Amazon Prime’s “The Boys” answers the age-old question on everyone’s minds: What if superheroes were corporate-sponsored superheroes with disgusting celebrity complexes?
The series, developed by Eric Kripke, stars an ensemble cast of both familiar faces to film such as Karl Urban of “Judge Dredd” and “Thor: Ragnarok,” as well as relative newcomers such as Antony Starr and Dominque McElligott. The series follows an alternate world where superheroes exist mostly as celebrities more than actual heroes and are under the corporate control of the unseemly Vought Industries. Urban portrays William “Billy” Butcher, a British national whose wife went missing after a stray interaction with a superhero. Butcher gathers a ragtag of group of like-minded individuals to help fight Vought and uncover any evil activity hiding underneath the supposedly heroic exterior.
The show takes many stabs at the traditional superhero story. The central hero figure employed by Vought Industries, Homelander, is a clear play on the quintessential superhero from DC, Superman. His right-hand woman, Queen Maeve, has a very similar uniform to DC’s Wonder Woman as well as similar powers. The twist, of course, is that most of these primetime heroes in “The Boys” universe are decidedly less heroic, Homelander in particular. His whole persona is based around pandering to the American myth. He grew up on a farm playing baseball and eating apple pie. He wears an American flag for a cape and plays to the worst America has to offer by prompting his fans to embrace xenophobia towards foreign nationals. His powers are all but unstoppable and he is incredibly unstable. All of that sounds like a horrible combination.
The real genius in the show comes from how they present these characters as horrible people (because they are). Even the “good guys” (the titular Boys) are selfish crude people. Much of the series is sparked by the murder of Hughie Campbell’s (played by Jack Quaid, son of actor Dennis Quaid)’s girlfriend by superhero speedster A-Train. Campbell is contacted by Butcher and eventually gets wrapped up into a plot to take down the superhero class entirely. None of the characters in the show do the right thing in pretty much any given situation. The superheroes in the show are not meant to be admired. They are portrayed exclusively in negative lights and if there any positive moments for them, it is used as incremental character development. There are no redemption stories in “The Boys.”
It should also be noted that the show is extremely graphic in a lot of topics. It features photorealistic violence when superheroes or other characters decide to kill. The first episode features a sex club dedicated to either retired or less-active superheroes acting in lewd ways involving their respective abilities. The show has strong language and is not meant to be viewed by the faint of heart for this graphic content.
“The Boys” is a show that you should check if you like satire, superhero content, or raunchy TV shows. The series is streaming on Amazon Prime. “The Boys” receives a B-plus rating.