Forget MCU, The Most Underrated Superhero Movie of the Century is Now on Hulu

Forget MCU, The Most Underrated Superhero Movie of the Century is Now on Hulu
Image credit: Walt Disney Studios, Dark Horse Entertainment

Guillermo del Toro's beautiful and underrated superhero movie will now be seen by many more people.


  • Dark Horse Comics has never been as popular as Marvel and DC, but its superhero stories are no less appreciated.
  • In 2004, a film adaptation of a popular Dark Horse franchise was released, directed by none other than Guillermo del Toro.
  • Recently, the movie was made available for streaming on Hulu.

Today, as it was 20 years ago, the absolute leaders (at least commercially) in the world of comic books and graphic novels are Marvel and DC, who never stop releasing new stories about pumped-up heroes in spandex. However, pop culture aficionados will surely agree that no less important, if less popular, superhero stories have been released under the auspices of another company, the dark horse (pun intended) of the comic book world, Dark Horse Comics. This publisher brought out many of the popular comic book franchises of the 90's and 00's, from Star Wars ( when Lucasfilm had not yet been bought by Disney ) to Sin City.

Dark Horse is known for its emphasis on more mature stories. And one of the best-known is the Hellboy franchise, created by writer/artist Mike Mignola. It's a dark fantasy based on Lovecraftian motifs and urban legends about a half-demon who protects humanity from all things supernatural.

Hellboy is known for its bizarre design and moody atmosphere, and of course, no one could adapt Hellboy better than the genius of the horror fantasy genre, Guillermo del Toro (as evidenced by the failure of the 2019 remake, which del Toro was not involved with). His 2004 film may not be the best example of the superhero genre, but it is an incredibly charming representative of it. Plus, the film is now available for streaming on Hulu!

A Superhero Movie with Thriller Elements by Guillermo del Toro

Guillermo del Toro's auteur style is inspired by classic 20th-century films, many of them in genres such as science fiction, fantasy, and, of course, horror, Among the filmmaker's favorites are the silent films Greed and Nosferatu, as well as the Italian giallo horrors of Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci. As a result, del Toro has developed a unique fairytale-esque aesthetic, and his films can be described as dark fantasy rather than straight-up horror. All of this is enhanced by his unique approach to special effects, which provide surreal yet believable visuals.

At the time of Hellboy's production, del Toro had already worked with unconventional superheroes: 2002 saw the release of Blade II, which, despite a coldly received script, was praised for its direction, which successfully balanced action with body horror elements. As a result, 2004's Hellboy proved to be an elegant yet gritty urban fantasy that made room for superhero pathos as well as steampunk, Nazis, the occult, the battle between heaven and hell, and supernatural folklore creatures.

Upon the film's release, Roger Ebert wrote that the movie 'has found an actor who is not just playing a superhero, but enjoying it... he chomps his cigar, twitches his tail and battles his demons with something approaching glee. You can see an actor in the process of making an impossible character really work.'

Hellboy's surreal comic book design and habits were difficult to convey in a live-action film, but Roy Perlman completely nailed his role, despite the grueling makeup process that included daily four-hour sessions to fix prosthetics that covered his entire face and body. The film also starred legendary Doug Jones as the amphibious man Abe Sapien (he later played the Faun and the infamous Pale Man in del Toro's Pan's Labyrinth and the lead monster character in The Shape of Water), Selma Blair as pyrokinetic and Hellboy's love interest Liz Sherman, Karel Roden as Grigori Rasputin, and John Hurt as Hellboy's adoptive father Trevor Bruttenholm.

All of this makes Hellboy an incredibly vibrant and unique superhero movie. Sure, it may never surpass the Marvel and DC movies in popularity. But it never aspired to be that, because it is an iconoclastic film by a famous auteur.

Source: Roger Ebert.