"We’re not gonna get rid of anybody! We’re gonna stick together, just like it used to be! When you side with a man, you stay with him! And if you can’t do that, you’re like some animal, you’re finished! We’re finished! All of us!"
Welcome to the new style blog, once a week I'll be looking at some movies I've seen, series I've streamed or chat about new art releases on the website. This week sees a new collection and it's all about The Boys (the comic book and Amazon TV series).
The above quote is from Sam Peckinpah's masterpiece The Wild Bunch. The film by Sam Peckinpah explores themes of masculinity and finding one's place in the world as a man. As the old west came to an end, The Wild Bunch tells the story of a gang of elderly outlaws' final stand as they flee from a railroad company-commissioned posse and are betrayed by a despicable and dishonest Mexican leader.
It also reflects the genre as a whole and presents a less stereotypical portrayal of life in the "Old West" by subverting the myth and romanticism of the classic via character development and realism. Unlike the conventional Western, the revisionist Western does not necessarily represent a distinct line separating good and evil.
The Boys does precisely the same just with supes'.
The Boys is a really brilliant wicked show that deconstructs the superhero concept with black humour while being entertaining, violent, and delectably filthy.
The world in which The Boys is set is one in which the so-called "super-abled" are both real and popular, controlling culture and business in a way that appears inevitable. The Seven, a shining ensemble represented by the menacing Vought corporation, are the brightest and best.
It turns out that the majority of superheroes have super-flaws and super-vices. What if most of the comic book heroes ended up being jerks?
But how on earth can you win in a fight with Superman?……..
*Enter* Billy Butcher and the boys.
The premise of "The Boys," which is based on a comic book, is what gives superheroes their unconventional concept. A very well-written show that pushes many limits and has a strong sense of rhythm. Despite using a few clichés, all seasons are compelling from beginning to end. The action scenes are hysterically funny, brutal, and appropriately gory. The dialogue, direction, cinematography, and background music are all excellent.
The complete ensemble of actors gives outstanding performances, the standouts are Karl Urban as the dodgy sounding Londoner Billy Butcher (a cor blimey The Punisher) and Antony Starr as Homelander.
Homelander is one of the most terrifying characters ever seen, Superman but psychotic.
The Boys is evidence that the superhero genre is becoming more sophisticated. Not just the growing sex and violent tastes, though. Currently, the genre is analysing and commenting on itself. And although this gives shows like The Boys, as well as Deadpool and Logan before it, a feeling of freshness, it could also be a sign that the superhero genre is nearing the end of its run.
For many years, western films and television programmes were produced so often that it may have appeared as if the supply of cowboy-related media would never end. The genre merely changed as the fanbase grew older.
The western genre entered its revisionist phase, a period of reflection that gave birth to some of the best cowboy picture examples ever, with movies like The Wild Bunch.
Although Superhero movies existed they tended to be outliers and not part of a specific genre. Superman and Batman 89 were critical as well as commercial hits.
The more recent surge towards studios flocking to superhero movies started with Sam Raimi's Spider-Man in 2002 and the X-Men in 2000 and has evolved over the past two decades into Hollywood's obsession. Recent years have seen a decline in mid-budget films and an increase in the rarity of original blockbusters.
It may seem as though the superhero genre's golden period will never come to an end as Marvel plots its upcoming stages into the distant future and as a result of the volume of (average quality) series being blasted out onto Disney+.
The Boys isn't just another show or a product blasted out, it's a riot. The satire on superheroes is getting better and better. Who is having the most fun? It's difficult to say whether it's the writers, the actors, or the viewers.
If indeed the Superhero genre is at a revisionist phase and evolving away from cliche and tropes, producing more mature content. Like the western genre before, it's a time of reflection that has given rise to some of the best genre movies (Logan, Deadpool, Endgame) and series (Watchmen and The Boys) representations ever.
The Western genre eventually ran its course and lost steam.
The first two series had a great story arc about Billy Butcher seeking revenge on Homelander for the death of his wife. By season two, this had been resolved and could have ended there as a limited run. So series three I was worried that it might begin to wobble and momentum might begin to slow. Without ruining the fun, it's challenging to say more. And it's a lot of fun.
With enough brashness and spectacle to give you a lot of entertainment for your money, it's clever, slick, and enjoyable. It might be starting to rely a little bit more on the omg moments (Termite and Herogasm) but the cast and writers are now in their groove and it's such a fun runaway train I'm happy to go along with the ride.