Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Hellboy: Sword Of Storms

A Reel Leadership Article

My latest book, Reel Leadership, is now available on Amazon. If you love movies and leadership, you will love this book.

Hellboy has been a quirky comic book character created by Mike Mignola since first appearing in San Diego Comic-Con Comics #2. Recently, it was discovered that Hellboy also appeared before this issue in Next Men #21 in 1993. He’s been a character that’s been around for a long time!

He’s also appeared in multiple movies. He first appeared in a live-action film in the 2004 Hellboy movie starring Ron Perlman. His second film was Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. Most recently, David Harbour took over as Hellboy in the 2019 Hellboy film.

Many casual moviegoers don’t realize there’s also been an animated movie universe for Hellboy that occurred between the two Perlman films. There’s the 2007 Hellboy: Blood and Iron. Then there’s the focus of today’s Reel Leadership article, the 2006 Hellboy: Sword Of Storms.

Hellboy (a red creature with horns cut off) with a look of concern on his face

Everything in Hellboy: Sword Of Storms happens because of Japanese folklorist Professor Mitsuyasu Sakai. He reads from a forbidden scroll and is possessed by two demons, Thunder and Lightning (Dee Bradley Baker). Professor Sakai unleashes these demons who had been held captive within a sword after a samurai warrior fell in love with a young woman whose Daimyo father had promised her to the demons.

The fierce samurai protected the young woman, saved her life, and then was turned to stone as he went to meet with his love. The Daiymo had made a deal with the gods to destroy the samurai. He then went to visit his daughter, where he killed her.

Now, these two demons want to be fully released from their bondage. They attempt this by manipulating Hellboy (Ron Perlman) into destroying the Sword Of Storms. 

Whew! That sounds like a wild ride, right? 

We’ve got the basics out of the way. Now, let’s dive into Reel Leadership and examine the leadership lessons in Hellboy: Sword Of Storms.

Quotes And Leadership Lessons From Hellboy: Sword Of Storms

1. Great leaders can change people:

The movie opens with the origin of Hellboy. We see and hear that he was sent to Earth for nefarious reasons. He was meant to cause chaos amongst people.

This didn’t happen.


Because Hellboy was found by good men who directed him in better ways. They helped him harness his power to do good.

That troubled employee you have? He can be helped. 

By being a great leader to underperformers or outright bad employees, you have the opportunity to direct them in better ways. You can show them how to work hard, be a valuable employee, and help others. 

Don’t negate the power of great leaders to help change people.

2. Pay attention to the environment around you:

Abe Sapien (Doug Jones) and Liz Sherman (Selma Blair) had swam through sewage tunnels to appear in an underground cavern. Abe reacts as he thinks he feels a breeze.

This prompts Abe to ask Liz if she felt air movement. She responded she did. 

By paying attention to their environment, Abe and Liz could move forward and fight off a horde of zombie creatures.

Leaders must pay attention to the environment around them. It’s a telltale sign of whether an organization is healthy or not.

There’s always an underlying air current flowing through any organization. Feel it. Listen to it. Understand what it’s trying to tell you.

When you notice the current, work to fix the issues that are at hand.

3. Hellboy:

You did good.

Abe and Liz battled a giant batman (no, not Bruce Wayne!) god and Mayan zombies. They quickly became overwhelmed by the creatures. This is when Liz turned on her powers.

Liz has the power to ignite items and creatures around her with fire. 

The problem? Liz didn’t know how to control her powers. Her powers ran wild, and there was danger of her killing Hellboy and Abe. 

Uh oh!

Thankfully, Hellboy wasn’t afraid. He went to Liz, held her hand, and calmed her emotions. The rage and fire subsided. 

This is when Hellboy told Liz she did good.

This is interesting if you take a deeper look. Yes, Liz did great. She defeated the danger the trio was facing. Yet, she also almost caused two of her teammates to perish. It took Hellboy reaching out to her to make her stop.

Hellboy didn’t take the credit for Liz’s actions or for calming her down. She gave all the credit to her. He told her she did a good job. 

Lesson one? Leaders give credit to their people. They don’t take it.

Secondly, he recognized what she did. Hellboy went to her and told her that she did good.

Lesson two? Recognize the hard work of others. They deserve the recognition.

4. Hellboy:

Hey kiddo, how you doing?

Abe, Liz, and Hellboy were on a helicopter headed to the B.P.R.D. (Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense). Having a little alone time together, Hellboy checked in on Liz. He wanted to make sure the experience didn’t rattle or scare her too much.

I loved what Hellboy did here. He showed great emotional intelligence by going to leave to check in on her. He wanted to know whether or not she was okay.

