While The boys might be based on a best-selling comic book series, the superhero satire managed to outperform its source material on many fronts. Occasionally, an adaptation can enhance his inspiration. For example, author Michael Crichton’s novel jurassic park is a successful but unspectacular sci-fi story about a theme park gone wrong. Its 1993 film adaptation jurassic park is one of director Steven Spielberg’s finest films and is widely considered one of the best blockbusters ever made. Similarly, Roderick Thorp’s novel Nothing lasts eternally is largely forgotten, while its film adaptation die hard is quite well regarded.
While the comic book inspiration for The boys is (usually) darker than the series itself, that doesn’t mean the source material is better than its adaptation. Particularly after Season 3, it’s fair to say that The boys managed to outperform its source material. The boys is now better than the comics in many essential ways, from how the show handles sensitive material to how the show fleshes out its characters. While The boys might not exist without Garth Ennis’ comic book series of the same name, the series has deepened the social commentary of its source material, improved its characters, and made its plot more complex.
The social commentary and political satire of The boys are sharper and more insightful in the TV series. For example, Aya Cash’s version of Stormfront highlights how acceptable racist rhetoric can sound when it comes from the mouths of a sardonic, cultured millennial. In the source comics, Stormfront is a typical villainous Nazi, which robs this character of satirical potential. Cash’s Stormfront Authorized The boys season 2 to poke fun at mainstream media for the bigoted platform for views, while Stormfront’s comedic character didn’t pursue that approach. This made Stormfront a more sinister and insidious villain in the adaptation.
This is true of The boys “Evil Superman” Homelander too. Although Homelander is reprehensible in both the source comics and their TV adaptation, he has a more recognizable humanity in the series. It doesn’t endear him to viewers, but it makes him more believable when he gathers a huge following. The Homelander of the source comics is clearly a monster who uses the thinnest veneer of smarmy charisma to deflect criticism from his gruesome crimes. However, in The boys TV series, Homelander is still a complete monster, but the existence of its followers seems much more believable due to its more complex portrayal.
Karen Fukuhara’s Kimiko is better than the wife
When it comes to intricate depictions, Karen Fukuhara’s take on Kimiko is far better than The Female, her comic book counterpart. While The boys season 1 largely squandered Kimiko’s potential, subsequent seasons spent more time focusing on her hopes, dreams, and relationships. Without a word, Fukuhara’s Kimiko was able to become a well-rounded and well-realized character in her own right. In contrast, The Female never received much substantial characterization. Kimiko’s character change in The boys allowed the series’ version of the character to feel more complex and believable than his original inspiration.
The Boys makes its characters more complex
Kimiko is far from the only character who feels less one-dimensional in the TV show. In the source comics, most members of the Seven are much more cartoonish villains, which makes them less interesting since there’s little reason to root for their potential redemption. For example, Queen Maeve takes a much more proactive role in the series than in the comics, and even survives her eventual confrontation with Soldier Boy. Likewise, Black Noir’s backstory significantly changed his plot from his comedic persona, which was actually a more messy extension of Homelander’s amoral villainy.
The Boys updated Soldier Boy villainy
Thanks to the MCU, The boys Season 3’s Soldier Boy was meant to be different from his comic counterpart. This turned out to be a major plus for the show since Jensen Ackles’ version of the character is arguably the show’s best villain since Homelander. In the source comics, Soldier Boy is a sycophant who obsessively tries to get into the Seven while trying to impress Homelander. In the TV series, he is a violent fascist who murders dozens of people in a single-minded quest to exact revenge on those who betrayed him.
While Soldier Boy’s comic counterpart is comically loose, there’s not much else for the villain. In contrast, the show’s version of Soldier Boy is more sympathetic, as he isn’t responsible for the experiments that made him the monster he is now. However, he’s also a much scarier villain. The series’ Soldier Boy sees nothing wrong with detonating a massive explosion in the middle of Herogasm, murdering and maiming dozens of heroes in the process. He’s a deadlier character than his comic counterpart, which allowed Soldier Boy to The boys season 3 was a memorable monster.
The Boys Do Starlight’s Story Justice
In the source comics and in the series, Starlight is sexually assaulted as part of a gruesome “initiationin The Seven. In the comics, this traumatizes her, but the aftermath of the incident is rarely discussed in depth. Since every male member of The Seven is an abuser, there is little scope for meaningful closure after the event. In contrast, the show’s version of this plot sees The Deep take center stage as the stage villain. As a result, his humiliating ordeal in The boys season 2 allows the show to reflect on his misdeeds, while Starlight’s public condemnation of his crimes seems more believable after #MeToo.
The Boys Are Less Gross (But Still Darker) Than The Comics
While The boys might be one of the baddest shows on television at times, the series has nothing on the source material. The most infamous moments from the source comics include Butcher beating a superpowered baby to death, a scene that even many die-hard comic book fans found too gross to be amusing. However, this does not mean that The boys is not dark enough. Ironically, because the series drops some of the most absurd elements of comics, The boys feels closer to something resembling reality. As a result, The boys is even darker than its source material when the show needs to be.
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