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The Untold Truth Of The Boys' Soldier Boy

The subversive and over-the-top superhero action-comedy series "The Boys," based on the controversial comic book series by "The Preacher's" Garth Ennis, has just released its third blood-soaked season on Amazon Prime. Like the previous two seasons, the show satirizes and pokes fun at contemporary politics, celebrity worship, and, of course, the superhero genre currently permeating all aspects of pop culture.

The show follows mild-mannered Hughie (Jack Quaid), a regular guy in a world full of superheroes, AKA "supes." Through unexpected circumstances, he joins a group nicknamed "The Boys," led by the violent Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), as they try to take down The Seven, the most powerful superhero group in the world (essentially The Justice League or The Avengers of this universe). The Seven is led by the psychotic, Superman-esque Homelander (Antony Starr) and funded by the evil corporation Vought Industries.

This season introduces the mysterious new supe Soldier Boy, played by Jensen Ackles of "Supernatural." Soldier Boy was a superhero who fought in World War II and was thought to have died saving a city in the '80s. If anyone knows about "The Boys"' subversive take on superheroes, it's obvious he didn't die in such a noble way. 

So, who is this Soldier Boy anyway? How does the show version compare to his comic book counterpart? How did he get cast? Find out all that and more below.

Soldier Boy is based on both Captain America and Bucky

The most obvious superhero influence on "The Boys"' Soldier Boy, in both the comics and in the show, is, of course, Captain America. Like Cap, he's an  overly patriotic symbol of American dominance with jacked-up super-strength who fought in World War II. He even has a special, iconic shield. In the show, his militaristic superhero costume—with its mask made out of an army helmet—visually evokes the MCU version of the character.

However, in the comic, Soldier Boy is not only based on Captain America but also on Captain America's young ward Bucky, as a sort of composite character (similar to how Homelander is an amalgam of Superman and Captain America). His costume is spandex with shorts in a parody of Bucky's—and other superhero sidekicks'—revealing and unprotected superhero outfits.

The show also alludes to this union of the two characters. In it, Soldier Boy gains a new backstory that differs from the comics. In this version of events, he was a hero once thought dead, but who had actually been kidnapped and experimented on by Russian scientists during the Cold War. This storyline harks back to The Winter Soldier from the MCU, which also aged Bucky up to be a contemporary of Steve Rogers.

Soldier Boy was a legacy title in the comics

In the original "The Boys" comics, the Soldier Boy that deals with the series protagonists—Billy Butcher, Hughie, and the rest of the titular team—is actually the third hero to take on the mantle of Soldier Boy. That's because, in the comics, Soldier Boy is an honorific legacy title that's been passed on to different supes. In fact, the original Soldier Boy was killed in World War II when he led an army squadron into battle without any military experience or plan and quickly got wiped out by German soldiers.

In the show, however, the Soldier Boy that interacts with The Boys is indeed the original Soldier Boy from World War II. The title isn't passed down to different supes. However, the fact that he and his team were defeated while fighting in a war zone seems to be an allusion to the source material (though, in the show, he and his super-team were fighting guerrillas in Latin America during the 1980s, rather than in World War II during the 1940s).

Homelander tricks Soldier Boy in the comics

In both the comics and the series versions of "The Boys," the deranged superhero Homelander is an extreme megalomaniac obsessed with power and control. He especially enjoys using his power and influence to force or manipulate others to do his bidding, no matter how cruel, petty, or inconsequential.

We've seen many examples in the show, such as killing Season 1's Vought executive Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue) for admitting she's afraid of him, cruelly forcing Butcher's wife to give birth and raise his kid, and even convincing a suicidal girl to jump to her death because he was upset about something else.

In the comics, his power trip goes far enough to include manipulating Soldier Boy into sex simply because he can. The comic version of Soldier Boy is desperate to join The Seven, to the point that Homelander easily convinces him that sex will help him land the gig, though Homelander is just using Soldier Boy and has no intention of giving him the position.


The "Herogasm" event in "The Boys" comic is one of the most memorable arcs in the comic's entire history for obvious reasons. In it, supes are given a paid vacation by Vought to have a drug-fueled superhuman orgy at a secret tropical island. Vought then tells the media that the superheroes had teamed up to stop some world-ending threat for PR.

It's also a highly hyped sequence for the live-action Amazon adaptation. Anyone who has seen the first episode of the third season, and saw what happened with the shrinking hero Termite and his lover, can rest assured that the show won't be afraid to push the Herogasm envelope.

However, unlike in the comics, Soldier Boy created the event himself in the show, rather than simply being a participant (and, unlike the comics, he doesn't have sex with Homelander there, either). 

The showrunner initially wanted an older actor to play Soldier Boy

As previously mentioned, the character of Soldier Boy will be played in the upcoming third season of Amazon's "The Boys" by actor Jensen Ackles. Ackles is best known for playing the smoldering monster-hunter Dean Winchester on the CW's popular action-horror series "Supernatural" for 15 seasons with co-star Jared Padalecki. However, he's played other roles, such as Tom Hanniger in the 2009 "My Bloody Valentine" 3D remake. 

