Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Guillermo del Toro
Produced by
Screenplay by Guillermo del Toro
Story by
Based on Hellboy
by Mike Mignola
Music by Danny Elfman
Cinematography Guillermo Navarro
Edited by Bernat Vilaplana
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates
  • July 11, 2008 (2008-07-11)
Running time
120 minutes
Country United States[1]
Language English
Budget $85 million
Box office $160.4 million[2]

Hellboy II: The Golden Army is a 2008 American supernatural superhero film based on the fictional character Hellboy created by Mike Mignola. The movie was written and directed by Guillermo del Toro and is a sequel to the 2004 film Hellboy, which del Toro also directed. Ron Perlman reprises his starring role as the eponymous character. The Golden Army was produced by Universal Studios and Relativity Media and released by Universal Pictures. Unlike the first film, which featured a darker gothic atmosphere, Hellboy II features a fantasy atmosphere. The film grossed over $160 million, against a budget of $85 million. It received positive reviews from critics, which praised the fantasy atmosphere in the film, as well as Perlman and the other cast's acting performances.


During Christmas 1955, an 11-year-old Hellboy is told a bedtime story by his adoptive father, Trevor Bruttenholm, involving an ancient war between human and magical creatures, started by human's greed. After defeat of the magical creatures' forces, the master of the goblin blacksmiths offers to build an indestructible mechanical army for the elven King Balor. Encouraged by his son Prince Nuada, Balor orders the building of this Golden Army. The humans are devastated by the army. Balor is ridden with guilt and forms a truce with the humans: Man will keep his cities and the magical creatures will keep their forests. Nuada does not agree with the truce and leaves in exile. The magical crown controlling the army is broken into three pieces, one going to the humans and the other two kept by the elves.

In the present, Nuada declares war on humanity. He collects the first piece of the crown from an auction, killing everyone at the site by unleashing tooth fairies, and kills his father for the second piece. His twin sister, Princess Nuala, escapes with the final piece. Meanwhile, Hellboy is having issues with his girlfriend Liz, and trouble accepting that their organization, the B.P.R.D. must remain undercover. Investigating the auction slaughter, Hellboy allows himself to be revealed to the world. In the commotion, Abe Sapien discovers Liz is pregnant; she swears him to secrecy as she ponders keeping the child. Furious at Hellboy's actions, the Bureau's superiors send a new B.P.R.D. agent, the ectoplasmic medium Johann Krauss, to take command. With Krauss in charge, the team tracks the tooth fairies to the troll market, an enormous city hidden under the Brooklyn Bridge. Abe stumbles onto Nuala, who has obtained a map leading to the Golden Army, and falls in love with her. She is brought under B.P.R.D. protection following an attack by Nuada's sidekick, the troll Wink, and an elemental forest god, both of which Hellboy kills. During the fight, Hellboy is questioned by Nuada whether it is right to fight for the humans when he too is considered a monster.

Nuada tracks his sister to B.P.R.D. headquarters using their magical bond, which causes them to share wounds and read each other's thoughts. Sensing her brother's arrival, Nuala attempts to destroy the map and hides the final crown piece in one of Abe's books. Nuada critically wounds Hellboy with his spear, promising Nuala in exchange for the final crown piece. Unable to remove the spear shard, Liz, Abe and Krauss take Hellboy to the Golden Army's location in the Giants Causeway, County Antrim, Northern Ireland. They encounter a Bethmoora goblin who brings them before the Angel of Death, who has awaited their arrival. Though warned Hellboy will doom humanity if he lives, and that she will suffer the most from it, Liz pleads for Hellboy's life. The Angel removes the shard from Hellboy's chest and tells Liz to give him a reason to live. She reveals to Hellboy that he will be a father, and he recovers.

