Hulu’s last live-action Marvel series is coming with a righteous fury. Helstrom, which follows “the son and daughter of a mysterious and powerful serial killer” with superpowers as they hunt bad people, held a Comic-Con at Home virtual panel to tease the upcoming comic book series. Helstrom showrunner Paul Zbyszewski was joined by cast members Tom Austen, Sydney Lemmon, Elizabeth Marvel, Robert Wisdom, Ariana Guerra, June Carryl, and Alain Uy to give a sneak peek at the horror-inspired series.
The benefit of adapting Marvel character to the TV is that showrunner Paul Zbyszewski has the freedom to go as dark as he wants — not just in gore and blood, but in the exploration of trauma and the (literal) sins of the father. Which will be a lot of sins for Daimon and Ana Helstrom (Tom Austen, Sydney Lemmon), whose father is actually Satan.
“It is based on the story The Son of Satan, so it’s a really bad dad story, ultimately,” Zbyszewski said in the virtual panel for Marvel’s Helstrom. “We ground it a little more in the real world, but I was interested in that kind of take.”
How do the literal children of the Devil become more than their parents? That was what Zbyszewski was interested in exploring with Helstrom, which he described as first and foremost, “a family story.”
“It’s about the family that we’re born with and the family that we create. It’s a nature versus nurture story. It’s about the stuff that we’re born with genetically that we inherit and we carry with us because we have to. It’s about our environment that we’re raised with and the values that we’re imprinted with as we grow older, and that affects our ability to judge right from wrong, and our morality.”
“They’re just plagued by their history, what they’ve been through, what they’ve overcome,” added Lemmon. “And Ana is characterized by what she’s overcome and how she’s responded to the traumas that have come flying at her.”
One of their many traumas comes from their mother (Elizabeth Marvel), who appears in the first teaser as an unhinged inmate of an asylum. Marvel said that for the physicality of the character, “I lifted so much from Anthony Hopkins, because why not?” But her approach to the motivations of Daimon and Ana’s mother came from a grounded approach, drawing from “the lens of addiction. Though it’s not a story of addiction, it is a story of a mother who loves her children but is overtaken by something out of her control that separates her from her love…and drives this other thing in her,” Marvel said.
That kind of grounded story, which explores the conflict that comes out of “people who have different levels of morality,” was something that Zbyszewski was interested in far more than “just superheroes punching each other.” But for those concerned that there wasn’t enough “comic book” in this adaptation of a comic book character who has flaming hair and a glowing insignia carved into his chest, Zbyszewski teased that both Daimon and Ana do have superpowers.
“They can manipulate energy in different ways, let’s put it that way,” Zbyszewski said cryptically. There are also several Easter eggs laced throughout the show, in the props and story, which “nod to the comics,” Zbyszewski teased. One such Easter egg is the Caretaker’s shovel, which Robert Wisdom can be seen wielding in the first episode. “Although I did want to [use the shovel],” Wisdom said enthusiastically.
All episodes of Helstrom premiere on Hulu on October 16, 2020.
As the son and daughter of a mysterious and powerful serial killer, Helstrom follows Daimon (Tom Austen) and Ana Helstrom (Sydney Lemmon), and their complicated dynamic, as they track down the worst of humanity — each with their own attitude and skills.
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