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The gloves are off and the horns are out as #Hellboy comes burning back from the fires of hell. After two films in 2004 and 2008, #MikeMignola's #comicbook series is getting a new lease of life thanks to an R-rated reboot and a complete change of staff.
#GuillermodelToro's duo of films were both a commercial and critical success and went on to gather a huge cult following, however, many feel the series was cut down in its prime. While a third film got as far as having a promised working title, it sadly never made it past stage one.
Now, in a strange twist among the news of reviving Hellboy, it appears that we not only nearly had Hellboy 3, but there were plans for a spin-off film too.
Making A Splash
Hellboy writer Peter Briggs revealed on Facebook that Hellboy: Silverlance would've focused on Hellboy's aquatic partner in crime and a story revolving around Abe Sapien as Universal's very own Suicide Squad. The studio had initially wanted to focus on the character of Prince Nuada, but with one small problem; Nuada had perishing at the end of Hellboy II and Briggs was skeptical that the idea could work:
"I started working on an outline with my Los Angeles-based 'Panzer 88' co-writer Aaron Mason while still in New Zealand. It was called 'Hellboy: Silverlance,' and we solved the 'Nuada Problem.' Although we never really discussed it as such it really was a 'B.P.R.D.' movie. The aquatic Abe Sapien was the main character, and Hellboy still featured fairly prominently in it. I suppose you could liken it to a 'Suicide Squad' situation: Batman was in there, but the story wasn’t really about him."
While everyone remember's #RonPerlman's iconic performance as the titular Hellboy, the films were essentially an ensemble piece and would've certainly been perfect for a Suicide Squad theme. Actors like Selma Blair, Jeffrey Tambor, and John Hurt made it not just a one-man affair, while Abe's blue bumbler was one of the most endearing parts of both films. Although Doug Jones played Sapien in the first film, the voice was dubbed over by the prim and proper David Hyde Pierce (uncredited). Jones returned for The Golden Army to provide the physical character and the voice and was reportedly keen to appear in the proposed threequel.
Battling Your Own Demons
Obviously, Silverlance never got off the ground, but the idea did return in 2015. Universal was reportedly keen to push forward, however, the new stipulation meant that Silverlance could no longer include Perlman's Hellboy and needed a massive restructure:
"The story had a sort of 'Highlander' structure to it. Moving into their new Bureau For Paranormal Research And Defense headquarters in Colorado, Abe is troubled still by his psychic connection with Princess Nuala from 'Hellboy 2,' so researches the history of Nuala and Nuada. We would have seen Nuada’s connection to a rival fairy courtier who seeks control of the fairy kingdom (and Nuala’s hand in marriage), and engineers the machinations that cause Prince Nuada’s expulsion. We’d have seen Nuada in different timezones down the centuries, including his first meeting with Mister Wink in Spain during the Spanish Inquisition (Nuada saves Wink from a troupe of soldiers); and Nuada in Nazi Germany in World War 2 engineering a pact to keep various supernatural entities unharmed from the conflict. (We would have seen Nuada and Kroenen fighting in a “friendly” bout for a bunch of Project Ragnarok goons.)"
"Doug Jones would have been playing twin characters of both Abe and a reprise of the Angel Of Death, with whom Prince Nuada strikes a bargain. Agent Myers from the first 'Hellboy' film would have returned. The story reached a rousing action climax at the B.P.R.D. Colorado headquarters and used Rasputin’s summoning gauntlet from the first movie (and we did manage to sneak Hellboy in for a cameo in one scene!) If it had been successful, it would have been the first in a series of 'From The Files Of The B.P.R.D.' projects."
The '00s films barely managed to scratch the surface, and with so many characters from Mignola's comic book failing to make it into the film series, a B.P.R.D. could've perfectly set up a larger Hellboy world. Possible additions would've been the homunculus Roger, a were-jaguar called Captain Benjamin Daimio, and the ageless mummy Panya — all proving that you don't need Hellboy to be Hellboy-esque.
The End Of The Road
While everyone seemed to give up on Hellboy 3, it sounds like the retitled Silverlance: From the Files of the B.P.R.D. never really went away and was still being touted in 2016. Briggs sadly seems to have now resigned himself to the fact that his project will never come to be, providing another huge blow to the del Toro era of the hero:
"With the announcement of the Neil Marshall 'Hellboy' reboot project yesterday, I think it’s safe to say 'Silverlance' is now officially dead. As a fan of 'Hellboy' for 25 years, I’m curious to see how the new Millennium project turns out."
One of the biggest gripes of David Ayer's Suicide Squad was that it didn't push Warner Bros. for that coveted R-rating, Now, with The Descent's Neil Marshall ushering in a new era of R-rated Hellboy, perhaps the ideas of Silverlance could make it into the next iteration of the horned demon. Unlike Abe Sapien though, I wouldn't hold your breath!