The goblin leads the team to the resting place of the Golden Army, where Nuada awaits them. In exchange for Nuala, Abe gives him the last piece of the crown. Nuada awakens the Golden Army, ordering the team's death; the army proves indestructible as the soldiers magically repair themselves. Hellboy challenges Nuada for the crown, and Nuada is forced to accept, since Hellboy's father was a Prince of Sheol, the Fallen One, a member of Hell's royal family. Hellboy defeats Nuada and spares his life, but Nuada tries stabbing him. Nuala commits suicide to stop her brother; the dying Nuada tells Hellboy he will have to choose whether humanity or magical beings must die. Abe psychically shares his feelings with Nuala before she and her brother die. Hellboy briefly considers using the crown, but Liz melts it, deactivating the Golden Army. As the team leaves the underground compound, Tom Manning reprimands them. Hellboy, Liz, Abe, and Johann resign from the B.P.R.D. Hellboy, who decides to keep his Good Samaritan, contemplates his future life with Liz and their baby. Liz corrects "babies" and holds up two fingers, signifying that she is pregnant with twins.


Foreground, From left to right: Johann Krauss, Abe Sapien, Hellboy, and Liz Sherman; Background: Prince Nuada, Princess Nuala


In May 2004, following the release of Guillermo del Toro's Hellboy the previous month, a sequel was announced by Revolution Studios with del Toro returning to direct and Ron Perlman reprising his lead role as the title character.[15] The director sought to create a film trilogy with the first sequel anticipated for release in 2006.[16] Revolution Studios planned to produce the film and distribute it through a deal with Columbia Pictures, but by 2006, Revolution had gone out of business. In August 2006, Universal Pictures acquired the project with the intent to finance and distribute the sequel, which was newly scheduled to be released in summer of 2008. Production was scheduled to begin in April 2007 in Etyek, Hungary (near Budapest) and London, England.[17]

Director Guillermo del Toro explored several concepts for the sequel, initially planning to recreate the classic versions of Frankenstein, Dracula and The Wolf Man.[18] He and comic book creator Mike Mignola also spent a few days adapting the Almost Colossus story, featuring Roger the Homunculus. They then found it easier to create an original story based on folklore, because del Toro was planning Pan's Labyrinth, and Mignola's comics were becoming increasingly based on mythology.[19] Later, del Toro pitched a premise to Revolution Studios that involved four Titans from the four corners of Earth—Wind, Water, Fire, and Earth—before he replaced the Titans with a Golden Army.[20] Mignola described the theme of the sequel, "The focus is more on the folklore and fairy tale aspect of Hellboy. It's not Nazis, machines and mad scientists but the old gods and characters who have been kind of shoved out of our world."[21]

Del Toro released Pan's Labyrinth in 2006, and the film earned multiple Academy Awards, providing the director enough clout to begin production on Hellboy II.[3] Guillermo del Toro began filming Hellboy II in June 2007 in Budapest and concluded in December 2007.[22] The film was the first American production to shoot at Korda Studios in Hungary, then newly built outside Budapest.[23] The creature shop was led by the company Spectral Motion,[24] and Filmefex contributed work in makeup and prosthetics. The latter company designed a creature for the troll market scene and built several statues and full-sized replicas of the Golden Army.[25]


Hellboy II: The Golden Army – Original Motion Picture Soundtrack
Soundtrack album by Danny Elfman
Released July 15, 2008 (2008-07-15)
Genre Film score
Label Varèse Sarabande
Producer Danny Elfman
Danny Elfman chronology
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Track listing

All music composed by Danny Elfman.