The people you lead may struggle in their day-to-day interactions with customers, other team members, or even you. Their emotions can run wild or they may experience a challenging project.

Be the leader who checks in on his or her people. Let them know you notice they’re struggling or did something really difficult.

By checking in, you let your team know that you notice them, their work, and are concerned for them.

5. Many leaders could be considered heroes or villains:

Professor Sakai was possessed by the demons Thunder and Lightning. Professor Kate Corrigan (Peri Gilpin), from the B.P.R.D. noticed some strange things on the security cameras at the home they were investigating. 

This made her and her B.P.R.D partner Russell Thorne (Mitchell Whitfield) wonder what was happening. Russell went as far as to wonder out loud whether or not Sakai should be considered a hero or a villain.

Ouch, that’s a harsh indictment.

Many leaders may have the same question bounced around as Professor Sakai did. The actions of many leaders can lead those around them to wonder whether or not they’re a good guy or a bad guy.

Our actions can be construed in multiple ways. Do your best to ensure you’re doing the right thing at the right time in the right way. This will leave very little room for questions.

6. Know who to listen to:

Hellboy was extremely tired when he stumbled upon a spider-woman demon (Jorōgumo) who encouraged him to rest. She said he looked tired and should take time to listen to her play.

Hellboy knew something was up. He understood there are people he should listen to and then there are those he shouldn’t.

This woman was one of those.

We’ll face situations like this in our leadership. We will have people trying to give us advice that have no business giving us advice. Worse, these people may be doing it to harm you.

Know who to trust. Listen to them. They have your best interests at heart.

7. Hellboy:

I don’t have time for this.

Jorōgumo tried to fight Hellboy after he rebuked her advances. She puts up a fight by sending smaller spiders to slow him down.

Hellboy didn’t have the time to play these games. He pushes out, tries to escape.

Why? Because he had more important things to do.

Do you know what your priorities are in your organization? Maybe it’s not your organization but your family?

Knowing your priorities allows you to know what you have time for and what you do not.

For example, in my life, I make it a priority to go for runs regularly. This helps me physically and emotionally as I enhance my strength and also clear my mind.

Make sure you set your priorities and you keep to them.

8. Leaders need to be aware of telling their people to do something while not doing it themselves:

Weird environmental phenomena were happening throughout the world. In one area, storms drive tourists out of a temple they were viewing.

The tour guide tells them to watch the steps. They’re slippery!

What happens to the tour guide? He slips and falls in a puddle on the ground.

He didn’t do what he was telling others to do.

This happens far too often in organizations. Leaders believe they can tell their people to do one thing while they do something completely different. In my experience, this typically has to do with following core values.

Know that if you’re telling your people to do one thing and you’re doing another, you’re going to wind up getting caught. You’re going to slip, fall, and get hurt.

Stop holding double standards. Do what you’re asking others to do.

9. Your actions can have unintended consequences:

Lightning and Thunder needed Hellboy to destroy the Sword of Storms. In doing so, it would free them. It would also prevent them from being stopped. 

Hellboy wasn’t going to destroy the sword willingly. 

When an ogre attacks, Hellboy attacks the creature. He strikes furiously. As the ogre is prone, Hellboy goes to deliver the death blow.

This is when the ogre disappears. Where the creature once was, there is a statue. Hellboy doesn’t have time to divert the blow. He hits the statue and breaks the sword in two.

This frees the two demons trapped within the sword.

We’ve all been there. We’ve all done our best to move an organization forward or enact change when something goes wrong.

Our best intentions go sideways. The actions we took had consequences we didn’t see.

Yeah, that happens. Be prepared for it. 

In Hellboy: Sword Of Storms, his actions were not the end. He was able to recover, use the two pieces of the sword, and destroy Lightning and Thunder.

Think about ways you can recover from those unintended consequences.

10. Hellboy:

You just have to forgive them, or else we’ll end up doing this all over again. And you’re never gonna win.

After destroying Lightning and Thunder, there was still danger. The Daimyō was still seeking revenge and would attempt to destroy the spirits of his daughter and the samurai again.

Hellboy steps in and intervenes. He understands that the Daimyō cannot keep going this way.

No one will win. History will repeat itself. Only change and forgiveness can stop the cycle.

I want to encourage you to think of what you’re doing that is a result of unforgiveness. This could be toward an employee, a prior boss, a customer, or someone else. There’s a hint of unforgiveness there and it’s causing you to do the same destructive actions over and over again.

Offer forgiveness to those who have wronged you. It will break the cycle of unforgiveness and free you from the bondage you’ve wrapped yourself in.

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