REVIEWED: SEASON 1 (EPISODE 1) | WHERE TO WATCH: AMAZON PRIME VIDEO
Imagine a world where superheroes are a bunch of corrupt, mass-marketed, corporation-owned celebrity dicks. Now welcome to the world of The Boys.
As with Good Omens, Amazon Prime have gone all out in this adaptation of Mark Ennis’s comic, and judging on the first episode, they’re staying true to it. This isn’t the PG world of Marvel or DC – in The Boys, superheroes enjoy drugs and debaucherous sex in dark nightclubs and laugh about accidentally killing innocent civilians in the line of duty. In the public eye, their image is carefully managed and sold to the highest bidder by the shady Vought group.
Not everyone is too happy about the collateral damage the superheroes wreak though. Hughie (Campbell) wants retribution after a superhero accidentally kills his girlfriend. His father (Pegg) urges him to accept compensation and move in. Hughie hesitates until the mysterious Butcher (Urban) arrives on the scene, urging Hughie to help him investigate the superheroes and get revenge, ultimately becoming one of ‘The Boys’.
Meanwhile, young, idealistic Annie ‘Starlight’ January (Moriarty) is appointed to ‘The Seven’ – an elite group of superheroes – after a nationwide talent search. Her optimism quickly wanes as she realises The Seven are not what they seem.
One episode down and The Boys already looks incredibly promising. There are a couple of deviations from the comic but nothing major. We’re only introduced to two of ‘The Boys’ but the premise has been nicely set up already. Fans of the comics will be pleased to see Simon Pegg, who the character of Hughie was based on in the comics. But they might also be disappointed he’s not actually playing Hughie, who is considerably younger and un-Scottish here. Karl Urban is unfortunately miscast as Butcher, spouting a dodgy British accent that seems to have been borrowed from Dick Van Dyke in Mary Poppins and a distant Australian cousin. He’s not bad, it just would have suited someone like Clive Owen or Tom Hardy more.
Deadpool and Happy have shown R-rated comic adaptations can be successful and this has arguably paved the way for The Boys. Amidst a world of carefully managed social media and public image, The Weinstein-esque casting couch culture exists but so does the imminent reckoning of a TimesUp or MeToo movement. The cynicism from the comics is alive and well here and the best is yet to come. After all, Ennis once said this would ‘out-Preacher Preacher’. Herogasm anybody?