No. Title Length
1. "Introduction"   3:37
2. "Hellboy II Titles"   1:18
3. "Training"   1:49
4. "The Auction House"   2:27
5. "Hallway Cruise"   1:35
6. "Where Faires Dwell"   4:16
7. "Teleplasty"   1:21
8. "Mein Herring"   1:05
9. "Father and Son"   6:01
10. "A Link"   1:29
11. "A Troll Market"   1:21
12. "Market Troubles"   3:40
13. "A Big Decision"   1:09
14. "The Last Elemental"   4:11
15. "The Spear"   1:47
16. "A Dilemma"   2:55
17. "Doorway"   3:35
18. "A Choice"   3:57
19. "In the Army Chamber"   5:46
20. "Finale"   6:06

Additional song credits


Hellboy II opened on July 11, 2008, in 3,204 theaters in the United States and Canada.[2] The film ranked first at the box office, grossing an estimated $35.9 million over the weekend, outperforming the opening of its predecessor, which had opened with $23.2 million.[27] The opening was the biggest of Guillermo del Toro's directing career until 2013, when it was surpassed by Pacific Rim.[28]

According to CinemaScore, audiences gave the film a B grade.[29] The demographic for Hellboy II was mostly male, and the age distribution for moviegoers below and above 25 years old was evenly split.[30] Outside of the United States and Canada, Hellboy II had a limited release on 533 screens in Mexico, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore, grossing $4.6 million.[31]

In its second weekend in the United States and Canada, Hellboy II's box office performance dropped 71% to gross $10.1 million, a larger drop than its predecessor, which dropped 53% in comparison. The sequel's larger drop was attributed to the significant opening of the Batman film The Dark Knight.[32] As of September 9, 2008 Hellboy II has grossed $75,986,503 in the United States and Canada. The film came top in the UK and Ireland box office charts upon its release on August 22[33] and earned an additional international gross of $84,401,560 bringing its worldwide total to $160,388,063, meaning it has currently outgrossed the first film by nearly $53 million, and has yet to open in at least one country.[2][34]


In addition to television spots showing scenes from the film, humorous adverts were also aired depicting Hellboy appearing on Ghost Hunters; being interviewed by James Lipton on Inside the Actors Studio; playing video games with Chuck Bartowski from Chuck; visiting the set of American Gladiators; auditioning for a high school event; and hosting a public service announcement with a cat.[35]

Home media

Hellboy II: The Golden Army was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 11, 2008.[36] For the DVD, there is both a single-disc and a 3-Disc Special Edition (not available in the UK).

The single-disc edition includes the movie and a very limited selection of special features. Available on the one-disc edition is a "Director's Notebook" section, in which pages of Del Toro's notebook are reproduced, showcasing design sketches and annotations by the director, as well as "video pod" segments in which he explains these designs and concepts further. The segment is available in the three-disc edition in the "pre-production vault", which also includes other galleries. The three-disc special edition includes two audio commentaries (one by Del Toro and another by members of the cast), six deleted scenes, several featurettes, a full-length documentary, and image galleries. Though not added into the movie after credits due to budget cuts, a comic-style of the Zinco Sequel is added to the special features, serving as a prologue to the third Hellboy movie. The third disc contains a digital copy.

