The Boys: 11 things you didn't know about Prime Video's superhero show

From its comic book roots to a Presidential endorsement, discover some surprising and unsettling facts about The Boys ahead of season 3 landing on Prime Video on 3 June.

By Lizzie Larkum Published: 18 March 2022 - 2.41pm
Prime Video The Boys

Anarchic superhero series The Boys is an antithesis to the slew of superhero universes that have graced our screens - big and small - for the last two decades.

The Boys is centred around The Seven, an ‘Avengers’ style group of superheroes whose powers have been corrupted by the evil Vought empire. The titular ‘Boys’ are a vigilante group hell bent on exposing the Seven and Vought.

Ahead of Season 3 coming to Prime Video on 3 June, we uncover some surprising facts about the show.

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1. The comic was too violent for TV

The TV series is actually a toned-down version of the original comic books of the same name. Although the series is ultra-violent, sweary and gory, the comic book goes a lot further. In fact, the content of the comic series was deemed much too outrageous for TV so several changes have been made for the small-screen adaptation. Unbelievably the character of Homelander is actually much more sadistic in the comic, for instance.

2. The Boys also have special powers in the comic 

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The original concept of The Boys saw them gaining superpowers by being given the Vought-produced super serum Compound V.

As Screenrant.com explains, “Billy Butcher, the team's founder, injected each member with Compound V, the drug responsible for the creation of the 'Supes'. Compound V gave The Boys superhuman abilities to give them a fighting chance even against the Seven.”

So far in the TV show, only Kimiko, played by Karen Fukuhara, has super powers, but it looks like that could change in season 3.

Billy Butcher, played by Karl Urban and seen here and in the trailer for season 3 with glowing eyes, may have decided to fight fire with fire, or more precisely laser eyes with laser eyes.

3. Man, I feel like a woman

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Another change to the comic book is the gender of certain characters. To even up the men to women ratio on the show, Eric Kripke changed the sex of some characters.

Stormfront, played by Aya Cash in the show (above) was originally a male character in the comic and is, as comic book website CBR.com explains, Homelander's genetic father.

"Vought-American created the hero (Homelander) by harvesting genetic material from Stormfront, the first-ever superhuman, and implanting said material into Homelander's mother," says a report on the site.

Which throws their already abnormal relationship into an even weirder light. Grace Mallory, played by Laila Robins, the former Deputy Director of the CIA and the founder of The Boys, was also a man in the comic books and was probably a lot older as he had served in World War II.

4. The Boys has a Presidential seal of approval

Former US President Barack Obama is a big fan of the show. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly talking about the appeal of Watchmen and The Boys he explained how the series subverted the norms of the genre to make important social statements.

“They turn superhero conventions on their heads to lay bare issues of race, capitalism, and the distorting effects of corporate power and mass media," he said.

5. Superbad writers Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen are executive producers on the show

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Canadian comedians, writers and directors Evan Goldberg and Seth Rogen (pictured below another executive producer, James Weaver) are executive producers on The Boys.

The childhood friends co-wrote the films Superbad, Pineapple Express and The Is The End, which, like The Interview, they also co-directed. The pair also collaborated on another TV comic book adaptation, Preacher.

Rogen has made cameo appearances in the show, playing a producer at a press junket in season 1 episode 6, 'The Innocents' and again in season 2 episode 1, 'The Big Ride'.

6. Season 3 sees the arrival of Soldier Boy and a new superhero group

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Jensen Ackles, who previously worked with showrunner Eric Kripke on Supernatural, joins the cast in season 3. He plays Soldier Boy, above, a supe who’s been around since World War II and who’s part of another superhero group called Payback.

Kripke told Entertainment Weekly that it’s not just the lore of the comic that he wants to explore but American history as a whole.

“One of the reasons that we're getting into Soldier Boy [in season 3] and that team, Payback, is we're interested in exploring a little bit of how we got here. Through the history of the supes, we can tell a little bit about the history of America,” he said

The arrival of Payback will introduce new supes to the show, but we've already met one of the team - Stormfront was originally a member of Payback.

7. All-American heroes?

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The Boys might be set in the US but like its fanbase, its cast is global. Both Antony Starr, who plays Homelander (above right), and Karl Urban, who plays cockney Billy Butcher, are native New Zealanders. Claudia Doumet, who plays Victoria Neuman, is Australian and Dominique McElligott, who plays Queen Maeve (above left), is Irish.

8. Translucent was made for TV

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The Seven's invisible man, Translucent, is one of the only superhero characters created for the TV series and does not feature in the original comic books. Played by British actor Alex Hassell, Translucent is the living embodiment of the question "What would you do if you were invisible and were an awful person?"

9. A tale of two cities

Although The Boys is set in New York, most of the scenes are shot in Toronto. The Roy Thomson Hall in Toronto’s entertainment district doubles as the Vought headquarters.

10. The show has an obsession with milk

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More precisely breast milk. Homelander drinks it and one character is even named after it. In the comic, the character Mother’s Milk (above) gets his powers through his own mother’s milk which contains the superhero-making Compound V.

Kripke, deciding this was not a workable concept for TV, changed it to something more palatable. Mother’s Milk, or MM for short, played by Las Alonzo, is perhaps the most upstanding and moral member of The Boys, so the name comes to represent something more innocent and pure.

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Homelander’s liking for milk and in particular Madelyn Stillwell’s milk is less innocent and makes for one of the more bizarre moments of the show.  Having despatched his former handler Madelyn Stillwell, played by Elisabeth Shue (above), Homelander finds a bottle of her expressed milk in her fridge and drinks it.

In an interview with The Sun, Homelander actor Anthony Starr described it as “a moment of pure connection between Homelander and Stillwell in season two. I'm basically drinking breast milk".

Madelyn Stillwell had a complex realtionship with Homelander both as a lover and mother figure and having killed her, this Oedipal relationship comes full circle with the imbibing of her milk.

11. Watch carefully - there are signs everywhere

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Almost every outdoor scene in The Boys features a poster or flyer of one of The Seven: whether its a poster for their latest movie or a product endorsement, they're everywhere.

But look closely, because some have hidden meanings. Right before Hughie’s girlfriend has a fatal run in with A-train, played by Jesse Usher (above), for instance, we see a poster of him on a taxi cab outside the shop Hughie works in.

Hughie, played by Jack Quaid, below, is also wearing a Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers T-shirt with a broken heart on it foreshadowing his heartbreak to come.

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The Boys returns to Prime Video on 3 June.

Seasons 1-2 are available to watch now on Prime Video.