“The Boys” Season 1
Review by Gilberto Campa
During the last ten years the perception of superheroes in live action movies and television series has gotten more and more transparent. Just like in modern comics the lines of morality have become increasingly complex and more than just being about “good” vs. “evil”. Often times what we see with certain individuals can be a façade to what they are really like when the spotlight is gone. What if the politicians, governors, celebrities, entertainers or anyone that has a certain public reputation in the world we live in today were exposed in the public eye? One can only imagine the possible outcomes that can result with that kind of look into the private lives of people we look up to. Now, take that premise and put superheroes into the existing world we live in today and you have the set up for The Boys.
The series which premiered its first season on Amazon Prime on July 26th is adapted from the 2006 comic of the same name written by Garth Ennis (Preacher, The Punisher), and produced by Eric Kripke (Supernatural) along with Seth Rogen & Evan Goldberg (Future Man, Preacher). With only eight episodes, the show takes it’s time to get to where they need to go making it feel like an eight hour movie, but right from the beginning it takes you into the journey of this very dark and depressing world.
The basic setup of the series is presenting the group of heroes known as “The Seven” (a corrupted and perverse Justice League). The Seven are sponsored by Vought International. They protect & bankroll the heroes from all of the disgusting and horrible acts that they carelessly commit while doing the job. On the other side, you have the group known as “The Boys” led by Billy Butcher (Karl Urban and his awesome beard) who are out to expose and take down “The Seven” for what they really are, by any means necessary. As the events in the series unfold, usually in a very graphic way, it feels hard to root for ANY of these characters based off the actions that they take on either side. Which is something you rarely see in shows, let alone any show based off a comic book property.
When it comes to standouts the one character that was so fascinating to watch and explore (in a very dark and disturbing way) was “Homelander”, the leader of the seven played incredibly by Anthony Starr. There are lines and sequences that left me floored because there haven’t been such horrible and brutal acts done by a “hero” before (I’m the Homelander, and i can do whatever the F*** i want). All in the name of the U.S.A. Overall, the entire cast is very solid, but there was just something so visceral about “Homelander” that I was more excited for what he was going to do. The shock value is one part of the series that can disturb or question one’s morality, but the character work done in the series is what keeps the viewer intrigued. I didn’t want to stop watching. Even though this series was written in 2006, it is such a raw and incredible look into the kind of public and global politics that we have today and shows that corporations can be very dangerous if left unchecked (even in a fictional world).
One nice touch that I appreciated is the mute or muddled cinematography that is presented in the series. It continues to emphasize just how depressing and dark this reality really is. Ultimately, even with the madness that ensues in the show, the main theme is simply put, “absolute power, corrupts absolutely”. There wasn’t a single episode that felt like filler. This is a series that does not quit. Each episode builds, builds and builds to a fantastic season finale that leaves you wanting more. As long as shows like this continue to come out, “Superhero fatigue” will never hit because the representation of superheroes will continue to change.