Since late 2016, many pundits have predicted that superhero fatigue will kick in. With the abundance of superhero-related TV shows and movies being released, it’s inevitable that the audiences will tire of them, right? Well, the highest-grossing film of all time, Avengers: Endgame, begs to differ, while Amazon Prime’s The Boys proves to be a cheeky response to this tedious question.
Based on the hit comic book series created by writer Garth Ennis and illustrator Darick Robertson, The Boys isn’t your typical “superhero” show. In fact, the humans are the real heroes here, as the capes have abused their powers and become untouchable corporate darlings. It’s a new world where the celebrity culture consumes the superheroes and allows them to get away with things they should’ve never been allowed to do in the first place.
It’s a perfect satire to everything happening at the moment, as these superhero properties become multibillion-dollar franchises that are controlled by the biggest studios in Hollywood. Whether we want to admit it or not, they’re part of the “Machine” and the “Man” is calling the shots over what does and doesn’t make it down the production line.
These actors who portray these characters are adored, stalked and become legends as the audience laps up their every word. They’re the closest things to living gods, as most people fail to differentiate the actor from the part. How frighteningly similar is it to what’s depicted on the Amazon Prime show?
Interestingly, The Boys comic book series was released in 2006 before the whole superhero movie and TV boom. It was Ennis’s reaction to the state of modern comics as he felt it had become consumed with capes.
“I find most superhero stories completely meaningless. Which is not to say I don’t think there’s potential for the genre—Alan Moore and Warren Ellis have both done interesting work with the notion of what it might be like to be and think beyond human, see Miracleman, Watchmen and Supergods,” Ennis told SciFiNow. “But so long as the industry is geared towards fulfilling audience demand, i.e. for the same brightly coloured characters doing the same thing forever—you’re never going to see any real growth. The stories can’t end, so they’ll never mean anything.”
Ennis isn’t wrong. Too often, creator-owned stories fall to the wayside to make room for the tried-and-tested Batman and Spider-Man tales. It’s disappointing, really, as original storytelling isn’t receiving the equal attention and backing as regurgitations of the same heroes battling the same villains.
At the same time, it’s unlikely that paragons of popular culture will be put on the backburner in favour of something new—that’s not how business works and it’d be a disservice to these characters. There has to be a happy medium somewhere, though.
Perhaps this is where something like The Boys TV series might open people’s eyes to the fact that comic books are more than just superheroes. The Walking Dead is living proof that there are many lucrative properties in the comics industry waiting to be picked up by studios and networks. With superhero fatigue unlikely to happen anytime soon, there’s nothing to lose here. There’s a whole world of comic book stories waiting to be adapted; all they need is the backing of the industry.