“A demon, raised from infancy after being conjured by and rescued from the Nazis, grows up to become a defender against the forces of darkness.“
It took many years for writer/director Guillermo Del Toro to get his adaptation of DC Comics Hellboy produced and completed. The lovable antihero is brought to vivid life by actor Ron Perlman and the fantastical mythology continues in the sequel Hellboy: The Golden Army.
Here are two lessons I learned from reading the Hellboy screenplay written by Guillermo Del Toro:
- When appropriate, intertwine technology and magic.
- Craft new mythology in fun, exciting ways.
#1. On the following page of the Hellboy screenplay, the villains attempt to open a portal:
WHEN APPROPRIATE, INTERTWINE TECHNOLOGY AND MAGIC — Technology and magic are elaborately woven throughout the Hellboy screenplay. On the page above, “two large metal rings swing around a central axis, creating gyroscopic momentum” and this opens a portal revealing an alien galaxy sparkling on the other side. From the very beginning, these science-based fantastical elements are essential to the Hellboy plot.
Later, Abe Sapiens is introduced — “A fish-man. Slender, dolphin-gray, but with a dark pattern streaking his soft skin. Bright blue eyes shining with sharp intelligence above a thin wound-like mouth. Gills bubbling.” That is an exceptional introduction. Abe Sapiens, played by pitch-perfect Doug Jones, uses many high-tech gadgets throughout the film, in one case in conjunction with his otherworldly senses to locate creature eggs. Technology and magic furthering the plot and revealing character 🙂
#2. On the following page of the Hellboy screenplay, Abe removes eggs implanted in Hellboy’s arm after a fight:
CRAFT NEW MYTHOLOGY IN FUN, EXCITING WAYS — The above page is one of the many examples of how Guillermo establishes mythology in organic, humorous ways. With Abe plucking eggs from a gash on Hellboy’s arm, we learn the parasitic nature of the creature they’re up against, which is dark and horrific. Lightening the tone is the back and forth humor between Hellboy and Abe. Hellboy slips in a joke and then Abe continues on, examining the discovery to establish further elements of the story — “We have to stop it.”
There is A LOT of mythology being established in 115 pages…from seemingly immortal Nazis to portals, demons, fish creatures, and Hellboy’s love interest Liz (portrayed beautifully by Selma Blair) who struggles to control the fire inside her. Guillermo takes his time establishing these characters and their unique abilities while also making sure they each stand out as individuals with their own wants, needs, and goals — an element that keeps this fantasy film grounded and real. When establishing mythology, I learned the importance of taking your time. Don’t reveal everything in lazy expositional dialogue. Show, don’t tell…and have fun! Passion and jubilant creative energy are infectious.
Thanks for reading. Come back soon!