‘The Boys’ comic was created in 2006 under DC Comics’ Wildstorm imprint. Co-Creators Garth Ennis (writer of the series) and Darick Robertson (artist of the series) then took the series with them to Dynamite Entertainment, which offered more creative freedoms for where the book would eventually take them. It was a series known for taking your ideas of what a hero is, and shoving it through the grinder of life, only to come out with the sausage everyone knows and loves. This series shows you how the sausage was created and, you guessed it, it was not pretty. That was the entire draw of the book. You get to see what the heroes and villains do when they aren’t in the lime light and it was raw, gritty, and utterly fantastic. Now, this book wasn’t for your average reader. Oh no. Far from it. But, if you were looking for something different and you could stomach the raw violence and sexuality of it all, then you were going to be taken for an amazing ride unlike any other comic you had ever read.
With all of this going for it, it is no wonder that ‘The Boys’ has had trouble making it to any screen. The world has only seen the likes of the “happy” heroes. With the exception of DC as of late, most comic book movies are bright, funny, and kid-friendly because (and we’re all adults here so we can admit it) people don’t want to see real-world solutions to superhero problems. You’re not going to see a nut-shot, or Captain America and Bucky making out (I’m speaking directly to the fan-fiction writers on this one), or gratuitous violence of any sort (unless your Deadpool and, even then, not nearly as violent as The Boys). No. You are going to see the epitome of The Hero’s Journey. Insert good-looking male/female hat wants to make a difference, give them a love interest, give them a power, give them a problem, give them a solution, they finally get with the love interest, and then give them a sequel. You’ll get that in some respects with The Boys, but it will be rated a hard R for sure.
Keeping all of that in mind, last night I was privy to a preview screening of Amazons’ most ambitious original series yet, an adaptation of ‘The Boys’. Seth Rogen (known for Superbad, Pineapple Express, and a number of other comedies) Evan Goldberg (producer of said movies and more) and Eric Kripke (creator of Supernatural, Revolution, and Timeless) adapted the series for Amazon and have taken to the source material like a fish to water. Whether or not the trio were fans of the series before this endeavor is neither here nor there because the first episode shows that they took this job serious and did NOT want to disappoint fans.
Whether you were a fan of the original series, or even the spin-off “Herogasm”, you will find something to love because the first episode was PHENOMENAL! While taking liberties to not make it too “on the nose” with the comic, the cast and writers have fully invested themselves in the characters and have thrown all caution to the wind. From start to finish, this episode is a love letter to the fans that are needing an outlet from the overly exasperating, and cinematically repetitive, stories that currently make up the entirety of superhero film, be it small or big screen. This is in no way a bash to those movies as I still love watching Captain America beat up Nazi’s, Thor take down Frost Giants, and Superman still save the occasional kitten from a tree. This is just to say that where Warner Bros. was going with its gritty cinematic universe, ‘The Boys’ has certainly surpassed it by understanding the dynamics they are putting into play when turning the viewers’ attention towards the morally depraved aspect of super humans. Therein that last sentence was the key word that the showrunners latched onto for this world over run with powers…”humans”.
With understanding of the material, comes a hefty task in bringing those characters to life. I have to give credit to Eric Dawson, Carol Kritzer, Alex Newman, and Robert J. Ulrich. Their casting has helped make this series a reality. I was beyond skeptical when I first saw the casting and, as a fan, I honestly thought some people just wouldn’t work. Mainly because the internet as a whole has beaten the casting call to death for ‘The Boys’. However, these four people obviously saw something that no one else did and pulled the trigger. We may as well call these four “The Untouchables”. Absolutely superb job in casting. I, and everyone who will watch the show will probably agree, are forever in your debt for creating such an amazing cast.
Speaking of the cast, WOW! Everyone looks, and sounds, the part! It’s as if they jumped right out of the book! The suits of The Seven are amazing and not too over-thought. I absolutely LOVE that. Everyone’s demeanor “on screen” and then the way they truly acted “out of the spotlight” was so contradictory that it really helped feed into their God Complex personas. Then you have the “chaotic good” Billy Butcher, played by the insanely talented Karl Urban. I was “iffy” with the look, until I saw the trailer. The episode confirmed it for me and I was happy to put that feeling away. It’s almost as if Garth Ennis envisioned Mr. Urban when he created the character. Absolutely stunning performance. They were really pushing the tag line (pictured below) when they let the actors and actresses do their work.
Before I am done with this article, I have to give a tip of the hat to Jack Quaid. Going into ANY talks of ‘The Boys’ being brought to film, I (along with any other fan) was totally against anyone other than Simon Pegg playing ‘Wee’ Hughie Campbell. It just couldn’t be…here we go with that crackpot casting team again. Jack Quaid not only played the part perfectly, he made it his own. Not many people can say that they were able to take a character that was created for one person in this world to play (LITERALLY, Simon Pegg or bust) and have the audience eating out of their hand. THAT is a testament to how well Jack Quaid did his job. Even with Simon Pegg playing Wee’s father (BEAUTIFUL way to pay homage to the likeness) Jack Quaid was able to shine in this role.
I wish I could go on forever about the rest of the cast (Elisabeth “OMG” Shue, Erin “Starlight” Moriarty, Chace “BEAUTIFUL” Crawford, Dominique “Queen Maeve” McElligott, and Antony “The Homelander” Starr and everyone else in the cast) because they really do deserve all the recognition for their parts in this show. They are all masterful and really helped bring all the characters to life in a way that already has me wanting to watch the episode again. It’s rare to see this talented of a crew in one show and I, for one, am so happy that they did it right.
If you just wanted the highlights, here you go. ‘The Boys’ is a must see show that will leave you begging for more. It consists of an insanely talented cast and crew that put a lot of hard work, thought, and heart into bringing the immorally saturated world of ‘The Boys’ to life. If you’re a fan of the comic, you are not going to be disappointed.