The Boys (2019 TV series)
|Developed by||Eric Kripke|
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of seasons||1|
|No. of episodes||8 (list of episodes)|
|Production location(s)||Toronto, Ontario, Canada|
|Running time||55–66 minutes|
|Original network||Prime Video|
|Picture format||4K (UHDTV) HDR|
|Audio format||5.1 Dolby Digital|
|Original release||July 26, 2019 –|
The Boys is an American superhero web television series based on the comic book of the same name by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. Developed by Eric Kripke for Amazon, it follows the eponymous team of vigilantes as they fight back against superpowered individuals who abuse their abilities.
The Boys is set in a universe where superpowered individuals are recognized as heroes by the general public and owned by powerful corporation Vought International, which markets and monetizes them. Outside of their heroic personas, most are arrogant and corrupt. The series primarily focuses on two groups: the Seven, Vought International's premier superhero team, and the titular Boys, vigilantes looking to keep the corrupted heroes under control.
The Boys are led by Billy Butcher, who despises all superpowered people, and the Seven are led by the egotistical and unstable Homelander. As a conflict ensues between the two groups, the series also follows the new members of each team: Hughie Campbell of the Boys, who joins the vigilantes after his girlfriend is killed by one of the Seven; and Annie January / Starlight of the Seven, a young and hopeful heroine forced to face the truth about the heroes she admires.
Cast and characters
- Karl Urban as Billy Butcher, the leader of the Boys and a former CIA operative who distrusts all individuals with superpowers. He has a particular hatred towards Homelander, who he believes is responsible for the disappearance of his wife.
- Jack Quaid as Hughie Campbell, a member of the Boys who joins the vigilantes after his girlfriend Robin is killed by A-Train
- Antony Starr as John / Homelander, the extremely powerful leader of the Seven. Beneath his public image as a noble hero, he is arrogant, sadistic, and cares little about the well-being of those he professes to protect.
- Erin Moriarty as Annie January / Starlight, a light-emitting superhero and new member of the Seven. Unlike many other superpowered individuals, Annie is genuine in her efforts to help the public.
- Dominique McElligott as Queen Maeve, a veteran member of the Seven who once wanted to protect innocent lives, but has become disillusioned and suffers from burnout. As the former girlfriend of Homelander, she knows his true character.
- Jessie T. Usher as A-Train, a speedster member of the Seven. He is determined to maintain his status as the fastest speedster, resulting in him becoming addicted to Compound-V.
- Laz Alonso as Marvin / Mother's Milk (MM), a member of the Boys responsible for organizing and planning the vigilantes' operations. He continually promises to leave the group for the safety of his family, in part due to his frequent clashes with Frenchie, but finds himself lured back by Butcher.
- Chace Crawford as Kevin / the Deep, a member of the Seven who possesses the ability to communicate with aquatic life and breathe underwater. He is looked down upon by the other members of the Seven due to his status as the group's token aquatic hero.
- Tomer Capon as Frenchie, a member of the Boys and mercenary skilled in munitions, ordnance, infiltration, and communications. Frenchie has a tendency to not follow the team's plans, which puts him in repeated conflicts with Mother's Milk.
- Karen Fukuhara as Kimiko / the Female, a mute, feral-like member of the Boys with the powers of enhanced strength and regenerative healing. Involuntarily injected with Compound-V as part of a scheme to create superpowered terrorists, she joins the Boys after they rescue her.
- Nathan Mitchell as Black Noir, a silent member of the Seven who possesses superhuman strength and agility and conceals his physical appearance behind a dark costume
- Elisabeth Shue as Madelyn Stillwell (season 1), a charismatic, scheming vice president of Vought International
- Simon Pegg as Hugh Campbell Sr (season 1), Hughie's father. He cares deeply for his son, but does not believe Hughie has the confidence to stand up for himself. Pegg was the visual inspiration for Wee Hughie in the comic book series from which the series is drawn.
