Never meet your heroes. Because once you do, you’ll see them for who they really are. The Boys is a superhero series based on the comic book of the same name developed by Eric Kripke (“Supernatural” and “Timeless”). The series follows a team of vigilantes informally known as “The Boys” who are hell-bent on taking down corrupt superheroes with no more than a blue-collar grit, willingness to fight dirty and at times just dumb luck.
The Boys is set in America where superheroes are heavily commercialised and merchandised. They are brand names. They’re not just saving the world; they’re starring in movies, have their images splashed across billboards, doing adverts and marketed within an inch of their lives. These superheroes are run by Vought International. The multi-billion dollar corporation that employs over 200 superheroes and manages their schedules (they put together “crime itineraries” for the heroes), lives and image. So, like any business, Vought is out to make money and will protect their investments at all costs. Under the management of Vought, the heroes catch criminals and save people, and they don’t take much responsibility for any damage they cause. Vought instead sees the damage, including collateral damage, as just the cost of doing business. To handle those situations, Vought has PR and clean-up teams so that the world sees only the good that the superheroes do.
Vought has their international premier superhero team, known as The Seven, led by an egotistical Superman-type character known as Homelander (Anthony Starr). The other supes in this team are Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), The Deep (Chace Crawford), A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell), Translucent (Alex Hassell) and a new entrant, Annie January / Starlight (Erin Moriarty), who’s forced to face the truth about the heroes she admires. The Boys are led by a cockney – accented Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), a former CIA operative who despises all supes. The other members of the team are Frenchie (Tomer Capon), a mercenary skilled in munitions and communications, Marvin / Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), who is in charge of planning and operations, Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid), who’s recruited after one of The Seven accidentally kills his girlfriend, and Kimiko / The Female (Karen Fukuhara), a mute with regenerative healing and enhanced strength abilities.
The series has its moments such as grappling with the #MeToo era, when Starlight is sexually assaulted by one of The Seven as part of her “initiation,” but she finds a way not just to fight back, but to claim her own agency among the group. Mother’s Milk is out taking on superheroes, but he’s also maintaining a strong, loving relationship with his wife. Like Frenchie’s revealing his nurturing, philosophical side and Hughie’s vulnerability, these human details make the characters more balanced and the violence seem more personal.
The Boys also deliberately pushes boundaries. For instance, it takes shots at Christianity and organized religion, especially with the superhero character of Ezekiel. But the story also delves into Starlight’s faith. Christianity is part of her superhero identity and marketing, and she finds strength in it when everything she thought she knew about superheroes comes crashing down.
The eight-episode first season is filled with blasphemy, guts, sex, and heartfelt emotion, and it is going to offend some viewers. It’s bloody, it’s brutal, and it’s got a raunchy sense of humour. All that said, the series is quite enjoyable and it’s a hell of a lot of fun.
The Boys has been renewed for Season 2, with a set premiere date for September 4, 2020. Creator and executive producer Eric Kripke said in a statement that Season 2 will be “crazier, stranger, more intense, more emotional.”