‘The Boys’ Will Be the Superhero Show for People Who Don’t Like Superheroes

“In a world where costumed heroes soar through the sky and masked vigilantes prowl the night, someone’s got to make sure the “supes” don’t get out of line. And someone will.”
The Boys
Dynamite Entertainment
By  · Published on October 6th, 2018

If Preacher taught us anything, it’s that Garth Ennis‘ wild imagination and anarchic spirit can be translated to the small screen under the supervision of those who understand his demented vision. Once upon a time, no one ever imagined that show ever happening, but fortunately it came along and proved us wrong.

The same can be also be said about “The Boys”, the anti-superhero saga he co-created with Darick Robertson which ran for 72 issues between 2006 and 2012. Never in a million years did we envision this adaptation coming to life, either. Now we’re beyond thrilled to know that the show will premiere on Amazon Prime next year. And if this series dares go to the extreme lengths the comics went to, it will make Preacher seem like kids stuff in comparison. But we’ll get into that later.

The Boys stars Karl Urban, Jennifer Esposito, Jack Quaid, Elisabeth Shue, and Simon Pegg, to name a few of the cast members who round up this excellent ensemble. Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg are on board as producers. Eric Kripke, of Supernatural fame, will serve as the showrunner.

Check out the teaser trailer below and then we’ll discuss why this show is going to blow our socks off:

What makes a superhero? Sure, superpowers are helpful, but the content of their character is more important. In this universe, they don’t have heroic characteristics at all. At their least problematic they’re just a pain in the ass. At their worst, though, they’re sexual deviants and murderers who possess no restraint when it comes to abusing their power and status. The show revolves around the eponymous group, who are basically a team of CIA operatives whose mission is to keep these corrupt crusaders in check. Sometimes, that requires getting their hands dirty — and very bloody.

Like most things that come from the imagination of Ennis, “The Boys” comics are packed with excessive violence, depraved sex, politically incorrect humor, and all sorts of madness. Characters have their limbs ripped off, holes are punched through chests, everyone is a predator, dogs hump each other, and the ‘c’ word is used quite liberally. The comics embrace their puerile, schlocky, and brutal sensibilities with glee, which makes them both hilarious and downright disturbing. Every single taboo you can imagine is featured at some point — from necrophilia to cannibalism, as well some atrocities I don’t feel comfortable writing about here.

At the same time, though, Ennis’ debauchery has brains and purpose. The comics were never afraid to explore much darker territory to commentate on the big issues that affect the world, such as the abuse of systematic power, capitalism, war, and corrupt institutions. Part of Ennis’ appeal is that he isn’t subtle when he wants to make a point. Other times he just wants to offend people for the shits and giggles. However,  as far as blunt, unapologetic, in-your-face storytelling goes, “The Boys” is as upfront as they come.

That said, the most entertainment aspect of “The Boys” are the ways its skewers superhero traditions. Reading the comics, you get the impression that Ennis and co. have a bone to pick with stories about good, old-fashioned caped crusaders and their do-goody, holier-than-thou natures. While this isn’t the first series to ever go against the grain, it’s arguably the boldest to do so. In a world where movies and shows continue to adhere to typical superhero traditions, The Boys is exactly what we need to spice things up some.

The corrupt superpowered beings in this universe are parodies of the kind of super factions that are commonplace in comics. For example, groups like the Young Americans and Teenage Kix poke fun at youthful super teams like Young Justice and the New Mutants. Payback, on the other hand, are reminiscent of the Avengers. Imagine all the popular types of super teams from DC and Marvel history, and you’ll find their evil counterparts in “The Boys.”

The main team is an organization known as the Seven, a Justice League-esque unit that present themselves as the mightiest and purest heroes of them all. Behind the scenes, however, they’re complete bastards who don’t care about the collateral damage they cause or the lives they ruin. When we first meet them in the comics, they force a female recruit to perform a sex act on the male members in exchange for a place on their squad. It’s one of the many unpleasant scenes the comics subject us to, and one of many that will make you think about superheroes in a darker light.

Some of the comics’ content will not see the light of day in the TV show. But even a tamer adaptation will still be a breath of fresh air in the current onscreen superhero landscape. The best time to unleash a movie or series that subverts trends is when said trends are at their most popular and influential after all. If The Boys lives up to its potential, it’ll be like a grenade to the system that provides the most irreverent alternative to superhero fare to date.

Deadpool and Kick-Ass have already shown that there’s a market for satirizing superheroes and unleashing some violence in the process. But even they still operated within a familiar framework that appealed to general superhero fandom. The Boys will be a complete antithesis to that stuff, and will hit the spot for those who are tired of the same old, same old.

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Kieran is a Contributor to the website you're currently reading. He also loves the movie Varsity Blues.