When Amazon brings The Boys to its Prime Video service this Friday, audiences will meet a much darker set of superheroes than the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever imagined. But the titular “boys” (one of whom is a woman) will have their own set of issues, and their mission to take down “supes” who step out of line will be fraught with difficulties and a certain amount of insanity since they have no powers of their own. They will, however, have certain abilities and skill sets, and we met several of the actors playing members of Billy Butcher’s team during a recent set visit to get a feel for who these vigilantes are.
Before the show came around, the Garth Ennis/Darick Robertson comic introduced us to Billy Butcher, played by Karl Urban (Star Trek) in Amazon’s The Boys, as someone with experience punishing superheroes, and although he has a certain familiarity with the nicknamed members of his group; Mother’s Milk, The Frenchman, and The Woman; he recruits the seemingly unskilled Hughie, played by Jack Quaid (The Hunger Games), in similar fashion both in the comic and in the television show. Butcher seeks to channel Hughie’s rage at being wronged by the supes into taking them down.
“My character’s called Billy Butcher, and he was formerly a member of a group called The Boys that have disbanded,” Urban told us. “And in Hughie he sees an opportunity to essentially manipulate everybody into getting back together again and going after this elite group of superheroes. But within that, the relationship between our characters is actually a mentoring one, it’s a brotherly one. But I’m also out there to try and manipulate him, and it’s just a great journey through the first season.”
That manipulation plays directly into Hughie’s desire to break out of his comfort zone, as Quaid explained. “When we first meet, he offers me an opportunity to get some revenge, and he was a guy who was kind of stuck in his life. He was just comfortable, you know?” he said. “If he had his way, he’d be hanging out with his girlfriend everyday; he likes his electronics store job. He doesn’t have the greatest life, but he’s comfortable in it. And then it all goes to shit, and he finally gets an opportunity to step up for once in his life. And it’s presented as something that I want, and the question is how far do I go?”
One of the first somewhat reluctant recruits to the cause is someone Butcher calls “Frenchie,” known in the comic as The Frenchman and played in the series by Tomer Capon (Fullmoon). Since the character was left somewhat vague in the comic, Capon imagined his own origins as an ex-military man. “I guess at some point he didn’t know what to do with himself,” he said. “He started doing what he knows best which is dealing with weapons and armory and was pretty fucked up [without] any purpose to life. Deep inside, he’s an anarchist; that’s the big thing about Frenchie. He doesn’t like the whole empowering superheroes, and Billy Butcher found him along the way, and he’s doing what he did in France, but just now it’s happening with The Boys. So it feels like coming home.”
The other muscle of the group has an equally vague moniker: The Woman. Karen Fukuhara, who put her fighting skills to work as Katana in Suicide Squad, plays the silent, enigmatic assassin in The Boys who actually bears little resemblance to her earlier role. “It’s a little bit different because Katana knew her place in the world,” Fukuhara said. “In this case, I think, we have the Female who is kind of forced into a world and forced into a situation, and we can see her throughout the series figuring it out as she goes and her fighting for her independence and her fighting for her way of life… She doesn’t kill for joy; she kills out of necessity, and sometimes is forced into doing it.”
And lastly there’s Mother’s Milk, the conscience of the group since Butcher has little. Laz Alonso (Avatar) characterizes it as a thankless task for his character. “In many ways, I’m the mother of the group… like the moral core or the moral center,” he said. “When they start going right or left, he kind of brings them back in. And so it’s not as much fun when you always gotta calm people and talk them off the ledge, but it’s good; it serves a purpose because he helps push the story along, and he helps keep them on track. Especially Butcher who’s just thirsty for blood.”
Unlike in the comic, The Boys does not bring all of the group together at once, so viewers should have a chance to get to know each one of them in turn. As they unite against the superteam known as The Seven, the small group of non-enhanced humans will take some surprising steps to take the supes down a peg. With plenty of action and violence and a surprising amount of humor, Garth Ennis fans will immediately recognize the entertaining formula made popular in Preacher, another Ennis adaptation. Meet The Boys for yourself when the series releases on Amazon on July 26, 2019, and be sure to read our spoiler-free review.
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