Who’s the Mighty King? Hellboy and King Arthur

Hellboy PosterBy Ed Sum
(The Vintage Tempest)

As overstuffed the Hellboy reboot movie is, the King Arthur influenced moments has me excited. Instead of Morgan le Fay as the adversary, Nimue is far worse. She’s the undisputed Queen of the Damned and the film doesn’t take for granted if audiences know the lore behind the literary figure or not.

Had the plot was more in line with Nennius’ The History of the Britons, I’d be all over the film. The other side stories–Darkness Calls, The Wild Hunt, The Storm and the Fury–are interconnected and based on what I can remember, most of the narrative takes place in England. The sequence of events leading up to Hellboy being “cursed” is almost like Sir Thomas Malory‘s work. That is, an ill-fated destiny exists for Red and Camelot will fall.

When I’m recalling the comics, one aspect of the film that was done right is in how Mike Mignola loves the Victorian age. A lot of the set design and the visual production is terrific. Since this creator is closely involved in this film, the work is imbued has more of his trademark style in it. The supernatural is over the top, hitting Evangelion if not Attack on Titan levels. They do not represent anything more and had it, this work is could be considered a tribute to Michael Bay style film-making. Yes, I turned off the brain when I finally got around to seeing this film.

Enough comparisons have been made to del Toro’s vision, and it’s tough to live up to Perlman’s characterization. Quite simply, he’s a tough act to follow. David Harbour tries and is close. I did not feel as invested since this version has no love interest. There’s also hardly much of a hero’s journey to undertake. This movie feels like a partial journey through Dante’s Inferno and the sweet desires lurking herein is very tempting. If he can escape, happiness awaits–but is he even ready for it? We do have a very plucky side-kick, Alice Monaghan (Sasha Lane) whom I really liked and if there’s a silver lining to this film, that’s me in the hopes a solo Lobster Johnson movie is in the works. Thomas Haden Church nailed the role.

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Throughout the film, Hellboy questions his self-worth. He’s unsure if he’s living up the legacy that dad, Trevor Bruttenholm (Ian McShane), set before him. Ever since he was discovered and taught the values of what’s right and wrong, this anti-hero continually questions why he’s on Earth. He’s the only alien here. Eventually, he meets fellow meta-humans and they form the elite side of the B.P.R.D.

Sometimes, especially with comic-book films, it takes several attempts to make a version that resonates. Some of the best heroes require different takes and readers (or viewers) will prefer one over the other. Much like how King Arthur has been interpreted over the years, historical figure or legendary, it was Malory’s version which resonated the most. For modern heroes like Batman and Spider-Man, several attempts were tried until there’s a version everyone likes.

3 Pitch Forks out of 5

Author: Ed Sum

I'm a freelance videographer and entertainment journalist (Absolute Underground Magazine, Two Hungry Blokes, and Otaku no Culture) with a wide range of interests. From archaeology to popular culture to paranormal studies, there's no stone unturned. Digging for the past and embracing "The Future" is my mantra.

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