Helstrom is the last of the MCU live action series to be produced outside of the Marvel/Disney umbrella, and it certainly shows.
The quality of Hulu’s new TV series is nothing like the content created by the old Marvel/Netflix partnership and is more like Inhumans. To be fair, Helstrom is infinitely more watchable than Inhumans, though that really isn’t saying much.
While there are interesting kernels buried in the new Hulu series, much of it feels like well-trodden ground that fans of the supernatural genre have seen before. Demon-hunting TV shows have been done, and they’ve been done much better than Helstrom.
Hellstrom in the comics
After the success of other occult titles in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Marvel decided they needed a new character. Daimon Hellstrom, the Son of Satan, appeared for the first time in Ghost Rider #1 in September 1973.
Originally the son of a mortal woman and Satan, his father was later changed to be a more run of the mill demon. He and his sister Satana, who was introduced a month later in 1973, were trained in the dark mystical arts by their father. The siblings were incredibly powerful, becoming mainstays of Marvel’s occult scene.
While Satana leaned into her heritage, Daimon fought against it. He became a Professor of Anthropology, a paranormal investigator and, eventually a superhero. Satana has also performed more than a few heroic acts over the years, though she’s less likely to get involved willingly.
Helstrom on Hulu
Originally part of a deal that would have included a new Ghost Rider series, Helstrom has become the only Marvel series on Hulu. And it’s unlikely there will be more than one season. Technically, it’s part of the MCU but that really doesn’t come up much.
The TV version of Daimon and Satana (called Ana in the show), are the children of a serial killer father. Their mother has spent much of her life possessed by a demon named Kthara. The duo have demonic powers, and have chosen very different lives after being separated by a group called The Blood to protect the world.
Daimon is an ethics professor who assists the Catholic Church with exorcisms. Ana, on the other hand, owns an auction house and acts as somewhat of a superhero vigilante. Their estrangement comes to an unsurprising end in the series, with them teaming up to fight impending doom.
A shadow of the comics
Movies and TV shows based on comic books do not have to be exactly like those comic books. Producers, writers and directors frequently make changes to stories and characters. As long as those changes make for great films and TV series, fans are game for pretty much anything. This series will test their patience, though.
Helstrom looks nothing like the comics. The only similarities are the name Daimon, the powers to an extent, and the fact that he and Ana are siblings. Beyond that, this series is a very different animal from the comics. Satana’s name has even been changed to Ana, a shockingly banal alteration for no substantive reason.
The entire point of the comics is Daimon and Satana’s fight against the supernatural, not just demons possessing people. More than that, they are part of larger stories involving more Marvel characters. Not having that larger connection definitely hurts the series.
In particular, a recognizable villain from the comics could have helped. That being said, Kthara did appear in the comics at one point. You could be forgiven for not remembering that. Patsy Walker, aka Hellcat, appeared in the Netflix Jessica Jones series but she was more associated with Daimon. To be specific, she married him.
The now-abandoned Ghost Rider series that was also supposed to be on Hulu may have helped this lack of connection. But after watching Helstrom, it appears the end of that effort was probably for the best. No one wants to see Ghost Rider become this boring.
The Unforgivable Sin
What makes this adaptation of a classic comic book character so difficult to get into is how boring it is. The premise of a pair of siblings fighting evil has been done before by other series like Supernatural, which has better stories and characters.
That doesn’t even take into account other popular shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Lucifer, Preacher, Sleepy Hollow, and many more. Every single one of these series did what Helstrom does but much better. It’s not like there will never be another “unique people fighting supernatural evil” series, again, but you have to give it a unique spin of some kind.
The greatest, most unforgivable sin of Helstrom is that it dropped everything from the comics that could have helped it stand out from existing similar series. Instead, it chose to be humorless and derivative, adding nothing to the lexicon of supernatural shows or the MCU.
What did you think of Marvel’s Helstrom? Will you be checking the show out on Hulu? Let us know in the comments below!