  • All of the Other Reindeer: "Hey, Hellboy! You ugly!"
  • All Trolls Are Different: The trip to the Troll Market in the second movie illustrates this point magnificently.
  • Alternate Continuity: Mignola said in one of his interviews that he felt that the way he did Hellboy was just one interpretation, and he didn't want the movie to be a rehash of that, so he let del Toro interpret the franchise his own way for the movies.
  • Always Save the Girl: Averted in the first film (Hellboy saves the world instead of Liz, then saves Liz anyway through sheer badassery); justified with Liz in the second (given how well HB's been able to Screw Destiny so far, Liz's decision to save him—even though he's prophesied to end the world—makes sense) but Abe does it in standard fashion. Hellboy immediately calls him on it, and Abe promptly retorts that he would do the same for Liz. They seem on pretty good terms when they're done.
  • The Antichrist: Hellboy, though he's not too keen on the idea and becomes an Anti-Anti-Christ.
  • Anti-Villain: Nuada, a blend of Type II and III.
  • Ascended Extra: Bruttenholm and Kroenen get much larger roles here than in the original comics.
  • Asshole Victim: The kids who bully Liz. Crosses over with Too Dumb to Live considering they were deliberately trying to provoke someone who starts fires with their mind.
  • Asteroids Monster / Explosive Breeder: Sammael. It lays a lot of eggs, and every time it gets killed, two of those eggs hatch and immediately grow to adulthood. Nothing short of firebombing all the adults and all the eggs simultaneously can stop them.
  • Astral Projection: Johann Kraus' ability...or, rather, nature.
  • At the Crossroads: "I am his Death, and I will meet him at every crossroads." From the second film.
  • Audience Surrogate: Myers. Most viewers agreed that one was not necessary, hence his absence from the second film.
  • Author Appeal: The first film has a strong influence from Mike Mignola, with Nazis, eldritch abominations and a very dark, Gothic tone. The second film is more fantastical, owing to director Guillermo Del Toro's input, especially in terms of the Troll Market's inhabitants.
  • Badass: Hellboy, Liz and Nuada, to name a few.
  • Badass Bookworm: Abe
  • Badass Longcoat: Hellboy in the standard-issue BPRD trenchcoats. Kroenen in his Nazi trenchcoat. Also Rasputin in his intricately embroidered coat.
  • Bait and Switch Tyrant: Dr. Kraus in The Golden Army.
  • Bazaar of the Bizarre: Troll Market.
  • Beethoven Was an Alien Spy: Grigori Rasputin as master mystic. Granted, even many of his contemporaries thought there was something weird about him.
    • Also, Adolf Hitler as an accomplished mystic. Early in the movie, Bruttenholm briefs Meyers on the Occult Wars which happened with the Nazis acquired mystical artifacts (such as the Spear of Longinus) and ended when Hitler finally died in 1958. Meyers corrects him, saying Hitler died in 1945, Bruttenholm simply gives an amused "Did he now?"
  • Betty and Veronica: Myers is a Nice Guy, Hellboy is a badass.
  • Big Bad: Rasputin in the first film. Nuada in Golden Army.
  • Bigger Bad: The Ogdru Jahad.
  • Bigger on the Inside: Rasputin's Tomb; Fairy cities (Troll Market, Bethmoora) seem to operate exclusively on this principle.
  • Big Eater: Hellboy, if the massive plates of food brought into his room six times a day are any indication.
  • Binding Ancient Treaty: In the second movie, the elvish prince bases his war plans on humanity's breach of one of these.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The ending of the second movie. Nuala kills herself to stop her brother from stabbing Hellboy in the back. Regardless of whether you interpreted her sacrifice as heroic or pointless, it was still pretty bitter.
  • BFG: The Big Baby in The Golden Army.
    • The Samaritan in the first movie. Its bullets are large enough that they hardly even qualify as 'bullets' anymore, being more akin to small artillery shells.
  • Blade Below the Shoulder: Kroenen's preferred weapon.
  • Blade on a Stick: Nuada's preferred weapon.
  • Bodybag Trick: Used by Kroenen to infiltrate BPRD headquarters.
  • Book Ends: The first movie begins and ends with a monologue asking "What defines a man?"
  • Bond One-Liner: Hellboy is fond of these. "I'm fireproof... you're not."
  • Brains and Brawn: Abe and Hellboy, especially in the first movie.
  • Broken Angel: The dying plant elemental.
  • Brother-Sister Incest: Del Toro's DVD commentary as well as the actor that plays Nuada say that Nuada and Nuala had something going on, and the library scene had rather interesting implications.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Yeah, throw rocks at the pre-teen pyrokinetic. Real smart, kids.
  • Burning with Anger: Liz, when she's angry at Hellboy. Or about to go whup some ass. Either or.
  • Came Back Wrong: Rasputin returns from the Void with An Eldritch Abomination in his stomach.
  • Captain Ersatz: Elric of Melnibone Nuada of Bethmoora.
  • Captain Obvious: "The Troll Market! As you may know, trolls live under bridges --"

