In the first episode of The Boys, a good-hearted, superhuman, young lady who’s new to the professional business of crime-fighting, is raped by a famed superhero (a higher-ranked individual with a concerning amount of law and social power) under the principles of blackmail.
It’s a lot to take in. I mean, this is supposed to be just a superhero show, right? Where the bad guys are stopped by the end of it and the superheroes can do no wrong?
It’s an incorrect, snarky assumption that I had going into this mini-series. The Boys is quite the opposite of any of that rubbish. It’s a secretive, theoretical political preach on how the world ignorantly views celebrities and how high-funded cooperates may use them. This whole show is essentially a big, old “FU” to Hollywood’s typical comic-book gimmicks, greedy marketing schemes, and set-and-stone formulas. It’s game-changing for the superhero genre. In the universe of The Boys, superheroes are treated as industry plants; political chess pieces rather than commendable idols in the eyes of the hierarchy’s top levels. It’s so revitalizing to see such a bullied genre maturely take on themes like rape, corruption, and tyranny in this ever-growing generation of superhero movie mania.
Imagine if Fox’s X-Men films were portrayed more realistically, and the government’s biggest insecurities and sins were exposed through a brilliantly written, MA-rated outlet. That show is The Boys: a program where its creeds see superheroes as individuals who have the same tendencies as any human being. And like any human being, some can turn out to be wicked creatures. And like many wealthy, controlling individuals roaming amidst our society today, they can take advantage of their privileges and they can fully utilize the press as a method of hiding their true, vile selves—like a metaphorical, bonus superpower of their own. No consequences, no disadvantages, only authority.
In spite of that, however, season 1 of The Boys does work as many other things as well. It’s fantastically hysterical during all the appropriate moments—which some superhero films and series fail to reconcile. The characters are some of the most persuasive in the genre. Our lead character, Hughie, is the eminent of your average man-child, dork (almost like a secretive, low-key parody of a comic-book geek) who grows throughout the show into someone who can stand independently and fight his own battles without cowering in the shell that he’s used plenty too often in his life.
Homelander (who may well be the best character of this entire show and furthermore, one of the greats when it comes to live-action supervillains; standing alongside Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin and Heath Ledger’s The Joker) is the old, bruiting, Batman that Zach Snyder’s Batman v Superman failed to deliver, who has the powers of a god-leveled hero like Superman. He’s an emulate of a neutral entity turned evil through a life made up of expectations and an unchanging destiny that you can’t help but connect with. In episode 4, he’s in this very notorious sequence involving a plane that absolutely crushed me and single-handedly might be the darkest moment in all comic-book-adapted cinema. Annie (AKA, Starlight) is the embodiment of pure chivalry and she makes other female lead heroes like Wonder Woman or Black Widow look like complete losers. It’s inspiring to see such a strong-willed individual who sticks her ground despite all the repulsive douchebags that have constantly bombarded her life. And Karl Urban as Billy is an East London character at the peak of East London-ish characters.
The dynamic duo, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, have created their most raunchy yet most persuasive piece thus far—based off Garth Ennis’s comics, of course. I’d have to think about it a little more, but this might just be my favorite superhero property since Netflix’s Daredevil/Jessica Jones or maybe even since Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight. Season 2 can’t come any sooner, boys.
The Boys Math:
Episode 1: The Name of the Game = A-
Episode 2: Cherry = B+
Episode 3: Get Some = B+
Episode 4: The Female of the Species = A
Episode 5: Good for the Soul = B+
Episode 6: The Innocents = B+
Episode 7: The Self-Preservation Society = A-
Episode 8: You Found Me = A-
Final Verdict: A-
“The Boys” is now available to stream on Amazon Prime.