“The Boys” balances seriousness with satire


I’ve loved superheroes ever since I first learned to read. The powers, the bright and colorful costumes as well as the morals they inspire in the people they protect. But as the years pass, I find myself growing increasingly distant from the scene as it becomes hard to deny that the superhero genre hasn’t become a bit of an oversaturation.

In a world where countless superhero films and TV shows dominate the entertainment industry, it’s easy for folks to start feeling the effects of the superhero fatigue syndrome. To me, it seems like these projects are all starting to just blend together, failing to offer anything new or interesting to the ever-growing superhero mythos as their quality and effort gradually declines. That is, unless we’re talking about Amazon Prime’s upcoming series, “The Boys”.

Set in a world where superheroes use their squeaky-clean image and celebrity status to abuse their powers behind the scenes, “The Boys” is centered around a group of ordinary, trench-coat clad vigilantes. The group is determined to manage or eliminate these corrupt heroes, particularly a Justice League-like group known as The Seven. Originally created as a comic book by the legendary duo of Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, Amazon Prime is gearing up to bring the world of “The Boys” to life on the small screen late this April. Developed by geek legends Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg of “Future Man” fame, the show is set to follow the comics very closely. When I saw the first trailer I was reduced to tears of utter joy as my inner fanboy ogled over the costumes and casting choices, all of which looked like they were ripped straight from the comic pages.

But what makes this upcoming adaptation so exciting isn’t just its fresh new take on televised superheroes but the timing itself. As a comic book fan, I have a bit of a history with the series and what I always loved about the original books was the idea that they were able to find a great balance between serious and satire. It made fun of so many annoying trends present in superhero comics. But “The Boys” didn’t just make poke fun at all the comic book tropes and industry trends, but the corporate publishers themselves, with the villainous Vought-American corporation serving as a satirical homage to both Marvel and DC comics.

In the case of the upcoming show, it’s coming out during a time when Marvel is a titan of industry in terms of their TV and films, making now the ideal time to try out some more screen-based superhero satire with a bit of political intrigue thrown in. In a time where the superhero genre has gotten a little too big for its britches, “The Boys” is just what it needs: a necessary yet well-intentioned kick in the jaw.

The series, much like the original comics, will also be much darker in tone than what audiences may be used to, with sex and violence being main staples. But while some may be turned off by its raunchy content, it’s all an integral towards nailing the world’s fantastic story and characters. That brings me into my next reason to get hyped: the characters.

From the titular band of hero-bashing misfits to The Seven themselves, the world of “The Boys” has never shied away from highlighting the darker sides of human nature, whether you’re a so-called “superhero” or not. Karl Urban’s casting as Boys leader, Billy Butcher, stands out as particularly exciting to me, playing a hardened and downright brutal hitman with a deep hatred for heroes and a checkered past to match. Then there’s the not-so-heroic Homelander, a dark Superman homage played by Anthony Starr, who’s charming yet frightful demeanor showcases a side of the superhero community many would be horrified to see. But despite all the flaws and baggage these characters carry with them, hero or not, at the end of the day it all makes them human in an utterly mad world.

When it comes to the world itself, it is much more akin to the setting of a gritty political thriller than a typical Avengers-like setting, with conspiracies and big corporations running rampant throughout. Imagine the world’s greatest heroes were all controlled by a greedy corporation, profiting off the merchandise of their real-life heroes and promising them riches beyond their wildest dreams; as long as they fall in line with the company memo, that is. From fighting the superheroes themselves to the corporate entity that manages them, “The Boys” comics have always managed to nail both the satire and the seriousness of their world as they waged their war on Vought-American and from the show’s trailers, it seems like that will be a major carry-over as well.

But by far the biggest takeaway from the trailer is the fact that the show will not only adapt many of the comic’s infamous elements but expand on them as well in new and exciting ways. While certain members of The Seven did get a decent bit of development in the comics, it was never to a degree that left me thinking many of them were very relatable; which may have been the point, in retrospect. But this time around, the showrunners have promised plenty of development for lower-tier characters like The Deep, an Aquaman ripoff who talks to fish and never takes his costume off.

With fans at the forefront and a multitude of darker hero themes yet to be explored on the screen, “The Boys” will surely have something for everybody. Essentially, will be a superhero show for people that hate superheroes. But it might also a show for people that love superheroes, as long as you’re willing to roll with its take. Overall, whether you’re a diehard superhero fan, sick to death of superhero shows, or just want to get excited for an upcoming political thriller, you won’t want to miss Amazon’s “The Boys.”