Hellboy: -- Hey! genius! There are 200 bridges in New York.
Johann: -- (but research) indicates a location under the eastern end of the Brooklyn bridge!"

  • The Cast Showoff: Ron Perlman and Doug Jones both actually have decent singing voices, which makes their hilarious, slightly off-key duet fall squarely under Stylistic Suck.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The legend of the Golden Army, in the second movie. It describes how whomever wears the crown has the power to command the Golden Army, if unchallenged. Near the end of the movie, when all seems hopeless for the heroes, Hellboy remembers the legend and challenges Nuada for the right to wear the crown, setting the stage for the final battle between them.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: In the first two movies, Roger the Homunculus is visible in a display case in the BPRD hallways. Rumor has it, he'll be an important character in Hellboy III.
  • Channel Hop: A rare film example; switched from Sony Pictures to Universal.
  • Clock Punk: So, so much.
  • Clockwork Creature: Kroenen is a clockwork Nazi. Also, the Golden Army is Nigh Invulnerable because they are made of giant wind-up gears and can piece themselves together.
  • Color Coded for Your Convenience: In the second film, the Golden Army glows red once they are activated by Prince Nuada. When Johann takes control of one soldier, it glows blue. How else would you know it's him and he's good?
    • Also in that film, Hellboy has a red light on his communicator, Liz has a gold/yellow one, Abe has blue, and Krauss has white.
  • Combat Tentacles: Behemoth uses them in its fight with Hellboy.
  • Comic Book Movies Don't Use Codenames: Inverted. Hellboy doesn't even know his real name until the end of the first film, and even then, he prefers "Hellboy".
  • Convenient Color Change: When Johan possesses one of the Golden Army soldiers.
  • Conservation of Ninjutsu: Sammael.
  • Cosmic Horror: The Ogdru Jahad.
  • Cosmic Horror Story / Lovecraft Lite: If anything, the movies are even more upfront with the Lovecraft influence: Mignola's Ogdru Jahad were reptilian, while del Toro's are betentacled crustaceans.
  • Costume Porn: The elves and the trolls in the Golden Army. Especially Nuada and Nuala.
  • Couldn't Find a Lighter: Hellboy's first fight with Samael leaves his arm on fire. He lights a cigar with it before putting the fire out.
  • Crazy Cat Demon-man: Hellboy has dozens of cats, it's one of the things he and Liz fight about in the second movie.
  • Crossover Cosmology: Much like the original comics. Devils, Lovecraftian horrors, fairy-tale creatures, and God is implied to exist as well.
  • Covered with Scars: Kroenen
  • Crystal Prison: The Ogdru Jahad's prison.
  • Cute Kitten: Hellboy loves kittens. There's even a scene in the first movie where he goes out of his way to save a box of kittens from falling to their deaths during a fight with Sammael. Reprised in the second movie where he's supposed to be spying on a troll, but disobeys orders and breaks cover to prevent her from eating a kitten.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: Hellboy himself, though the villains try to convince him that he should be evil.
    • A few other things like the Angel of Death also count.
  • Deal with the Devil: Inverted: Hellboy briefly submits to his true form in order to get the love of his life's soul back (long story short, Grigori Rasputin steals her soul, stating that he can only get her soul back to her if he opens the gate).
  • Demon Slaying
  • Depleted Phlebotinum Shells: Specially-made bullets with holy water, garlic, white oak, silver shavings..."the works."
  • Description Cut: Tom Manning states on TV that the BPRD does not exist. The film immediately cuts to an establishing shot of BPRD headquarters.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Hellboy's standard M.O. Also, given Hellboy's true name and nature, this probably applies whenever someone punches him out.
  • Downtime Downgrade
  • The Dragon: Kroenen to Rasputin. Mr. Wink to Nuada. He dies rather quickly for a Dragon, though.
