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Which 'Hellboy' Is This 'Hellboy'

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Hellboy is Back

This weekend Hellboy is being released to theaters all around the nation, but did you know there was a movie that came out in 2004 with the exact same title?

Fifteen years ago Guillermo Del Toro unleashed upon the world the fantastic comic book movie Hellboy, starring Ron Perlman as the title character, along with a splendid ensemble cast including John Hurt, Selma Blair, and Doug Jones. The movie was followed in 2008 by an underrated sequel called Hellboy: The Golden Army, and there was talk for many years of a third installment in the series.

That third installment was never to be… until this week, when finally we have a new Hellboy headed our way. So what’s this new film called? What’s the title of this new reimagining with Stranger Things’ David Harbour in the main role?

Hellboy.

Just… Hellboy.

A mere fifteen years after the first major motion picture based off this character, we now have a second movie with the exact same title, and I don’t know about you, but this practice of naming movies with the same title over and over gets really frustrating and confusing after awhile. Especially when it comes to film discussions with your friends.

And it certainly hasn’t started and ended with the Hellboy franchise. It’s been around basically since the beginning of cinema.

You’ve got your Little Women, and your Hamlet, and your Macbeth, and your A Star is Born.

Titles help in selling movies, they really do. If the latest A Star is Born had been called something more generic, like Stardom, it wouldn’t have made as much money as it did, that’s just the truth.

But at least remakes make some sense, and even adaptations, too. What are you going to do, remake David Copperfield and then call it something else? Call it David or something?

It doesn’t work. I get that.

But when the movie isn’t a clear remake, when the movie is a semi-sequel or a total reimagining that goes somewhere brand new, it weakens the brand a little when the movie is given the exact same title as its predecessor.

What I find the most confusing of all is the use of the title Halloween in the beloved horror movie franchise.

You have the 1978 original Halloween, and then you have the 2007 remake Halloween, which is in every way a totally different film in tone than the original, and now we have the 2018 Halloween which is a continuation from the original movie and does away with every other sequel and remake. You following me so far?

It makes sense that the filmmakers of the latest Halloween felt that they should just call it Halloween.

Enough time had passed since the previous installment. Four decades had passed since the original. Just calling it Halloween would help sell the movie better, and sell the movie it definitely did.

But now we have three movies about Michael Myers called Halloween, and I’m not happy about it. I was already annoyed to talk about the 1978 film since Rob Zombie’s version, having to always preface by saying “the original,” but now with the most recent version, I genuinely get confused sometimes as to which Halloween movie is which when people bring up the titles during discussion. I actually liked the idea of calling the newest film The Shape, but I was very much alone on that.

And then there are of course the duplicate titles to movies that are in no way related.

Like Bad Boys (1983) and Bad Boys (1995). Like Twilight (1998) and Twilight (2008).

Remember that whole controversy about the Lee Daniels movie The Butler having the same title as an old silent short film?

Movie titles are re-used all the time, sometimes just years apart.

So when you talk about how much you loved Frozen, there should be part of you that wants to make clear you’re talking about the 2013 Disney movie, not the 2010 R-rated horror film! (Both are great, by the way.)

Sure, I might be reading too much into this.

And I get it when it comes to the new Hellboy installment.

Calling this new movie Hellboy 3 wouldn’t make sense because it might make audience members think they’re getting a direct sequel to the last movie. And calling it Hellboy: The New Hell Dimension or something might confuse viewers overall.

Easier to just call it Hellboy.

But I will always prefer titles that are new and unique. That don’t confuse me about which version of the franchise I’m planning to watch. That in fifty years will actually make some sense.

Imagine in a decade from now, your friend turns to you and says, “Hey, want to put on Hellboy?”

You won’t have the slightest clue what movie that person will be talking about.