Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Untold Truth Of The Boys

Three seasons down and "The Boys" has shown the world just how dark and subversive the superhero genre can get. Much like the original comic book co-created by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson illuminated how a world full of superpowered beings could be terrible and dangerous, the Amazon Prime series has become the inverse of the uplifting, shiny, quipping Marvel Cinematic Universe. The show flips the narrative of superheroes who are here to save the day; after all, people who gain power do not necessarily always have the best intentions.

The live-action series has amassed a significant following, multiple Emmy award nominations, and high critical praise. With 24 episodes released, a fourth season is already in the works. After releasing an animated spinoff in 2022, a live-action descendent titled "Gen V" is scheduled to follow in 2023. With all "The Boys" content newly available and in-development, there are a lot of details about the original series that we're guessing not every fan knows already. On that note, continue reading for some interesting facts about Hughie, Butcher, Mother's Milk, and the rest of "The Boys."

It was almost a movie

Just like pretty much every other popular superhero property following the success of "Iron Man," "The Boys" was optioned for a film adaptation in the late 2000s. Development looked positive at Columbia Pictures with a screenplay penned by Matt Manfredi and Phil Hay, the scribes behind "R.I.P.D." and "Ride Along," along with Seth Rogen. Adam McKay, comedy director of films like "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy" and "Step Brothers," was tapped to direct and had even started casting with Russell Crowe as Billy Butcher and Simon Pegg in the role of Hughie.

Ultimately, a big-budget motion picture adaptation of Garth Ennis' gritty comic was not in the cards. Columbia Pictures opted to drop the film in 2012, proving just how difficult it was to produce a big-budget R-rated superhero movie before the likes of "Deadpool" and "Logan" made it look cool. McKay later surprised fans with an announcement on Twitter that Paramount Pictures had picked up the project. However, there was not much movement on "The Boys" movie front until it shifted into development as a television series.

It was almost produced by Cinemax

After eight years in film-development limbo, "The Boys" was reconfigured as a television project in spring of 2016. After launching a series based on another Garth Ennis comic book, "Preacher," Seth Rogen and long-time writing partner Evan Goldberg joined forces with "Supernatural" creator Eric Kripke and started shopping "The Boys" around. The emergent series found an unlikely home in Cinemax, a television channel not often attached to superhero properties.

As director Kripke later explained in an interview with Business Insider, Cinemax was honest about not having the budget necessary to grant "The Boys" the production value it deserved. Thankfully, this was a case of ideal timing as Amazon Prime happened to be in the market for something original and edgy. And "that sweet, sweet Bezos money" as Kripke calls it came to the rescue with Amazon announcing the first eight-episode season order of "The Boys" in November 2017.

Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg were going to direct

Seth Rogen is a man with his hands in several pies. Aside from his extensive work in movies and television, the comedian has his own cannabis brand and was even the voice of Vancouver's public transit announcements at one point. However as executive producer of "The Boys," Rogen was preparing to do something he rarely does — direct. Rogen and his working partner Evan Goldberg had directed a few projects in the past, including big box office movies "This is the End" and "The Interview." Still, the only TV show on the pair's directing resume was Rogen's other Garth Ennis series, "Preacher."

Intending to get the ball rolling, Rogen and Goldberg were set to direct the pilot episode, "The Name of the Game." Unfortunately, scheduling conflicts that got in the way, but the show found a savior in budding young director Dan Trachtenberg, who had recently made waves with his debut film, "10 Cloverfield Lane." Rogen remains close to "The Boys," with an ongoing character also named "Seth Rogen" popping up in all three seasons.

It was once intended to star Simon Pegg

Anybody who has seen "Shaun of the Dead" will instantly recognize a familiar face if they flip through the pages of "The Boys" source material. The original comic book incarnation of Hughie Campbell bears a striking resemblance to English actor-comedian Simon Pegg, and this is not by happenstance. Illustrator Darick Robertson has confirmed that the character Hughie was intentionally designed after the onetime star of the cult classic "Spaced." In an interview with Collider, Robertson shared his story about modeling Hughie after the then-relatively unknown television actor who broke out into international fame right around the time "The Boys" hit the shelves at comics shops. Thankfully for Robertson, real-world comics nerd Pegg was ecstatic to be included in the book.

