Love them or hate them it seems super heroes are here to stay but while movies may be repeating the same unoriginal stories with repetitive origin tales ad infinitum, TV is treading a new heroic path.
Series such as Legion, Watchmen, The Umbrella Academy and the silly yet superb One Punch Man attempt a different take on the genre with even Marvels Netflix series giving classic characters like Luke Cage and Daredevil a gritty reboot you would never see on the silver screen.
One of the best examples of this rage against the mundane money making super hero machine is The Boys a sensational series that premiered on Amazon and is now available on Blu-Ray and DVD for everyone to enjoy.
Based on a comic of the same name by Garth Ennis (Preacher) and Darick Robertson (Transmetropolitan) the series, set in a world where super powered people are amongst us all the time, takes off on two strands one following upcoming hero Starlight (Jessica Jones Erin Moriarty) and the other the decidedly average Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid from Hunger Games).
Hughie’s life is changed forever in a horrific incident involving ultra fast icon A-Train (Shaft’s Jessie T. Usher) who is one of the Seven, a world famous team that spearheads the Vought Corporation, a multi-million dollar company whose business is super powered people.
Legends, mascots and commodities the Supes are owned outright by Vought lead by the Machiavellian Madelyn Stillwell (Hollow Man’s Elisabeth Shue) whose team bully, bribe and black mail everyone around them from politicians to the public, to get what they want.
Unable to get the sort of retribution he deserves he becomes distraught just as enigmatic Brit Billy Butcher (Karl Urban star of Star Trek and Lord of the Rings) enters his life and offers him a way to get revenge.
Meanwhile the devoted and determined Starlight has become the latest member of the Seven and finds herself living the dream she has had since childhood. However the reality is a corporate driven nightmare where she is controlled by pen pushers and unable to save people her way leading her to question what the point of being a hero in this warped world really is?
Setting such a giant and insidious business against a gang of low lives and losers allows the audience to see both sides of the story. Gripping from the opening episode The Boys, developed by Eric Kripke who also created Supernatural, holds no punches presenting a far more dark and dirty world than you would expect from a super hero series.
Filled with swearing, sex, gore and extreme violence this realistic take combines dark humour and all out action to deal with some shockingly serious issues in a innovative and interesting way.
The central concept that powered people are superstars is excellent and extremely well executed. Viewed by the general public as Gods and acting like they are untouchable, The Boys is an excellent allegory about Hollywood and our obsession with celebrity. Starlight’s shocking awakening at the sinister side of the super hero game is wonderfully well handled as she is used and abused by the system that seems to be unstoppable.
With a perfect cast featuring Simon Pegg as Hughie’s dad, Antony Starr as the all American leader of the Seven Homelander and Chace Crawford as the silly sea based hero The Deep, there is plenty of depth in the script expanding the world and the characters far beyond what you might expect.
The Boys is brilliant offering up a riveting and refreshing version of the super hero story that many people may be bored of. Vicious, vile and violent this is a serious series with a slick style and sick sense of humour and I for one can’t wait till The Boys are back in series two.