The Boys' shocking portrayal of violence takes Amazon's 'strange, perverted show' beyond the glossy exterior of superheroes and parody
One of the things to keep in mind is the fact that the graphic violence on the show is not only used for shock value but adds value to the depiction of the world Eric Kripke is trying to portray
Spoilers ahead for 'The Boys' season 1
'The Boys' is not for you if you expect sleek action and duels between the corrupt superheroes and individuals out for revenge. The show is much more than that and the same is portrayed brutally. There isn't time for you to feel sorry for the nobodys who later become 'The Boys' and are out for revenge because all your time is spent comprehending the shock of it all.
For instance, Jack Quaid's character Hughie Campbell is in love with a research student and on their way to lunch, the two stop at crossroads to share a heart-melting kiss because she has just asked him to move in together. It is a beautiful moment, but all of that vanishes in seconds when speedster A-train rushes by leaving a pool of blood, flesh and bones in his wake.
The scene is dreadful, but it drives the point home. In a world where superheroes are managed by corporate houses and work for money and power, loss of lives caused by these superheroes will be treated as nothing but collateral damage. With the power of brand building and marketing, the Super 7 - a group of seven superheroes managed by Vought - wreak havoc and leave a trail of victims.
The victims' families get money and in turn, they sign a non-disclosure agreement and the world is better off not knowing. Kids continue to idolize the Super 7 while there are people who are grieving the loss of their loved ones.
The violence in the show is not a one-off thing as it continues to be a part of the show. One of the things to keep in mind is the fact that the graphic violence on the show is not only used for shock value but adds value to the depiction of the world Eric Kripke is trying to portray.
It must also be noted that this brutality also helped the show escape the label of being a parody because that is not what the creator intended on delivering. Kripke stated during a press conference at the San Diego Comic-Con 2019 that this show was not a parody. He explained, "This one cannot feel like a parody, it has to feel like the real thing. Amazon has the resources to give us that. And creatively, they’ve just been amazing. They’ve really given us the chance to make this really strange, perverted show."
It is hard to stay unswayed by the show and with every episode, it is clear 'The Boys' is a commentary on how superhero obsession and hero-worshipping has influenced people. The repeated mentions of brand building in the show are no joke, as we all know how much work goes into building a brand and the work and effort that goes into keeping the image that is built, afloat. The fact that most of what we see on social media is curated is hard to digest, but 'The Boys' will convince you about it.
Another interesting plot point is that of Starlight (Erin Moriarty) going through workplace harassment in the most twisted manner. Firstly, the fact that she is "working" as a superhero is hard to fathom, and then we have a senior at the workplace, namely The Deep (Chase Crawford) harassing her and even going to the extent of putting her on the spot and blackmailing her into submission with his power.
At first, Starlight ends up taking it and when she does try to open up to her mother she is not listened to. She is conflicted and hates the fact that she stooped so low and this despite Starlight being a powerful young girl. The portrayal of this arc is brutal, yet somehow we understand Starlight's struggles.
It is not often that we see moral ambiguity portrayed so colorfully. For instance, the man who starts the chain of events triggering Hughie's need for vengeance - Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) - is definitely not thinking about moral values when he lies to Hughie.
He doesn't give two s***s about the emotional turmoil Hughie is in after his girlfriend's death because all he can think of is finding the truth behind the Super 7. He might momentarily empathize, but what really seems to drive Billy is erasing the Super 7's existence.
'The Boys' doesn't begin with a team but one is built little by little beginning with Billy Butcher and Hughie followed by Mother's Milk (Laz Alonso) and the others. Despite the twisted portrayal of superheroes on the show, there is more to the Boys who stand up against the Super 7. There is loyalty, vulnerability, doubts and weaknesses, all of which don't beat them as they push hard through it all.
'The Boys' began streaming on Amazon Prime Videos July 26.