From the first episode, Amazon Prime Video’s adaptation of The Boys perfectly sets up a world where power, corruption, and superheroes go hand-in-hand. Based on the Dynamite comic by writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson, The Boys takes a very disturbing look at what happens when the heroes are not the squeaky clean do-gooders the media wants you to think they are. In fact, they are awful. It takes someone worse to keep them in check and that’s where Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) and his team come in.
Our window into this universe is Hughie, played by Jack Quaid. A devastating tragedy at the hands of a Supe forces Hughie to see in gruesome detail the result of a careless, superpowered person. All of his respect for the Supes, specifically for The Seven, goes right out the window, which makes him the perfect candidate to help Butcher in his own personal quest to take down the team. Despite his protests in giving into his anger and desire for revenge, Hughie soon realizes (much to his dismay) that he is actually really good at some of the darker parts of the job.
While there are a few changes from the source material, the differences work. The universe is clear, and the vibe set up by Ennis and Robertson is there from the first frame. You are immediately immersed in a world of hero worship, corporate manipulation, and the struggle of people who have suffered because of it.
The streaming series succeeds in making every character, including The Seven, complicated people. The Supes do and say reprehensible things, but as the series progresses and you learn more about them, you see that there are some gray, tragic areas inside them, too.
The cast is solid. Quaid’s sad, conflicted Hughie makes him the sympathetic character the audience needs to view this universe from every sordid angle. Antony Starr’s Homelander is complex, aggravating, and yet sad, while Erin Moriarty as Starlight captures the wide-eyed innocence of a young Supe who really wants to do good things but gets shoved into a horrific world of violence, sex, and corporate puppetry.
Urban as Billy Butcher, however, steals the show in every scene. He is crude, callous, and dangerous, yet still charming and funny. When you learn more about his vengeance quest, he is also vulnerable and tragic.
The Boys is definitely worth the watch. Be warned — it is graphic and unsettling, and some scenes are uncomfortable. But that is completely by design, because living in this world is definitely not for the faint of heart.