I’ll be honest, before this Amazon exclusive was announced, I had no idea what The Boys was. I’d never read the comics and quite frankly I couldn’t tell you the first thing about it. With that in mind I never thought I’d review this, especially given that I rarely review TV shows anyway. So why make an exception for The Boys? Because it’s absolutely fantastic that’s why! Now settle in and let me tell you why…
For those of you, who like me, have no idea what the story is before going into this then let me give you a quick spoiler-free rundown. Essentially The Boys is about a group of vigilantes who come together to try to bring justice to superheroes who have let their power go to their heads and are out of control. Often these vigilantes will have personal reasons for hating the famous heroes but I won’t spoil that here. The misfit gang is made up of Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid), Frenchie (Tomer Capon) and Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso). All of these actors portray their characters wonderfully. Jack Quaid does a brilliant job of taking Hughie from a shy and nervous geek to something entirely different come the end of the series, making his characters arc believable and fun to watch. Both Tomer Capon and Laz Alonso bring comedy and depth to the supporting roles of Frenchie and Mother’s Milk but it’s Karl Urban as Billy Butcher who unsurprisingly steals the show. You can just tell that Karl Urban had an absolute blast in this role. Billy Butcher is as shady as it gets and swears enough to make this series 18 rated purely based off his dialogue alone. He’s funny, entertaining but also has a backstory that makes you route for him throughout the entire story. Thanks to the incredible writing and brilliant performance by Urban, Billy Butcher has already gone down as one of my favourite anti-heroes of all time.
Onto the actual superheroes themselves. The idea is that a super company called Vought runs a Justice League/Avengers like team with ‘The Seven’ being the main group which the world knows whilst there’s also B-level heroes who help protect particular cities and states. The parallels are clear for all to see. Homelander acts as the Captain America/Superman role, leading the team of seven and played incredibly well by Antony Starr. You have ‘The Deep’ (Chase Crawford) who with his ability to breath underwater and speak with fish is an obvious but hilarious take on Aquaman/Namor. Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) is our resident Wonder Woman of the group while Flash-like speedster A-Train (Jessie T. User), Batman/Black Panther inspired Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) and invisible man Translucent (Alex Hassell) round up this group of undesirable so-called heroes. Each of them is unique, interesting and I genuinely felt like I could have happily watched a series dedicated to any one of these pretend heroes and that’s a testament to both the quality of the writing, the incredible actors and actresses and of course the source material which I am now massively tempted to read. The way these heroes are written is absolute genius and will be a nice surprise to those who may be getting a bit tired of the barrage of comic book movies and shows which hit cinema and TV year after year.
The story of heroes not being all that they appear to be has been done before but I can promise you that you have never seen anything like this. This sneak peek behind the hero curtain is equally disturbing as it is hilarious and will have you doubting the innocence of some of your most beloved fictional characters. The best way I can explain is to describe a scene from the first episode where Billy takes Hughie to a secret nightclub for superheroes. Once there we are treated to scenes including a tiny Ant-Man like character diving in between a woman’s legs, a stretchy hero feeling up as many men as his overly long arms can reach and other heroes just sitting around drinking and joking about innocent people they have accidentally murdered as collateral damage. It’s a refreshing outlook on how things might actually be if super powered people really did exist and I for one loved this change of pace.
Not all is lost with our heroes though, eagle eyed readers will have noticed when talking about ‘The Seven’ earlier that I only mentioned six dastardly heroes. A lot of the story focuses on Annie/Starlight (Erin Moriarty) who is the newest recruit to The Seven and innocently believes that they are all the wholesome heroes who have been falsely portrayed to her throughout her entire life. Honoured to be called up to the team, her dream quickly turns into a nightmare as she realises that each and everyone of The Seven including the company they work for are complete scum bags. Her story becomes whether or not she will give in to peer pressure and become just like the rest of them or stand her ground and be the hero she dreamed of being as a child. This tug of war within herself is a really interesting story and when mixed with the main narrative of the The Boys attempting to take down The Seven as well as a few other side plots that I won’t ruin, makes this 8 episode series one of the most entertaining and exciting shows that I have watched for a long time.
Outside of this show’s outrageously fun characters and story there’s a lot to be said about the visuals and special effects. Unsurprisingly there’s a fair amount of blood and gore to accompany the bad language and every bit of it is used to near perfection. It’s not just put in for cheap shock value, it’s there to add an extra layer of humour as well bring gravity to certain situations. It’s not overused and for the most part looks very believable. Even in some of the scenes where the effects didn’t look overly believable, they still looked gorgeous and had that feeling of being ripped straight out of a comic book. In fact pretty much every scene from the show looks spectacular, especially when viewed in 4K. The soundtrack doesn’t let the show down either and is a lot of fun, mixing big pop songs with gory violence and doing it incredibly well.
I really am struggling to pick out any negatives here. There were times towards the end where I began to slightly lose concentration in some scenes as I impatiently awaited the end of this great story and I will also say that the ending may split some people’s opinions. I really can’t say why without spoiling it of course but it’s a brave move. Though given that the entire show is so ballsy from beginning to end, it fits in with the shows aesthetics. All in all, any negatives that I do find is nitpicking. The Boys is such a fun and exciting breath of fresh air that it’s hard to say anything bad about it.
If you love comic book shows and movies then this is for you. Or if you are fed up with superheroes and claim to be one of those people suffering from superhero fatigue then this is also for you! Maybe you just enjoy a ton of swearing and a bunch of blood and guts… Then guess what? This is also for you!! What I’m trying to say is that unless you’re a soulless monster then you’re likely to find something to love about The Boys. Before I settled down for what ended up being an all day eight hour binge, I didn’t even know what The Boys was… Now I count myself as a big fan of the franchise. Roll on season 2! Till then, I’m off to find the comic book.
I give The Boys