In the last decade, Marvel (or better said Disney) has proven that many have suspected already: that there is a lot of money to be made off big-screen comic book adaptations. They spent more than ten years building up the Marvel Cinematic Universe that went out with a bang this summer: Avengers: Endgame, the final piece in the series, has overtaken Avatar as the highest-grossing movie ever (not adjusted for inflation, of course).
The slow buildup of the MCU has inspired many other studios to transpose different comic book universes to film - with varied success - and determined everyone from toy manufacturers to video game developers and even online slot software providers to try their luck at superhero-themed works. At the same time, DC tried to follow the path of Marvel, launching its superhero ensemble, but failed - its serialized superhero stories, in turn, are faring pretty good. We've also seen darker, more adult-oriented comics come to life on the screen - HBO will soon release its "Watchmen" series, "Blade" will return to the MCU, "Venom" made his debut on the silver screen, and "The Punisher" returned to his brutal, murderous ways in a Netflix TV series as well. A decade after Marvel's superheroes blasted into the world of popular culture, the time is finally ripe for a different kind of superhero show to hit the screens. The time for Amazon's "The Boys" has come.
Not another comic book adaptation
"The Boys" is based on a comic book series with the same name first released in 2006 by WildStorm Productions. It depicts an alternate reality where superheroes exist - and they are controlled by a multinational corporation called Vought International. At the time of its release, Windstorm was already a part of the DC Comics group, known for its darker, more adult-oriented publications. "The Boys" fits perfectly among them: it is violent, often gory, and pretty depressive.
Paramount tried to adapt the comic book to film back in 2008 but after five years of struggles, the project was silently dropped by the studio. Considering the extensive universe and the complex story, a feature-length film probably wouldn't've been the perfect form of this adaptation anyway.
Meet "The Boys"
Eric Kripke, the producer behind the successful CW series "Supernatural", is the brain behind the series. The main cast of the series consists of Karl Urban, the New Zealand actor who has been everything from Judge Dredd to Dr. McCoy, Jack Quaid (as in the son of Dennis Quaid and Meg Ryan), Elisabeth Shue, Antony Starr, and Erin Moriarty of "Jessica Jones" fame.
"The Boys" is the name of a group of vigilantes hell-bent on exposing and bringing down Vought, the mega-corporation controlling the "Seven", a superhero ensemble consisting of (you guessed it) seven super-powered heroes. This is a task harder than it seems, considering that Vought is perhaps the biggest company in that world's America with an insane amount of cash behind it, and enough dirt in its archives to control pretty much every politician they want. Every member of the team has their agenda: Hughie (Quaid) saw his girlfriend be torn to pieces by an impact with a speeding superhero, Billy Butcher, a former federal agent with a personal score to settle, Frenchie (Tomer Capon) is a mercenary arms dealer that specializes in making supes disappear, and Mother's Milk, Butcher's former coworker. They are helped by Annie, also known as "Starlight", a super-powered girl who realizes that life with the "Seven" is not as ideal as she thought, and Kimiko, a silent "supe" with regenerative powers and a bad temper.
In the other corner, we find Vought represented by Madelyn (Elisabeth Shue), the charismatic vice president of the company whose priority is preserving its image and bottom line, and Homelander (Antony Starr), the seemingly perfect leader of the Seven, who presents himself as patriotic and brave but has his share of dark secrets
Going into any more detail about "The Boys" would spoil it, so let's just stop here, and look at some details about the series that's been called "deliciously cynical", and "a thrilling ride". Rotten Tomatoes' critical consensus (where the series holds an 83% approval rating and a 94% audience score) has this to say about the series "Though viewer's mileage may vary, The Boys' violent delights and willingness to engage in heavy, relevant themes are sure to please those looking for a new group of antiheroes to root for". It's not the occasional gore and nudity, and not the more than 400 F-bombs dropped by the characters that give the series it's "mature audience" rating but its depressingly relevant setting: if you take away the superheroes, it could easily work as a drama exposing the greed, corruption, and perversion of today's corporate and political world. This novel approach to the entire superhero genre - where we don't root for the "supes" but the vigilantes who want to take them down - gives the series a refreshingly novel feel.
There is no telling how many Amazon subscribers have watched the show (Amazon is not very good at releasing specific figures), it is definitely a success. Amazon had this to say about its new hit: "We are thrilled that The Boys have surpassed our predictions for viewing in its first two weeks, and has become one of our most-watched Amazon Original series." Does this mean that "The Boys" will get a second season? Let's hope so. If we are to believe Karl Urban's Instagram update, "bloody diabolical" things are already being "cooked up" for the second season.