Satan’s spawn are hitting the screen in Hulu and Marvel’s horror-tinged Helstrom. The show is going to be the last Marvel live-action series to launch outside of Disney+, after Ghost Rider was sadly scrapped. The cast and creator went on the Helstrom ComicCon@Home panel to talk about character arcs and what Helstrom was about — though unsurprisingly, everyone was pretty vague on details.
Creator Paul Zbyszewski opened the panel with how the show both does and doesn’t reflect real life horrors. “Helstrom is about good and evil, right and wrong, and the trauma of our past,” he began, but then segued into discussing Black Lives Matter. “But it’s not real horror. Real horror is 8 minutes and 46 seconds, what happened to George Floyd, and what keeps happening to Black people in this country.
June Carryl and Robert Wisdom also talked about the anger and despair they feel, and how they’ve lived their whole lives having to change the way they act in public to make non-Black people feel safe. “The thing we’ve come to recognize is there is such a thing as systemic racism,” Wisdom said. “The dismantling of racism is now the burden of white people…Black folks have been burdened for a long time.”
Ariana Guerra also noted how important it is to vote both federally and locally. She grew up along the border, and so she’s vary aware of the issues around ICE and the importance of DACA, and urged people to get involved with what’s going on with the world right now.
The panel then segued into a first look at the show. We watched a spooky trailer, which made it clear that the show is centered on Daimon and Ana Helstrom and their likely possessed mother Victoria. It’s their job to hunt down the supernatural, and Zbyszewski vaguely said that their powers revolve around being able to “manipulate energy in different ways.”
The season is based on the “Son of Satan” 1970s run in Marvel Spotlight. It’s a “really bad dad story,” Zbyszewski explained; in the comics, Daimon and his sister are the literal children of Satan. Beyond the supernatural aspects though, the story is “rooted in emotion.” He noted that it’s “a family story,” both “about the family we’re born with, and the family we create.”
Daimon’s actor Tom Austen noted that Daimon and Ana are technically the closest characters in terms of blood, but they’re also “the furthest apart” because they’ve grown into their own respective adopted families.
Ana and Daimon are “plagued by their history and what they’ve been through,” Ana’s actor Sydney Lemmon explained. “Ana is someone who’s characterized by what she’s overcome and how she’s responded to the traumas.” But even though Ana and Daimon are different in how they respond to things, at the end of the day Lemmon said they both just want “safety and love.”
As for Victoria Helstrom, Elizabeth Marvel said her character’s arc is “a story of a mother who loves her children, and yet is overtaken by something out of her control and that separates her from her love … So her children never know who’re they’re dealing with, the loving mother or the monster.” She noted Victoria is like an analogy about having a parent who’s a drug addict or alcoholic, just fed through a comic book lens. In the comics, after Victoria finds out her children’s dad is Satan, she goes mad and is institutionalized, which lands the kids in foster care.
Zbyszewski also noted that Robert Wisdom’s Caretaker has been “reinvented quite a bit” from the comics. Here he’s a guardian of the occult, and when we first meet Caretaker, he is “tending to a girl’s soul” after it’s been shattered.
Another character to receive an update is Gabriella Rossetti, who used to be Gabriel the Demon Hunter. She arrives from the Vatican to help the siblings uncover cases of demonic possession. Actor Ariana Guerra noted that Gabriella and Daimon have a “complicated relationship because they approach the same goal very differently.” While Ariana has a “religious and logical” viewpoint, Daimon has supernatural knowledge. It’s a tense relationship, but eventually Gabriella begins to develop empathy for Daimon.
June Carryl’s Louise Hastings is head of the psychiatric division where Victoria is being held. Carryl said Louise “inherits a person” at the start of the show. She’s “not quite prepared” to get this role, Carryl noted, but Louise comes to care for this person she takes in anyway. The relationship “flip flops between combative and gentle.”
And finally Alain Uy’s Chris Yen is Ana’s adoptive brother and business partner. Uy noted that the show “tackles the repercussions of an original sin in so many ways.”
So what does this all mean? We’re not sure yet. It’s clear this show is going to be a darker and more horror-filled comic book take than most of Marvel’s other adaptations; it also sounds like it’s going to be taking liberties with the comics. While Zbyszewski said there’s plenty of easter eggs for the comic book fans, it remains to be seen if this show will hook casual viewers. The cast seems sincere and very socially aware and passionate though, so hopefully that shines through in Helstrom.
All episodes premiere on October 16, 2020 on Hulu.