Piqua, Ohio, U.S.A. – I am going to admit something that may seem like a sacrilege to some readers: I’m tired of superheroes.
Although I wouldn’t put myself in the Martin Scorsese corner of saying they’re “not cinema,” Marvel and DC have conquered the film industry and, frankly, oversaturated the marketplace.
Marvel and DC studios have cracked the entertainment code, and created a cinematic, sure thing – churning out endless sequels, prequels and spinoffs, packing them with big names and recognizable characters, knowing a dedicated fan base will come out in droves – regardless of quality.
So deeply are audiences drowning in a sea of super-trite that a new genre has cropped up, serving as a liferaft for movie goers flapping in the water: the superhero deconstruction genre.
From Umbrella Academy to Watchmen, we’ve seen a shift to a more critical view of this medium. Yet none do it better than Amazon’s The Boys.
Starring Jack Quaid as everyman Hughie Campbell, the show literally starts off with a smash.
A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) the show’s Flash stand in – a drug-addicted, narcissistic murderer with a fear of being yesterday’s news – smashes into Hughie’s girlfriend Robin (Jess Salgueiro.)
A-Train is a member of The Seven, a Justice League-esque group of superheroes who save the day and pose for photo ops.
Unlike the Justice League, The Seven are private contractors, employees of the all-powerful megacorporation Vought International. (I wonder if the Amazon executive who okayed this show felt a twinge of irony.) Their leader is Homelander (Antony Starr), a blonde-haired, all American Superman type – if Superman was a violent sociopath with an Oedipus complex.
Alongside him are Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott,) a Wonder Woman type, The Deep (Chace Crawford,) an even more pathetic Aquaman, and Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell,) a black panther / Batman type, Translucent (Alex Hassell), and Starlight (Erin Moriarty,) a Supergirl type with serious doubts about what she got herself into.
Hoping to avenge his girlfriend’s death, Hughie joins The Boys, a secret group of vigilantes led by gruff, British man of action Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) with the help of right-hand man Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso,) French munitions expert Frenchie (Tomer Capon) and mute assassin Kimiko Miyashiro (Karen Fukuhara) with one goal in mind.
He aims to take down Vought International, and expose The Seven as the monsters they actually are. Hilarity, drama, and havoc ensues.
Now in its second season, The Boys is one of the smartest shows streaming today, utilizing unforgettable moments and a punk mentality to satirize celebrity culture, sensationalist media and the weaponization of patriotism by corporations.
Starr shines bright as Homelander, conveying a contempt and rage masked by feigned compassion like no other actor could.
Even so, every actor excels in bringing their roles to life, with their character’s nuances and moral ambiguities always explored in a compelling and realistic way.
Intersperse that with thrilling action sequences and sharp dialogue, and you have a sleeper hit that should be on the top of everyone’s bingewatching list.
Zurie Pope is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.