A new Hellboy movie is finally coming to theaters next year, but it is going to be a reboot and not a continuation of the Guillermo Del Toro movies. There are mixed feelings about that, since Del Toro never got to make Hellboy 3. But it turns out that isn’t the only movie this newly announced Neil Marshall directed reboot has killed. Writer Peter Briggs has revealed that he had been working on an Abe Sapien spin-off movie since 2010, but the project is officially dead in the water now.
Peter Briggs wrote the original Hellboy movie and, after the news of the reboot broke, he took to his Facebook page to talk about the Abe Sapien movie, which would have been centered on Doug Jones’ character. Universal actually had the idea for the movie and contacted him to work on it back in 2010. That turned out to be the beginning of a long process that would ultimately never bear any fruit. Originally, they wanted him to write a movie about Prince Nuada and, though that character wound up in the movie, it wound up featuring Abe Sapien as the main character. Here’s how he explains it.
“I was working with Richard Taylor at Weta in New Zealand back then, and discussed the possibility of doing this with Weta with Richard. 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. Aaron and myself turned it in. Universal really wanted to proceed with it, but after further discussions at the studio it was apparent a “Hellboy 3” was still on the cards for the studio and more of a priority, so “Silverlance” got back-burnered. I figured that was the end of that.”
As we all now, Hellboy 3 never happened. So, after several years of waiting around, Peter Briggs finally got another call from Universal in 2015. They wanted to get back to work on the Abe Sapien spin-off, but there was one huge catch; the character of Hellboy would not be allowed to appear in the movie. Despite that hurdle, they got to reworking the script and tried to make it happen.
“We reworked and expanded the project out. 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.”
They turned in their reworked script, which was titled Silverlance: From The Files Of The B.P.R.D., and then the waiting started again. Eventually, Universal started talking about this current Hellboy reboot, which put a pin in the Abe Sapien spin-off movie once again. After some more waiting and some possible, additional reworking, it became clear to Peter Briggs that the project was officially dead with the announcement of this reboot.
“Things were quiet throughout 2016, but just before Christmas 2016 I was in Bath in England when we got the call from Universal to say that it looked like “Silverlance” was once more back on, but it was looking a little unclear. (This really surprised me, as I’d assumed after the early 2016 conversation the project was scuppered for good.) I kept in touch with Universal periodically into 2017. 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.”
This spin-off may not have been the Hellboy 3 that many of us wanted, but it could have opened the door for that to happen. Either way, that world is dead now. Instead, it is going to be Stranger Things star David Harbour as Hellboy in a new, R-rated movie, currently titled Hellboy: Rise of the Blood Queen, which is rumored to shoot sometime this year. You can check out Peter Briggs’ full post on the Abe Sapien spin-off for yourself below.