Back in August last year I was really surprised by The Boys, a wildly irreverent take on the Superhero genre that was dropped onto Amazon Prime, especially since I’d never heard of the Garth Ennis creation that it was based on. It proved to be one of Amazon’s biggest successes and a clear indication that Amazon had to be compared to the likes of Netflix regards worthy genre series.
I wrote back then that the joy of The Boys was its anti-Marvel/DC stance: “These guys lie and kill with wild abandon, and with no supervillains to keep them in check or validate their existence they run amok abusing their powers/position and manipulate public opinion through corporate videos and events. We can recognise the manipulation of social media and celebrity culture and it all looks pretty realistic”.
That is partly addressed with season two, in that the central storyline is how the superheroes Corporate paymaster, Vought, orchestrates an outside threat of what are either super-terrorists or super-villains, in order to justify their position above both the law and public/government scrutiny. The position of good and evil seems immaterial to Vought, whose CEO Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito, who one suspects plays these parts on autopilot) confesses a position that its really all about the bottom line, and profit: right and wrong has nothing to do with it. It suggests a commentary on the power of corporations, multi-nationals and the boys from Silicon Valley in our real world.
Indeed, its true that The Boys operates as a metaphor for modern issues in just the same way original Star Trek did at its best. Conspiracy theorists will have a ball with how events are manipulated through social media and its quite timely in how it raises race issues (how sad it is that race issues always seem so timely?), with its white-supremacist/secret Nazi ‘heroine’ Stormfront (Aya Cash), how she cynically manipulates the press and media to serve her ends. I also got a kick out of the ‘movies-within-the-show’ VCU and its comparisons to the MCU (turning the behind the scenes of the MCU into a soap opera, which is a delicious idea- imagine Thor bitching that Captain America gets all the best lines in Endgame). Its all very arch and witty and dark, and yes, just as wildly violent and gory as last year. The Boys is a great show that while this latest edition largely offers more of the same, it could well be argued its even better. Roll on Season three!
Having completed its weekly airing schedule, all episodes of The Boys Season Two are now available for bingeing on Amazon Prime.