When the adaptation of the screen of Garth Ennis and that of Darick Robertson The boys comic books premieres on Amazon Prime Video on July 26, fans are likely to notice many changes in the story. But maker and showrunner Eric Kripke (Supernatural, Timeless) has made an adaptation that honors the comics and at the same time gives a new audience access to a story that viewers encounter hard and fast.
The boys is set in an America where superheroes are heavily classified and traded. They are brand names. They not only save the world; they play the lead in films, splash on billboards for amusement parks, endorse everything from shoes to breakfast cereals and are marketed within an inch of their lives.
At the center of their world is Vought International, a multi-million dollar company that employs more than 200 superheroes and manages their schedules, lives, and images. Like any company, Vought wants to earn money and it will protect its investments at all costs. As The boys reveals early, there are certainly costs because superheroes are dicks.
The ideology of Spider-Man seems to have missed great responsibility The boysHeroes who do not take much responsibility for the damage they cause. They catch criminals and save people under Vought's management, but they consider collateral damage – such as, for example, wiping out a random bystander on the way to stop bank robbers – as just the cost of doing business. Vought has entire PR and clean-up teams to deal with such situations, so all the outside world sees is the good that the supers do.
But cover-ups only go that far, and occasionally the façade breaks. In case of The boys, the cracks come in the form of two people: gentle tech vendor Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) and Starlight, aka Annie January (Erin Moriarty), the newest member of Vought's premiere superhero band, The Seven. Although their lives could not be different, Hughie and Annie become the epicenter of a superhero shake-up that could overthrow Vought.
Enter Billy Butcher (Karl Urban). Billy Butcher hates Vought. He hates superheroes. He wants the entire superhero company to fall to the ground and he has made it his mission to punish heroes who are out of step. He is rude, he is sexist, he is vulgar, he is violent and he lies about almost everything. He doesn't want to save the world. His vendetta is personal. But his goal of bringing Vought down wins Hughie by his side, who quickly pulls Hughie over his head.
When I spoke to Kripke in December 2018 he told me The boys is a "hard R, it is a big difference to everything I have done before. But everyone who knows me knows that I have a super nasty sense of humor … I have never been able to express it to the public … My parents will be shocked. "That is certainly possible because he really shoots at the moon The boys transgressive and groundbreaking. It is a bloody show, with blood and brains and severed arms and brutal battles.
The adaptation is harsh from the source material when it comes to graphic material for adults such as sex, nudity, abuse and torture. No one is spared in the massacre. And yet there is a relatibility with the boys, from Billy Butcher's need to take revenge on the supers about his wife's death to Hughie & # 39; s similar fight for justice after one of the supers kills his girlfriend by killing her. run. Other members of the group, including Frenchie, Mother & # 39; s Milk and The Female, have their own reasons for wanting to fight the superheroes or take down Vought themselves. Their violent missions feel like a just cause that is taken extremely, as opposed to the casual brutality of the supers.
It would have been easy to turn around The boys in a misogynistic splatterfest, but Kripke navigates around that trap while also adding a few elements that add equality to the image. Of course, Billy Butcher calls the Statue of Liberty a "slit" and throws the word "cunt" around as confetti, but several men strip themselves for the show – including Karl Urban and another character who goes completely frontal – while there is no corresponding woman nudity. The contrast is rare enough to feel refreshing and the nudity in the script does not sexualize the characters. It feels like a polite nod to the female gaze, rather than something specifically meaningless.
Even more important, The boys struggles directly with the # MeToo era in a plot thread in which Starlight is sexually assaulted by one of The Seven as part of her & # 39; initiation & # 39; but she finds not only a way to fight back, but for her own agency under the group. The men also get their enlightening, human moments. Mother's milk kicks superhero butt, but he also maintains a strong, loving relationship with his wife, whether it's her calling, no matter how inconvenient the time may be, or taking a lobster home for dinner. Like the nutritious, philosophical side of Frenchie and the vulnerability of Hughie, these human details make the characters more rounded and the violence seems more personal.
Kripke seems to enjoy how meteorically he can get there The boys. Apart from the general chaos caused by superhero forces used without limitation, the psychological side of it The boys is tested with reckless surrender. Kripke uses extreme moments to build the story, from a super who crushes the skull of a man while she cums to the paraphile infantilism fetish of another super.
It helps that he has chosen a cast that has so many grounds The boysWildness in a kind of understandable reality. Elisabeth Shue distinguishes itself as the senior VP of hero management of Vought, Madelyn Stillwell. Madelyn, a gender gang from the James Stillwell comics, is a pleasant subversion of the likable factor from Shue in Adventures in Babysitting or The karate child as a younger woman and more recently CSI. Madelyn is beautiful, charming, supportive and smart. But her job at Vought is all about branding, and she is aware that image is everything. Under her pearly smile, she is an avid hunter who is willing to do everything needed to secure her strength at Vought.
Billy Butcher is a real bastard, but Urban balances a maniacal joy with a wounded determination that keeps him human, even when he plans to blow people up. Urban can nowadays be widely known as Dr. Leonard McCoy in the Star Trek film restarts, but old fans know he can play villains just as easily, as Vaako in Chronicles of Riddick, or disillusioned good guys like John Kennex in Almost human, and he has handled more than his fair share of action.
And Jack Quaid (the son of Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan) brings an intriguing mix of uncertain intelligence, charm and unspoken anger to Hughie Campbell. As the starting point for the series, the character being introduced to a new world of violence, Quaid & Hughie's must be sympathetic and yet a doormat. Simon Pegg is perfect as Hughie's father and offers an idea of how Hughie got those things. On the other side of the spectrum, Antony Starr's Homelander vibrates with threat and fanatic belief. Other cast members play their role in large, powerful ways without going too far from the top, which is an impressive achievement in a show that is usually almost over-the-top.
Lucky for that The boys, it's in the right hands. Kripke and executive producers Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have a talent for reaching the line of shamelessness without going over. Kripke has veteran TV directors such as Daniel Attias (The wire), Philip Sgriccia (Supernatural) and Stefan Schwartz (The Americans) in addition to newer talents such as Jennifer Phang (The Expanse) to bring out the glitter and dirt of the original Boys strips. Such as Ennis & # 39; Preacher, The boys also takes more than its fair share in Christianity and organized religion, especially with the superhero character of Ezekiel. But the story also delves into the faith of Starlight. Christianity is part of her superhero identity and marketing, and she finds strength in it when everything she thought she knew about superheroes crashed.
Filled with blasphemy, guts, sex and genuine emotion, The boys will alienate some viewers. It deliberately pushes boundaries. It's rude, it's bloody, it's cheeky and it has an ordinary sense of humor. But it's really fun. And for viewers who like a bit of anarchy and limp in their superhero drama, it hits all the right tones.
The boys premieres on Amazon Prime Video on July 26.