The Boys: The Dark Side of Superheroes

Amazon exclusive The Boys explores the evil side of the superheroes: what would you say if everything you have ever believed in was a lie? What if the superheroes you have ever admired weren’t what they seem? The show based on Garth Ennis comic books series is a terrifying and bloody example of what can happen when superheroes aren’t the good guys. Be aware that there will be SPOILERS!

The big “Era of Superheroes” doesn’t seem willing to stop any time soon. After we witnessed the climax of Disney’s creature with Avengers: Endgame that became the highest grossing film ever and The Marvel Cinematic Universe is dominating the scene with their films full of light and funny jokes and superheroes sometimes too good to be real. In this panorama filled with indulgence the adaptation of The Boys, a comic book series created by the mad genius of Garth Ennis, emerged with a big shout and it is already being considered one of the best series of the year. Since its first minutes, the series sets the mood in the best way it can: after a Marvel styled intro licensed by Vought Studios we immediately understand that we are watching a mirror of our modern society. Vought Studios can be associated indeed with its real counterpart, Disney, and the comparison is quick and easily done throughout the series as we find a lot of veiled references to our actual world. Within The Boys universe Vought is a massive company that hires and manages (sometimes even “rents” a hero to a city for massive amounts of money) a large group of superheroes, lead by the most powerful ones that compose the group known as The Seven.

Among these, we can find Homelander (a more patriotic version of Superman), Queen Maeve (Wonder Woman), The Deep (Aquaman), A-Train (a mix between Captain America and The Flash) and Starlight (which can be associated to the female version we all know of Captain Marvel). Everything looks fine, and with Vought the world aspires to become crime-free. This utopia lasts just for a bunch of minutes: with an amazing scene in slow-motion and amazing VFX (some of the best I can remember in a TV series) A-Train, a speedster, runs through the girlfriend (whose name is Robin) of one of our main characters, Hughie, disintegrating her body in a gory and bloody scene, leaving just her arms which our poor Hughie was holding between his hands. That’s the incipit of our story: Hughie will find out that every superhero working for Vought has a secret: they are corrupted by their powers and fame. Indeed, we can witness to superheroes murdering people, shooting down an airplane, using drugs and other numerous crimes.

It is at this point that Hughie’s life will be completely changed by the meeting with Billy Butcher, that will drag him in his mission to bring down Vought. With Billy’s help and some major unpleasant situations, Hughie evolution is one of the best things in the series: we follow him through his changes and we see him go from an insecure scaredy-cat to a person able to lie, murdering someone and shooting using an assault rifle. There are of course some differences between the comics and the series: the first and the main one is that in the comics the superheroes, or the “supes”, are evil just for the sake of being evil. In the show, on the other hand, they decided to give them a background that can, somehow, justify their actions. Second one, is the level of violence and gore: the comics are so much more violent, bloody and rough than the show. Don’t be mistaken though: the series is indeed full of rough scenes with a high level of splatter and it can be distressing to watch for the most susceptible people. The characters use a strong language as well, and the best representative of it is Billy himself. He is definitely the most ass-kicking character in the series, as we can see him taking on superheroes by himself in more than one occasion, without having superpowers by his side. That’s another big difference between the comics and the show: The Boys here, composed by Billy, Hughie, Frenchie, Mother’s Milk and the Female of the Species Kimiko don’t have superpowers (yet), and they find out about how superheroes are created during the season, so we can watch them develop and evolve into their final versions which, at some point, will probably involve superpowers.

The relationships between the many characters are amazingly well written: there are so many moments that feel extremely real and every character has a high level of introspection, including the same superheroes. A clear example is the relationship between Annie and Hughie: they randomly meet in the park, and from there they start dating, as Butcher foster their relationship just because it can be useful to support The Boys to achieve their goal to take down Vought. Despite Hughie’s hesitations, the two of them start dating and eventually they fall in love with each other. But as everybody knows love hurts, and so will know Annie when she discovers about Hughie’s actions that makes her believe that he just used her for his purposes. She’s not aware that Hughie has just been a victim of the events as he genuinely falls for her, after he did really use her for his and Butcher’s aims.

Annie is the example that even superheroes can be good, and her ultimate goal is to save people, for real. But she is not alone: there are indeed other superheroes that show some good, or showed it in the past. Queen Maeve is the first that pops into mind: while a lot of the films or books that Vought produces are just marketing maneuvers to sell and make profit, Maeve did really care about saving people in her early days, but eventually she just fell victim of the system within Vought. More, let’s consider the example of Deep: he starts the series as one of the bad guys and forces Starlight/Annie into oral sex. His evolution-involution will bring him to an impoverished hero, which fails everything he tries to do even when he is really trying to make some good. A dolphin (in one of the craziest scenes I have ever seen) and a lobster will face the direct consequences of Deep’s actions, and later on Deep himself will feel what is like to be forced to be raped and abandoned by his company, realizing all the bad things he was putting other people through. Together with Hughie, his evolution is one of the best and more touching of the whole series. Just like him every supe has an intimate discomfort, even the same Homelander: he is the most powerful superhero and as such, he was raised as a lab rat and because of this he has some serious personality issues (and not just that…), starting with his perverse relationship with Madelyn, one of Vought’s heads.

He is by far the most evil of The Seven throughout the episodes and he is guilty of several crimes that we witness ourselves: starting from the highly distressing scene where he abandons hundreds of people to die on a flight (this scene is really heavy to watch), kills an indefinite number of people and in the end he will kill Madelyn herself, with his laser sight straight into her eye orbits. The Boys is packed with crazy and WTF scenes, such as the brothel scene in the first episode, Butcher killing people using a baby as a laser gun or Hughie blowing up Translucent in a bloody explosion.

One of the most intriguing story-lines involves our Billy Butcher, as we find out more and more about his background through the use of flashbacks. We then come to know that he had a wife, Becca, that was a Vought employee and that was eventually raped by Homelander. Right after that, she went missing and presumed dead. For this reason, Butcher is blinded by vengeance and intends to carry on his quest to destroy Vought and make Homelander suffer for what he has done to him. Becca’s fate is one of the secrets that are kept alive until the very end of the season, when it is revealed that she eventually got pregnant after the rape, and gave birth to Homelander’s child (not before they let us believe that she actually had died together with the baby during his birth). The season finale sees Butcher meeting Becca and her son, indeed, and has to hear Homelander declare “we are a family”. That’s the first season packed and gone, and what a first season it was. Every episode ends with a bang that makes you scream for more, and you do, until you finally binge-watch it and all you’re left with is scavenging the web to look for theories, possible plots and moreover when season 2 it is going to be released. This is The Boys, and it is uncanny how, in a moment where everywhere you look you see superhero stuff surrounding you from every corner, it manages to bring a fresh product that offers a whole new perspective on the theme. Amazon managed to perfectly catch Ennis deranged view of a corrupted society where everything is hidden behind fake reputations and appearances.

Now we are left with so many questions: how will the situation unfolds ? What other craziness acts and insane moments The Boys has in store for us? With season 2 already in the making, the hopes are that we won’t have to wait too long for it. They are coming for you.

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