Critical reception

Hellboy II received positive reviews from film critics.[37] As of December 26, 2015 Rotten Tomatoes reported that 85% of critics gave the film positive reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10, based upon a sample of 241 reviews.[38] At Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating out of 100 to reviews from mainstream critics, the film has received an average score of 78, based on 36 reviews, gaining a better critical reaction than the first film.[37]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film three and a half stars out of four, the same rating he gave the first film, writing: "In every way the equal of del Toro's original Hellboy, although perhaps a little noisier, it's another celebration of his love for bizarre fantasy and diabolical machines."[39] Michael Rechtshaffen writing in The Hollywood Reporter said Hellboy II was an uncompromised vision of del Toro's imagination. He said that with the director given free rein, the film came across as an amalgam of the best moments from his previous films, only with better visual effects.[40] John Anderson of Variety wrote of a rococo precision to the visuals that exceeded that of the first film. He cited del Toro's "clockmaker's preoccupation with detail" and ability to blend state-of-the-art technology with more classical visuals as the reasons for the film's success.[41] Owen Gleiberman of Entertainment Weekly said that the plot did not often deviate from its comic-book traditions, but that del Toro staged the action "brilliantly". He said that while the visual effects deserved recognition, what made the film so exciting was the personality they were imbued with.[42] Chuck Wilson of The Village Voice said that del Toro was on autopilot, but that he and his Pan's Labyrinth crew, cinematographer Guillermo Navarro in particular, staged the steady stream of action set-pieces expertly.[43] Mike Goodridge of Screen International wrote that del Toro had retained the B movie tone of the first film, saying the film managed to avoid the self-importance of The Incredible Hulk and the Batman film series and that del Toro was simply a "great storyteller" providing a "good time".[44] Stuart Levine in Premiere praised the visuals and "beautiful" set-pieces, but said del Toro's script fell a little short of his direction.[45] Alonso Duralde writing for msnbc.com said it represented a backwards step for del Toro, saying that despite several creepy sequences, the film was a return to the muddled storytelling and pretty visuals of his pre-Pan's Labyrinth films. He said del Toro's screenplay lacked energy or momentum.[46] However, Peter Bradshaw, of The Guardian said almost the opposite was the case, as he thinks "it is a crackingly enjoyable and exciting sequel, with something that the memory of Pan's Labyrinth might have entirely erased: a sense of humour." Noting that "this spectacular movie seethes and fizzes with wit and energy, absorbing and transforming influences such as Ghostbusters and even Harry Potter and the secret world of Diagon Alley."[47]

John Anderson said the film would be "almost unthinkable" without Ron Perlman in the lead role, saying the film was more successful than its predecessor mainly due to the more deliberately amusing tone and the "drily ironic" title character. He said the only weak link was Luke Goss' "unimposing" villain.[41] While praising the general banter between Perlman and Blair, Stuart Levine said the nonchalant Hellboy exhibited insufficient growth as a character, and that Jeffrey Tambor was largely wasted in his role. He agreed that Goss' villain was weak as written, with no tangible menace.[45] Helen O'Hara of Empire said the character was only let down by a lack of screentime in which to give him enough dramatic weight, and that Goss did "a perfectly good job".[48] Owen Gleiberman said Perlman was more assured than in the first Hellboy, funnier and more cantankerous. He said the entire ensemble had "an appealing, outsize grandeur" about it.[42] Mike Goodridge said the film carefully developed the character relationships,[44] and Chuck Wilson said that other than the title character's penchant for chewing cigars, he was otherwise "uninteresting".[43] Alonso Duralde wrote that the "sitcom-ish" character dilemmas were uninteresting, saying that Perlman and Tambor's performances were regularly let down by the script. He said that Blair's performance was possibly the first bad one he'd seen by the actress, and that while Jones was "brilliant" physically, his vocal performance was inferior to David Hyde Pierce's in the first Hellboy film.[46] Michael Rechtshaffen called Perlman "terrific" and said Blair's brooding portrayal was effective.[40]

Michael Rechtshaffen concluded that Hellboy II was less focused than the first film, but that it played "faster and looser" and mostly a "wild ride".[40] In a positive review, John Anderson's main criticism was a sequence set in Northern Ireland, which he called the least interesting and most conventional segment of the film.[41] Chuck Wilson said the film "didn't have much on its mind", but that it would amaze children and amuse adults,[43] Stuart Levine said the film was worth viewers' time,[45] and Alonso Duralde said Hellboy II was "limp and unengaging".[46] Owen Gleiberman surmised that the film was "derivative yet... dazzling",[42] and Mike Goodridge concluded by praising the filmmakers' skill at creating a film that, despite featuring "stunning" action sequences and creature effects, still found time for character development and a fulfilling story that expanded the franchise's wider mythology.[44] Peter Bradshaw suggested that "'Visionary' is a word too easily applied to fantasy movies, but it sticks easily here."[47]

The film appeared on some critics' top ten lists of the best films of 2008. Rene Rodriguez of The Miami Herald named it the 5th best film of 2008 (along with The Dark Knight),[49] and Stephanie Zacharek of Salon named it the 10th best film of 2008 (along with Iron Man).[49]


