The new "and improved" R-rated Hellboy reboot has received a fair amount of backlash since it was announced earlier this month. Filmmaker Guillermo Del Toro was not given the chance to add to his 2004 and 2008 installments. With the studio instead opting to start again from a clean slate with David Harbour taking over the lead character vacated by Ron Perlman.
If this wasn't frustrating enough for diehard fans of the original titles, writer Peter Briggs has put all of his cards on the table in a lengthy Facebook post. He began by identifying Doug Jones' character Abe Sapien as the man who would lead a spinoff much in the same manner as DC did with Suicide Squad.
"I was working with Richard Taylor at Weta in New Zealand back then, and discussed the possibility of doing this with Weta with Richard," he wrote. "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."
Spinoff Would Have Spawned A New B.P.R.D. Franchise
Sapien's connections to Prince Nuada and the Bureau For Paranormal Research And Defense (B.P.R.D.) was to not only set the platform for a feature-length movie, but lay the groundwork for additional sequels to boot. Briggs had everything ready to go.
"We reworked and expanded the project out," he posted. "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 (he) 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."
Silence Followed By Death Blow For Briggs
As communication wavered between Briggs and Universal, he said that he saw the writing on the wall as Neil Marshall's appointment completely killed any hope he had. After 7 years of developing a screenplay, it was all for nothing.
"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."
But rather than despair for the loss, he hopes Marshall and co. pull it off.
"As a fan of Hellboy for 25 years, I'm curious to see how the new Millennium project turns out."