Hellboy: Abe Sapien Spinoff Movie Almost Happened

As recently as this year, a Hellboy spinoff focusing on Abe Sapien and the BPRD was in development!

Hellboy
Photo: Columbia

The surprise announcement earlier this week that we’re getting another Hellboy movie was a little bittersweet. It’s tough to argue with a new Hellboy movie, especially not one directed by Neil Marshall (who brought us the incredible The Descent) and with Stranger Things star David Harbour wearing the horns. It’s got a cool title, Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen, and it’s going to be rated-R and should have all the horror elements that come along with that.

On the other hand, we’re always going to wish Guillermo del Toro got the chance to complete his trilogy with Ron Perlman as Hellboy and Doug Jones as Abe Sapien. Hellboy 3 had a long, difficult journey through development purgatory (which we outlined in some detail right here), but there was apparently one detour we had never heard about.

Peter Briggs, writer of the first Hellboy movie, dropped some spectacular details on his Facebook page, and it’s pretty cool. Mr. Briggs revealed that as far back as 2010, Universal was interested in a spinoff based around Prince Nuada from 2008’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Briggs went to work with Aaron Mason on a project they dubbed Hellboy: Silverlance. The catch? Abe Sapien was the main character. Briggs describes Hellboy’s actual involvement as “a Suicide Squad situation: Batman was in there but the story wasn’t really about him.”

The project stalled, as the studio was primarily interested in a proper Hellboy 3. But in 2015, interest in Silverlance was rekindled, although this time “the character of Hellboy himself couldn’t be shown.” At this point, Hellboy: Silverlance essentially became a BPRD movie, and its new title, Silverlance: From The Files of BPRD reflected that. According to Mr. Briggs, this project was at least alive in some form as recently as the beginning of this year, but he believes that with the reboot now on the table it’s “officially dead.”

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This is a tremendous disappointment, of course. But please go read Mr. Briggs’ entire Facebook post on the subject, where he goes into some more detail about the shape of the story, as well as what the conversations with Universal were like. It’s a great read, and if nothing else, it will put you in the mood to revisit these two movies, and perhaps pick up some of Mike Mignola’s incredible source material.

I tip my horns to Dread Central for bringing this cool story to my attention.