Life imitates art: The Boys television show is based in reality


Photos by Amazon Prime Video

The Boys promotional poster, released with season one in 2019, picturing Homelander, the main ‘supe’ in the show.

Humans love superheroes. We love superheroes so much that there have been countless movies and comic books centered around superheroes. The second best-selling movie of all time is Avengers: Endgame. There may be a few reasons why superheroes are so popular, but the most likely reason is because they are better than us in every way and we see them as the name suggests–heroes. But is there more beneath the surface? This concept is explored in the Amazon original, The Boys.

I’m Homelander. I can do whatever I want.”

— Homelander, season two finale.

The Boys is an American superhero television series following Hughie Campbell (played by Jack Quaid) a young man who lives in New York City who idolizes the superheroes, or ‘supe,’ until his girlfriend is brutally murdered by the ‘supe’ A-Train. In order to get revenge,  Hughie joins forces with Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), M.M. (Laz Alonso) and Frenchie (Tomer Capone) to unveil the true nature of the ‘supes’ that the country idolizes. The group of superheroes, known as The Seven, is led by Homelander (Anthony Starr), the strongest superhero in the world and the worst of them all. The Seven is run by the company Vought and is used for profit and marketing. Throughout the show, we follow the group of anti-heroes, The Boys, as they attempt to uncover the heavily corrupt ‘supes’ and the company that backs them.

‘Supe’ Homelander during a rally to attempt to get ‘supes’ in the military. Showrunner Eric Kripke made it clear that Homelander was an analogue for Former President Donald Trump. (Photos by Amazon Prime Video)

Season one sets the stage with political topics that are rooted in reality such as white nationalism, white supremacy, systemic racism, xenophobia and, in season two, introduce nazisim. When a new superhero, Starlight (Erin Moriarty) is chosen to join The Seven, she approaches her new job with enthusiasm and all the qualities that one would expect from a superhero, only to discover the true nature of the heroes she grew up idolizing. While she tries to uphold what a superhero should be, the people around her are exploiting good actions for their stocks to rise or for them to be trending. This is a direct interpretation of politicians and large corporations. Some show runners have stated that current political movements and analogies were intentionally made to display the corrupt side that audiences don’t normally see.

 Season two introduces Stormfront, a seemingly modern superhero who influences her followers on social media and shares her superhero life with her fans. Originally male in the comics, the showrunners made the decision to make Stormfront female to oppose Homelander, a woman who isn’t afraid of him. Opposed to her modern and woke persona, it is later revealed that she is incredibly racist and believes in Nazisim, information that helps The Boys bring her down. As the season progresses, Homelander becomes more unhinged and the viewers begin to see more and more of his corrupt character. The show makes Homelander a deliberate portrayal of Donald Trump and his ideals being those of MAGA supporters.

Stormfront (left) live streaming on social media with Homelander (right) in the Amazon Original “The Boys” (Photos by Amazon Prime Video)

 “He’s always been a Trump analogue for me,” Executive producer Eric Kripke clarified in a Rolling Stone article.

Season three, recently released in June- July 2022, brought current political movements into the show including Black Lives Matter, showcasing the systemic racism that predominantly black neighborhoods experience. A-Train, a black ‘supe’, witnesses this happen in his neighborhood at the hands of the ‘supe’ Blue Hawk. The incident is a clear representation of police brutality against people of color, most notably the murder of George Floyd.

While it’s a fun show filled with classic superhero/villain archetypes, The Boys displays the not-so-fun reality behind the large corporate empires that run the world. The superheroes in the show are a clear parallel to real-life politicians, public figures and those society dub as ‘heroes’. The people who claim to serve us and protect us are really doing it for their own personal gain.