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‘The Boys: Season One’ (review)

Superheroes are beloved by all. People with special abilities who want to fight for justice and stand up for regular citizens. They don’t ask for much and are often criticized by others, yet they go out of their way to risk their lives.

But what if superheroes weren’t all selfless? What if they too wanted to bask in their glory? What if they weren’t all righteous as we thought?

No one takes the time to find out the struggles superheroes go through when they’re not saving the day. While they’re not smiling for cameras and kissing babies, often times they’re battling their own insecurities and personal struggles; showcasing that fame often has a darker hidden component.

Set in modern-day America, superheroes aren’t free to think for themselves or even to save the day without thinking about the consequences. They are owned by companies and marketed to the masses. Gone are individuality, they now brand names who are advertised in movies, splashed across billboards and more. They are told who to save, where to show up and what to wear; forcing them to endorse products and to live up to a certain image.

Armed with publicists, makeup artists, lawyers and more, they are owned by multi-billion dollar Vought International, who only sees how much a superhero can make them instead of the person inside the cape. Employing over 200 superheros, they’ve created The Seven (consider them the original Avengers) with the goal to make money off them by any means necessary.

But what happens when superheroes no longer care?

When they are viewed and treated like Gods, guided by likes and trending topics?

When they are replaceable by the next shiny new person?

Gone are the days of responsibility, purpose and betterment of the world. Overcome with ego, superheroes are allowed to run amok without any consequences, as long as they pretend to substain their wholesome image.

While Vought International can only cover-up so much, the allure of superhero life comes crashing down on Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid) when his girlfriend is violently and haphazardly murdered in front of his eyes by a superhero. Already tracking the nefarious antics of superheroes are The Boys, a group of regular humans negatively impacted by the antics of superheroes lead by Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) who is determined to see the downfall of superheros and the company that employees them. Hughie just might be the person to help him accomplish that goal.

Amazon Prime’s The Boys is a brilliantly gory masterpiece that tackles modern day issues with grace and unapologetic bluntness. From the #metoomovement to drug usage, this show is less about traditional superheroes saving the day and more about the physical and mental toll it takes to uphold and idea of what it means to be a superhero despite wanting to walk away from it all.

The Boys shows multiple perspectives of how of society functions in a social media rich environment that can make or break a career with a single tweet. Annie January / Starlight (played by Erin Moriarty), dreams of joining The Seven in hopes of making a difference in the world. Naive about the role of a superhero, she is soon groomed by Vought International, stripped of her identity and purity; now faced with the reality of the dark side of being a female in a male-dominated working environment, she suffers through sexual abuse just to fit into the group.

The Seven also has The Deep (played by Chase Crawford), a sad version of Aquaman who is immature, arrogant and makes Starlight’s life hell. However, as the show continues, it’s slowly revealed the pure hell and taunts he must deal with by his own teammates. Even A-Train (played by Jessie T. Usher) is willing to do whatever it takes to reach success by staying relevant with his fans no matter how it bleeds into his personal relationships and threatens the lives of others.

Then there’s Homelander (played by Antony Starr), the leader of The Seven whose Captain America-like presence makes people feel safe. Children adore him, people want to be him and Vought International can’t get enough of him. Even his close relationship with Madelyn Stillwell (played by Elisabeth Shue), the Vice President of Vought International is an unbreakable bond of friendship.

As the story progresses we soon realize just how dark and deadly their partnership can become. Homelander just may be the most twisted “hero” of them all, bordering on being a textbook sociopath (similar to Patrick Bateman in American Psycho).

Developed by Eric Kripke, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen, they have taken Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s comic book to the next level, that will delight fans of the comic while allowing newbies to experience what made fans fall in love with material in 2006. If you’re looking for a cute story about superheroes saving the world and being wholesome, this isn’t the show for you. This is TV adaptation that’s bold, violent and shockingly important commentary on our society.

From hard-hitting action sequence to the rich looking costumes, The Boys feels and looks like it was ripped from the headlines, exposing people’s true nature in all its ugly parts making it one of the best comic book adaptations so far.

 

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