Our Take: 4 Stars
In a time where superhero movies are a dime a dozen and seem to be the only kind of movies getting made, there is certainly some genre fatigue. How many Marvel movies are there now — 20? 30? Who knows?
When Amazon Prime Video released their original series “The Boys” last summer, it seemed to be an attempt to capitalize on the current superhero craze. The series, however, surprised viewers and critics alike. Irreverent and shockingly coarse, “The Boys” uses power-hungry superheroes to explore corruption, capitalism and American culture. Season two premiered on Sept. 4th, picking right back up where the first left off.
Based on a series of comic books of the same name, “The Boys” was adapted for the small screen by Eric Kripke, the creator of the long-running cult television series “Supernatural.”
What makes “The Boys” such an enjoyable watch is not the witty writing, high quality production, riveting storylines or the impeccable soundtrack, but the unforgettable characters.
The titular “boys” are a rag-tag group of criminals and video store employees with a vengeance against the ultra-powerful “supes.”
Karl Urban (“Star Trek”) plays Butcher, the group’s leader and mastermind. Urban, who often dons a variety of accents for roles, gets to break out his true New Zealand accent; as a result, his Butcher is effortlessly charismatic and impossible not to like — even when he is committing heinous crimes.
Alongside Urban is Jack Quaid (“Logan Lucky”) as Hughie, the boys’ greenest recruit. Following the accidental manslaughter of his fiancee at the hands of a supe, Hughie is out for revenge. Season two sees Hughie as the impromptu leader of the Boys, giving Quaid the chance to play more than a wimpy newbie. The surprising character arc adds depth.
The last two additions to the boys are Frenchie (Tomer Kapon, “When Heroes Fly”) — a French expat with a penchant for big weapons — and Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso, “Avatar”), a family man pulled back into the business to do some recon.
Opposite the boys are the “supes,” a team of superheroes owned by Vought, a billion dollar corporation whose goal is that of all billion dollar corporations: to make more billions. “The Boys” uses Vought to criticize the military industrial complex as the corporation lobbies congress to get a hefty defense contract in order to get their heroes in the military.
Vought’s premier superhero is Homelander, a blond-haired blue-eyed ultra-patriotic caricature of Captain America. If, that is, Captain America had laser eyes and cutthroat ambition. Homelander is portrayed by Antony Starr (“Banshee”), another New Zealander who knows how to slather on the charm. Starr’s performance is impressive as he switches effortlessly from America’s savior in front of the cameras to a ruthless terrorist-creating mastermind.
Contrasting Vought’s lead superhero is their newest recruit, Starlight. A wholesome midwestern 20-something, Starlight (Erin Moriarty “Blood Father”) provides a startling foil to Homelander. Starlight is bright eyed and bushy tailed — she has been training all her life to use her powers for good and to save the world. Unfortunately, there is no profit in saving civilians, something she soon must reconcile with.
The premiere of season two answered none of the questions that season one ended with, but hinted at answers to come.
Currently one of the best series on streaming right now, “The Boys” is a genre-bending show with heart and smarts. An action packed series specifically made for bingeing, it manages to be more by breaking out of genre norms, poking fun at modern political correctness and crafting lovable characters. “The Boys” is likely one of Amazon Prime’s first series that will run for several seasons.