  • Drowning Our Romantic Sorrows: "You're in love. Have a beer."
  • Dual Tonfas: The bladed version is Kroenen's weapon of choice.
  • Dull Surprise: Selma Blair's portrayal of Liz Sherman. Justified, as she's supposed to be depressed and heavily medicated due to her tragic past, and she gets better in the second film.
  • Mr. Fanservice: Prince Nuada.
  • Elaborate Underground Base: Rasputin's crazy Clock Punk mausoleum.
  • Eldritch Abomination: The Ogdru Jahad, Sammael, and Behemoth (that thing that crawled out of Rasputin's stomach).
  • Emerging From the Shadows
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Kinda. In the first movie, after revealing his plan to the Professor as well as the knowledge that they would kill him afterwards, Rasputin assures him that his death will be quick and painless. Seconds later, Kroenen swiftly stabs him through the back of his neck, at the top of the spinal cord, killing him instantly.
  • Evil Albino: Prince Nuada.
  • The Evil Prince: Nuada again.
  • Extranormal Institute: The BPRD's offices. Taken to a ludicrous level in the first act of The Golden Army.
  • Eyeless Face / Eyes Do Not Belong There: The Angel of Death: eyes on its wings instead of its face.
  • Eyes of Gold: A feature of the elves in the sequel.
  • Exact Words: Only a "prince" may challenge Nuada for control of the Golden Army. When Hellboy challenges him, he snubs it off because he is not "royalty". Then his sister reminds him that Hellboy is the son of the King of Darkness, the "Fallen One" and is technically royaly, meaning that he must accept Hellboy's challenge at the climax of the second film.
  • Fair Folk: The Elf world and troll world are explicitly thus. Prince Nuada of Bethmoora is specifically the prince of the Tuatha De Danaan. And the tooth fairies.
  • Fake Crossover: A series of TV ads for The Golden Army showed Hellboy interacting with James Lipton, Chuck, and the Ghost Hunters, and appearing in American Gladiators and a PSA.
  • Fantastic Fragility: Destroy or disassemble the Golden Crown, and the Golden Army becomes inert.
  • Fantastic Racism: Hellboy experiences hatred and prejudice. Also, elven prince Nuada doesn't view humans in a favorable light.
    • Hellboy takes an immediate dislike towards Krauss in The Golden Army, which he claims is because Germans make him "nervous". Given how he first came to this dimension and Kroenen in the previous film, is there any wonder why?
  • Fantasy Kitchen Sink
  • Feed It a Bomb: The death of the Behemoth.
  • Fertile Feet: Fertile blood in this case.
  • Fish People: Abe
  • Flanderization: Tom Manning. In the first movie, while not a very good field leader, he was still a competent bureaucrat; he and Hellboy butted heads but ultimately gained a bit of respect for each other, and bonded over cigars. The second movie made him almost completely incompetent, and reduced him to bribing Hellboy with cigars to keep him in line. Maybe justified by the fact that, without the professor, there is no one who can truly keep Hellboy from doing something stupid.
  • Fluffy the Terrible: Mr. Wink, and perhaps the Tooth Fairies in The Golden Army.
  • Four-Element Ensemble: In Hellboy 2, we have...
    • Air: Krauss
    • Water: Abe
    • Fire: Liz
    • Earth: Hellboy (the loosest association, mostly because he has the rocky Right Hand of Doom)
      • He is also rational and down to earth character, much more than strict but capricious Krauss.
  • Four-Fingered Hands: Hellboy's stone hand has only four fingers.
  • Fragile Speedster: Prince Nuada, especially in comparison to Hellboy.
  • Gas Mask Longcoat: Kroenen
  • Geek: Abe. "Ooh, goggles! Yay! I must try them on."
  • Gentle Giant: Hellboy loves cats.
  • Ghostapo / Stupid Jetpack Hitler: The first movie doesn't even start to show off the Nazis' capabilities with a Clockwork Nazi assassin. World War II was simply the public face of the decades-long "Occult Wars" which began shortly after World War I and lasted until the Allies finally killed Hitler in 1958. Only Mignola knows how America Saved The Day.
  • Gilligan Cut: In the beginning, when Tom Manning is interviewed on TV.

