Hellboy II: The Golden Army is another visual masterpiece from Guillermo del Toro and Mike Mignola, but like its predecessor it falls down when in comes to its female characters.
In the first film, Liz Sherman’s role as a dangerous, unstable pyrokinetic was overshadowed by her role as Hellboy’s love interest (an element not found in the original comics). In the sequel, she has clearly gained much more confidence and control in her powers, but instead of addressing this character development the filmmakers focus her role almost entirely on being Hellboy’s love interest. While she avoids the damsel-in-distress condition that kept her out of the first film’s climax, in this one she literally stands around doing nothing (admittedly, along with Abe Sapien) while Hellboy and newcomer Johann Krauss kick bad guy butt.
The new female character in the movie is the elven Princess Nuala. The words “elf” and “princess” pretty much tell you everything you need to know. She spends most of the film trying to hide the McGuffin from her genocidal twin brother Nuada or developing a doomed romance with Abe. (At this point the Hellboy film franchise has not had a single female character who was not made into a love interest for a male character.) In the final act she is (surprise!) kidnapped by Nuada and offered in exchange for the McGuffin. Naturally, her big heroic act at the end requires that she sacrifice herself to save others.
Did we really, really, need another Beautiful Martyr Princess?