One of the first things I did when I got to San Diego Comic Con this year was check out the press preview for the Amazon Prime activation for some of their highly anticipated new shows. I was especially excited to get a taste of the new show, ‘The Boys’, based on the comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson. The show flipflops our usual expectations for a superhero show by taking a no-holds-barred look at what happens to superheroes once they succumb to the lure of fame and fortune and power. (And if you think that’s a handy dandy way to look at the very same dynamics in our own real world, you’re absolutely right).
The show seems to be all about the gray, so nothing is black and white, but the good “guys” (who are not all guys) are the mere humans trying to fight back against flawed superheroes and the multi billion dollar organization that essentially manages their social media presence. It’s ‘the boys’ versus ‘the supes’ and it looks like a hell of a lot of fun. I was also intrigued because I fell in love with one of showrunner Eric Kripke’s first “babies”, Supernatural, and have watched all he’s done since. I love the way he isn’t afraid to go meta or to weave in sometimes surprising combinations into one show, from the violent to the irreverent to the heartwarming – and the heartbreaking. So I was excited to experience a little bit of The Boys!
The activation took you inside the world of The Boys and right into a case, as we all teamed up to help some of ‘the boys’ crack a case and figure out what ‘the Supes’ are up to no (no good clearly). One of them had crashed a car right into an electronics shop, so we combed through the rubble for clues while ‘the boys’ used the F word more times than I may have ever heard in the space of fifteen minutes! It was high energy, gritty, dirty and did a great job of portraying the feel of the show. It also threw us all when one of ‘the boys’ suddenly turned on a guy who we thought was a guest just like us and freaked out about him filming on his phone.
The boy: Are you a supe??? Are you??? Why are you filming, huh?
He threw a punch and the guy fell to the floor, obviously bleeding, and a few people in our group actually gasped out loud because they didn’t realize he was part of the activation. Well done, Amazon Prime!
After I attended the press conference for ‘The Boys’ (and was thrilled to be able to ask showrunner and Supernatural creator Eric Kripke a question!) I jogged over to Ballroom 20 to catch the panel. (I seriously do not want to walk for a week once Comic Con is over…)
The cast includes ‘the boys’ – Jack Quaid as Hughie, Karl Urban as Billy Butcher, Laz Alonso as Mother’s Milk, Tomer Capon as Frenchie and Karen Fukuhara as The Female, and ‘the supes’ – Antony Starr as Homelander, Erin Moriarty as Starlight, Dominique McElligott as Queen Maeve, Jessie T. Usher as A-Train, Chace Crawford as The Deep and Nathan Mitchell as Black Noir, as well as Elisabeth Shue as Madelyn Stillwell, VP of that multi billion dollar PR firm and Sim Pegg as a guest star as Hughie’s dad.
The Comic Con panel also had showrunner Eric Kripke and exec producer Seth Rogen.
They kicked off the panel with the great news that not only is the show renewed for a Season 2, but they’ve already been filming it! That brought a cheer from the packed ballroom, because just from the little teaser clip they showed during the panel, we are all very excited about this show! They also announced that Aya Cash will join the cast in Season 2.
They also played a clip that let us know just how much fun this show is going to be – and just how irreverent. Though you could probably figure that out just by the graphic.
The cast and creators are clearly very excited too.
One of the dynamics that seems interesting in the show is the big brother-little brother relationship that develops between Hughie and Billy Butcher. (A theme familiar to fans of Supernatural or Kripke’s other shows).
Jack: Hughie was thrown into this world, and there’s sort of a buddy cop dynamic that develops with Butcher.
Karl: When did that dynamic start? Well, we met and played a game of pool for money and I won so I thought to myself oh, we’ll be good friends…
Jack: I lost a lot of money, so then I HAD to do the show…
As far as Butcher’s back story, Urban said that he has an axe to grind against Homelander, a vendetta. And he meets this kid (Hughie) and they have this in common. So he sets out to use this kid, but it ends up propelling them on this fun journey, and this relationship forms between these two characters who are like…chalk and cheese…
Everyone on the panel: CHALK AND CHEESE? WTF?
Laz: Billy and Mother’s Milk go way back. He has something to lose, so he becomes the moral compass of the group. Kinda the mama…
Tomer: And Frenchie is the teenager of the family. The Dad is Billy Butcher. Frenchie is kinda the heart of the group.
You can see that Kripke’s underlying theme of family and found family is alive and well in The Boys.
Karen: The Female is pretty badass. The first scene that you see of her, that was my audition scene, and I was like, can I really do this? But I guess it was inside me all along!
[The scene is amazing btw!]
Karl Urban said that one of the things that drew him to the project is that it’s a great counter narrative to the Marvel and DC stuff out there.
Seth Rogen: Which, btw, you’re also in!
The entire cast agreed that it was the characters who drew them in, because they’re so different from what’s already out there.
Jessie: It’s like a Modern day A Team, and that appealed to me. It’s the teamwork that makes it so tasty and gratifying.
Elisabeth: For me, I was drawn to the vulnerability of the characters. It’s a vulnerability that comes from pain, and that makes it real.
Erin: I like the social commentary. And I’m a little tired of the ingénue role, a woman being just the object of desire. You think that’s what my character is going to be, but she’s not.
Antony: Spandex, lasers, cool boots…Oh, and we come to work and fuck shit up!
Chase: it’s like the anti superhero narrative. There’s nothing else like it.
They also mentioned the music in the show, which was pretty badass in the clip they showed. Music is so important to Supernatural that it’s almost like a character in the show, and The Boys will stick to that tradition – except where Supernatural was classic rock, The Boys is punk all the way!
Stay tuned for my report and videos from The Boys press conference, and my chat with The Boys and Supernatural composer Chris Lennertz about how he creates the music that is so important to both shows! I ask Eric Kripke about how The Boys is similar to Supernatural, and get some very interesting answers.
And be sure to catch the premiere of The Boys on July 26!