Manning: -- I want to tell you and I want to tell the American public one thing. This Bureau for... umm...
TV Anchor: -- ...Paranormal Research and Defence.
Manning: -- (looks towards camera) There is... No. Such. Thing.
[cut to properly subtitled facility of B.P.R.D]

Hellboy: Where'd they get the tooth fairies?
Baby Troll: We'll never talk. Never, ever, ever.
Hellboy: Feeling a bit chatty now, are we?
Troll: I'll talk! Only don't hit me, anymore.
Baby Troll: Chick-en..!

  • Just Eat the MacGuffin
  • Just Keep Driving: Used rather ridiculously in the first film, where no one so much as brakes at the possibility of committing vehicular manslaughter. Hellboy runs into traffic and has to dodge the cars, then Myers' arm is clipped when he tries to pursue. Hellboy literally has to punch a car to a dead stop even though he was standing right in front of it, and only then do people bother braking.
  • Keystone Army: The Golden Army.
  • Kill All Humans: The Golden Army.
  • Killer Rabbit: The tooth fairies.

Krauss: Poor creature. Starved, bought and sold on the black market--
Hellboy: Yeah, right. He bit off part of my tail!

"Every time I died and crossed over, a little more of the Master came back with me."

Hellboy: He said he liked the cold!

    • It is worth noting that Hellboy may have finagled the reassignment to keep one of his few friends safe - turning this into something of a Fridge Brilliance moment.
  • Red Right Hand: Left hand, too.
    • And the trope-naming Nick Cave song is used to awesome effect in the soundtrack to the first movie.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: In The Golden Army notably, Hellboy's brashness and emotional volatility contrasts with Abe's apprehensive thoughtfulness. As it happens, Hellboy's nickname is 'Red' while Abe's is 'Blue'. As a result, they also make a great singing duo.
    • It is also worth mentioning that they are literally red and blue, respectively.
  • Red Shirt: Just about any non-main character who has the gall to tag along with the main characters on their missions isn't coming back.
  • Removing the Earpiece: Done twice by HB in the first movie. The second time, it leads to several redshirts getting killed while he couldn't be reached.
  • Rock Theme Naming: The various BPRD redshirts are all named for minerals.
  • Rocket Punch: Mr. Wink. Crosses over with Artificial Limbs.
  • The Right Hand of Doom: Of course.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Nuada prefers to do everything personally. This might have something to do with the fact that literally everyone else refuses to do anything.
  • Scenery Porn: The Troll Market in the second film.
  • Screw Destiny: Hellboy was born to bring about the Apocalypse. After Myers reminds Hellboy that he has a choice, Hellboy tells Rasputin what he thinks of his destiny by ripping off his own horns and stabbing Ras in the gut with them.
  • Sequel Non Entity: Myers' absence from the second movie is explained by his reassignment to Antarctica.
    • His story in general counts as a Shaggy Dog Story, since he was supposed to look after Hellboy once Bruttenholm died and Red himself had him reassigned.
  • Shout-Out: The scene of Bruttenholm befriending "baby Hellboy" is very reminiscent of the Baby Ruth scene from The Goonies—including the yummy-sounds.
    • There are shoutouts to Mike Mignola scattered about - in Liz's flashback sequence, one of the buildings is called "Mignola Plaza", and one of the headstones in the Russian cemetery is inscribed with Mike Mignola's name in Russian.
    • The "I'm not a baby, I'm a tumour" scene in the second film is possibly a shout out to Total Recall.
  • Shower of Angst: Hellboy has a short one in the sequel after Liz tells him she's leaving for a while.
  • Shown Their Work: With Mignola and Del Toro co-producing, it wasn't hard to squeeze in all kinds of obscure mythological references. Of course, it's a Fantasy Kitchen Sink, so...
  • Smoking Is Cool: Hellboy is constantly smoking cigars; the second film even included a disclaimer that the smoking was for artistic effect and not an endorsement of smoking.
    • It may double as real-life Actor Allusion as Ron Perlman is an avid cigar afficionado.
