For the most part the comics of writers like Warren Ellis, Mark Millar, and Garth Ennis are excuses to show a lot of sex of all kinds, blood, and violence. Although it tries to be something different The Boys is no exception to this rule. Thankfully, Erik Kripke has stripped away a lot of the nonsense from the comic for the small screen adaptation. However, what’s left isn’t much better.
The Boys, which premiered recently on Amazon, is a cutesy spoof on comic book characters people already know. The Seven is a thinly veiled version of the Justice League. Anyone who has seen Justice League can spot the characters. Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman, The Flash, and Aquaman are represented along with a few other characters who may not be easily recognized.
The Seven are the villains in the story. The Seven were created and controlled by Vought International. The Boys, lead by Billy Butcher, want to expose The Seven, Vought International, and “supes” in general as corrupt, vile scum juiced up on a super steroid called Compound V.
To illustrate the point, Hughie’s girlfriend is vaporized by A-Train, the fastest man alive, who’s a fill in for The Flash, the fastest man alive, as he runs through her on his way to score Compound V. Homelander, the Super Man of the group, lets a jet filled with people crash in order to fulfill the corporation’s agenda and new girl on the block Starlight is sexually assaulted her first day on the job. The Seven are not as super as the public is lead to believe.
The hero as villain motif is nothing new. Comic book readers have seen it before in comic books and movies like The Watchmen and Squadron Supreme. Older comic book readers may remember the super hero as god theme explored in the classic Miracle Man. General audiences have seen the same thing in movies like The Watchmen and more recently in the under performing Brightburn. The Boys doesn’t explore any new territory nor does it add anything new.
The Boys is easy. There’s no real challenges thrown at the Boys. Billy and Hughie may get in a tough situation or two, but there’s every reason they’ll live to see the next scene. Mother’s Milk and Frenchie may be taken prisoners, but there’s little room to doubt they’ll be freed by the next episode. There’s never a question whether or not the Boys will expose Vought International. They won’t and they don’t because this is a series after all.
As viewers, we don’t expect or want the heroes to die. Most movies and television series don’t kill their heroes off because of the inevitable sequels and follow on seasons. You’re gravely mistaken if you think Avengers: End Game is the last time you’ll see Tony Stark or Steve Rodgers on the big screen or even on a Disney + series. At least make things exciting and leave just a little doubt in the viewers mind things may not go according to plan. In Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation, Ethan Hunt wasn’t going to die scaling down a building in a sand storm. It was still a tense and exciting scene. The Boys though is a CW series on a pay network so it can show gore, the occasional boob, and cuss a lot.
The Boys isn’t a bad series. There’s some actual good performances in the series. Antony Starr excels as the ego driven, psychotic Homelander. Elizabeth Shue (Leaving Las Vegas) is adequate in her role as Madelyn Sitwell, the second in charge of Vought International. But it’s Karl Urban (Star Trek) as Billy Butcher that keeps the series going to its final episode.
The Boys isn’t a good series either. It’s not exciting or interesting. It just exists with really no direction surviving on cliches we’ve all seen in countless other movies about evil corporations. It’s a series that will appeal to some of the comic book readers and fans of Karl Urban. If you don’t fall in either category odds are high you won’t like The Boys.