Amazon’s adaptation of Garth Ennis’ superhero satire The Boys is set to premiere for an eight-episode first season in 2019. The cast and creators stopped by New York Comic Con to detail what fans could expect from the series that chronicles the exploits of a vigilante group of human agents tasked by the CIA to try to bring the world’s superheroes to justice. In Ennis’ somewhat dystopic vision, supes are corrupted by the overwhelming amount of power they wield and while the public perceives them to be noble protectors of humanity, the truth is far more depraved.
Karl Urban plays Billy Butcher, leader of the Boys and possessed of an overwhelming hatred for superheroes, most notably Homelander played by Antony Starr and leader of The Seven, a well-known superhero team that includes The Deep (Chace Crawford), Starlight (Erin Moriarty) and A-Train (Jesse T. Usher) among others. Butcher’s team includes Frenchie (Tomer Kapon), the Female (Karen Fukuhara) and Wee Hughie (Jack Quaid) who finds himself in a close relationship with someone on the Seven without realizing their identities are in conflict.
The comic by Ennis is famously depraved and, like his other work also acquired by producers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen, was famously thought to be unadaptable. But adapt it they have, and the show used NYCC 2018 to introduces themselves formally to the world. The panel included appearances by executive producers Evan Goldberg and Eric Kripke, plus actors Jack Quaid, Karl Urban, Karen Fukuhara and Laz Alonso from the Boys and Chace Crawford, Antony Starr and Erin Moriarty.
The panel opened with a clip from Vought International the company that funds the Seven and was apparently to remind the audiences that the superhero business is just that, a business. Elizabeth Shue plays Madeline Stillwell, the CEO of Vought International who introduces a PSA featuring superheroes doing saccarine things like visiting kids in hospitals. The PSA ends to reveals the Boys watching cynically and cuts to the title cards. All in all, it appeared to capture the essences of Ennis’ work in under a minute.
When asked about the adaptation of Ennis’ work, Kripke pointed out that it appears like it’s just a superhero show, but in actuality given its themes of populism vs. the 1%, the show is incredible prescient: “I really truly believed we’re making the most topical show on television and it’s fun, but it’s about so much more.”
When asked about his character, Karl Urban spoke at length about Butcher’s feelings about his nemeses which incited a bit of a back and forth between him and Starr (Homelander):
Karl Urban: Butcher knowns that they are not only corrupt, but that they are deviant and they basically represent themselves to be something that they’re completely not. That hey are utterly despicable and Butcher is out for revenge and he will stop at nothing to achieve his goal.
Antony Starr: No, I think that side of the panel is jealous and this side of the panel is winners. As in life there’s winners and other people .I don’t think it’s about being a corrupt deviant I think Homelander is a character with a different moral compass s that’s different than other people. He cares about each and every one of his people, his babies and if they step out of line he reprimands them. He loves babies, he loves dogs, he loves people, he loves mommies.
Karl Urban: Ladies and gentlemen your nominee for the supreme court.
After that, the conversation moved to Jack Quaid and how he felt carrying the mantle of Simon Pegg considering the actor was so closely identified with the comics (his face was used as the original inspiration for Hughie), and in a huge surprise, Simon Pegg walked out on stage! He announced that he would be playing Hughie’s dad and was ecstatic to be on board after having been so attached to The Boys comic for so long.
In conversations about the Seven, much was made of the comparisons to professional athletes with Chace Crawford making the distinction as well as Erin Moriarty who pointed out that like athletes or other massive celebrities, the supes are people who often aren’t held responsible for the consequences of their actions. She also went into more detail about what audiences could expect
Before she joins she is the example of the person who totally idolizes the Seven so initially whens he is inducted into the seven its’ her dream come true. But her experience pays homage to the statement “Never meet your heroes.” As she starts to learn about the dark side of the Seven I think it kind of shatters part of her and lights a fire under ass to be a better superhero and defy what she finds out to be the stereotype of what it means to be a member of the Seven.
As for Chace Crawford, he equivocated a bit when it came to the Deep in a pretty amusing way:
Crawfod: Him an Homelander’s relationship is interesting because (the Deep) because he talks a big game and projects confidence.
Snow: He’s a fucking moron!
Crawford: What are you talking about??? …Yeah, he’s a fish guy.
The audience was also gifted with another clip that featured Karl Urban and Jack Quaid in a car as Butcher attempted to instruct Hughie on how to plant a bug in a superheroes lair. The dynamic between the two characters crackled as Hughie appears completely overwhelmed by his new position and Butcher gamely uses a muddled Matrix metaphor to inspire him.
When it came to illuminating the Hughie Sr. and his pivotal role in his son’s life, Hughie Sr. is an underachiever to say the least. Hughie Jr. has some of the qualities and Kripke describe Sr. as “The spectre of [Hughie’s] own inaction. Hughie Sr. is Hughie, but he’s the Hughie who never met Butcher.” But if you really want to get a sense of where things were at, Jack Quaid clarified that “I always thought of it as the relationship between Marlin and Nemo in Finding Nemo.”
According to Goldberg and Kripke, when asked if the Seven had any awareness of the Boys, he pointed out that a throughline of the first season would be the Boys forming and the Seven slowly becoming aware of that. Homelander himself will apparently notice superheroes here and there getting messed with and will, over the course of the season, come to an awareness that someone or someone(s) are hunting them.
When it came to the overall message of the show, Eric Kripke pointed out that the soul of the show really was about exploring humanity in the form of rewarding characters who showed weakness. In his eyes, humanity is perverted when we pretend to be “super” as it were, and refuse to admit any weakness. A rule in the writer’s room for the show was that whenever anyone admitted weakness or vulnerability, they were rewarded and whenever they pretended to be super or “impose their super-ness” on others, they are punished. How exactly we’ll see that play out as members of the Boys and the Seven will no doubt come down on both sides of that behavior remains to be seen.
The Boys is set to premier on Amazon in 2019!
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