- Jennifer Esposito as Susan Raynor, a deputy director of the CIA
- Colby Minifie as Ashley Barrett, a publicist for Vought International who acts as Starlight's agent
- Ann Cusack as Donna January, Starlight's mother. She groomed Annie to be a superhero since childhood out of a Princess-by-Proxy mentality.
- Christian Keyes as Nathan, A-Train's older brother and trainer
- Giancarlo Esposito as Stan Edgar (season 2; guest season 1), the CEO of Vought International and Stillwell's superior
- Alex Hassell as Translucent, a member of the Seven who can turn himself invisible by morphing his skin into a diamond-hard carbon meta-material that warps light around him
- Jordana Lajoie as Cherie, Frenchie's girlfriend and weapons specialist
- Malcolm Barrett as Seth Reed, a Vought Public Relations writer. In the episode "The Innocents", it is revealed he had a fling with an ice-powered superheroine, which led to the loss of his penis.
- David Reale as Evan Lambert, a Vought Public Relations writer alongside Seth Reed
- Shaun Benson as Ezekiel, an elastic Christian superhuman who is secretly gay and leads a "Capes for Christ" campaign
- Jess Salgueiro as Robin Ward, Hughie's girlfriend at the start of the series; killed by A-Train in a high-velocity impact near the beginning of episode 1. Periodically makes appearances as a hallucination seen by Hughie due to a combination of PTSD and guilt.
- Laila Robins as Grace Mallory, an ex-CIA operative, informal founder of the Boys, and Butcher's mentor. Her grandchildren were killed by superhero Lamplighter for her investigation into Vought, which made her relationship with Butcher antagonistic and caused Frenchie and Mother's Milk's feud.
- John Doman as Jonah Vogelbaum, the Vought scientist who created and raised Homelander in a sterile laboratory; Homelander tells Stillwell that he tortured Vogelbaum for answers in episode 8, though his death is not confirmed.
- Nicola Correia-Damude as Elena, Queen Maeve's ex-girlfriend
- Haley Joel Osment as Charles / Mesmer, an ex-superhero and former child-star who can read minds upon skin-to-skin contact. After a temporary team up with The Boys, he betrays them to Homelander to become a “hero” again, he’s later killed by Billy Butcher midway through episode 7.
- Brittany Allen as Charlotte / Popclaw, an actress and superhero in a secret relationship with A-Train. After being used for information by The Boys, A-Train kills her on Homelander’s orders for being a leak in the beginning of episode 5. A-Train is devastated by her death despite being the one who killed her.
- Shantel VanSanten as Becca Butcher, Butcher's wife who went missing eight years earlier
- Alvina August as Monique, MM's girlfriend and mother of their daughter
- Nalini Ingrita as Janine, the daughter of MM and Monique
- Brit Morgan as Rachel, Becca's sister and Billy's sister-in-law
- Jackie Tohn as Courtenay, a production assistant for Vought International
- Débora Demestre as Isadora, Vought's suit designer for their heroes; designs Starlight's more provocative outfit in "Get Some".
