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The Boys' first reviews highlight funny, flashy superhero 'cynicism' in Amazon series

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May 1, 2019

After teasers and panels promised a bloody good time for the superhero satire The Boys, which adapts the Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson comic into an Amazon series, the show premiered its pilot episode at the Tribeca Film Festival — and the reviews are already out. The Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg-produced show promises a new spin on superheroes and it’s given audiences plenty of very-not-Endgame content.

Critics are already grappling with the R-rated series’ cynicism, violence, and social commentary and only one thing’s for certain about the show where superheroes use their powers for the pettiest, most selfish reasons (or at least showrunner Eric Kripke and director Dan Trachtenberg’s pilot): this thing looks slick. And that’s not even counting how bloody the vigilante Boys got in their quest to rein in the supers.

Here’s what the critics had to say:

The Hollywood Reporter’s Daniel Fienberg explains that while the “sour and cynical take on the deconstructed superhero team-up genre” may leave a bit of a bad taste in the mouths of those prepared for Marvel or DC fare, there’s still much to love in the “flashy, smartly meta, often funny” pilot. The superhero monopoly Vought Industries and the vigilantes themselves fit into the entertainment-adjacent world with cleverness and bite, all energized by a scene-chewing Karl Urban as Billy Butcher. Fienberg highlighted Erin Moriarty, who plays aspiring superhero Annie, as a standout of the wild fare.

The Mary Sue’s Rachel Leishman is even more optimistic about the rest of the series, calling it the “perfect kind of show for 2019” after seeing its pilot. Leishman enjoyed the trope-flipping characters - even if Moriarty’s optimism almost feels out of place - and the general skewering that the entertainment industry undergoes as The Boys’ version of the Justice League gets taken down a few pegs.

Liz Shannon Miller at IndieWire agrees that the show “delivers on blood, vomit, and swears” while establishing its own super-universe in an already jam-packed pop culture canon. Urban is still highlighted as “having way too much fun” while the line-crossing is respected for its grit and realism in tackling mature issues other superhero properties simply won’t touch.

That edge can also be divisive, however. Kimber Myers at The Playlist found the show’s gory intensity and violence towards women sexist rather than commentary on sexism. Since the show “clumsily addresses the #MeToo movement,” its would-be impactful moments instead devolve into bad jokes — regardless of how well they’re shot. However, even those that bounced off the show’s attempts at relevancy, it’s impossible that “something about Urban’s Butcher makes every moment he’s on screen work.” Karl Urban can fix anything.

Twitter also had a blast with the premiere, as viewers could barely contain their profanity:

Fans will be able to chime in themselves when The Boys hits Amazon on July 26.

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