When Garth Ennis’ The Boys was picked up for series by Amazon, many didn’t really know what to expect. The comic is famous for being extremely outrageous and edgy, but also a commentary on the superhero genre as a whole. It follows a CIA backed group known as “The Boys” led by Butcher, played by Karl Urban in the series, that monitor and taken down super-powered heroes part of “The Seven,” funded by the evil Vought Corporation. As with most superhero stories though, not everything is so black and white.
One of the most appealing aspects of the series was how it plays perfectly with what’s going on today in the world of capes and tights. In a day and age where Marvel characters dominate the box office, it’s nice to have something like The Boys that takes the genre and smacks it across the face. Butcher’s team shows you the dirty, raw side of superheroes and how absolute power can corrupt even the best of us.
Things really kick off in the show when an electronics shop clerk named Hughie witnesses the death of his girlfriend Robin, at the hands of a super named A-Train, in a freak accident (or careless incident depending on who you ask). Though things like this are common in the world of The Boys. Hughie eventually joins Butcher and the rest of the team and they set out to get payback on The Seven, who are essentially an evil parody version of DC’s Justice League. All the while, a young girl from Iowa is chosen to be the newest member of The Seven, under the superhero alias Starlight. Before joining the group, she thinks it’s all sunshine and rainbows, but things quickly turn dark.
What might surprise viewers about this series is how it portrays its female characters. From what I’ve glanced of the comic series by Ennis, most of it would be frowned upon now but series creator Eric Kripke (Supernatural) was able to distill the important elements and throw out the cringe-worthy stuff. Annie January aka Starlight, Queen Maeve, and The Female played by Karen Fukuhara, all feel like legitimately fleshed out and interesting people, not just there for shock value.
The actors that really shine in the series though are the respective leaders of The Boys and The Seven, Butcher and Homelander. Karl Urban brings a kind of mercenary swagger to Butcher, but also some genuine heart, while Antony Starr’s Homelander is extremely complex as the Superman analogue.
Reaching the end of this season was almost bittersweet, because by the time the eighth episode is over, it makes you almost regret binge watching such a great comic book adaptation. What’s comforting though, is the fact that Amazon knew they had a win on their hands and greenlit a second season, even before this one aired. So if you need me, I’ll be hibernating until that drops. But seriously, stop what you’re doing and watch this excellent superhero satire, to ensure there are many more seasons to come.
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The Boys is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.