- Jim Beaver as Robert Singer, US Secretary of Defense
Season 1 (2019)
|No.||Title||Directed by||Written by||Original release date|
|1||"The Name of the Game"||Dan Trachtenberg||Teleplay by : Eric Kripke||July 26, 2019|
|Hughie Campbell suffers mental trauma after his girlfriend Robin is killed in a high-velocity impact with celebrity superhero A-Train. Lawyers offer a $45,000 settlement, which Hughie hesitates to accept. Aspiring superhero Annie January auditions as "Starlight" and is accepted to join the Seven, following the Lamplighter's retirement. Arriving at Seven headquarters, she is greeted by the Deep, who blackmails her into performing oral sex on him. Vigilante Billy Butcher offers Hughie a chance to expose superhero corruption, taking him to a secret "Supes club" to show him security footage of A-Train laughing about Robin's death. Butcher asks Hughie to take the settlement money and to plant a bug at Seven Tower, but Hughie refuses. In Central Park, Annie meets Hughie and motivate each other to stand up for themselves and face their challenges. Hughie plants the bug, but Translucent discovers it and confronts Hughie alone at work. Butcher arrives and helps Hughie incapacitate Translucent. Elsewhere, Homelander downs the Mayor of Baltimore's plane, owing to his attempts to blackmail Vought.|
|2||"Cherry"||Matt Shakman||Eric Kripke||July 26, 2019|
|Butcher and Hughie take Translucent to Frenchie, who makes a meta-bullet to pierce the hero's diamond-hard skin, but it fails to kill him. Butcher turns to CIA Dept. Director Susan Raynor for the "Mallory files", but she refuses. Vought VP Madelyn Stillwell tells Homelander about the evidence Deep found, incriminating him for the plane crash, so she handles it while he talks to Deep. The night Starlight teams-up with the Deep, she promises to kill him if he ever tries to sexually assault her again. Stillwell blackmails Oklahoma Senator Calhoun into allowing a vote that could enable Vought to contract superheros to the military. Annie stops a rape, unaware she is being recorded. Her agent, Ashley, rages at her because of the negative exposure and legal implications. While Homelander searches for Translucent, Frenchie decides to place C-4 explosives in Translucent's colon, who then fearfully reveals A-Train was with his girlfriend Popclaw before he killed Robin. The Boys learn Homelander is nearby, and cannot risk killing Translucent. Frenchie and Butcher cause an explosive distraction. Translucent escapes and convinces Hughie to let him go, but Hughie changes his mind and detonates the explosives, killing Translucent.|
|3||"Get Some"||Phil Sgriccia||George Mastras||July 26, 2019|
|As Frenchie and Butcher clean up Translucent's remains, Hughie leaves his home after finally telling his father how he truly feels. Meanwhile, Starlight gains positive publicity for stopping the rape, only to learn Stillwell has given her a revealing costume. She declines, but Stillwell forces her to wear it or lose her job. Butcher brings in his former friend, Mother's Milk, to run surveillance on Popclaw. Hughie installs spyware on her computer, and they learn that A-Train takes a performance-enhancing substance known as "Compound-V". Butcher wants to expose them before supers can be allowed into the armed forces, but he needs a vial of Compound-V from A-Train's upcoming race with Shockwave. Beforehand, Hughie meets Annie as Starlight, inviting her to lunch. The two open up to each other, leading to their exchanging numbers. A-Train uses a vial to win the race and breaks his promise to Popclaw, announcing he is single. With MM deducing Popclaw swiped some vials, they find her heartbroken, high, and in the midst of killing her landlord during hyper-charged sex. Butcher uses this opportunity to blackmail Popclaw as an informant. At Vought headquarters, Homelander reveals Translucent's remains to Stillwell along with Butcher's message, "Coming for you".|
|4||"The Female of the Species"||Fred Toye||Craig Rosenberg||July 26, 2019|
|Following Popclaw's tip, the Boys find a Triad hideout housing an imprisoned Japanese woman, the Female; whom Frenchie frees. After she kills her guards and runs off, MM finds evidence the Female was a test subject. When Hughie meets Starlight while bowling, Butcher has him bug her phone. With the Compound-V supply compromised, A-Train has Popclaw go into hiding while he searches for the Female. Stillwell sends Homelander and Queen Maeve to save a hijacked airliner, Flight 37, but Homelander casually abandons the plane when the plan fails, forcing Maeve to choose her survival over that of the passengers'. Frenchie finds evidence leading to Penn Station, and makes a momentary connection with the Female, but loses her in the crowd. They corner her on the tracks, but A-Train arrives and tries to kill her. Frenchie attracts a crowd to distract A-Train, allowing the Female to escape. The Boys corner her again, and Frenchie tries talking to her. She attacks them, so Butcher uses knock-out gas. Stillwell is pleased to see Homelander use the tragedy to push for militarized supers, rousing the crowd with a heartfelt speech while Maeve grieves for those she allowed to die.|
