Martin Carr reviews the first episode of The Boys season 2…
So we find ourselves back in the saddle for The Big Ride a barnstorming opener in a series which kneecapped everything else last year. Bold, brash and brazen The Boys created a new benchmark poking fun at our superhero centric cinema, whilst picking away at this obsession like children with an open wound. Adapted by Eric Kripke from source material by Gareth Ennis and Darick Robertson, it grounded superheroes in ways which only Ryan Reynolds had managed to do with Deadpool twice.
With sarcasm, wit and no shortage of R rated content The Boys kicked down those Marvel shaped monuments to multiverse movie making in style. These heroes lacked humanity, thrived on self-interest and were corporate to the core. Protected on high by executive greed they saved lives according to audience numbers, approval ratings and share prices. Their public image was dictated by committee and each one was contractually obliged to tow the party line. Thankfully we had Hughie, Frenchie, Mother’s Milk and Butcher to bring their own slice of mayhem to the party; you might know them by another name.
It quickly becomes apparent that Eric Kripke and company have lost none of their edge. Savagely topical in a queasy unrelenting way this second go round carries straight on from its predecessor. Viciously graphic sight gags stand toe to toe with blatant sideswipes at corporate film making strategies. Antony Starr’s Homelander leads the charge with a performance of such preening pomposity that he is almost likeable. Erin Moriarty and Jack Quaid sweeten the pill slightly as Hughie and Starlight, while Giancarlo Esposito casts an intimidating shadow as Mr Edgar.
This might only be the first episode but already it takes no prisoners. Sadomasochistic sex games and deviant decapitation is where the line has now been drawn. Take away food orders are intercut with army incursions and a classic Stones track, while televised funerals morph into merchandising jamborees filled with t-shirts and souvenir lunch boxes. That Eric Kripke is able to weave a storyline through this madness only proves how engaging bad taste can really be.
The Boys no longer relies on subtlety, allegorical undertones or tact. For all concerned the gloves are off and these writers are gleefully tearing into this edifice with the sole intent of changing things up. Whether perforating eardrums, knocking back breast milk or spouting corporate platitudes this embodiment of Americana is long past salvation. Super or otherwise, a person who takes his own press as gospel and is aggressively protective of that privilege and position must be taken down. For anyone keeping up with current events stateside that has to sound familiar.
The Boys season 2 launches on 4th September on Amazon Prime Video.