  • Snowy Screen of Death: When Liz has her pyrokinesis fit in the psychiatric institution, the CCTV cameras go full of static as the fire wave destroys them.
    • And again in the auction hall in 2, along with the lights blacking out.
  • Sparing the Aces: Invoked Trope...poorly.
  • Spin to Deflect Stuff: Kroenen uses his blade-tonfas to block bullets and shoot them back at people.
  • Spy Catsuit: A wetsuit, to be precise.
  • Spy From Weights and Measures: BPRD's headquarters are disguised as a waste disposal facility; the transports for HB and Abe are disguised as garbage trucks.
  • The Stinger: Halfway through the credits of the first film, there's the punchline of a Brick Joke.
  • The Stoic: Hellboy
  • Story-Boarding the Apocalypse: Rasputin gives a vision of Hellboy causing the end of the world.
  • Sympathy for the Devil: Hellboy and the audience come to see that Prince Nuada has some legitimate grievances against humanity. He's still a complete dick in how he responds.
  • Synchronization: Prince Nuada and Princess Nuala.
  • Tastes Like Friendship: Baby Ruth bars in the first movie. Also, milk and cookies from a nine-year-old kid.
  • The Team Normal: John Myers, in the films. And then he gets transferred to Antarctica in the second movie!
  • Technology Porn
  • This Is Gonna Suck: See Oh Crap above.
  • Those Wacky Nazis: Ilsa, Kroenen and von Klempt.
  • The Tunguska Event: Rasputin's giant rock, sent to Earth by the Ogdru Jahad, was the cause of the Tunguska explosion.
  • Turn in Your Badge: HB and pals hand in their belts and (most of) their guns to announce their resignation from the BPRD.
  • Twin Telepathy: Prince Nuada and Princess Nuala. Exaggerated, since this is constantly active, leading Nuada right to Nuala.
  • Unfazed Everyman: Myers
  • Ungrateful Bastard: In the second movie, most bystanders immediately go accuse the BPRD as freaks after just having been saved from a plant elemental! Then again, Hellboy was jumping around and scaling buildings to fight that thing while juggling an infant, and not always very carefully, either. Infant Immortality or not, can you say, "shaken baby syndrome?"
  • Uniqueness Value: The plant elemental in The Golden Army.
  • Urban Legend: Hellboy and the BPRD, until he goes public.
  • Verb This: "Name this."
  • Villain Teleportation: Used by Rasputin.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Nuada.
  • What Could Have Been: The Golden Army originally ended with a Sequel Hook involving Roderick Zinco (from the comics) obtaining Kroenen's severed head, traveling to a secret Nazi safehouse in the Arctic, attaching it to a massive robot body, and Rasputin's ghost manifesting before them. It was included as a motion comic on the Golden Army DVD.
    • When Universal obtained the rights to the Hellboy film series, there was talk of Hellboy III featuring the classic movie monsters: Dracula, Frankenstein, and the Wolf Man.
    • Executives originally wanted to cast Vin Diesel as Hellboy and make him a human who can transform into a demon, a la The Incredible Hulk. Guillermo del Toro and Mike Mignola did not like this, and they had both independently decided that Ron Perlman was the only casting choice for the part that either of them would support. Hellboy remained a big red guy in a coat, and Perlman was cast. The film took a significant budget cut as a result.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: We never do find out if Clay survived his stabbing.
  • Wife Husbandry: Hellboy & Liz.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Hellboy almost became this after Rasputin killed Liz in front of him and sent her soul into the Ogdru Jahad realm in order for him to force him to become the beast of the apocalypse and unlock the portal. The only reason he didn't is because Myers managed to get him to snap out of it by reminding him of what he once was.
  • Yawn and Reach: Lampshaded

Kid: Look! He's yawning! He's bored!
Hellboy: Yeah, yeah, the ol' "stretch and yawn trick." Watch and learn, kid.

Ilsa: (to Rasputin, seconds before death) Hell will hold no surprises for us, my love.

Abe: You'd do the exact same for Liz!
Nuada: Kill them!
Abe: But... he lied to us!