|5||"Good for the Soul"||Stefan Schwartz||Anne Cofell Saunders||July 26, 2019|
|At the "Believe Expo", Starlight talks with some teens while being quietly directed to push the Vought agenda while Butcher has Hughie meet Ezekiel, the Expo host and their next lead. Maeve feels guilty for letting Flight 37 crash and visits her former romantic partner Elena, but leaves before explaining herself fully. Butcher takes time to talk with Rachel, his sister-in-law, over putting a tombstone to Becca. A-Train kills Popclaw for betraying him and finds surveillance footage of Frenchie. After Homelander exits a meeting with Ezekiel, Hughie extorts the latter for information about Compound-V, then disparages Ezekiel’s sole conscientious campaign. Homelander rallies the crowd with an impromptu hardline speech. Starlight breaks script to speak candidly and reveals her nescience concerning Christianity, her sexual assault, and the compromises she made for her corporate employer. Hughie later comforts her and sympathizes with her plight by telling her about Robin's death. Butcher and MM discover that Vought is using Compound-V on infants in order to manufacture supers. Frenchie discovers Black Noir is looking for him. Attempting to escape, he is told to leave the Female behind, but releases her out of sympathy. She seemingly dies protecting him from Black Noir, but then awakens and her wounds immediately heal.|
|6||"The Innocents"||Jennifer Phang||Rebecca Sonnenshine||July 26, 2019|
|Now informed, the Boys know Vought has used super charities to smuggle Compound-V disguised as vaccines and make super-babies since 1971. Annie learns that Ashley was fired, and Stillwell demands she comply with her designed image. Annie refuses, remarking that firing her after reporting a sexual assault would hurt Vought. Stillwell, aware it was Deep, has him apologize publicly and transfers him to Sandusky, Ohio, for a sabbatical. Butcher brings Hughie to a collateral damage survivors support group, but leaves after yelling at them for doing nothing to get justice. Alone, Butcher explains to Hughie that Homelander raped his wife, who went missing shortly afterward. Frenchie and MM get help from Mesmer, a telepath, to see into the Female's mind, learning her name is Kimiko and that she was kidnapped by the Shining Light Liberation Army terrorist group. They also learn that Vought is making Compound-V boosted terrorists to push their agenda to militarize supers. Butcher tells Raynor, but when she refuses to target Homelander, he calls off the deal. Meanwhile, Mesmer gives Homelander surveillance photos of the Boys. Hughie and Annie share a kiss, but Butcher finds out, warning him not to fraternize with the enemy and threatens to tell her about Translucent.|
|7||"The Self-Preservation Society"||Dan Attias||Craig Rosenberg & Ellie Monahan||July 26, 2019|
|Hughie and Annie book a hotel room, where they have sex and he agrees to introduce her to his father. Deep finds his transfer to Sandusky, Ohio, dull. He brings a fan to his apartment, but she sexually assaults him by his gills. Homelander holds a meeting to discuss Hughie killing Translucent, extorting Ezekiel, and A-Train killing Robin. He angrily accuses Starlight of co-conspiracy, but Maeve defends her. When A-Train calls Hughie, claiming he is holding his dad hostage, the Boys realize Mesmer betrayed them; an enraged Butcher later murders Mesmer. Hughie obtains some Compound-V to distract A-Train and allow Kimiko to cripple him. Homelander asks Vought scientist Dr. Vogelbaum about Becca Butcher, who informs him she was pregnant with his child, but both died and Vought covered it up. Questioning the revelation's timing, Vogelbaum expresses regret raising him in a lab, calling Homelander his "greatest failure". Butcher asks Raynor to protect Hughie's and MM's families in exchange for evidence. As Raynor charges Stillwell and Vought, she learns of the superhuman terrorist, "Naqib". Annie confronts Hughie, who explains Vought's use of Compound-V before Butcher arrives to exfil him and shoots her.|
