When Amazon Prime’s The Boys came out in 2019, it made a modest hit of itself, and rightly so – it’s the antidote to the absolutely omnipresent superhero films of today, deconstructing what it is to be a superhero and depicting people who have the silly costume but who also have serious, glaring neuroses. It’s the formula that made Watchmen one of the best-regarded comic books of all time, and what a breath of fresh air it is to have a TV show actually try and live up to that.
With the second season of The Boys fast approaching, set to premiere on September 4th, creator and showrunner Eric Kripke gave an interview to Collider where he made some tantalising revelations.
While it was practically a given that Karl Urban’s Billy Butcher would return after going missing in the first season finale – he’s the main character, after all – there will be a one-off short film titled Butcher showing us what he got up to between seasons. Originally this would have been covered in the second episode of the upcoming season, but supposedly it would have thrown off the pacing, so it was made into a standalone feature.
Giancarlo Esposito, who plays Vought CEO Stan Edgar, is to have a much bigger role in the second season. Per Kripke, “With Elisabeth Shue gone we really needed a character to represent the true monster of the show which is Voigt. He does that with his icy, chilling demeanor. I’ve loved him ever since I worked with him on Revolution. He’s one of my favorite actors and I was thrilled and honored that he was open to coming back and playing again.” Since his role as perpetually stoic fast-food kingpin Gustavo Fring in Breaking Bad, Esposito has been in great demand for pretty much any evil and charismatic role out there – not least in reprising Fring in the prequel series Better Call Saul, but also showing up at the eleventh hour in The Mandalorian as final boss.
The most notable new addition to the cast is Aya Cash as Stormfront, a social media-savvy superhero who, based on Kripke’s comments, will serve as a foil for Antony Starr’s PR-obsessed Homelander: “She comes in and she shakes up The Seven…we wanted to bring in a character who could really knock Homelander on his heels in a way that really no character has been able to.”
Kripke is already looking to the future, and is in talks with Jeffrey Dean Morgan appear in the third season: “There’s one role we’re already talking about. He has to, uh, we have to like coordinate. Because you know, he’s on The Walking Dead, so he has another home. But we already talked about one role, and there might be a potential other that we’re talking about. But we are, just this past week we were literally texting back and forth about trying to figure out how to get him on the show. I don’t think it’s a done deal yet, but the will is there, and we’re both talking about it.”
In the broadest possible terms, Amazon Prime have responded to the success of The Boys – it’s one of their most watched original programs – by affording them more leeway generally, with a bigger budget and longer shooting time. Kripke puts this down to the streaming service having “an appetite to see a bigger scope of the show in season two. They felt like when you’re in this premium television space and you’re competing, especially as a genre show, and you’re competing against these huge shows you have to be able to walk the walk…the funny thing about filmmaking is none of it is rocket science: it’s just time and money.”
As the increased budget goes, it apparently “doesn’t just mean huge action scenes. It does mean some of those. We have some huge sequences. There are larger sea mammals. There is some bigger stuff for sure. But there is also a lot more intense stuff and scenes that were really difficult for the actors emotionally and require a bit more time. It’s not just the visuals that are epic; I think the emotions are a little more epic this season and that just takes some TLC with the actors.”
On a final note, Kripke also shared some advice he received from Sam Raimi, he of the Evil Dead franchise, which was quite simply “You know what filmmaking is? It’s creating characters you love and then torturing them.” It’s not hard to see how this has played into the development of The Boys. There is little room for sentiment when plunging characters into such a cynical and violent world.
The teaser trailer for the upcoming second season can be viewed below:
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