Like most of the world, I love superheroes. Superhero movies, television shows and entire franchises have millions of adoring fans waiting for the next part of the story to unfold. What makes superheroes so enticing is they are almost always a character to root for; their power isn’t terrifying to the public but comforting. Superheroes are seen as an unwavering source of justice in the worlds they reside in—unless they are seen as harmful vigilantes prior to their fame. Still, their existence is surrounded by this ideal of justice and working towards a common good, a far too naive perspective on any human, super or not.
Amazon Prime’s series “The Boys,” released in 2019 and based on the comic series by the same name, explores a world where superheroes aren’t born—they’re made. In a world where heroes aren’t heroic, but the face of a corporation, their saves are simply marketing tactics to boost their numbers and every casualty—aka collateral damage—is covered up by multibillion-dollar Vought International. The series shines a light on modern political problems through the lens of the ultra-powerful Vought and their superheroes who are revered as politicians, activists, extremists and as the character Homelander (Anthony Starr) likes to call himself, Gods.
The third season of the hit series was released this summer and continues to follow the story of Hughie (Jack Quaid), a shy electronics salesman whose girlfriend is the collateral damage of A-Train’s (Jessie T. Usher) superspeed. The loss of his girlfriend is what brings anti-supe Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) to his door, to utilize Hughie’s newfound disdain for Vought heroes for his benefit. Butcher recruits past teammates Frenchie (Tomer Capone) and Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso) to take down Vaught, but this is far easier said than done. Two seasons, many Vought higher-ups, one Nazi supe radicalizing her base, a secret supe child and many lies later, season three rejoins The Boys in their hunt to find the weapon that supposedly killed Homelander’s predecessor, Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles).
Unbeknownst to the group, Soldier Boy is not actually dead, and in their search for a weapon that could kill Homelander, they find him—a seriously strong supe with a vengeance. Utilizing Soldier Boy as their weapon comes with many problems, namely M.M.’s haunting past in which Soldier Boy murdered his grandfather. Mother’s Milk’s reluctance to team up with the supe who created racial tensions across the U.S. and who killed his grandfather leads to The Boys fracturing—with M.M., Frenchie, Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) and Starlight (Erin Moriarty) against working with Soldier Boy, and Hughie and Butcher all for it. This tension along with Hughie’s usage of temporary Compound V—the chemical that turns people into superheroes—causes a rift in his relationship with Starlight, fighting over who needs to be protected and wanting to save one another.
Season three also takes a turn to the slightly more obviously political with A-Train’s supe-brutality storyline. The addition of Black Lives Matter to “The Boys” caused some fans to become jaded towards the series, despite it always being a clearly anti-capitalist and anti-fascist program (ironically, since it is an Amazon Prime Original). This season also ventures more into mysterious Black Noir’s (Nathan Mitchell) history as a previous member of the superhero group Payback with Soldier Boy and a current member of The Seven.
This newest season of “The Boys” creates new alliances, new complex villains and a whole new unhinged Homelander-versus-Starlight publicity feud. Politics and corruption are always at the center of the show, and the shocking reveal of what supe is the notorious “head popper” brings more suspense and furthers the intertwined nature of Vought, heroes, the U.S. political system and corporate greed and power.
If you love superheroes, have a disdain for the current political climate in the United States and know someone with an Amazon Prime account, “The Boys” is a must-watch.