The opening bars of the third season of ‘The Boys’ not only show that it hasn’t lost any of the bad drool that it exhibited in its previous seasons, but that it is also a good catalog of some of its most characteristic ingredients. For example, starts with a fun parody of the most solemn and hollow superhero movies, in the style of Zack Snyder, with his trademark lifeless color photography, a trope that DC’s parody-heroes from ‘The Boys’ fit perfectly.
But as ‘The Boys’ usually does, that’s just the first layer: we are at the premiere of a film that will serve to redirect the superhero narrative, victimize Patriot and shake the group of heroes of any responsibility related to having done good crumbs with a Nazi superheroine. In that premiere, we see how Patriota repeats the same formulas over and over again when asked by the press. In a few seconds a few depth charges have been launched against the mainstream superheroic and its contradictions, using precisely the codes of entertainment that this one uses.
We return to the group of hero hunters, in a superhero party like the ones we have seen so many times in the series and where people with powers are portrayed as perverse, vicious and decadent creatures. ‘The Boys’ throws the rest here, just ten minutes before the start of its third season (which makes the viewer tremble before what may come upon us with what remains of our third year) and poses one of the most grotesque, excessive, incorrect and insane scenes that the series has given.
And this is just the beginning: in these first episodes, the plot approaches that possibly guide the third season (although obviously there may be surprises) are firmly established. The existence of a Compound V that gives powers for a limited time, a relationship between Patriot and Butcher more frontal than ever, Howie’s happiness cut short personally and professionally… and more attention for Patriot, with whom the series seems to have a peculiar but logical fascination and who at the moment, resists with very good judgment to victimize, as the Snyder-style film of the season opener does.
‘The Boys’ still have it
But there are more paths that it seems that this third year will follow and that possibly give clues about where the cannon fire will be directed this time. For sure (because the actor who will give him life has been announced) we will enter the history of Soldier Boy, a history of superheroes in this world, clearly inspired by Captain America. His story will serve to question the virtues of fandom and blind devotion to symbolic icons.
‘The Boys’ has long distanced itself from Garth Ennis’ comics, which followed their own evolution (half of his long life betting on pure brutality, the other half making us wonder if it was as good as we thought). This makes sense because the series has lived its own centrifuge of the perception we have of superheroes in particular and the icons that symbolize Great Concepts in particular, and has fed on it.
Now superheroes as a major consumer product are at a different time than when the series started. Now they are even more, if possible, rollers that nullify the difference in pop culture, and ‘The Boys’ talks about it (it has always talked about a rebellion against the status quo majority, but now more than ever). ‘The Boys’ also delves into political issues with a subplot involving the White House itselfAnd while references to Trump abound, it’s also easy to spot criticism from all directions.
In other words, ‘The Boys’ is still as acid and awake as ever. After a final stretch of the second season in which the series seemed to get carried away by its own fictions and lose part of its irony, the pandemic pause seems to have made its showrunner Eric Kripke, who brings the series back to the helm and shamelessness. Again, ‘The Boys’ is not a show about superheroes (it’s not even the most brutal and violent show about superheroes): it’s a show against them. And let it continue.