Today was a big day for fans of The Boys and Supernatural – and all fans of Jensen Ackles! After he teased that there would be a reveal of his new character Soldier Boy’s ‘supersuit’ today, just about everyone in the fandom was glued to their social media this morning. I had a dentist appointment, but I confess I kept my phone in my pocket on vibrate, knowing that if it started blowing up, I was missing the big reveal – it actually turned out to be a pretty good distraction for the dental work!
Shortly after I got home, the big reveal happened – and yes, my timeline exploded. And it felt SO GOOD! As a Supernatural fan for the past 15 years (and The Boys for two), I’ve really missed my timeline going nuts over some new information or new photos. There’s nothing that brings fandom together more than having something new to savor, and today was all about that. Fannish differences were put aside and everyone just squeed together over finally seeing Jensen suited up as Soldier Boy.
First we got one photo, with some backstory from articles in Variety and Entertainment Weekly. The suit was designed by Laura Jean “L.J.” Shannon and concept artist Greg Hopwood. Shannon called Soldier Boy the original bad-ass and said her goal was “to highlight a bygone era of overt masculinity and grit.” So they included “an all-American quality grounded in a military soldier’s practicality with a heavy dose of old school cowboy swagger.” Shannon also commented on the casting that they were counting on to do the suit and the character justice: “We knew that the actor had to have Steve McQueen looks and chops with a John Wayne attitude — luckily Jensen Ackles embodies all of that.”
Damn right he does!
LJ Supersuits, the suit designer, posted an additional close up on their Instagram and sent another wave of euphoria and excitement through the fandom, with this message:
“LJ Supersuits presents SOLDIER BOY. This suit was an incredible team effort that required hours and hours of research, planning, and detailed craftsmanship to get it right. We always start with the concept art, and Soldier Boy’s concept was created by @greghops, along with all of his hard surface sculpting. The concept then gets translated into a physical suit by our incredible team. We are so proud of how epic Soldier Boy is and couldn’t be more excited for @jensenackles to take on this character and The Boys Season 3!! Suit sculpting by @cce_inc”
This is such an unusual time to be in the Supernatural fandom. I feel like we’re suspended in this bubble that’s about to break, acutely aware that the show is returning in less than two weeks but also that it’s already filmed its last scenes and wrapped for good. I’m both full of anticipation to see those last seven episodes, and dreading seeing those last seven episodes – because they will be the last.
One thing I’m grateful for is that this interim time has not been quiet in terms of my favorite show. As the crew and production office continue the rather depressing work of taking apart the offices and sound stages, some of them posted along the way, including this lovely post by one of the women in the costuming department as she prepares to start work on a new show. For most of them, as for us, I don’t think there will ever be a show quite like this one.
There was also a brief video of workers dismantling the Men of Letters bunker, which I could only watch once and then had to put aside. I was only there once in person, but that set was so real and so important to so many of us – because it was so important to the fictional characters we loved – that it literally hurt to see it being destroyed. Knowing it was home to them made it, in a weird way, feel like home to us too.
Shortly after, my friend Alana King posted a Tik Tok saying her own goodbye to the bunker and Sam, Dean and Cas, and the combination singlehandedly resulted in me going through half a pack of tissues in one morning.
Alana said she’s sorry, but she’s not. (And ultimately the video was validating and cathartic for me too). I’m sorry I told you to go to your room, Alana. (Kinda)
We’ve also been blessed by lots of content from the cast, which lets us know how they’re doing (Yes, I worry about these things). Last week we got video interviews with both Jared and Jensen, and although Jensen’s was not new, it was still a helluva lot of fun.
Richard Speight, Jr. and Rob Benedict have had a podcast for some time, as most of you know, but they kicked off their new name and format (a return to Kings of Con) with special guest and good friend Jensen Ackles on Tuesday. As is the tradition on the podcast, everyone fixed themselves a drink before they started, and that made for a fun and laid back video of their chat. (Jensen tweeted the day after the video “Not gonna lie….I was pretty drunk”, shocking exactly no one). He also dressed like a train engineer and somehow made that ridiculously attractive anyway.
