Release Date: July 26
Network: Amazon Prime
Starring: Karl Urban, Anthony Starr, Jack Quaid, Jessie T. Usher, Erin Moriarty, Laz Alonso, Tomer Capon,
If you’ve ever wondered what goes on in superhero teams like the Justice League when Darkseid or Doomsday isn’t threatening the existence of life on Earth, The Boys might just be what gives you some perspective. The series exists in a world where superheroes are public knowledge, and are monetized by Vought, a company bent on gaining control of the world’s security.
In the world of The Boys, like most other comicbook based properties, superheroes leave collateral damages in their wake, and there are people willing to do something about it.
Enter Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) and his merry team of amazing
Butcher recruits Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) after fastest man alive A-Train accidentally runs through his girlfriend, Robin. That scene sets the tone for the rest of the series that is is going to be a ride gritty enough to give HBO a run for its money. Hughie is written as a sympathetic character, one whose loss and anger is capitalized by Butcher, who nurses intense hatred for all superheroes – particularly Homelander. He finds in Hughie an easily influenced ally, and together they recruit two friends from Butcher’s past – Frenchie (Tomer Capon) and Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) – and that’s when the real fun begins.
One compelling thing about The Boys is its unique approach to superhero storytelling; centering more on the characters as against ostensible acts of heroism commonly obtained in it’s counterparts. It doesn’t take long for one to understand one truth the series bares right from the start – superheroes are the villains of this story. And through the eight episode journey, understanding the motivations for these characters help viewers better appreciate their complexities, and how different they are from their more popular counterparts. You can’t help but think about how if Homelander were to be raised by loving parents (preferably farmers) he’d be more like Superman. It’s this unique angle to storytelling that makes the characters better appreciated even when they’re being bad.
The world of The Boys feels relatable, like what the real world would be like if superheroes really did exist. There are people pulling the strings behind the scenes, full-time PR management, heavily-funded marketing for more publicity, movie deals, and so many other shenanigans that’d normally take a backseat in other superhero stories. Superheroism is a business. Businesses are controlled by people. People are subject to corruption. Superheroes too can be corrupt. It’s this parallel that makes The Boys so much fun to watch.
The show’s casting is terrific, and is as much responsible for the value of the series as is the story. Karl Urban as Billy Butcher works. His undaunting ability to switch from smile-to-scary within the twinkle of an eye is quite terrifying, making him a delight to watch. Jack Quaid is also great as the coming-of-age Hughie. He brings so much dexterity to his craft that makes his grieving for Robin and eventual moving on with Annie/Starlight quite believable. But it’s Anthony Starr’s Homelander that really steals the show. Starr has come a long way since his stint as Lucas Hood on Cinemax’s Banshee. His turn as evil-Superman is downright terrifying. The extreme lengths Homelander would go to keep his secrets are quite disturbing, and how oblivious the general public is to how unsettling their favorite superhero is in private reminds me of how little of someone’s true nature is known to the public eye.
Frenchie and Mother’s Milk start out like one-dimensional, comic-plot characters, but have more depths and layers added that by the end of the eighth episode a feel of familiarity and longing for more is established. Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligot) and The Deep (Chace Crawford) of The Seven feel underused, but there’s still enough of them this season to give an idea of possible paths their characters could follow moving forward. Black Noir on the other hand feels absent from the most part of the series, the character’s scenes could be entirely removed and the show would go on exactly the same. Hopefully, that changes next season.
In a year that’s out to alter the narrative of superheroism in the media The Boys is a welcome addition to the ranks of DoomPatrol, Brightburn, The Umbrella Academy, and the likes. And with that cliffhanger at the end of the last episode, the possibilities for this show moving forward remain bright and endless.
Rinzy’s Rating: 4/5