We all love superheroes, right? The Boys season one is, now streaming on Amazon Prime, this is our review. It presents an inverted – and really perverted – take on the traditional superhero story.
I mean, think about it. They fight and defeat bad guys! Defend innocent people! They give the common man something to believe in! They have superpowers and can do things that no one else can, and give people something to look up to and aspire to in life.
Now imagine all that, but just the total opposite.
What if superheroes were actually self-involved narcissists who cared more about their brand and public opinion than on the true content of their character? What if marketing numbers mattered more to superheroes than actually fighting crime? And what if superheroes weren’t bastions of greatness but instead corporate shills?
And most importantly: what if superheroes were, like, assholes?
If they were, who would keep them in check?
SPOILERS: Welcome to the first season review of The Boys. And before we go any further, this part should be obvious but massive spoilers lay ahead!
The Boys Season 1: What’s it all about?
In short, The Boys is based on the DC comic series of the same name. It doesn’t take a straightforward superhero story like so many others. The show takes a darker and more satirical look at what being a superhero would look like. If being a superhero was less “saving the world” and more “big business.” And boy does the satire cut deep.
The show starts off with a (very literal) bang, as mild-mannered Hughie Campbell’s girlfriend Robin is killed by a superhero named A-Train. A-Train is a member of the superhero group called The Seven, which is essentially the elite group of the greatest superheroes in America. As one might surmise, getting back at this elite group of superheroes would be nearly impossible. Not only are they literal superheroes with superpowers, but they are also protected by a group of lawyers, handlers, businessmen, and – especially – the shadowy Vought corporation.
But that doesn’t stop Hughie from trying, especially when he meets the enigmatic and nasty Billy Butcher. Butcher has an ax to grind against The Seven, much like Hughie does, but we don’t find out why early on. Instead, Butcher shows Hughie the seamy underworld of superheroes. He shows them the club where superheroes go to do drugs and party, and shows Hughie footage of A-Train laughing about Robin’s murder. Butcher convinces Hughie to plant a bug in Seven Tower to spy on the superhero team. This plan goes awry when one of the superheroes – Translucent – finds the bug and assaults both Hughie and Butcher before they subdue him. The two then team up with Butcher’s old friends Frenchie and Mother’s Milk (MM) to form The Boys, who keep Translucent captive until they ultimately kill him with a C4 explosive.
As all this is happening, we also follow the story of the newest superhero in The Seven named Starlight, aka Annie January. Starlight is a wide-eyed girl from the Midwest who gets inducted into The Seven after the retirement of Lamplighter. However, her optimism is quickly dashed when she is sexually assaulted by The Deep. Since she is new and can’t speak out yet, she is forced to be silent on this assault for a long time.
The Deep’s actions are far from unique for The Seven. Every member of the group is either overtly reprehensible (The Deep), conflicted and depressed (Queen Maeve), a self-important narcissist (A-Train), or some combination. The only one who seems above everything early on is the group leader: Homelander. Homelander is a representation of all that is good and pure about American values and wholesomeness…until he turns at the end of episode one by blowing up the mayor of Baltimore’s plane, killing him, his son, and everyone else on board.
As season one progresses, two main stories begin to drive the plot. The first is the budding relationship of Starlight and Hughie. The two of them begin as simply friends, then progress to reluctant lovers. After that, Starlight turns on the group and helps Hughie and The Boys attempt to take The Seven down from within. The second major is story is that of Compound V. Compound V is a mysterious substance that we learn is the fuel behind superheroes’ “origin stories.” Instead of being born superheroes as could be seen as “God’s will,” superheroes are corporate creations in federally funded labs. Compound V is yet another example in The Boys that there is nothing pure or natural about superheroes. It’s only about the bottom line and corporate greed.
There is, of course, more to the story of The Boys season one than what I’ve laid out here in this review. But rather than summarize every little point, I want to talk about why exactly this show is so good…
The Boys Season 1: What’s good about it?
In previous pieces that I’ve written for this site. I’ve taken a look at several movies that were really good – or even great – but could have been better. One of them was The Lord of the Rings trilogy. In that review, I made a point that trying to shoehorn “name actors” that really didn’t fit (see: Wood, Elijah) for the sake of drawing mainstream attention ended up hurting the overall movie. The story sold itself. People would have come to see the LOTR trilogy regardless of who was in it.
The Boys, under the direction of Amazon Prime, took my advice (well obviously they didn’t take my advice) and ran with it. They took a strong story with a cult following and cast the best people to fit the roles. And do they ever fit the roles?
Probably the biggest “star” of the cast is Karl Urban, who is well-known in sci-fi and fantasy circles but not exactly a household name. He was a featured player in the aforementioned Lord of the Rings movies and had a starring role in movies like Doom. Most of the other actors have been in movies and TV show but none are instantly recognizable. In fact, the most famous cast member is Elizabeth Shue (who stars as The Seven’s manipulative handler). Shue was a big star in the 1980s and early-1990s but has faded in recent years. A larger, more contemporary star shows up in Season 2, but I will get to that later.
But really, the best thing about The Boys is the way they masterfully create the characters. There are no stock heroes or villains in this series. Every character has layers that make him or her both sympathetic and terrible. A-Train may be an unfeeling narcissist who murdered Hughie’s girlfriend, that is true. Yet, he is driven by the need to be the fastest man alive. It is all he has, and he knows that without this designation he will be useless to the Vought corporation and will be tossed aside. The Deep, while a rapist and all around sleazeball, is clearly affected by the fact that he is the butt of all The Seven’s jokes and plays the macho man to make up for it.
