Amazon has something special with "The Boys," a blistering satire that uses superheroes to skewer things like corporate greed, domestic extremism and, of course, Marvel movies. But it's also imitating the Marvel Cinematic Universe as it grows. Amazon has already released an animated anthology show based on "The Boys," and there's a college-themed spinoff on the way.
Can "The Boys" continue to satirize Marvel even as it turns itself into yet another cinematic superhero universe? However different the two properties are, "The Boys" showrunner Eric Kripke thinks there are things to be learned from the MCU. "The one lesson I'd certainly taken away from Marvel and what a brilliant job Kevin Feige does is he busts his ass to not repeat himself," Kripke told Rolling Stone. "Especially in the early days when there weren't quite as many [projects] but each and every hero had a totally different-feeling movie. You go from a World War II movie, to a political thriller, to a John Hughes movie. And so, if anything, what we're trying to do is that. We have an R-rated universe that's sexually explicit. But what's a totally different show that could live in that universe? And it'd be an interesting experiment to see if people like it. I love it, but we'll see if people love it."
[The upcoming "The Boys" spinoff will] tell a very gritty and real college experience through the metaphor of the superhero lens. But we're not like "Undeclared," which was a straight comedy. And we're not "Euphoria" either, which got to a level of darkness I don't think we're doing. We're just somewhere in between. We're really trying to be safely within our world but tell stories that the mothership just simply could not tell. And have new characters that are every bit as appealing, but couldn't be in the other show.
"The Boys" spinoff will have cameo appearances from the original show
Another way the expanding "The Boys" universe intends to ape the MCU: crossovers. "Without spoiling anything, I think there will be several very, very cool cameos," Kripke said. "Because it's a Vought-run college, so crossover with Vought characters is inevitable, really." "The Boys" is pretty good at doing meta-commentary, so I'm sure the producers could find a fun way to work in cameos.
But will that be enough? As good as "The Boys" is, a lot of the reason it feels so intense is because of Homelander (Antony Starr), who for my money is the best TV villain to come along in a while. And he can't really transfer that intensity to other shows that hope to stand on their own.
So where does that leave "The Boys" Cinematic Universe? We'll have to wait and see. I have my doubts, but "The Boy"s has always surprised me with how bold and inventive it is, so maybe they can pull off an expanded universe, as well.
In the meantime, new episodes of "The Boys" air on Amazon Prime Video on Fridays.