Richard: We’re going right down the shitter from here. There’s nobody we know that’s gonna show up with a hat-shirt-kerchief combo that matches their throw blanket and their background….
As the video begins, Ackles realizes his spotless Vancouver apartment has the bedroom door open.
Jensen: Let me close my bedroom door, nobody wants to see that!
Everyone watching: Umm…
Jensen insisted he’d gained the Quarantine Fifteen but got the word at the end of May that they’d be back to shooting in August, so had two months to ‘clean it up’ and work out. Whatever he did, looks like it worked out fine.
Jensen and Rob apparently had some epic zoom calls during their quarantines in Vancouver, hanging out for 5 or 6 hours with their computers propped up while they talked and made dinner, and there was some talk of them doing music together, which yes please.
Jensen also talked about how odd it will be to film with the Covid regulations (the podcast was filmed before he went back to the set), with everyone in a color coded group and not allowed to “cross pollinate”. In his chapter in There’ll Be Peace When You Are Done, Jensen talks about the unique closeness of Supernatural’s cast and crew, and he said that’s what would make it difficult.
Jensen: This is a crew that’s so intertwined. Most shows, the grips show up, they do their work, and camera, sound, then actors and hair, makeup. But the camaraderie that has grown on this particular set is unlike most, so it’s gonna be really tough. These are friends that we talk to on and off set quite often. People I’ve spent my birthdays with, celebrated life achievements with. To now have this barrier between is us gonna be weird and sad.
They all agreed that not being able to shake hands with someone you meet will be weird if that custom doesn’t ever come back, saying that they were taught that by their fathers, that it’s a cultural thing.
Jensen: That physical connection is so ingrained in me, I can’t imagine meeting someone and not shaking their hand. With people you know, I’m hoping that hugging will still be, because we all hug each other, whether it’s the bro hug or the full bring it in.
Honestly, I love that about this cast. They’re all demonstrably affectionate with each other, and the feeling is clearly genuine.
If you haven’t been watching Amazon’s “The Boys,” what are you waiting for? (For some in the SPN Family, maybe the announcement that Jensen Ackles was joining the show in Season 3?) Ackles will play Soldier Boy, the ‘original superhero’.
In the comic, Soldier Boy is described as relatively innocent and naive, avoiding the cursing that The Boys is known for (though Kripke seems to be promising we’ll have an R rated Jensen Ackles at last). He’s a member of a team called Payback, but desperately wants to be part of The Seven (the most powerful supes). Soldier Boy is also a coward and not the sharpest tack in the box and is so weirdly patriotic he yells out the names of states in the middle of fights! There’s also a frame of him wetting himself.
I can see Ackles playing to his comedic talents with some of that, but Kripke has also promised Ackles will bring some pathos to the role, which just might break my heart. A parody of Captain America, Soldier Boy has enhanced strength and agility, but apparently he’s not as strong as some of the other supes and capable of being bested by the likes of Billy Butcher.
Oh, and Soldier Boy’s costume? Shorts and short sleeves. I approve.
Fan art of Ackles as Soldier Boy has already begun to appear, which so far looks alot more attractive than the comics version. Time will tell whether Kripke and company are going to take into account fannish hopes and dreams when the time comes for costuming.
Are you listening, Eric?
Thanks to Ackles’ casting, alot of Supernatural fans are discovering the show for the first time – it’s a rollercoaster of a ride that’s both fun and disturbing — and strikingly irreverent. “The Boys” follows what happens when superheroes (who are as popular as celebrities, as influential as politicians and worshipped like gods) abuse their superpowers instead of using them for good. That sends “the boys”, everyday people who realize what’s going on, on a quest to expose the truth about the superheroes known as “The Seven” and the multi billion dollar corporation that “manages” and covers up for them, Vought.
The Boys is based on the best-selling comic by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson and was developed by Ennis fan Eric Kripke, who’s showrunner, writer and executive producer. (Kripke is also responsible for my favorite show of all time, Supernatural, which explains how I discovered The Boys in the first place and why I’m beyond excited that Ackles is joining up). Long time Supernatural director and producer Phil Sgriccia is also along for the wild ride. I binge watched Season 1 of The Boys and was thrilled when Season 2 was announced. The first three episodes of Season 2 premiere Friday, September 4, on Prime Video and then new episodes will drop each Friday with the season finale airing on October 9.
