2019 was graced with the dedicated heroes of Marvel, willing to do “whatever it takes” to protect the universe and strive for justice. More so, for the last twenty years, the aliens, vigilantes, mutants, and enhanced beings that reside in the Marvel and DC universes have graced the big and small screens—each one in one way or another providing an example to society of what it means to be a hero. Even some of the darkest antiheroes in the genre have at least a few moments of pure good that can inspire one to reach for that level of heroism.
Amazon’s The Boys is nowhere near that level—nor does it want to be.
Based on the popular Garth Ennis/Darick Robertson comic book series (originally published by Wildstorm before moving to Dynamite Entertainment), the series tells the tale of a group of vigilantes—whom the series is named after—who set out to bring down “The Seven,” the world-renowned group of superheroes who work under the banner of mega-corporation/defense contractor Vought International—led by Madelyn Stillwell (Elizabeth Shue, who has only improved in her craft over the years). These vigilantes, lead by Billy Butcher (played perfectly by Karl Urban), are motivated by the belief that these superheroes are not what they seem; that their superhero status is nothing more than a facade to generate revenue and dominate the “hero” industry.
If you only enjoy comic book stories where the hero is always just and incorruptible, The Boys is not for you. Unlike DC’s Justice League or Marvel’s Avengers, “The Seven” are nowhere near as squeaky-clean as their handlers would like you to believe. They are egotistical, greedy, fame-seeking, corrupted tools. They are the personification of “absolute power corrupting absolutely,” lead by Homelander (frighteningly well-played by Anthony Starr), a less righteous hybrid of Superman and Captain America who cares more about how well he’s presented than whether innocent lives are saved. The one redeeming costumed hero who believes in the idea of being a superhero, new “Seven” member Starlight (Erin Moriarty) has her perfect dreams shattered when she learns first-hand how imperfect they are.
While this writer will always cheer on the likes of Daredevil and Green Arrow, it is refreshing to see an original, out-of-the-box interpretation of the superhero story. The Boys could be a glimpse at what would eventually happen to superheroes if they existed in today’s real-world society. For every devoted Steve Rogers and Bruce Wayne, it is likely that most would end up like A-Train or The Deep.
Given the negative depiction of superheroes, the series engages with the viewer by presenting charismatic anti-superheroes, looking to win one for the little guy. Meanwhile, as contorted and corporate as “The Seven” and their handlers are, the viewers can’t turn away from seeing just how far they go to preserve their business model. Fresh off their previous comic-to-television successful production, AMC’s Preacher, Seth Rogen, and Evan Goldberg team up with Supernatural creator Eric Kripke to bring another envelope-pushing series that will make you cringe as often as you’ll cheer. If you haven’t yet, add this series to your queue and binge it as soon as possible.
The Boys is now streaming on Amazon’s Prime Video.
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