Award Category Winner/Nominee Result
Academy Award Best Makeup and Hairstyling Mike Elizalde/ Thomas Floutz Nominated
Screen Actors Guild Awards Outstanding Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture Bradley James Allan/ Mark Chapman/ Bonnie Morgan/ Andrew Owen/ Michael Weis/ Peng Zhang Nominated
Saturn Award Best Horror Film Universal Studios Won
Best Make-Up Mike Elizalde Nominated
Best Special Effects Mike Wassel/ Adrian De Wet/ Andrew Chapman/ Eamonn Butler Nominated
Empire Award Best Sci-Fi/ Fantasy/ Superhero Universal Studios Nominated
Fangoria Chainsaw Awards Best Supporting Actor Doug Jones Won
Best Actor Ron Perlman Won
Best Make-Up/ Creature FX Mike Elizalde/ David Martí/ Montse Ribé/ Cliff Wallace Won
Best Wide-Release Film Warner Bros Won
Best Screenplay Guillermo del Toro Nominated
Best Supporting Actress Anna Walton Nominated

Tie-in publications and merchandise

Promotional comic

This story by Mike Mignola and Guillermo del Toro with art by Francisco Ruiz Velasco was published as a special promotion for the film by Dark Horse Comics in one-shot comic book Hellboy: The Golden Army (January 2008) with three variant covers;[4]

  1. Photo cover of Ron Perlman as Hellboy.
  2. Photo cover of Doug Jones as Abe Sapien.
  3. Photo cover of Selma Blair as Liz Sherman.

In his introduction film director del Toro affirms his and Mignola’s admiration of Velasco’s “clean, propulsive narrative, draftsmanship, and artistic skills” and states that the intention of this title is to treat the film’s opening narrative as a mini-epic and give the artist the opportunity to tell it with unlimited budget and shooting time.

In the story Professor Trevor Bruttenholm, caring for the young Hellboy at Douglas Air Force Base, New Mexico on Christmas Eve 1944, relates the story of the Golden Army from the film’s opening prologue, which he describes as the first tale ever told, as a bedtime story that he ends by saying one day Hellboy may find out if it is true.

Art book

Hellboy II: The Art of the Movie (June 18, 2008, ISBN 978-1-59307-964-2) by Guillermo del Toro and Mike Mignola with art by Sergio Sandoval and Franciso Ruiz Velasco looks into the film's evolution, from early concept art and diary sketches to photos of the final props, sets, and includes;


Hellboy II: The Golden Army (June 18, 2008, ISBN 978-1-59307-954-3) by Robert Greenberger is the official novelization of the film.[50]

Video game

During its initial theatrical release in North America, a video game set within the Hellboy universe was released around the time that of the movie entitled Hellboy: The Science of Evil for PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable and Xbox 360, released on June 24 in North America and August 15 in Europe. Despite its close release date, promotion alongside the film and featuring voices of the same actors, the game is not a direct movie tie-in with the plot not being related to that of the film but instead follows an original story where Hellboy investigates Nazi operations in Romania under Herman von Klempt, an antagonist from the comics.

Zinco epilogue

Included as a special feature on the DVD is an animated comic that foreshadows the events of the next film.[51] In the Zinco Epilogue, a group of men go into Rasputin's tomb and find Kroenen's body. After bringing Kroenen to a doctor along with instructions to revive him with an alchemical manual, Zinco and his party travel to an arctic cave with Zinco as the only survivor. Upon entering the cavern, Zinco opens a container he has with him containing the preserved head of Kroenen and attaches it to a giant robot. As soon as it is attached, the cyborg awakens and the spirit of Rasputin appears, stating that he has one more job for him.


Del Toro has expressed interest in a sequel, saying, "I think we would all come back to do a third Hellboy, if they can wait for me to get out of Middle-Earth, but we don't know. Ron may want to do it sooner, but I certainly know where we're going with the movie on the third one."[52] On May 30, 2010, Guillermo del Toro dropped out of directing The Hobbit.