|8||"You Found Me"||Eric Kripke||Anne Cofell Saunders & Rebecca Sonnenshine||July 26, 2019|
|The Pentagon classifies Compound-V as a controlled substance and lists the Boys as fugitives while Annie confronts her mother. Vought denies Deep's return to the Seven, causing him to suffer an emotional breakdown. An injured A-Train, angry at being racially profiled while out of costume, rebounds to Compound-V. Butcher takes Hughie to Mallory, who refuses participation, but informs them about Stillwell and warns Hughie about Butcher's craving for vengeance. Hughie leaves to ask for Annie's help, but she refuses out of distrust. Maeve opens up and asks Starlight to be herself again. Homelander privately confesses to Stillwell that he secretly made the super-terrorists, and they have sex. At a black site, Hughie helps Frenchie and MM free Kimiko. Starlight rescues them and when A-Train arrives, she and Hughie fight him until the speedster suffers a heart attack. Hughie applies CPR, but Starlight takes over so he can escape. Butcher takes Stillwell hostage and fits her with explosives to bait Homelander. After revealing he tortured Vogelbaum for the truth about Becca, Homelander kills Stillwell himself. Homelander saves Butcher from his suicidal explosion, and shows him where Becca has been secretly raising Homelander's son, stunning both Butcher and Becca.|
Episodes of the second season include:
- "The Big Ride" written by Eric Kripke
- "Proper Preparation and Planning" written by Rebecca Sonnenshine
- "Nothing Like It in the World" written by Michael Saltzman
- "Over the Hill with the Swords of a Thousand Men" written by Craig Rosenberg
- "We Gotta Go Now" written by Ellie Monahan
- "The Bloody Doors Off" written by Anslem Richardson
- "Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker" written by Craig Rosenberg
- "What I Know" written by Rebecca Sonnenshine
On April 6, 2016, it was announced that Cinemax was developing a television series adaption of the comic book. The production was being developed by Eric Kripke, Evan Goldberg, and Seth Rogen. Kripke was set to write the series while Goldberg and Rogen were set to direct. Executive producers were reported to include Kripke, Goldberg, Rogen, Neal H. Moritz, Pavun Shetty, Ori Marmur, James Weaver, Ken Levin, and Jason Netter. Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson were set as co-executive producers. Production companies involved with the series included Point Grey Pictures, Original Film, and Sony Pictures Television.
On November 8, 2017, it was announced that Amazon Video had given the production a series order for a first season consisting of eight episodes. The series had reportedly been in development at Amazon for a number of months preceding the series order announcement. It was also reported that the previously announced creative team was still attached to the series.
Kripke wanted to retain a sense of reality to the show, and to keep the writers disciplined decided "Anything that comes out of this drug is viable, and anything that doesn't we're not allowed to do". He did not want to fall into the overused convention of killing off female characters to motivate the heroes and also saw an opportunity to surprise readers of the comics by changing the story of Butcher's wife Becky.
Ahead of the series premiere, on July 19, 2019, it was announced that Amazon Video had renewed the series for a second season. The eight scripts for the second season were completed by November 2019.
On December 18, 2017, it was announced that Erin Moriarty has been cast in the lead role of Annie January/Starlight. On January 17, 2018, it was reported that Antony Starr, Dominique McElligott, Chace Crawford, Jessie Usher, and Nathan Mitchell had joined the main cast. In March 2018, it was announced that Laz Alonso, Jack Quaid, and Karen Fukuhara had been cast in series regular roles. On April 5, 2018, it was reported that Karl Urban had been cast in the series' lead role of Billy Butcher. On May 16, 2018, it was announced that Elisabeth Shue had been cast in the series regular role of Madelyn Stillwell. On June 25, 2018, it was reported that Tomer Kapon had joined the main cast in the role of Frenchie. On August 30, 2018, it was announced that Jennifer Esposito had been cast in the recurring role of CIA Agent Susan Raynor. On October 5, 2018, it was announced during the annual New York Comic Con that Simon Pegg had been cast in the role of Hughie's father. According to the artist Robertson, Hughie was drawn in the comics to resemble Pegg after he saw Pegg in the sitcom Spaced, but Pegg thought he was too old to play the role of Hughie in the TV series.
