Is Hellboy Steampunk?

Is Hellboy Steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key elements of the movie in order to decide whether it meets the criteria in order to be classified as steampunk or not. If not, does it fit into one of the other punk aesthetics? Let’s find out. 

Before we get into whether Hellboy is steampunk or not, let’s look at what the film is about to get a flavor as to whether it is steampunk or not. 

Movie Title: Hellboy

Studio: Revolution Studios, Lawrence Gordon Productions, Starlite Films

Director: Guillermo del Toro

Story By: Guillermo del Toro, Peter Briggs, Mike Mignola

Release Date: April 2, 2004 (United States)

Main Actors: Ron Perlman, Doug Jones, Selma Blair

Synopsis: At the end of World War II, Nazi officers Karl Ruprecht Kroenen, and Ilsa Haupstein start an experiment to raise the forces of Hell through Russian dark mystic, Rasputin, on a Scottish island. The experiment is interrupted by an allied commando guided by professor Trevor “Broom” Bruttenholm.

He prevents killing the human-demonic half-blood, who was accidentally created and raises this “Hellboy”, while rising to head of a secret CIA.linked, U.S. agency, the ‘Bureau of Paranormal Research’, which secretly studies and uses the occult, including supernatural freaks.

What Makes a Movie Steampunk?

Before we answer the question, is Hellboy steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key characteristics of a steampunk movie.

There are a number of elements that need to combine in order to classify a movie as steampunk

Check out our in-depth guide as to what makes a movie steampunk for more information on this. Whether something fits into the steampunk genre or not is a topic that is always up for hot debate in the forums. 

As steampunk sadly never existed, there is no history to check the validity against, and this is certainly something that is open to opinion, however, there is some faux pas that means that something is clearly not steampunk. 

Things such as this we would class as being ‘steampunk inspired’, i.e. they don’t traditionally conform to the steampunk genre, but they have taken elements from it to inspire them. 

As a quick recap, we’ve lined up our top 10 elements to look out for in a steampunk movie.

If you’re interested in learning more about steampunk, check out our article, ‘What is Steampunk?’, which will take you through the history, influences, fashions, gadgets, and much more. 

Top 10 Things to Look Out for In a Steampunk Movie

  1. The Use of Steam – In steampunk, electricity has never been invented, everything is mechanical and powered by steam. This means that if you can see digital machinery in a movie, it isn’t traditional steampunk, therefore it may be classified as ‘steampunk inspires’  
  2. Steam Powered Vehicles – In steampunk movies, as with the above, you will only see vehicles powered by steam, cars, ships, and even submarines.
  3. Airships – Airships are popular within the steampunk genre – again, mechanically powered.  
  4. Set In Victorian Era or an Alternative History – Steampunk is set in either the Victorian Era (19th Century), or in an alternative, future, occasionally depicted as a ‘wild west’ setting. 
  5. The Clothing – Clothing can vary, but is normally focused around the fashions of Victorian England, or that of a colonial explorer. 
  6. Augmented Mechanical Humans – In steampunk, persons can normally be seen with mechanically replaced elements to their body, sometimes these are full replacements, other times, a mechanical exoskeleton.
  7. Gadgets & Gears – futuristic (mechanical) gadgets are common place in the steampunk genre. A personal favorite is a gun that mechanically springs from up a sleeve to the user’s hand, ready and poised for use. Gears can be seen throughout the steampunk genre, emphasizing the mechanical theme that is central to the aesthetic.  
  8. Time Travel – Time travel is no an essential component of steampunk, however, it can be seen in some steampunk works. Just remember that the time travel device needs to be mechanical and not digital/ electronic.
  9. The Paranormal – The paranormal is not traditional steampunk, however, the crossover between the genres is common. The villain in steampunk is normally a man made creation as opposed to being a mythical creature, demon, vampire, etc. 
  10. Advanced Technology – Technology that is advanced for its time is a standard theme throughout steampunk. The technology must be mechanical in nature, such as the analog computer.

If you’re interested in steampunk movies, why not check out our guide to the best steampunk movies, and see if you can find a new favorite?

So, let’s take a look, is Hellboy steampunk?

What Elements of Hellboy Are Steampunk?

Hellboy is set after the Second World War, so not in the Vitcorian ers, or an alternative reality as we normally find in steampunk movies.

Grigori Rasputin (the villain) was born in 1869, and has been resurrected in 1944 and is there at the beginning of Hellboy’s life, which does try and tie the film (teniously) back the the Victorian era.

Kroenen is obsessed with surgery, his fetish has left him with no lips, eylinds etc and has seen him being turned into a cyborg. Augmentation is often seen within steampunk movies, however, this is normally as a result of injury and a requirement to adapt through invention, here this is not the case.

On this topic, often the villains in steampunk movies are a manmade creation, in some ways Kroenen is this, although he is a result of his own creation and not that of others.

What Elements of Hellboy Are NOT Steampunk?

Firstly, there is a lack of steam power that we normally see in a true steampunk movie. Also, the technology that is used in the movie is of its time and not anachronistic to the time.

Not a lot of the fashion could be described as steampunk either, making it difficult for the movie to fit into the steampunk aesthetic.

This movie could be better describes as dieselpunk or pulp than steampunk, albeit as we have seen above, there are some elements of the movie that are clearly steampunk inspired.

So, Overall Is Hellboy Steampunk?

Overall, there are certainly some steampunk inspired elements in Hellboy. In my opinion it it only a steampunk inspired movie and not steampunk in its own right. For me, Hellboy has elements of diedelpunk in it, or could be describes as pulp style adventures.

What are your thoughts? Is the movie Hellboy steampunk? Let us know in the comments below what your opinion is and why.

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