In general, superhero movies and series tend to revolve around scenarios as outlandish as the superhuman abilities of their characters. Even the few movies that break from the often familiar format of superhero movies, like Deadpool or The Suicide Squad, tend to do so by ramping up the gore, not by addressing society’s most challenging issues.
One notable exception to that pattern is The Boys, Amazon Prime Video’s satirical superhero series in which mercenaries work to take down a corrupt league of superheroes. While The Boys isn’t afraid to deploy violence and gore to earn its TV-MA rating, it goes a step further by incorporating some truly dark themes into its stories, many of which reflect genuine real-world circumstances.
Showrunner Eric Kripke told him in an interview that he wanted to “tell a story about white nationalism, xenophobia and racism, and how powerful people use those things to further their own interests.” In its willingness to cynically subvert superhero tropes and engage with thorny cultural and political issues, The Boys shares more DNA with Alan Moore’s “Watchmen” or Robert Kirkman’s “Invincible” than it does with a movie like “Deadpool.”
Eric Kripke explained that when he first got into talks to adapt The Boys, he had dinner with Ennis to try to better understand the author’s starting point for the comics. That conversation led to a significant revelation for Kripke, which helped influence the storylines the show would tackle.
The producer revealed that he asked Ennis what inspired the series, to which Ennis replied that he wanted to explore “what if you combined the worst of celebrity with the worst of politics and what an absolutely dangerous combination that would be.” That description led Eric Kripke to connect the world of The Boys with “the exact second we were living in.”
“I’ve done a lot of shows and I’ve been waiting for something I didn’t know what it was, and here it was.”
In other words, the culture found its spectacle and not the other way around. Accepting what fate had thrown at him opened the doors for The Boys to deliver timely stories, while staying true to the world of Ennis.