The Boys Season 3 Delivers A Savage Takedown Of The MCU And Online Fans

2022 is shaping up to be yet another year of superhero movie glut. There's been four comic book movies released so far and, barring schedule changes, six more will be coming in the year's latter half. Freshly returned, however, is the counter programming to this comic book colored zeitgeist. Prime Video's "The Boys" has premiered its third season and it's just as angry as always; the series has as much use for subtlety as Homelander (Antony Starr) does for a flak jacket.

"The Boys" is both a superhero parody and a broader cultural satire; using supes as the vehicle for satire makes sense since comic books and American culture have become so intertwined. The season 3 premiere has some vicious roasting of the movies which made superheroes culturally omnipresent.

Warning: spoilers ahead for season 3 of "The Boys."

The Vought Cinematic Universe

A subplot in season 2 of "The Boys" was the filming of "Dawn of the Seven," wherein Vought International's number one supe team play themselves in a fabricated, sanitized version of their origin. It was this subplot that gave us, "Girls get it done," which showrunner Eric Kripke confirmed was a shot at the "she's not alone" scene in "Avengers: Endgame," the peak of corporate, hollow, #Girlboss feminism.

In "Payback," season 3's first episode, we finally get to see some of "Dawn of the Seven." The episode opens "Scream 2" style at the premiere. Homelander lands in a ruined city, facing a miraculously recovered Stormfront (Aya Cash). But when the camera reveals Charlize Theron in a Stormfront suit and Homelander's "super friends" show up beside him, it's clear what the bait and switch is.

The camera work and blocking (if you can call it that) are right out of the first "Avengers" film. Medium close-up shot reverse shot for dialogue scenes, before the camera goes wide for the group shot. There's also the setting of NYC in ruins but which is clearly just a soundstage; prop rubble and green screen barely sell the illusion.

The dialogue strikes the right pitch of vacuous. There's the quips, from A-Train's (Jessie Usher) "Can't let you guys have all the fun" to Homelander's retort to Stormfront, "Guess this means we're breaking up ... Nazi b*tch." Charlize-Stormfront pulls out, "You and I are the same" to Homelander, the most old hat "hero/villain” dialogue in the book. Stormfront's dialogue is further seasoned with some superfluous (and unaccented) German, just in case you forgot she's a Nazi.

In-universe, the purpose of the movie is to launder Homelander's reputation after his relationship with Stormfront in season 2. "Dawn of the Seven" is propaganda for Vought like how Marvel movies are often cited as propaganda for the U.S. military.


"The Boys" is an equal opportunity critic when it comes to pot shots at superheroes; DC doesn't get let off either. For one, the "Dawn of the Seven" in season 2 was clearly modeled after the "Batman v Superman" one. Season 2 episode 5 "We Gotta Go Now" featured a scene of the film being shot, where Homelander jokes, "This new Joss rewrite really sings," a reference to the "Justice League" reshoots that's only gotten funnier.

"Dawn of the Seven" director Adam Bourke (P.J. Byrne) tells a red carpet reporter, "After the 'Stormfront's a Nazi' thing we had real talks about shelving the movie, or at least dumping it on Vought+, but the fans spoke with those Release The Bourke Cut hashtags — guys, I love you!"

This reference goes beyond obvious; it's a transparent allusion to "Release The Snyder Cut," the hashtag-fueled campaign by Zack Snyder's online devotees that saw the director's four hour "Justice League" cut released on HBO Max in 2021. Snyder himself poked fun at the reference.

Just like Bourke calling out to the fans on camera, Snyder has used the platform Vero to communicate directly with his fans and has been vocal in thanking them for their efforts. I won't cast doubt on Snyder's own sincerity in these sentiments, but Bourke clearly has none.

That "Dawn of the Seven" is so shoddy contains implicit critique as well; this is what the fans got so uppity about?

Auteur theory found dead

During the premiere, Vought's VP of Hero Management Ashley (Colby Minifie) and Bourke have rough sex in a men's room stall. During this, she humiliates him about how Tony Gilroy directed reshoots for "Dawn of the Seven." Herein lies another potshot at a recent mess of a blockbuster production.

Tony Gilroy indeed directed blockbuster reshoots, but of "Star Wars: Rogue One." Some would say he saved the movie, but by all accounts, the resultant "Rogue One" is a different beast from what credited director Gareth Edwards envisioned. Ashley's line doubles as another "Justice League" reference; Snyder's replacement with Whedon on that film is an even more extreme case of what transpired on "Rogue One."

"Ant-Man," and Edgar Wright's replacement with Peyton Reed, is the first example of this trend. A director tries to color too far out of the line set by the studio, so they're replaced by a different director entirely. "The Boys" calling this out isn't a strict critique of superhero media, but of studio filmmaking in general. Since Marvel and "Star Wars" are under the same Disney umbrella, it still fits.