Hero satire takes new twist

Published date03 October 2023
Publication titleSignal
THREE seasons of The Boys so far have made for some delightfully warped, bitterly cynical and often blackly funny television

Taking Garth Ennis’ cult comic and its basic concept of “what if superheroes were jerks?”, it has been an often incisive satire of both existing superhero franchises and our own sad little reality, too often filled with greed and superficiality and powerful people getting away with all kinds of horrible things. It has also been a great showcase for its New Zealand lead actors Anthony Starr and Karl Urban, locked in eternal nemesis status as the fascist Superman stand-in Homelander and the anti-‘‘supes” formal special ops bloke Butcher, respectively.

But it is starting to have a bit of a problem because at this point, it has to keep finding ways for neither Homelander nor Butcher to win. Eventually one (or both?) will die and that will probably be the end of the show; but that neither of them has triumphed yet is starting to feel a bit ... artificial.

So what do you do if you have got a hit show that is starting to feel like its remaining days may be numbered somewhat? Why, a spin-off of course! And so here’s Gen V, which takes The Boys’ mirror version of our own world, with all its outrageousness and cynicism, and drops a brand new set of characters and story into it.

Viewers of The Boys will recall that one of its big plot points was evil hero-owning megacorporation Vought producing Compound V, a superpower-developing serum that eager parents lined up to experiment on their children with. These kids are now getting older, and the series first jumps back in time for a bit (using a wee cameo from a Boys character to show where we are in the chronology) to introduce us to Marie Moreau, a young girl whose nascent superpowers turn out to be based on manipulation of her own blood. Unfortunately for Marie, this ability comes to light via possibly the most traumatising first period experience of all time, which leaves her and her sister orphans (yes, you did read that right). Marie is duly packed off to superhero-foster-care.

Fast forward a few years, and after spending time in a schooling/care system where misbehaving kids get cattle prods rather than detention, Marie (Jaz Sinclair) manages to make it into prestigious superhero tertiary institute Godolkin University, where the dean encourages students to be the best “culturally rich change agents” they can be. Many of the school’s students are performance majors, learning to exploit their...

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