And then there’s Homelander. Homelander is one of the most gleefully twisted characters in recent TV, and will be the subject of an article all his own. But that is for a later time.
The Boys Season 1: What could have been improved?
Umm…there could have been more of it?
But in all seriousness, this series is nearly perfect. Perhaps the show could be a little less gratuitous in its over-the-top violence. Perhaps Hughie could be less of a wishy-washy nerd who goes back and forth on what he wants to do. For a show that borders on being Shakespearean, Hughie does a great job of being a Hamlet-esque lead. He keeps going back and forth on what he wants to do. More often than not, it almost costs The Boys dearly in the end.
Other than that? I don’t have much to complain about here. Maybe a few pacing issues could be addressed. Some of the early scenes with Kimiko, a mercenary who teams up with The Boys and becomes something of a love interest to Frenchie, could be shortened. But nothing about this season ever made me want to stop watching.
The Boys Season 1: a summary and look ahead?
As noted above, the only real nitpicks are Hughie’s occasional indecisiveness and occasional pacing issues. But other than that, the season is nearly flawless.
Stay tuned for my next review, where I take a look at Season 2 of The Boys, where the stakes most definitely get raised.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 9/10
Thank you for reading our review of The Boys Season One. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read about superhero movies to get excited about in 2021 HERE.
Read IMDB information about The Boys HERE.
Loki Episode 6 – Review
Episode six of Loki from Marvel is here, streaming now on Disney Plus. It’s time for the series finale. Here’s our review.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
More to come
The post-credit scene showed that a second series has already been ordered, meaning this finale is essentially the end of Part One. Thank goodness it is. Because if this was the denouement of the entire Loki story then there’s a good chance it would go down in television infamy as one of the more unusual series endings.
Introducing the big bad
We pick up from Sylvie and Loki’s defeat of The Alioth as they look at the citadel upon the rock at the end of time. They make their way to the entrance, and upon being invited in they’re met by Miss Minutes. It’s been widely predicted that ‘she’ would be an agitator in this series. And at last her role has been revealed. She is an emissary of Kang The Conquerer, embedded within the TVA.
She offers Loki the earth, almost literally, as she tries to coax him to betray Sylvie. Her offers of infinity stones, defeating Thanos etc. Happily, Loki rejects all the trinkets that she offers. Instead, he and Sylvie head into the lift where they meet ‘He Who Remains’ aka Kang The Conquerer. A 31st-century scientist and the true timekeeper.
Sylvie attempts to kill him but he quickly demonstrates some of his powers by dodging and weaving her before she gives in and the three of them sit down for a very long discussion. To sum up what was a lengthy and occasionally fairly tedious scene. He Who Remains (HWR) asks Loki and Sylvie to kill him and take over the role of controlling the timeline. Loki is extremely reticent but Sylvie, angry at what HWR’s meddling has done to her life, is desperate to do so.
Meanwhile, back at TVA HQ, Renslayer is informed by Miss Minutes of HWR’s plan. Showing her dual role and playing on Renslayer’s desperation to keep the TVA active and relevant.
Loki and Sylvie get into a physical fight over what to do with HWR. With Loki recognising how the timeline will fragment with branches springing up all over the place. But Sylvie is consumed by her rage and eventually overpowers Loki, sending him back to the TVA and then kills He Who Remains.
Setting up season two
Loki finds Mobius and tries to explain what has happened. But then discovers the terrible effects of what Sylvie has done by apparently killing HWR. Mobius has no idea who Loki is. This situation is then made worse when Loki looks out to see a statue of He Who Remains adorning TVA HQ. Loki realises that he is in a different timeline branch. One where HWR or Kang is in control of everything. Sylvie has been manipulated into apparently killing him which has enabled him to increase his power further.
Jonathan Majors was masterful as He Who Remains. Which is what you’d expect from someone with a Masters in acting from Yale. He was flamboyant, powerful and mesmerising, which is exactly what you want from a major villain. He will be back in AntMan 3 as Kang The Conquerer and is set to be the key villain in the next phase of the MCU post-Endgame and Thanos.
I have been extremely positive about this series, as I think it has been the strongest and most cohesive of the Marvel series so far this year. But I can’t disagree with anyone who felt short-changed by this finale. My 11-year-old son was pretty vocal in his disappointment the moment the credits rolled, and he was absolutely right. He is one of the most obsessive Marvel fans around and if he was underwhelmed, I feel pretty sure he was reflecting the majority view. Nothing I’ve seen online since has dissuaded me from that either.
Phase 4 groundwork
It seemed that the finale was essentially an exercise in introducing He Who Remains or Kang to our screens ahead of AntMan 3. While this isn’t necessarily a problem, it meant that the focus shifted away from being the climax of this series. Instead of being a prologue for the next phase of the MCU, which does seem a peculiar decision.
There are those who feel that the series original premise of Loki and Mobius teaming up to find Variants dotted around time and space was dropped after the first two episodes. Instead, it was replaced with a love story between Sylvie and Loki and a voyage of discovery with Mobius reduced to a bit part for the rest of the series.
But, the cliffhanger at the end of the series as Loki returns to the TVA does give me hope that Series Two will be an even better follow up.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 6/10
Thank you for reading our review of Loki episode six. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Read our Loki episode five review HERE.
Read IMDB information about Loki HERE.
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