Though Ackles has the look of a lantern-jawed superhero and can conjure up a dark edge to his performances, he wasn't the first choice for the role. In fact, "The Boys" showrunner Eric Kripke—who created and ran the aforementioned "Supernatural"—wanted an older actor for the role, telling Collider, "I was originally looking for an older actor, because he is a World War II veteran. We were going for this John Wayne, Robert Mitchum archetype. So it hadn't occurred to me to think of Jensen because he plays as younger."

Luckily, Kripke came to his senses, as Jensen is a great choice for the show's version of Soldier Boy, and is clearly having a great time doing it.

Jensen Ackles voiced Batman in The Long Halloween

While playing the onscreen version of Soldier Boy in the newest season of Amazon's "The Boys" is the first time actor Jensen Ackles has played a superhero in live-action, it isn't the first time he's ever played a superhero at all. He played one of the most iconic superheroes in history when he got the chance to voice Batman/Bruce Wayne in the straight-to-VOD DC animated adaptation of the iconic graphic novel "The Long Halloween."

"The Long Halloween" came out in 1996-1997 and was written by Jeph Loeb with art by Tim Sale. The comic is a murder mystery that takes place over one year early in Batman's crime-fighting career. It's about the deaths of prominent old-school mafia gangsters like Carmine Falcone and is essentially a story about how costumed supervillains ended up becoming the de facto criminals in Gotham City. Not only that, but it's also the origin of Two-Face, as we witness the fall of District Attorney Harvey Dent into the classic villain. The comic was, of course, a huge influence on Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight."

Soldier Boy PSA and outtakes

Amazon's "The Boys" series has a pretty robust metatextual marketing campaign. There is an entire social media presence for the fictional Vought International corporation from the show, including fake yet convincing social media accounts, and, of course, their own corporate YouTube channel. On their YouTube channel, there are trailers for Vought Studios' upcoming movies (such as "Dawn of the Seven: The Rourke Cut," a play on the unfortunate Snyder Cut fiasco), news reports from the FOX News-esque Vought News Network, music videos from the various celebrity supes they manage, and even archival footage from their past.

This includes a 1980s PSA that Soldier Boy does, which is a parody of the various and ubiquitous Reagan-era "Say No to Drugs" campaigns. A snippet of it can be seen in the show itself.

Even better, actor Jensen Ackles posted a clip of fake outtakes where the superhero Soldier Boy is being a super jerk to the production crew, complaining about how crappy the script is, how cool drugs actually are, and finally barging off and not doing a final safety take.

Soldier Boy's depowering superpower was made up for the show

Soldier Boy's power in the comics—like his outfit, patriotic motif, World War II backstory, and iconic shield—is obviously based on Captain America from Marvel comics, as mentioned above. This means that Soldier Boy's powers are based on Steve Rogers as well, such as super-strength and super-speed. This is also mostly true for the show's version of Soldier Boy, though he seems much more powerful than he is in the comic since he can take Homelander on in a fight, which he wouldn't be able to do in the comics.

However, another big difference from the comics is that in the show, Soldier Boy gets captured by Communist forces in Latin America and then sent to Russia during the height of the Cold War. There, he is tested and experimented on. During those experiments, Soldier Boy gains the ability to blow up like a bomb, wiping out everything in a block radius, on top of his other aforementioned super abilities.

Furthermore, the blast also de-powers superheroes, which gives Butcher the idea to use Soldier Boy to potentially kill Homelander once and for all.

Soldier Boy is mentioned in Season 2

Though Soldier Boy made his first appearance onscreen in the third season of "The Boys," the character was actually already mentioned on the show in an earlier season, though only in passing dialogue.

In the Season 2 premiere episode, "The Big Ride," Soldier Boy gets a name check when Vought CEO Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) tells Homelander the history of Vought International.

During the scene, Homelander is threatening Edgar over the fact that he's making decisions without consulting the hero first, and reminding the CEO that he's their most valuable asset. However, when reciting the history of Vought, Edgar puts Homelander in his place by mentioning that Vought is not a superhero company, but a pharmaceutical one, and has been ever since the founder, Frederick Vought, created Compound V for use in the military in World War II by creating Soldier Boy.

CIA operations in Latin America

In "The Boys" series, part of Soldier Boy's revamped narrative is that Vought claims the character was killed while trying to save people during the Chernobyl disaster in 1986.

However, the eponymous Boys discover that the official story of his death is a lie and that whatever killed him in the '80s could be used to kill Homelander as well. They all then go to Grace Mallory (Laila Robins), their former CIA contact, to ask if she might know the answer since she was the liaison for Soldier Boy and his superhero team Payback during the time of his supposed death.

She then recounts in flashbacks the day Soldier Boy disappeared. He wasn't at Chernobyl in 1986; instead, he and his Payback crew were part of an anti-communist military operation in Nicaragua. 

Supes aren't real (at least that we're aware of), but the kind of clandestine CIA operation Mallory is describing definitely was. She recalls how the CIA sold drugs to marginalized communities in the U.S. to help destabilize them and then funneled the money to fund their anti-communist operations in Latin America.

Honestly, that's more evil than most comic book supervillain plots. Yay, America. Maybe Homelander and Soldier Boy are true patriots after all?