In June 2010, Del Toro speculated that Hellboy III might happen after his next project, but said that the screenplay had yet to be written.[53]

On July 14, 2012, after being inspired by a recent Make-A-Wish function in which Ron Perlman appeared in full Hellboy makeup for a terminally ill boy, Del Toro stated, "I can say publicly that now we are together in trying [to do Hellboy 3]".[54]

On April 5, 2013, in an interview with Comic Book Resources, Hellboy creator Mike Mignola commented that the possibility of a third Hellboy film seemed unlikely, stating "The biggest problem I see as far as PR for the next billion years is explaining endlessly ... that there's no Hellboy 3 movie".[55]

On June 30, 2013, del Toro discussed the possibility of developing Hellboy 3 at Legendary Pictures. He stated: "I hate giving pieces about it, but last night, we were at dinner and Ron said, 'I would be very happy to do Hellboy again, when are we doing Hellboy 3? Thomas Tull said, 'I would love to see Hellboy 3.' He didn't say he would love to do it he just said he'd like to see it, but today, I'll ask him." Ron Perlman added his support for the idea, stating: "Not just anybody can make this movie. I loved working for Legendary and I know for Guillermo working on Pacific Rim was one of his greatest experiences. The reason I loved working for them is because Guillermo was so happy. I came in six months into the shoot and he seemed as fresh as a daisy, simply because he was working for someone who appreciated and supported his outlandish visions of what he wanted to put on the screen. My immediate, silent wish was, wouldn't it be great if these guys came in and helped resolve the Hellboy series."[56]

Del Toro suggested telling the story of Hellboy 3 in comic book form, but Mignola vetoed the idea.[57]

On June 30, 2013, in an interview, Ron Perlman spoke about Hellboy 3 saying, "[Hellboy 3] needs to be twice as big as Hellboy 1 or Hellboy 2. It's all of these oracles coming home to roost with these apocalyptic things taking place, Guillermo's version of this resolve in the trilogy is epic in scope. Not just anybody can make this movie. It has to be somebody who's no stranger to this sense of scope. For me to do Hellboy 3, it could kill me – in terms of physically demanding, for a guy my age, but it's worth it because anyone who sits and listens to Guillermo's version of how this thing ends is completely seduced. It's so theatrical and compelling and if you liked the first two movies in any way, shape or form, this is the ultimate one-two punch."[58]

On July 11, 2014, in a Reddit AMA, Del Toro said, "Well, you know, we don't have that movie on the horizon, but the idea for it was to have Hellboy finally come to terms with the fact that his destiny, his inevitable destiny, is to become the beast of the Apocalypse, and having him and Liz face the sort of, that part of his nature, and he has to do it, in order to be able to ironically vanquish the foe that he has to face in the 3rd film. He has to become the beast of the Apocalypse to be able to defend humanity, but at the same time he becomes a much darker being. It's a very interesting ending to the series, but I don't think it will happen. ... We have gone through basically every studio and asked for financing, and they are not interested. I think that the first movie made its budget back, and a little bit of profit, but then it was very very big on video and DVD. The story repeated itself with the second already, it made its money back at the box office, but a small margin of profit in the release of the theatrical print, but was very very big on DVD and video. Sadly now from a business point of view all the studios know is that you don't have that safety net of the DVD and video, so they view the project as dangerous."[59][60]

In July 2015 Del Toro said that Legendary Pictures might fund Hellboy 3 if the sequel to 2013’s Pacific Rim does well at the box office: “The hard fact is that the movie’s going to need about $120 million and there’s nobody knocking down our doors to give it to us. It's a little beyond Kickstarter.”[61] However, on September 25, 2016, ScreeGeek.net reported that Ron Perlman officially announced in his Twitter account that he was working in a new Hellboy film, although it's unclear if there will be a sequel or a reboot.[62]


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Further reading

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