August 14, 2019 – Jurmane Lallana
If you have not yet subscribed to Prime Video (Amazon’s streaming service), then now is the perfect time. Why? Because their newest show The Boys is an absolute beast, and I mean that in the very best way. Why else would it be one of the most-watched Amazon Originals just two weeks after its release?
The Boys, based on Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s Dynamite Entertainment comic books of the same name, takes us to a world where superheroes are celebrities controlled by Vought International, a corporation which puts profit, image, and power over saving lives. Their primary group of heroes are called The Seven, led by the all-powerful Homelander (Antony Starr). After suffering a personal tragedy, young Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) gets recruited by the mysterious Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) in his quest to “spank” the supes and their excessive ways.
The Boys just blew me away with its compelling story line, flashy costumes, and over-the-top acts of violence. It could very well fill the TV show void that Game of Thrones unceremoniously left behind. The treatment of superheroes as demi-gods is both fantasy and reality, as we do tend to put our idols on a pedestal and not look beyond the surface. It asks one of the most important questions of our time: how much control does the average person have when he/she is surrounded by giants?
Superheroes with super flaws. We were fortunate enough to attend The Boys’ panel during San Diego Comic-Con 2019. Fun fact: They announced that the show was already renewed for Season 2 even before it premiered on July 26, which tells us a lot about Amazon’s confidence in The Boys.
There, showrunner Eric Kripke (Supernatural) and executive producer Seth Rogen (Preacher) talked about how The Boys is the perfect counter to all the Marvel and DC superhero movies that have dominated pop culture recently. And they’re right, it’s essentially a parody of the genre because of how The Seven, basically a dysfunctional version of the Justice League, are presented: Homelander is a hybrid Superman-Captain America with psychopathic tendencies, Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) is a jaded Wonder Woman, A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) is an extremely irresponsible Flash, and the Deep (Chace Crawford) is a messed-up and laughably depowered Aquaman. Only newcomer Starlight (Erin Moriarty), their version of Dazzler, is up to the task of actually making a positive difference in the world, and she quickly finds out that Vought may not be on the same page as her.
It’s all about control and manipulation. In Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers fights against the Sokovia Accords because he believes that the Avengers should supervise themselves. In The Boys, instead of the American government, Vought’s VP Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue) controls the superheroes’ every move. If they save someone, it must be on camera. If a bystander gets hurt, then marketing/PR needs to come up with a valid excuse. They effectively use The Seven’s abilities to secure ratings, appeal to their demographic, and sell merchandise. Think reality TV on overdrive–with capes, ass-kicking, and human lives at stake.
What it’s like to be normal in a world full of superheroes? Two things–collateral damage, and the realization that there’s nothing you can do about it. They jumpstart the plot, and everything goes haywire from there. In superhero movies, the regular folks are always on the sidelines. Here, Billy Butcher and his grudge against the supes are front and center. His rugged look and demeanor emphasize how different average people are compared to The Seven. The rest of his squad A.K.A. The Boys – Hughie, Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon), and The Female (Karen Fukuhara) get in all sorts of trouble during the first season in a frustrated effort to expose Vought and their shady activities.
Karl Urban leads a cast of sci-fi/fantasy veterans. He may not be the most talked about Hollywood actor, but Urban probably has the most science fiction and fantasy properties under his belt–The Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Thor: Ragnarok, Dredd, Chronicles of Riddick, Pathfinder, Doom, Priest, Almost Human… Do I even need to continue? He even had minor roles in Pete’s Dragon and Xena: The Warrior Princess! You may also recognize his co-stars in other sci-fi/fantasy projects: Jack Quaid was in The Hunger Games, while Erin Moriarty played a supporting role in the first season of Jessica Jones. Chace Crawford was in The Covenant (he was also in Gossip Girl, of course, who could forget?), while Elizabeth Shue was in Back to the Future Part II and III. Last but not the least, Karen Fukuhara played Katana, arguably the best character in the DCEU’s poorly-received Suicide Squad (She continues to be badass in The Boys).
The blood. Don’t get me wrong, The Boys is an intelligent show with insightful dialogue. However, it does not scrimp on the gore at all and are at times downright barbaric. Almost every episode has flying body parts and multiple blood spatters. There’s no Endgame type of brawl, but the action scenes are pretty cool. With TV as awesome as this, it really is a great time to be alive.
Everything is gray. You have The Seven on one side, and you have the The Boys on the other. One of the great things about this show is it you can route for either group and not feel bad about it. Everyone has reasons for doing what they do, and although some may be more valid than others, they are reasons nonetheless. Each episode is basically a test of morality as you find yourself agreeing to things you never thought you would.
More to come. At the end of Season 1, it’s pretty obvious that there there are still loads of stories to tell. During the first minute of the show, Vought’s promotional video talks about how 200 superheroes are under the corporation. Just think of the possibilities! Additionally, it seems Mr. Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), Madelyn’s boss, is going to play a more active role in the second season, which means things are going to get even more dangerous.
The Boys is such a refreshing take on the superhero genre, and whether you love people wearing spandex or not, it is the best show to binge watch this weekend.
Photos courtesy of Amazon Prime Video. All 8 episodes of The Boys’ Season 1 are now available for streaming on the platform!
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