Amazon's 'The Boys' Will Be Shocking, But Won't Go As Far As The Comics [TCA 2019]

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg have produced another TV series based on a Garth Ennis comic book. The Boys is about a world in which superheroes are A-holes and cause lots of collateral damage, including civilian death. The title characters are the group who step up to keep the superheroes in line. Rogen, Goldberg, EP Eric Kripke and cast were on an Amazon panel for the Television Critics Association to discuss the new streaming series coming later this year.Here are five things we learned from The Boys' panel.

If Preacher’s Too Much For You, Prepare For The Boys

Collateral damage and civilian deaths are one thing, but the comic version of The Boys goes there and beyond. Some superheroes even sexually harass women, or worse. Kripke didn't want to shy away from the worst of the abuse of superpower:

"The comic book is incendiary in its material. There's a ton of really shocking s***. It's a really irreverent, really edgy show. We don't want to shy away from the hard and ugly stuff, especially [what's] happening in our world. The reason that one specific thing is in the books and the reason I felt strongly that we should put it in the show is because it's happening. We need to talk about it. It needs to get out of the shadows and we need to have conversations, even uncomfortable and controversial ones."

It's understandable that there would be concerns about how a superhero show would handle rape. No one wants to see sexual assault exploited, on a superhero show or any show. But it's all about handling it respectfully. Said Kripke:

"As long as we didn't treat it like a f***ing joke. As long as we take it as real and it's happening and it's happening to these characters, what is their reaction? What are the ramifications? We treated it with the gravity it deserves. In this world, in this universe, the people who do bad s*** do not f***ing get away with it. Those were all things for us made it not something we wanted to shy away from. We said no s***, we have to show some courage and talk about it."

Not Anything Goes Though

That's not to say that The Boys will do anything. There are lines Kripke won't cross, and some of those lines are lines Ennis crossed in the comics:

"Frankly there's a lot of stuff from the comic that, if I'm being honest, we would not do in the show. For us, from the start was the notion of you have to make it about the characters and you have to take the world very, very seriously. You have to have fleshed out people that have heart. You have to tell stories about really what it is to be human. If you took it very, very seriously, then the irreverence wouldn't be for shock value. It would be to further the character. For us, it was always like if something in the comic doesn't further a character, we'd cut it. If there was an idea that was crazy but told us a new aspect of the character with integrity, then yeah."

So maybe making Hitler a sympathetic character, as AMC's Preacher series did, would be a bridge too far for The Boys.

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

Comic books like Superman, Spider-Man and Batman show noble characters learning to use their power for good. That's aspirational, but superheroes are still people. Not everyone is going to get the message that with great power comes great responsibility. That's what The Boys tackles."We're going to explore what would it really be to be the most powerful man on the planet's psychology?" Kripke said. "How f***ed up you would be? Or how insecure you might be if your only power is talking to fish? How stressful it is to be the world's fastest man, but you're only a good hero if you are the world's fastest man, so you are basically super Lance Armstrong?"Lance Armstrong is a good reference. If a regular athlete thought he was above the law, how corrupt would an actual speedster be?"And so, to be able to deconstruct all of it and to ground it in our world, and to play with the irreverence of it, I think is something that people are really going to enjoy because they've had these huge myths and it's all been so self-important," Kripke said. "And so for a show to come around and just kind of kick the s*** out of it, I think it going to be a blast."

Did Garth Ennis Predict Trump?

The Boys first published in 2006. Yet making The Boys on Amazon in 2019 seemed apropos. Kripke said:

"The thing that was interesting was we said [to Ennis], 'When you started writing it in the mid 2000s, what inspired you? His response was, 'I was really interested in what would happen if you combined the worst of politics with the worst of celebrity.' We were like what a crazy, out there idea. Then I think the world has caught up to the show in a way that in the writers room our expression is: bad for the world, good for the show."

Not to say The Boys is a political show, but it's a metaphor as most good superhero stories are. Kripke added:

"To be able to explore how slick and commodified and how loaded with celebrity politics have become is dead center with where The Boys are. Everyone who writes on the show are news junkies. It's bringing in everything that's happening in the world, making this superhero show our own way. We think it's one of the most current shows on TV."

Where the Real World Ends...

The Boys takes place ostensibly in 2019. Jimmy Fallon hosts The Tonight Show and we have smartphones and social media. However, our real world doesn't have deadly superheroes... yet. But the idea was to make superheroes the one fantasy element in our real world. Seth Rogen explained:

"Our connections made the reality of the show. We could get Jimmy Fallon. It seemed like a fun thing to anchor it as much in our world as possible. That is as much part of the take of the show. If it was real, it would be drastically different than presented to us. Just as the most famous of us tend to be the worst, the most powerful of us may not be the best of us, they may be the worst of us."

Rogen will cameo in The Boys later as well. As he joked:

"We knew him. So as much as we can anchor that in our world as possible, it seemed like it actually just supported the premise of the show, yeah.

Superheroes making talk show rounds is also funny, and the soundtrack is full of hit rock songs to score the set piece action scenes.Look for The Boys on Amazon Prime later this year.