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Guillermo del Toro declared “Hellboy” one of the top five best-directed movies in his filmography during a recent Twitter thread in which he reminisced on his fan-favorite comic book film franchise. Del Toro launched “Hellboy” in 2004 after spending years in development on the project. Studios weren’t too keen on adapting an untested comic book property like “Hellboy” prior to the back-to-back success of “X-Men” and “Spider-Man,” both of which arrived after “Blade” had a successful critical and commercial debut in late 1998. Del Toro would go on to direct “Blade II” before finally landing the go-ahead to helm “Hellboy” at Sony under Columbia Pictures.
“The first ‘Hellboy’ movie was developed before even X-Men was on film,” del Toro wrote. “I remember visiting the ‘Mystery Men’ set to try to convince Universal to green light it. It languished for a long time. To my mind, the first ‘Blade’ was instrumental in showing how superhero movies could exist at the end of the 20th century. There was a collision of ‘Dark City’ and ‘Blade’ that somehow, in subtle ways paved the way for ‘The Matrix’ to explode into the world. But, still, back then it was a countermovement to try and do superhero films, specially with material that didn’t have Marvel numbers.”
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Del Toro would go on to direct a 2008 sequel, “Hellboy II: The Golden Army,” which earned even stronger critical reviews than its predecessor. The franchise would not continue beyond a second installment, and del Toro reasons that not even one “Hellboy” sequel would be able to happen in today’s Hollywood landscape.
“What allowed the two films to exist, it’s gone,” del Toro wrote. “The Blu-ray DVD performance of the first ‘Hellboy’ was massive. So big that Ben Feingold, at Columbia, went full-on on the sequel development. Ben was so impressed by those numbers that he made ‘Hellboy’ one of the very first Blu-rays from Columbia Pictures. Far as I can recall, the number for home video surpassed theatrical.”
Del Toro had plans to direct a third “Hellboy,” but the box office performance of “The Golden Army” killed the franchise. The director pitched “Hellboy” creator Mike Mignola on an idea to turn the third movie into a comic book, but the plan was rejected as to not mixup the different mediums and confuse fans. Del Toro would go on to direct “Pacific Rim,” “Crimson Peak,” and “The Shape of Water,” for which he won the Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. The director is currently on hiatus from filming his new directorial effort, “Nightmare Alley.”
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