Mike Mignola’s Hellboy might not have risen up from the fiery depths until 1993, but that hasn’t stopped the character from becoming a major hit around the world. Although Hellboy series hit the shelves long after the likes of Batman (1939), Spiderman (1962) and the Incredible Hulk (1962), the red demon has managed to take millions of fans to comic book heaven over the last two decades.

Naturally, Hellboy (actually named Anung Un Rama) has a distinct charm which has undoubtedly helped him to win over diehard comic book fans. Despite his imposing appearance and gruff voice, Hellboy’s physical features belie a well-meaning and shockingly witty sense of humour. In fact, the combination of power, morals and dry wit could be the main reason Hellboy is loved by millions.

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“Hellboy marketing in Chinatown” (CC BY-SA 2.0) by  valkyrieh116

How Media Made a Modern Classic

However, with so many comic book characters out there with a longer history in the game than Hellboy, there must be another reason why Mignola’s creation has become a mainstream hit. Well, the answer is simple. Thanks to modern media and, latterly, social media, Hellboy has become a multi-million dollar franchise despite being a relatively recent creation.

One industry that’s helped Hellboy and his ilk achieve mainstream recognition in recent years is the iGaming world. Known colloquially as the online casino industry, iGaming has developed something of an ongoing relationship with the leading comic book characters since the early noughties. One of the main platforms currently offering a home to Hellboy and the other leading comic book slots is 32Red.

Harnessing the software expertise of companies such as Microgaming, the 32Red slots lobby now offers an array of themed games that not only offer a myriad of ways to win, but immersive gaming features too. This combination of gaming technology and popular comic book characters has allowed software developers and gaming sites to offer more than a set of spinning reels.

Indeed, when you play a slots game like Hellboy you’re plunged into a story that’s not too dissimilar to a computer game. Because platforms like 32Red allow players to play for free (using virtual credits) or from as little as $0.01, it means more people get to experience an adrenaline rush fuelled by uncertainty, winning and the familiar sights and sounds of Hellboy’s world.

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“Hellboy statue from Sideshow.” (CC BY 2.0) by  PatLoika

Comic Characters Coming to Life in New Ways

This, in a nutshell, is one of the main reasons that Hellboy has become a huge hit in recent years. In fact, when you scour the iGaming industry, you’ll see that dozens of comic book heroes are also entertaining the masses. Whether it’s Superman searching for Lois Lane Wild Heart symbols at BetVictor or bgo’s Captain America (aka Steve Rogers) giving players 20 ways to win six-figure jackpots from $0.20, comic book creations have certainly benefited from their association with the iGaming industry.

Of course, alongside Hellboy’s place in the iGaming industry is his movie persona. Since 1993, we’ve seen the red hero on the silver screen twice, once in 2004 and once in 2008. The original Hellboy grossed just under $100 million ($99,318,987) and attracted enough of a fan base for Universal to create a follow-up.

Costing $19 million more to make than the original, Hellboy II: The Golden Army became an even bigger hit with total box office earnings hitting $160,388,063. Although it’s easy to say the numbers don’t lie, the fact Hellboy’s movies made more than $250 million in revenue must mean the public are in love with the quirky demon. In fact, if we’re going to put Hellboy II’s revenue into perspective, it ranks higher than Hulk ($132,177,234), the Fantastic Four ($154,696,080) and X-Men ($157,299,717). 

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Age Isn’t a Barrier to Popularity

As you can see, Hellboy’s onscreen performances have not only made him a huge movie star, but have also helped to increase the profile of the franchise. Indeed, as we mentioned at the top of this article, modern media (i.e. casino games and movies) has combined with social media to create a comic book monster.

Check out Twitter and search for Hellboy today and you’ll find a slew of tweets reviewing the movies, comic books and everything else in between. Beyond that, you’ll find animators such as Joe Furtado tweeting out custom Hellboy GIFs (see above).

Modern comic book creations may not have the history or pedigree that the likes of Batman and Superman do, but that really doesn’t matter anymore. While it may mean they aren’t held in the same esteem as older creations, it doesn’t matter when it comes to popularity. Because modern technology allows us to interact with characters in new and exciting ways, it has allowed the likes of Hellboy to become franchises.

Through this combination of comics, movies, casino games and social media content, we’re now able to immerse ourselves in new worlds like never before and that, above all else, is why Hellboy has become a mainstream hit.