Mike Mignola’s Hellboy is one of the most popular comic characters of all time, but the numerous movies based on the titular half-demon have been a mixed bag. While some of the Hellboy films are beloved by dedicated Hellboy fans and casual movie-goers alike, others are seen as mediocre adaptions that fail to recapture the charm of the comics. With a new film and a rogue-lit adventure game on the way, here’s our ranking of the previous Hellboy films for those eager to familiarize themselves with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense’s top agent.
Every Hellboy Movie Ranked From Worst To Best
A total of five Hellboy films have been produced over the past two decades, and all but two of them have been helmed by a radically different creative team. Reflecting this creative diversity, three of the five Hellboy films are live-action theatrical releases, two are direct-to-video animated features, and some are better made than others.
5. Hellboy (2019)
With the legacy of the two live-action Hellboy films on its shoulders and an unfortunate release date that forced it to compete with Avengers: Endgame, this film was playing with a deck stacked against it. Unfortunately, while Stranger Things’ David Harbour managed to deliver a strong performance as Hellboy, the rest of the film fell short. Ridiculed by audiences and critics alike for its by-the-books plot and lackluster special effects, what was meant to be a reinvigorating reboot of the Hellboy film series proved to be a critical and financial flop.
4. Hellboy: Sword of Storms
The first entry in Starz Media and Revolution Studios’ Hellboy Animated duology, this is an entertaining animated adventure that pits Hellboy, Liz Sherman, and Abe Sapien against some of Japanese mythology’s deadliest and most terrifying monsters. While the film’s plot is simple and the original characters have little to no compelling traits, the anime-inspired animation and the engaging performances of returning Hellboy live-action stars Ron Perlman, Selma Blair, and Doug Jones carry the film out of the realm of mediocrity.
3. Hellboy: Blood and Iron
Building off the foundations laid by its predecessor, this film shows how well the Hellboy universe meshes with the medium of animation. Not only does it feature a stronger central storyline that sees Hellboy and his allies battle vampires, werewolves, and an ancient blood goddess, but the film’s side characters have much more engaging personalities and arcs. While it was a sudden end to Hellboy’s brief sojourn into direct-to-video-animation, Hellboy: Blood and Iron is a fine finale.
2. Hellboy (2004)
The first installment of legendary director Guillermo del Toro’s live-action Hellboy duology, this film recaptures its source material’s uncanny ability to balance fantastical horror with character-driven charm. In his debut as the titular protagonist, Ron Perlman brings the foul-mouthed, gun-toting half-demon to life as no other actor has. Perfectly recreating the witty and sarcastic humor that defines Hellboy’s interactions with his foes, Perlam’s performance also captures Big Red’s desire experience genuine human connection despite his monstrous appearance.
Outside of Perlman’s stellar performance, the rest of the film holds up just as strongly. With fantastic action sequences that pit Hellboy and the B.P.R.D. against agents of a Neo-Nazi conspiracy to summon eldritch horrors into our world, the film is a love letter to the original Hellboy comics that manages to stand on its own as an entertaining movie.
1. Hellboy II: The Golden Army
To put it bluntly, this film takes everything the first live-action Hellboy did and does it better. With an intriguing story that puts Hellboy’s struggle to protect a world that can’t tell the difference between him and the monsters he fights to the forefront, Hellboy II: The Golden Army expands on almost every plot point left unconcluded in the original in new and exciting ways while giving returning supporting characters some much-needed time in the spotlight.
Not only is the film’s story the strongest out of any Hellboy movie, but the visual effects are just as on point. Bringing in the same team of artists that worked on Pan’s Labyrinth, del Toro’s talent for bringing fantastic creatures to life is on full display throughout the film, and both the CGI and practical effects utilized in the movie still hold up to scrutiny today.
- This article was updated on March 12th, 2023