There’s an embarrassment of riches this summer for fans of comic books, who on any given day can see Batman, Iron Man, Hulk and even Angelina Jolie kicking butt and taking names. But while all these are good (or great) films, none come even remotely close to being half as fun as “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.”
Spend any time with director Guillermo del Toro, as MTV News did recently, and it’s clear that the joy starts at the top.
Del Toro, who for the next four years will reside in Middle-earth as director of “The Hobbit” and its companion film (check out his answers to fans’ questions about those movies), told us what you can find in his tape deck (hint: it rhymes with Marry Banilow), what his plans are for “Hellboy III,” how Hellboy would fare in a fight with Batman, why the world would be a better place if everyone believed in magic, and more.
MTV: There’s a great conceit at the heart of [“Hellboy II”], that the fantasy creatures have been marginalized. Do you sense that is real? Have we as audiences lost a sense of wonderment?
Guillermo del Toro: Absolutely, 100 percent. We live in a world right now [where] everything not provable, nonlogical, nonlinear, not supported by science or technology, is a childish concern. And we are destroying things that we find intangible. They can be the environment, they can be cultures. We are wiping out entire civilizations. We are wiping out knowledge and lore that comes from ancient civilizations without thinking about it.
MTV: Would the world be a better place, then, if monsters roamed the Earth?
Del Toro: It’s not about monsters being real — it’s about us allowing them to exist in our imagination and our soul. If you allow the magic, it’s not necessarily that you’re going to transform water into wine, but you’ll certainly transform the boring expectations of everyday life into a spiritual one. I believe in the spiritual, but I am not a religious guy. It’s a strange conceit, but it’s true. If you allow the magical to live in you, [the world is] a better place.
MTV: What fills you with that sense of wonderment, of awe?
Del Toro: When somebody talks about something eminently natural … like the other day somebody made a joke at the Saturn Awards and he said, “My nephew, who is 6, I ask him, ’What age do you most want to be?’ and he said, ’7.’ And I said, ’Why 7?’ and he said, ’Those are the only two numbers I know.’ ” And I love that! Those things make me feel in awe. Nature awes me.
MTV: To which world does Hellboy belong? The real world or the fantasy world?
Del Toro: That I think will be answered in the third one. The first movie was Hellboy essentially saying, “I’m human. Everything I see from the side I come from I reject.” The second movie is him realizing that what he is defending may not all be good. There is a moment in the film in which Hellboy asks, thick-skulled as he is — it kind of dawns on him that it may not be wrong to be a monster. It is a really nice moment for him.
The idea is that we all would love to be accepted by what we consider the norm, and when we are not, it’s painful. But I think the third one is about finding out who you need to be accepted by.
MTV: The movie is filled with those little threads, pieces you know will get picked up for part three. Do you already have a story for that film?
Del Toro: The third one is the adult consequence of what he chose in the second movie. The third movie would deal with facing essentially your destiny, if such a thing exists, and making the ultimate decision. The saying goes, “As you turn 40, you turn into your father.” That’s not good for Hellboy! That’s not a good sign for Hellboy! [Laughs.]
MTV: You’re committed to “The Hobbit.” Do you want to wait at least five years for “Hellboy III”?
Del Toro: If I had to choose between going faster or going slower, I’ll go slower. I don’t think sequels that are whipped out are the best ones. I love the idea that we took so many years to make this one. If it takes four years to make “Hellboy III,” I’m at peace.
MTV: It occurs to me what an embarrassment of riches this summer is.
Del Toro: Yeah, if somebody told you when you were 10 that you were going to have a summer like the last few summers, you would go insane; you would start bouncing off the walls.
MTV: So with that in mind, how would Hellboy fare in a fight against some other summer heroes? Who would win between him and Batman, for instance?
Del Toro: I think Hellboy pretty much has the same qualities as a fighter that I have come to recognize in my own life. I have been involved in a number of fights as a youth in Mexico, and my only advantage was I could take a sh–load of punishment. And when they were in range, I got them. [Laughs.] I think Hellboy’s fighting style is essentially that. He puts up with a lot of punishment and then, when they are in reach of the right hand of doom, he goes for it!
MTV: Can I just say, my favorite scene in the movie is when Hellboy is singing Barry Manilow?
Del Toro: The funny thing is, I think everybody is a secret admirer of Barry Manilow. When I was kid I used to be fully into punk — you know, the Sex Pistols, the Ramones — and/or progressive rock — Peter Gabriel, Genesis, Pink Floyd. But secretly, at the end of the day, the cassette that went into my car was “Mandy.”
MTV: Are there things you can dream of but can’t create?
Del Toro: Not anymore! We can do everything now. Between physical effects, puppets and digital, we can do anything. And by God, we will!
Check out everything we’ve got on “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.”
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