On September 5, 2019, Goran Višnjić and Claudia Doumit were cast in recurring roles for the second season. A month later, Patton Oswalt was announced in an unspecified role. Aya Cash was confirmed to be portraying superheroine Stormfront in March 2020 following contract negotiations that began when the second season was announced.
Principal photography for the first season began on May 22, 2018, in Toronto, and was scheduled to last until September 25, 2018. Principal photography for the second season took place from June 17 to November 13, 2019, in Toronto.
On September 26, 2018, the official poster for the series was released. On October 5, 2018, in tandem with the series' panel at the annual New York Comic Con, a teaser trailer for the series was released. On January 24, 2019, another teaser trailer was released via Seth Rogen's official Twitter account. The series premiered on July 26, 2019, after another teaser was released. On July 22, Slipknot released a new single called "Solway Firth" with an accompanying music video which featured clips and audio from the show.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the series holds an approval rating of 84% based on 95 reviews, with an average rating of 7.66/10. The website's critical consensus reads, "Though viewer's mileage may vary, The Boys' violent delights and willingness to engage in heavy, relevant themes are sure to please those looking for a new group of antiheroes to root for." On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 74 out of 100, based on reviews from 19 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
Christopher Lawrence of the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote: "Irreverent, deliciously cynical, The Boys follows the greed and corruption behind the superhero industrial complex." Matthew Gilbert of Boston Globe wrote: "The cast is fine, particularly Shue, who is icily effective; Quaid, whose neurotic but brave fumblings are endearing; and Urban, who is Hughie's gonzo guide." Kristy Puchko at IGN gives the first episode a score of 7.2/10 and appreciates how the story comes from the comics but with clever changes. Puchko praises the cast, particularly "Moriarty brings a nuance to her performance that refuses to let Starlight feel like a two-dimensional damsel. She's not naïve. She's hopeful. And she's a fighter. The Boys makes all of that clear in short order." She concludes "The Boys could still be a thrilling ride as it subverts the expectations of the family-friendly genre, with dark twists and unapologetically graphic scenes of sex and violence. The premiere ep has a lot of heavy lifting to do in exposition, yet Kripke works in some stunner moments, jolts of fun, and stellar action sequences." Liz Shannon Miller of AV Club wrote: "Karl Urban proves to be a thoroughly committed performer as Billy Butcher, whose dedication to taking down "supes" of course has a personal edge, but then again, when you see what men like the blatantly fake and evil Homelander (Antony Starr) are getting up to it makes sense that he's devoted his life to taking down the cause."
Although Amazon does not release specific viewing figures for their programs, Jennifer Salke, head of Amazon Studios, said: "We are thrilled that The Boys have surpassed our predictions for viewing in its first two weeks, and has become one of our most watched Amazon Original series by our Prime Video customers."
In October 2019, Nielsen announced it had begun tracking viewership of Amazon Prime programs. It said The Boys had attracted 8 million total viewers in its first 10 days of release, making it one of the most successful original programs on Amazon Prime.
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Are you a part of Season 2 of The Boys, at all? PEGG: No. They got me out of the way. I did my little bit. It was very fun to do that show. I was pleased to be a part of it.
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Esposito will have a larger role to play in season 2. “Sure enough, in season 2, that becomes a really important character,” Kripke confirms. “So I had to call him and go, ‘Hey, remember that cameo you did for me as a favor in season 1?… Now I need you for four to five more episodes.’ To his credit, thank God, he’s available and enthusiastic.”
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Kripke wanted to also avoid 'fridging,' which sees women being killed off as motivation for male heroes.
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