Gleefully violent and irreverent, The Boys proves to be the best superhero show since the first season of Daredevil.
Just as Avengers: Endgame finally usurped Avatar to become the most successful film of all time, The Boys breathes more fresh air into the superhero genre, further dispelling any notions of superhero fatigue. The Boys takes place in a world, where superheroes are omnipresent, dominating culture and commerce in a way that is surprisingly and eerily similar to ours.
The most powerful superheroes constitute the Seven, an obvious analogue to DC’s Justice League, with the superheroes being twisted rip-offs of the founding members of the Justice League. This premiere team is commercialized by the shady Vought Corporation to a level that even the MCU merchandising machine would be proud of. These superheroes argue not about the number of lives they saved, but the box office sales they raked in from the Vought Cinematic Universe, while ESPN extensively covers a race between enhanced speedsters, even as SEO experts and brand management teams analyze approval ratings and social media stats. While we are used to superheroes with holier-than-thou ideals, they are amplified and taken to their extremes in The Boys.
While most of the public remains in the dark and laps up the capitalist offerings, Karl Urban’s Billy Butcher assembles a team of his own, to bring down the Seven, particularly Homelander, the all-American hero with Superman’s powers, who had allegedly raped his wife. Hughie (Jack Quaid) is the first to be recruited when his girlfriend is carelessly murdered by the speedster A-Train (Jesse Usher) when he is high on an enhancement drug. More allies gradually join their vendetta, and the show follows this ragtag team as they try to outmaneuver the all-powerful Seven.
Anthony Starr is brilliant as Homelander, the leader of the Seven, as he effortlessly switches between his charming public persona and his violent private one. The Seven’s newest recruit Starlight (Erin Moriarity), an actual do-gooder with big ambitions to save the world, learns firsthand why it’s truly best to never meet one’s heroes. We are also privy to clandestine discussions at Vought thanks to Elisabeth Shue’s Madelyn Stillwell, who puts in a revelatory performance as the manipulative senior executive who makes even the Seven toe the line in deference to Vought’s finances and agenda.
With just 8 episodes, the showrunners have nailed the pacing, weaving together all these disparate narrative threads into a seamless package that never lags, yet never seems rushed. Never suffering from any of the midseason bloat like most of the Marvel Netflix shows, The Boys proves to be the best superhero offering since the first season of Daredevil.