Marvel’s MCU and DC’s DCEU Can Learn Some Big Lessons From ‘The Boys’
While superhero films and shows have been around for a long time, it’s just been in the last few years that the genre seems to be having a renaissance of sorts.
While the two main producers of superhero content are the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC extended universe, there are others that fall outside of this rivalry all together, such as Amazon Prime’s The Boys.
While The Boys may be too gory and raunchy for general audiences, there are some aspects to the show that make it an interesting addition to the superhero genre, and some things the two biggest players in the field could learn.
‘The Boys’ gives us a scary look at what superheroes might actually be like in real life
While the MCU and DCEU do delve some into blurring the previously very black and white lines between hero and villain, for the most part, viewers can be assured that when they watch content from these worlds, the heroes are for the most part good, and the villains are for the most part bad.
While there are some anti-hero films, such as Birds of Prey, that have audiences empathizing with the villains, you certainly won’t be seeing a true “good guy,” such as Wonder Woman or T’Challa, being anything short of virtuous.
The Boys takes this long-held assumption of good at evil and completely flips it on its head. The “supes,” as they’re called on the show, reflect how real people might behave with superpowers if they let fame and power go to their heads, or were bad apples from the start.
While there is a character or two that may fall under the true “good guy” type trope, for the most part, the characters are deeply flawed at best, and maniacally evil at worst.
Superhero films are shifting toward more diversity and representation
The growth of the superhero genre is happening in parallel to a push for diversity in Hollywood, as well as more broadly in society. While there is still a lot of work to be done, it seems with each new wave of films released there are improvements.
The MCU has made some strides with regard to diversity with Black Panther and gender-flipping the titular character in Captain Marvel. The X-Men films also have their share of diverse characters from the start. The DCEU brought us Wonder Woman, Suicide Squad, and Birds of Prey.
The Boys also sports a cast with diverse races and ethnicities and a fair amount of women. While the comic books already had some diversity, several roles diverged from the comics in terms of race and gender, one assumes to make the show even more diverse.
One questionable gender flip, however, was Stormfront, and if those that have watched all of season 2 or are familiar with the comics, will know about that.
‘The Boys’ are ahead of the curve in one key aspect
While some headway is being made in the superhero genre in terms of representation for different races, ethnicities, and with more roles for women, there is one glaring gap in this progress: LGBTQ representation.
While several Marvel characters are bisexual or gay in the comics, the films have yet to broach the topic head on. Valkyrie from Thor: Ragnarok was close to being one of the first prominent characters to be bisexual, but the scene revealing this fact was ultimately cut from the film.
A promise of a gay character in the upcoming film The Eternals may be the first major LGBTQ character to be openly revealed as such. The DCEU has also teased audiences with the promise of a gay character, only to also miss the mark.
After so many films and shows, in both major universes, fans are still left waiting for their first gay superhero. The Boys, however, delivered in its very first season. Queen Maeve is very clearly bisexual and audiences get to meet her former girlfriend.
True to the tone of the show, it’s not smooth sailing for Queen Maeve. The show does a good job of speaking to the commercialization of the gay rights movement as well as showcasing struggles those in the community face.