The Boys (2019 TV series)
The Boys is an American superhero web television series based on the comic book of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. Developed by Eric Kripke for Amazon, it follows the eponymous team of vigilantes as they fight back against superpowered individuals who abuse their abilities.
The series premiered on July 26, 2019. Ahead of the premiere, Amazon renewed The Boys for a second season, which is set to premiere on September 4, 2020. Ahead of the second season premiere, the series was renewed for a third season.
PremiseThe Boys is set in a universe where superpowered individuals are recognized as heroes by the general public and owned by powerful corporation Vought International, which markets and monetizes them. Outside of their heroic personas, most are arrogant and corrupt. The series primarily focuses on two groups: the Seven, Vought International's premier superhero team, and the titular Boys, vigilantes looking to keep the corrupted heroes under control.
The Boys are led by Billy Butcher, who despises all superpowered people, and the Seven are led by the egotistical and unstable Homelander. As a conflict ensues between the two groups, the series also follows the new members of each team: Hughie Campbell of the Boys, who joins the vigilantes after his girlfriend is killed by one of the Seven; and Annie January / Starlight of the Seven, a young and hopeful heroine forced to face the truth about the heroes she admires.
Cast and characters
- Karl Urban as Billy Butcher, the leader of the Boys and a former CIA operative who distrusts all individuals with superpowers. He has a particular hatred towards Homelander, who he believes is responsible for the disappearance of his wife.
- Jack Quaid as Hughie Campbell, a member of the Boys who joins the vigilantes after his girlfriend Robin is killed by A-Train.
- Antony Starr as John / Homelander, the extremely powerful leader of the Seven. Beneath his public image as a noble hero, he is arrogant, sadistic, and cares little about the well-being of those he professes to protect. His image is modeled after Captain America and his powers are modeled after Superman.
- Erin Moriarty as Annie January / Starlight, a light-emitting superhero and new member of the Seven. Unlike many other superpowered individuals, Annie is genuine in her efforts to help the public.
- Dominique McElligott as Queen Maeve, a veteran member of the Seven who once wanted to protect innocent lives, but has become disillusioned and suffers from burnout. As the former girlfriend of Homelander, she knows his true character. She is modeled after Wonder Woman.
- Jessie T. Usher as A-Train, a speedster member of the Seven. He is determined to maintain his status as the fastest speedster, resulting in him becoming addicted to Compound-V. He is modeled after The Flash.
- Laz Alonso as Marvin / Mother's Milk, a member of the Boys responsible for organizing and planning the vigilantes' operations. He continually promises to leave the group for the safety of his family, in part due to his frequent clashes with Frenchie, but finds himself lured back by Butcher.
- Chace Crawford as Kevin / the Deep, a member of the Seven who possesses the ability to communicate with aquatic life and breathe underwater. He is looked down upon by the other members of the Seven due to his status as the group's token aquatic hero. He is modeled after Aquaman.
- Tomer Capon as Frenchie, a member of the Boys and mercenary skilled in munitions, ordinance, infiltration, and communications. Frenchie has a tendency to not follow the team's plans, which puts him in repeated conflicts with Mother's Milk.
- Karen Fukuhara as Kimiko / the Female, a mute, feral member of the Boys with enhanced strength and regenerative healing. Involuntarily injected with Compound-V as part of a scheme to create superpowered terrorists, she joins the Boys after they rescue her.
- Nathan Mitchell as Black Noir, a silent member of the Seven who possesses superhuman strength and agility and conceals his physical appearance behind a dark costume.
- Elisabeth Shue as Madelyn Stillwell, a charismatic, scheming vice president of Vought International.
- Simon Pegg as Hugh Campbell Sr, Hughie's father. He cares deeply for his son, but does not believe Hughie has the confidence to stand up for himself. Pegg was the visual inspiration for Wee Hughie in the comic book series from which the series is drawn.
- Jennifer Esposito as Susan Raynor, a deputy director of the CIA.
- Colby Minifie as Ashley Barrett, a publicist for Vought International who acts as Starlight's agent.
- Ann Cusack as Donna January, Starlight's mother. She groomed Annie to be a superhero since childhood out of a vicarious Princess-by-Proxy mentality.
