‘The Boys’ and Other Superhero Shows That Defy the Genre’s Norms

The Amazon original series The Boys presents a world in which superheroes exist, yet aren’t necessarily good people. A money-first corporation controls the super-powered, who are often willing to sacrifice morality and basic human decency to safeguard their images and luxurious lifestyles. In short, these so-called heroes fall victim to all the drawbacks of a capitalist and individualistic society. 

Amazon series The Boys
(L-R) Erin Moriarty, Antony Starr, Jack Quaid and Karen Fukuhara attend Amazon Prime Video’s ‘The Boys’ Season 2 Drive-In Premiere | Kevin Winter /Getty Images for Amazon Studios

The show takes the superhero genre and flips it on its head. Superpowered people are not always the saviors — they are not always better than the rest of us. Yet, The Boys is not the only superhero show taking a stand against the good vs. bad tropes inherent to many a superhero blockbuster. A handful of other shows — some in more comedic and lighthearted ways — have also made a mission to break free from the shackles inherent to the superhero genre. 

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1. ‘The Umbrella Academy’

The first two seasons of The Umbrella Academy are now available on Netflix. Based on the comic book series of the same name by Gerard Way, the series follows a motley group of super-powered siblings all adopted by the same billionaire industrialist. They form The Umbrella Academy as kids — and take down the baddies together. 

RELATED: Season 3 of ‘The Umbrella Academy’ to Follow a Different Path Than the First 2 Seasons

Years later, they’ve drifted apart, and they all carry a great deal of baggage from their past. From daddy issues and insecurity to lost love and more, these siblings must reunite to prevent doomsday, yet they can barely seem to stand in a room together without an argument erupting. The show eschews the hypermasculinity seen in several superhero films; instead, it presents bags of bottled up emotions.

2. ‘Doom Patrol’ 

Doom Patrol is available on the DC streaming service and HBO Max, and the show is for mature audiences only. The team is comprised of downtrodden superheroes — all of whom acquired their powers via a life-altering accident. 

While each accident granted these ordinary people with superhuman abilities, the accidents also left each member somewhat disfigured. A character called The Chief united them all, and gets them to investigate the world’s weirdest phenomena. Yet, when The Chief mysteriously disappears, the team — unprepared for an actual mission — is called into action by Cyborg, a man who knows The Chief well (or so he believes). 

3. ‘Misfits’

Robert Sheehan fans unite. Before The Umbrella Academy came knocking on his door, Sheehan starred in a different series, Misfits, and his character boasted superhuman abilities in this show as well. 

Misfits follow five juvenile offenders who have nothing in common (Robert Sheehan portrays one of them), but they must work together on a community service project. Yet, when an electrical storm hits town, granting each “misfit” with superhuman abilities, their worlds become even further connected. They must deal with adolescence, while also trying to determine why they have been given such abilities.