The Boys Review

Supermen vs The Boys


The Boys Poster

Chuck Sipps, Arts and Life Editor

Amazon’s ‘The Boys’ irreverently asks the question “What if Superman was real and didn’t much care for truth, justice and the American way?” The world of ‘The Boys’ is filled with Supers, primary among them The 7. While The 7 is unquestionably made up of Supers, it’s not so cut a dry as to whether or not they are heroes.

Each member of The 7, who are apart of Vought Corporation, operates as a perverse reflection of a famous comic book character, Homelander: Superman, Queen Maeve: Wonder Woman, A Train: The Flash, The Deep: AquaMan, Translucent: The Invisible Women, Black Noir: Black Panther, Starlight: Starfire. Of them, it is Anthony Starr’s Homelander that shines brightest thanks to his nuanced and uncomfortable performance. Homelander is nigh-indestructible and in every scene, it is painfully apparent just how easy it would be for him to destroy everything and everyone and how hard it is to contain himself. He may play a hero on TV and in the Movies but seeing how his mind operates is downright chilling at times.

Despite The 7’s fame, it is ‘The Boys’ themselves who steal the show. Each member of The Boys are simple humans that have been harmed by the callousness of Superheroes. While heading to lunch with his girlfriend, Hughie Campbell’s entire world changes. The speedster A-Train accidentally kills Hughie’s girl sending him down a dark and dangerous world. Hughie operates as the audience surrogate for the show. His entire life has been spent blissfully unaware at how vile these heroes can be, and together with the audience learns how depraved the Superpowered can be.

While it is Hughie that guides the audience, it is Karl Urbans’ Billy Butcher that shows him the ropes. Urban is a revelation in the role, showcasing a clearly broken man trying to give gods the spanking they so rightfully deserve. Urban attacks each scene with relentless charm and malice; both of which mask the pain that underscores each and every one of Urban’s actions. While it is undeniable that some of The Seven deserve punishment, watching how far Butcher is willing to go to exact vengeance colors the world with some interesting shades of grey.

What follows from here on out contains major spoilers for season 1. If you are interested in watching and ultra-violent and morality questioning super-hero romp than ‘The Boys’ is a much watch. Last Spoiler warning.

We learn that Butcher is on his quest for vengeance because he believes Homelander both raped and murdered his wife. The end of the series leads to the shocking revelation that Butcher may have been wrong on both accounts. His wife’s relationship with Homelander may have been consensual and she is indeed still alive. In fact, she has gone into hiding with her son, who just so happens to be the child of one of the most powerful beings in the universe, Homelander. Was this an attempt to create a more emotionally stable version of Homelander? It is stated that because Homelander was raised in a lab and because of this it led to his morally compromised nature. Could this be an attempted do-over to create a Superman with a conscience?    

Also, there is the fallout of Butcher’s attempt to take down Homelander. Bucher rigs Madelyn Stillwell, Homelander’s handler and the personification of his Oedipal desires, with explosives in an attempt to hurt the indestructible Homelander in the only way possible, emotionally. Butcher believes that killing the only person Homelander ever truly cared about is the only way to hurt the indestructible Super. Ultimately Homelander kills Stillwell himself, after learning she lied to him about the fate of his unborn child, and unperturbed Butcher sets off the explosives anyway. Thanks to Homelander’s abilities, both himself and Butcher escape the situation unharmed. But what of Stillwells’s infant son who was in the blast radius? It wouldn’t be the first time Homelander didn’t save the innocent, and throughout the season his jealousy has only grown towards the baby boy for stealing Stillwell’s attentions. What does this say about Butcher? Is he so beyond redemption that the murder of a child means nothing to him?

Finally, just how many Supervillains did Homelander create? Using the substance Compound V, the secret drug used to create all supers, Homelander manufactured a threat that only he and his fellow 7 members can conquer, Supervillains. This was done to increase the wealth and influence of Vought Industries. The show reveals Naqib, a terrorist super with terrifying powers, obliterating a team of marines. How many more villains are out there and just how dangerous are these new threats? We will have to wait for Season 2 of ‘The Boys’ to find out.