When I heard about “The Boys” I was not enthused. I’m burnt out on superheros. Endgame came at the right time. I’m not done with Marvel, but they can just chill their boots for awhile. But then I heard Karl Urban was in it, and then the premise and I perked up. I’m completely unfamiliar with the source material so I thought I might sign up for it. And what I came away with was team that bonded unlike any other group I had ever seen since the “Spice Girls”. I mean seriously, tell me whatcha want……ya want “The Boys”.
The boys is a twist on Marvel and DC Universe and it poses the question, “What if the Super Hero’s were actually bad guys?” And in this instance they are used as extended tools of a mass corporation exploiting them to their advantage. Before you feel bad for these hero’s they’ve also been exploiting their power to their advantage. That is until average Joe “Hughie Campbell” played by Jack Quaid’s girlfriend is killed accidentally by a super hero in front of his face. The response from the “Hero’s” is pretty lackluster and as a response he teams up with Billy Butcher to have his revenge on the power that ruined his life.
Bad Boys, Bad Boys
Seriously. If you are uncomfortable with the first five minutes or even the first episode it’s only going to continue to escalate. “The Boys” is full of crudeness, voracious violence, harsh dialogue, and deeply flawed characters. This is the point and this is what makes it interesting.
I usually find villains to be more interesting and in this playing field. They are often more complex to the point of almost validating their motivations. This is also why I am a huge fan of the anti-hero and save a few choice characters here “The Boys” features almost villains and anti-hero’s exclusively. Everyone, even the best good guys make some seriously moral compromises. You don’t get lost in the struggle with some of the harsh choices the good guys make towards being bad, and you don’t get lost when you realize some of the bad guys might not be quite as evil as you think either.
Urban Vs. Shue
Karl Urban and Elisabeth Shue anchor everyone else’s performances by both playing opposite ends of the power struggle. Urban plays “Billy Butcher” a man who doesn’t play by any rules and is consumed by vengeance. If you look underneath all of the gruff and anger there’s a relatively good guy in there trying to do right. His vigilante justice and uncompromising tunnel vision to undermine the entire evil empire running the corrupt superhero’s. His counterpart is played by Shue. Madelyn Stillwell is cool, calm, domineering and plays the both the corporate game while managing her gang of less than hero’s to make money. She’s fueled by ambition, but like Billy Butcher is uncompromising in her tactics to achieve her goals. This makes a power struggle worth watching.
The narrative and exposition is constantly evolving and building. The second you get comfortable in a space you are uprooted. The constant forward motion emotes the sense of inevitability as the seemingly doomed finale approaches. Don’t confuse inevitable with predictable, because there is no predictability in this story at almost any given time. I’m curious to see how it holds up on a second viewing. Since Amazon has already green lit a second season, there will definitely be a revisit of this season.
Spice Up Your Life
The Boys might not be for everyone, but for a darker trip down hero lane and some great political satire this was refreshing even though it was layered by darkness. It’s a new twist on well traveled terrorist and was a welcome perspective. Taking it to an “R” rated level of violence, language, and content only diversified itself from other shows and films in this genre. There was comedic relief, but it’s not “Deadpool” comedy either. I loved “The Boys”. It’s always great when you finish a series and cannot wait for the next season to arrive.
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