There’s a new group of heroes in town. Well, not exactly.
‘The Boys’, Prime Video’s new black comedy action series, revolves around the no holds barred — and uber violent — conflict between a group of vigilantes named The Boys (headed by Karl Urban’s Billy Butcher) and The Seven, a corrupt gang of superheroes who have taken to the dark side of celebrity.
A twist on the squeaky clean, morally righteous superheroes that have dominated cinema screens, ‘The Boys’ rips through with eight gory, R-rated episodes based on Garth Ennis’ and Darick Robertson’s eponymous comic book series. Here are six things you need to know.
1. The superheroes are NOT the good guys
Would a superhero kill your sweetheart? Probably not. ‘The Boys’ starts when a Supe murders Robin, girlfriend of A/V salesman Hughie Campbell, in an astonishingly graphic manner. The grief-stricken Campbell teams up with the highly dangerous Billy Butcher, who has a particular disdain for corrupt Supes. Together with The Boys — Butcher’s gang of vigilantes — they try to expose the ugly truth behind The Seven, who on the surface are in the business of saving lives, but only do it for glory, fame and power. So, forget the chivalry you’ve come to expect from Steve Rogers and the overall righteousness of Superman. There’s a new breed of heroes on the block — and they’re not your friends.
2. The protagonist was modelled after Simon Pegg in the comics
“Wee” Hughie Campbell — the man who loses his girlfriend in a violent attack and subsequently deals with PTSD — was modelled to look like actor Simon Pegg in the comics. Hughie’s character had to have a balance between innocence and toughness, according to creator Garth Ennis; his co-writer Darick Robertson had been a fan of Pegg’s work — from the British sitcom ‘Spaced’ to the horror comedy ‘Shaun of the Dead’ — and found that Pegg’s characters tended to embody those two contradicting qualities. Pegg hadn’t given permission to use his likeness, but he was totally on-board and even wrote a foreword for one of the volumes. Pegg doesn’t portray Hughie Campbell in the TV series (played by Jack Quaid), but he does appear as Hughie’s father.
3. The show is a major TV comeback for this teen heart-throb
Actor Chace Crawford is best known for his portrayal of lacrosse-playing socialite Nate Archibald in The CW’s teen drama ‘Gossip Girl’. But as catty as high school drama can be, he’s in a much more sinister setting on ‘The Boys’ — his first major TV comeback in years. He plays antagonistic character The Deep, a member of The Seven and a self-proclaimed ‘King of the Sea’. According to 34-year-old Crawford, however, finding work after ‘Gossip Girl’ hasn’t been easy. He told The Independent: “It’s frustrating when you know you’re not getting cast because you look… well, because you’re a heart-throb from this thing.”
4. ‘Gossip Girl’ isn’t the only CW connection on ‘The Boys’
‘The Boys’ was developed by Eric Kripke, the creator of The CW’s longest-running series, ‘Supernatural’. It’s been nearly 15 years since Kripke created the popular dark fantasy show (originally for The WB) about two brothers who battle demons, poltergeists and other supernatural beings. ‘Supernatural’ is ongoing, having surpassed 300 episodes, but it will conclude after its upcoming season 15.
5. It’s as outrageous as ‘Preacher’, according to creator Ennis
‘The Boys’ comic book co-creator Garth Ennis also wrote the DC Comics series ‘Preacher’ — both known for their violence and adult themes. Comparing the two, Ennis said: “‘Preacher’ was an epic western of massive scope, ‘The Boys’ is a much tighter, more claustrophobic urban drama, almost a crime story. Where the two are similar is in sheer outrageousness.”
In 2013, Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg (along with Sam Catlin) teamed up to develop the TV adaptation of ‘Preacher’ for AMC. Rogen and Goldberg were set to direct the first episode of ‘The Boys’, but dropped out due to scheduling conflicts. In their place came Dan Trachtenberg; his previous work includes directing the award-winning ‘10 Cloverfield Lane’ and ‘Black Mirror’ episode ‘Playtest’. Other ‘The Boys’ directors include Matt Shakman, who worked on ‘Game of Thrones’ and ‘Fargo’, and ‘Advantageous’ director Jennifer Phang.
6. ‘The Boys’ has already been renewed for a second season
The fate of several comic book adaptations on streaming services has been cancellation, including the Marvel Netflix Originals ‘Jessica Jones’, ‘Luke Cage’, ‘Daredevil’ and the ‘Punisher’. However, ‘The Boys’ has already been renewed for a second season — and was given the green light to keep going before the first season even premiered. So, there will definitely be at least one more go-round with these characters.