- Christian Keyes as Nathan, A-Train's older brother and trainer.
- Alex Hassell as Translucent, a member of the Seven who can turn invisible by changing his skin into a diamond-hard carbon meta-material that warps light around him.
- Jordana Lajoie as Cherie, Frenchie's girlfriend and a weapons specialist.
- Malcolm Barrett as Seth Reed, a Vought Public Relations writer.
- David Reale as Evan Lambert, a Vought Public Relations writer alongside Seth Reed.
- Shaun Benson as Ezekiel, an elastic Christian superhuman who is secretly gay and leads a "Capes for Christ" campaign.
- Jess Salgueiro as Robin Ward, Hughie's girlfriend who was killed by A-Train in a high-velocity impact in the beginning of the series. She periodically makes appearances as a hallucination seen by Hughie due to a combination of PTSD and guilt.
- Laila Robins as Grace Mallory, an ex-CIA operative, informal founder of the Boys, and Butcher's mentor. Her grandchildren were killed by the superhero Lamplighter for her investigation into Vought, which made her relationship with Butcher antagonistic and caused Frenchie and Mother's Milk's feud.
- John Doman as Jonah Vogelbaum, the Vought scientist who created and raised Homelander in a sterile laboratory. Homelander tells Stillwell that he tortured Vogelbaum for answers, though his death is not confirmed.
- Nicola Correia-Damude as Elena, Queen Maeve's ex-girlfriend.
- Haley Joel Osment as Charles / Mesmer, an ex-superhero and former child-star who can read minds via skin-to-skin contact. After a temporary team up with the Boys, he betrays them to Homelander to become a “hero” again, though he is later killed by Billy Butcher.
- Brittany Allen as Charlotte / Popclaw, an actress and superhero in a secret relationship with A-Train. After the Boys used her as an informant, A-Train kills her on Homelander’s orders.
- Shantel VanSanten as Becca Butcher, Butcher's wife who went missing eight years earlier.
- Alvina August as Monique, MM's girlfriend and mother of their daughter, Janine.
- Nalini Ingrita as Janine, the daughter of MM and Monique.
- Brit Morgan as Rachel, Becca's sister and Billy's sister-in-law.
- Jackie Tohn as Courtenay, a Vought production assistant for their heroes.
- Débora Demestre as Isadora, Vought's suit designer for their heroes.
- Jim Beaver as Robert Singer, the US Secretary of Defense.
- Giancarlo Esposito as Stan Edgar, the CEO of Vought International and Stillwell's superior.
Season 1 (2019)
DevelopmentBetween 2008 and 2016, a film adaptation of The Boys had been in various stages of development at both Columbia Pictures and Paramount Pictures.
On April 6, 2016, it was announced that Cinemax was developing a television series adaption of the comic book. The production was being developed by Eric Kripke, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen. Kripke was set to write the series while Goldberg and Rogen were set to direct. Executive producers were reported to include Kripke, Goldberg, Rogen, Neal H. Moritz, Pavun Shetty, Ori Marmur, James Weaver, Ken Levin, and Jason Netter. Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson were set as co-executive producers. Production companies involved with the series included Point Grey Pictures, Original Film, and Sony Pictures Television.
On November 8, 2017, it was announced that Amazon Video had given the production a series order for a first season consisting of eight episodes. The series had reportedly been in development at Amazon for a number of months preceding the series order announcement. It was also reported that the previously announced creative team was still attached to the series.
Kripke wanted to retain a sense of reality to the show, and to keep the writers disciplined decided "Anything that comes out of this drug is viable, and anything that doesn't we're not allowed to do". He did not want to fall into the overused convention of killing off female characters to motivate the heroes and also saw an opportunity to surprise readers of the comics by changing the story of Butcher's wife Becky.
On April 30, 2018, it was announced that Dan Trachtenberg would direct the series' first episode. He replaces Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg who dropped out due to scheduling conflicts.
Ahead of the series premiere, on July 19, 2019, it was announced that Amazon Video had renewed the series for a second season. The eight scripts for the second season were completed by November 2019.
Ahead of the second season premiere, on July 23, 2020, Amazon renewed the series for a third season at the aftershow hosted by Aisha Tyler for San Diego Comic-Con@Home.
