Spoilers will kick you and fly away.
If you’re familiar with the irreverent, violent, unapologetic and graphic tone of Garth Ennis’ series, there’s some of that but the tone has been dialed down quite a bit. It’s a bit of a trade to get the series made, but most of its character cast are still plenty identifiable. It’s far from a literal adaptation, but it’s The Boys on screen for sure.
The Boys started as a limited comic book series by Garth Ennis set in a world where superheroes are common but often get away with murder. They’re basically part of the same cult of personality we often give celebrities and famous sport players. In this world they have deals with various product brands and have categories according to their fame listing. The show streams in Amazon Prime and keeps most of this world intact. The dark underbelly is slowly explored in the first season, enticing us for a second one.
The casting is decent, without being brilliant. Karl Urban is casted as the infamous Billy Butcher, which he makes it his own. It’s very comparable to the comic. Hughie however, is played by Jack Quaid, who feels like a completely different character. He’s a completely generic blank slate for the audience to insert themselves into. I can’t say I’m crazy about it. At least we get Simon Pegg, whose likeness is very close to Hughie’s comic version, playing his father. Tomer Capon does play a rather nuanced and likeable Frenchie, which feels surprisingly fresh. I want to see him a lot more. Same goes for Karen Fukuhara as The Female / Kimiko, who will be key to discover some of the biggest secrets behind the superhero phenomenon. Laz Alonso plays Mother’s Milk very straight-laced, but chances are he’ll be revealing a lot more in the next season.
On the super side, we have some surprises. Erin Moriarty makes for an incredibly entertaining Annie aka Starlight. She’s definitely one of the highlights and the best reason to watch. Antony Starr’s Homelander steals the scene with ease. He’s subtly terrifying and extremely relevant to today’s headlines. Elizabeth Shue is quietly powerful as Madelyn Stillwell, but she’s got the acting chops to bring out the storm when needed.
Yes, some of the darkest tones are absent, but that might be a bit of an improvement when talking live action. The more blatantly graphic acts are toned down but carry most of the same weight without seeming gratuitous. Of course, bottom like the show as a live action show can still be irreverent as hell. All and all, fans of both the comic and viewers looking for a more callous take on superheroes should be pleased for what the show achieves. If you’ve ever wondered about abuse of authority at a superhero level, this one paints a rather bleak scenario. Perhaps that hopelessness is the biggest acquired taste the show will ask of its audience. Things will not turn out alright by the time of rolling credits. Truth has sold out. Justice is corrupted. The American Way might just be what happens behind closed doors.
Recommended for fans of dark comedy and cynical superhero critics. Let’s face it, those are two phases that superhero comic book fans crossover every other week. There’s enough parody and satire to draw humour, but the show does have a measure of gore and violence that can be either graphic or implied but can be shocking to a casual viewer. I suggest you don’t walk into it without a sidekick and a public relations expert that can spin a good story out of human tragedy. Up, up and away with you.
That will do for now.