At last year’s Comic Con in San Diego, I was able to chat with Kripke and some of the cast – this year, in the middle of a pandemic, Amazon put together a virtual press junket so we could hear more about the upcoming Season 2. Kudos to the organizers for coordinating a million zoom calls and ensuring that we all got to spend time with Kripke and the cast – it was an enjoyable afternoon even if we were all juggling curious pets or kids or dealing with technology challenges! We also got to see the first three episodes, and while I’m going to keep this article free of specific spoilers, let me just say that they were pretty mindblowing! When they say that Season 2 is more intense and more insane than Season 1, they are not kidding.
As we begin Season 2, the Boys are on the run, hunted by the Supes and trying to regroup. In hiding, Hughie (Jack Quaid), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon) and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) try to adjust to a new normal with Butcher, the father figure of the group, (Karl Urban) nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) must navigate her place in The Seven as Homelander (Antony Starr) sets his sights on taking complete control. His power is threatened with the addition of Stormfront (Aya Cash), a social media savvy new Supe, who has an agenda of her own. On top of that, the Supervillain threat takes center stage and makes waves as Vought seeks to capitalize on the nation’s paranoia. The Supes of The Seven also include Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), The Deep (Chace Crawford) and Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell). Recurring stars include Claudia Doumit, Goran Visnijc, Malcolm Barrett, Colby Minifie, Shantel VanSanten, Cameron Crovetti, Laila Robbins and Giancarlo Esposito returning as Vought boss Stan Edgar.
With that introduction, here are a few excerpts from each of our roundtable chats with the cast to whet your appetite for more of The Boys. I’ve purposely kept any spoilers for Season 2 out of my coverage, so you can be as gobsmacked as I was by those first three episodes. I posted our conversation with Eric Kripke in yesterday’s article, so check that out too since he had alot to say about The Boys, and some Supernatural insights too. If you’re considering beginning The Boys, I think what the actors have to say about the show and their characters will give you a glimpse into just how complicated this show is and how deep the characterization goes. That said, the themes of the show are dark and disturbing and right there in your face, so be prepared.
I’m a psychologist by profession, so I was fascinated by what The Deep and A Train, two of the supes, had to deal with in Season 1 – for A Train, a struggle with addiction to both the enhancing drug Compound V and with the lure of fame and fortune. The Deep, meanwhile, had to deal with his discomfort with his own body — the gills which allow him to be a superhero but also set him apart from “normal” people. After a rather traumatic sexual encounter and being called to task for his assault of Starlight, The Deep ends Season 1 with some self loathing starting to be evident. Their struggles made their characters complex and pulled for some empathy even as those two supes did some awful things in the first season. So I was excited to chat with Chace Crawford (The Deep) and Jessie T. Usher (A Train). How did their characters move on from some of those things they’ve done in the past?
Jessie: They both have to deal with it, they’re not at a place in their lives when they can just move past things anymore. They both – excuse my language – they fucked up to the point where things can’t be covered up by Vought anymore or swept under the rug. A Train is figuring it out as he goes. It’s too much for him, because he’s kinda turned his back on everyone who had his back, so he’s got to do it alone. You’ll see him figure that out in Season 2.
Chace: I think he’s genuinely close to rock bottom. He doesn’t know who he is, and never really has known who he is. I think he’s broken open enough to have to at least try some self exploration.
Chace said he had really enjoyed seeing all the episodes and seeing everyone else’s work.
Chace: I like doing these crazy scenes.
[All I’m gonna say is Lucy the whale, someone said]
Jessie: (laughing) I have never seen a good idea go bad so fast…
Chace: And it turned out so well! I was like, how is this gonna turn out, this is crazy…
Jessie: That’s the thing about filming this show, you’re like, I don’t know how this is gonna turn out, then you see it and it’s like wow that was freaking amazing! Clearly they saw something that I had yet to see. I’ve been pleasantly surprised throughout this entire Season 2 and I know everyone else will be as well.