In the last few years, there’s been a juggernaut of superhero movies, each with a dedicated fan base that never seems to grow tired of watching the latest force for good (in tight pants) rise above a nemesis (in equally tight pants) with a bizarre plan for world domination.
But what happens when the superhumans we revere start displaying the ugliest of all human qualities, and become susceptible to corruption in their quest for glory? Would we still admire these superhumans if it turned out that they are merely pawns in the hands of dozens of PR teams, and corporations with less than pure intentions?
This is the exact premise of Amazon Prime Video’s The Boys, season 2 of which released on the streaming platform earlier this week. Following the story of “The Seven”, a collective of brash superheroes, and the titular “Boys”, a group of not-so-special vigilantes with their own personal vendettas, the show essentially seeks to answer the question: What goes on behind the scenes of every superhuman origin story?
The show is at times hilarious and at times very violent. But also extremely watchable, largely in part due to its host of (rather unlikable) superhumans, such as:
The answer to the question “What would a superhero from the darkest timeline look like?”, Homelander is easily the least likeable character in the series, given that his intentions from the get-go seem to be purely evil. In public appearances, he comes across as an erudite and modest man, with powers that make him the most obvious choice to lead “The Seven”. This image as the quintessential all-American American also makes him a role model for kids. Behind the scenes, though, there’s enough evidence to prove that access to too much power will always bring out the worst in us.
Putting the “human” in “superhuman” is Starlight, an ordinary down-to-earth girl who is thrown into this Universe along with the viewer. All Annie January wanted when she was younger was to use her powers for good. However, as she soon discovers soon after her induction into “The Seven” as “Starlight”, it isn’t easy being a woman in a world obsessed with profits, or one full of perverts in high positions — even if you’ve been blessed with unnatural strength and the ability to detonate energy bombs at will.
The latest addition to “The Seven”, Stormfront is a social media starlet who can shoot plasma out of her hands, and also seems to be able to do no wrong — in the eyes of her millions of doting followers, at least. However, when the upstart begins to threaten her boss Homelander’s massive fan base with her relatable memes and opinions, and slowly emerges as one of the more likeable superheroes in this Universe, skeletons start to tumble out of the closet, leaving viewers wondering — much like the case in real life — who the real person behind this popular social media persona is.
On the face of it Queen Maeve is a feminist icon — a role model to every young girl in this Universe. However, seeing as she’s also stuck in a world run by businessmen with money on their minds, her character also perfectly encapsulates how often women have to compromise on their ideals, and submit to “the way of the world” just to earn a seat at the table with their male counterparts. Now a disillusioned shell of her former self, this expert martial artist is likely to have a pivotal role to play in the new season.
The only non-superhero in this list, Billy Butcher is a former secret agent-turned-vigilante with a massive bone to pick. Butcher is driven solely by his desire to annihilate “The Seven”, who he believes have done more damage to humanity than good. In the first season, he emerges as the unlikely hero of the series, whether he’s planning murders with a grin on his face, or bludgeoning his opponents in gratuitously gory sequences. But as the cliffhanger at the end of that season proves, no one in this show is without a dark side.
As these characters prove, the The Boys 2 is expert satire, and one that couldn’t have come at a better time than when superhero stan culture has reached its climax. Watch the first three episodes of The Boys Season 2 on Amazon Prime Video and see for yourself.