CastingOn December 18, 2017, it was announced that Erin Moriarty has been cast in the lead role of Annie January/Starlight. On January 17, 2018, it was reported that Antony Starr, Dominique McElligott, Chace Crawford, Jessie Usher, and Nathan Mitchell had joined the main cast. In March 2018, it was announced that Laz Alonso, Jack Quaid, and Karen Fukuhara had been cast in series regular roles. On April 5, 2018, it was reported that Karl Urban had been cast in the series' lead role of Billy Butcher. On May 16, 2018, it was announced that Elisabeth Shue had been cast in the series regular role of Madelyn Stillwell. On June 25, 2018, it was reported that Tomer Kapon had joined the main cast in the role of Frenchie. On August 30, 2018, it was announced that Jennifer Esposito had been cast in the recurring role of CIA Agent Susan Raynor. On October 5, 2018, it was announced during the annual New York Comic Con that Simon Pegg had been cast in the role of Hughie's father. According to the artist Robertson, Hughie was drawn in the comics to resemble Pegg after he saw Pegg in the sitcom Spaced, but Pegg thought he was too old to play the role of Hughie in the TV series.
On September 5, 2019, Goran Višnjić and Claudia Doumit were cast in recurring roles for the second season. A month later, Patton Oswalt was announced in an unspecified role. Aya Cash was confirmed to be portraying superheroine Stormfront in March 2020 following contract negotiations that began when the second season was announced.
FilmingPrincipal photography for the first season began on May 22, 2018, in Toronto, and was scheduled to last until September 25, 2018. Principal photography for the second season took place from June 17 to November 13, 2019, in Toronto.
ReleaseOn September 26, 2018, the official poster for the series was released. On October 5, 2018, in tandem with the series' panel at the annual New York Comic Con, a teaser trailer for the series was released. On January 24, 2019, another teaser trailer was released via Seth Rogen's official Twitter account. The series premiered on July 26, 2019, after another teaser was released. On July 22, Slipknot released a new single called "Solway Firth" with an accompanying music video which featured clips and audio from the show. On June 26, 2020, it was announced that season 2 will debut on September 4, 2020, with the first 3 episodes available and the rest debuting on a weekly basis.
Critical responseOn Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an approval rating of 84% based on 95 reviews, with an average rating of 7.66/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Though viewer's mileage may vary, The Boys violent delights and willingness to engage in heavy, relevant themes are sure to please those looking for a new group of antiheroes to root for." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 74 out of 100, based on reviews from 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Christopher Lawrence of the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote: "Irreverent, deliciously cynical, The Boys follows the greed and corruption behind the superhero industrial complex." Matthew Gilbert of Boston Globe wrote: "The cast is fine, particularly Shue, who is icily effective; Quaid, whose neurotic but brave fumblings are endearing; and Urban, who is Hughie's gonzo guide." Kristy Puchko at IGN gives the first episode a score of 7.2/10 and appreciates how the story comes from the comics but with clever changes. Puchko praises the cast, particularly "Moriarty brings a nuance to her performance that refuses to let Starlight feel like a two-dimensional damsel. She's not naïve. She's hopeful. And she's a fighter. The Boys makes all of that clear in short order." She concludes "The Boys could still be a thrilling ride as it subverts the expectations of the family-friendly genre, with dark twists and unapologetically graphic scenes of sex and violence. The premiere ep has a lot of heavy lifting to do in exposition, yet Kripke works in some stunner moments, jolts of fun, and stellar action sequences." Liz Shannon Miller of AV Club wrote: "Karl Urban proves to be a thoroughly committed performer as Billy Butcher, whose dedication to taking down "supes" of course has a personal edge, but then again, when you see what men like the blatantly fake and evil Homelander are getting up to it makes sense that he's devoted his life to taking down the cause."
Audience viewershipAlthough Amazon does not release specific viewing figures for their programs, Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said: "We are thrilled that The Boys have surpassed our predictions for viewing in its first two weeks, and has become one of our most watched Amazon Original series by our Prime Video customers."
In October 2019, Nielsen announced it had begun tracking viewership of Amazon Prime programs. It said The Boys had attracted 8million total viewers in its first 10 days of release, making it one of the most successful original programs on Amazon Prime.