Television shows about superheroes have been on for decades and there have been a lot of great entries in the genre.
But times change and so does the cultural landscape. Many have grown old from routine and repeated structure. For a while Netflix seemed to be breaking out of the mold with an R-rated approach to The Defenders and while some of it worked, it was largely hit-and-miss.
Then along comes Amazon’s The Boys, a live-action adaption of the comic book by Garth Ennis it’s a brutal re-imagining of a world where superheroes live among us and are, sadly, a little too much like us. There’s Homelander (Anthony Starr) a Superman-archetype that isn’t what he seems, Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) who you could swear is wearing Wonder Woman cosplay, The Deep (picture Vinny Chase’s Aquaman) and others that make up The Seven. Together they are this universe’s version of the Justice League.
But as much as this is a story about superheroes it’s also a story about those that have been affected by them. Hughie (Jack Quaid) was shy and avoided conflict before A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) ran through he so fast she disintegrated before his eyes. That’s where Butcher (Karl Urban) comes in. Butcher has seen his fair share of destruction at the hands of the Supes and wants nothing more than to take down The Seven, and sees an opportunity with a still grieving Hugh. Together they assemble The Boys, a group of badass misfits that each wants to take down The Seven for their own personal reasons.
The action is hard hitting while the dialogue remains top-notch and more than a little bonkers. The show is fully aware of just how insane of a world it inhabits and it takes fully advantage of it while still remaining fairly grounded.
Coming so far down the pop culture pipeline The Boys has clearly learned from its predecessors. The entire first season is only eight episodes long but it’s chocked-full of crazy things. To give anything away would be a crime and take away from the enjoyment of the first viewing. That being said the entire thing is worth it just to watch Karl Urban chew the scenery. He’s obviously having the time of his life as Butcher, a pure badass Brit with nothing to lose. On the other side of the spectrum is Annie/Starlight (Erin Moriarty) an honest-to-goodness wholesome superhero and maybe the last of her kind.
The whole cast gets a time to shine and soak up the utter weirdness of it all. Chace Crawford as The Deep basically plays Aquaman as we’ve always pictured him. Everyone in The Seven makes fun of him for his ability to talk to fish and he obviously has some sexual feelings toward at least one dolphin over the course of the series. He’s played off as nothing more than a joke, something which would probably happen in real life if he was played by anyone but Jason Mamoa.
Be warned though, The Boys should come with a hard R-rating. This may be a superhero show but it is no way meant for children. Keep that in mind before putting it on in front of them. Not only is there a lot of swearing but there’s a fair amount of blood too.
Having just finished the last episode I’m already itching for more. Season two can’t come soon enough.