The big bad villain in The Boys universe is the abuse of power. In season one they focused on this abuse from an individual level — ‘supes’ with too much notoriety getting away with despicable deeds and weaponising their power for their own desires. If season one focused on the ground level consequences of power abuse, then season two goes further into the culture that cultivated this dynamic and reveals the far bigger, far badder villain: capitalism.
Season one saw the “Boys” — Butcher (Karl Urban), Hughie (Jack Quaid), Frenchie (Tomer Kapon), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) — become fugitives after their vendetta against the mighty Seven (an Avengers style team of Supes) ended in even more bloodshed and a threat of governmental secrets. Butcher was separated from his team when he discovers that his previously thought to be dead wife (Shantel VanSanten) is actually alive and raising Homelander’s (Anthony Starr) son. Starting season two, the remaining Boys team are in hiding, holed up in the ironically placed basement of a comic book store. Their Most Wanted status means they must hide even from family and loved ones, yet this doesn’t stop Hughie from contacting Starlight (Erin Moriarty) with burner phones, as they plan a way to take down Vought. In general the team are on hiatus, moving slowly and with little direction after the disappearance of Butcher, their drive is ignited only by their discovery of a “super-terrorist” that they may have accidentally helped transport to the US.
Along with the new threat of super-terrorists comes a new Supe character, Stormfront (Aya Cash). She’s introduced as an antagonist for Homelander, as she is enrolled without his permission by head of Vought, Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito). Stormfront is a modern day Supe with a strong online following thanks to her constant engagement on social media and so she and her laid-back attitude is instantly at odds with Homelander and his traditionally homely morals. Stormfront appears to be a far cry from her comics counterpart (a large, male, muscly super-nazi) but as is the way with this show, we may see her character develop more nefarious qualities.
With the Boys down for the count, still licking their wounds after the apparent disappearance of Butcher, the show gets to explore more of the corporate industry of supes and lean into a tongue-in-cheek parody of marketing, specifically the tokenism of modern capitalism. During their hunt to replace The Deep (Chace Crawford), the suits try to find the most diverse Supe as it will play well with the Gen Z crowd. Eventually Stormfront takes the mantle and they join Starlight and Queen Maeve on a girl boss tour, to the chagrin of almost everyone involved. A mockery of modern social driven corporations that have woken up to the cash cow that is liberal capitalism, the show pokes fun at the hollowness of these actions, still driven by numbers rather than consciousness.
Along with this new “socially conscious” perception, the Supes are pushing for entry into the army, so that they can help “Save America” (or “Save the World” depending on what marketing research finds scores best). Equipped with everything from propaganda films and staged interviews filled with buzzwords like “super-terrorists”, the Vought corporation seems intent on breaking into the booming business of war. And as we found out last season when Homelander confessed to creating the super-terrorist himself, it’s a war they’ve concocted for their own hero-image to justify their invasion into more governmental power.
Season one’s critique of celebrity culture and the insidious crimes that can be hidden by fame was timely upon its release. However, now that we’re living through a time where even more people are waking up to the inherent evilness of capitalism, the institutional abuse of power and the prioritisation of economy over the lives of the masses, season two seems to be swooping in to the rescue at a perfect time.
The Boys Season 1 & 2 are available to stream now exclusively on Amazon Prime
by Michaela Barton
Michaela is a freelance journalist living in Glasgow who watches far too much Netflix so might as well make a career out of it. Her one true love is procrastination but she’s also a fan of feminist and queer theory, ugly dad shirts, and abducting cats. You can find her on Twitter at @MichaelaBarton_