Of course, this made Pegg a presumed lock to star as Hughie in any adaptation of "The Boys." For years, rumors swirled about Pegg taking on the role until the actor told MTV that he feared he was aging out of the character affectionately dubbed "Wee" Hughie. Thankfully, the Pegg was happy to lend his talents to "The Boys" series in the role of Hugh Campbell Sr. And with the launch of "The Boys: Diabolical" animated series, Pegg finally got the chance to play "Wee" Hughie, as was always intended.

It's not filmed in New York

Unlike many other superhero properties, "The Boys" takes place in a world similar to our own. Aside from the political landscape and social issues being uncomfortably familiar, the locations are reality-based, as opposed to the inclusion of fictional cities such as Gotham or Metropolis. The majority of events in "The Boys" take place in New York City, made evident by many establishing shots of the recognizable buildings and the consistent involvement of the NYPD. The series occasionally travels to international destinations, including a trip to Russia in Season 3. However, most of the action unfolds in and around the Big Apple.

With New York being one of the world's most-used filming locations (only Los Angeles and London are more popular, according to figures compiled by Kuoni), it's easy to assume that "The Boys" does most of its primary shooting in the city. However, that is not the case. Rather, most of the filming for the series takes place in Toronto, Canada. "The Boys" Season 3 was shot amid the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, and as showrunner Eric Kripke stated in an interview with Deadline, Canada's regulations regarding the world health issue understandably resulted in unusual challenges. "In Canada, you're not allowed to have more than 50 performers on your set at any given time," he said. "But we're a show that often has crowd scenes of 500 or more. So visual effects has to step in, to tile all of our crowds."

The show caused a local protest

If you were a fan of "The Boys" before Amazon decided to make a show out of it, then it probably came as no surprise to you when the TV adaptation turned out to be a total bloodbath. In a single episode, you can expect to see heads exploding, body parts being shot off, and entire bodies being decimated to nothing but blood and organs. The over-the-top gore adds to the edginess that the show has gained a reputation for, becoming one of the defining features of the subversive superhero series. Still, the grotesque fictional violence once caused such a stir at a local filming location that production came to a halt.

During the filming of Season 2, the series intended to film a large set piece at Toronto's Mel Lastman Square. The scene description involved a superhero attacking a crowd of pedestrians, resulting in terror and bloodshed. Unfortunately, due to an oversight (or perhaps pure ignorance), the production failed to recognize that Mel Lastman Square was the location of a real-world attack involving a van driver killing 10 people and injuring 16 more. Residents expressed concern over the inconsiderate exhibition until local politicians forced the production to stop.

"I flipped out," Toronto Councillor John Filion told the Toronto Sun. "There are people who work in this building, who went out onto Yonge St. to try to help the van attack victims — many of them are still traumatized. And think about the families and loved ones of those victims."

It has multiple connections to Supernatural

Perhaps the main reason that "The Boys" has been such a huge success is the boundary-pushing extremes instigated by showrunner Eric Kripke. However, long before Kripke was blowing up heads and causing a stir with his superhero series, he was pushing the limits of what can be shown on television with his long-running series "Supernatural." With an impressive 15-season run, the Kripke-created series was a huge hit for The CW. First airing in 2005, the dark fantasy drama has been a substantial part of Kripke's career, so it makes sense that there would be callbacks to his first significant success in "The Boys."

"Supernatural" fans were elated when it was announced that Jensen Ackles was joining the cast of "The Boys" for Season 3. The former Dean Winchester actor took on the highly-hyped part of Soldier Boy, the Captain America to Homelander's Superman. The third season includes a number of Ackles-related Easter eggs — his character underwent a procedure on January 24, for example, which happens to be Dean Winchester's birthday. Additionally, there is a reference to Winchester's famous vehicle, a black 1967 Chevrolet Impala.

"There's little 'Supernatural' Easter eggs in a bunch of Jensen's scenes," Kripke told Variety. "When you think of the amount of people on this show on the creative team who come from 'Supernatural' — me, [executive producer and director] Phil Sgriccia, Jensen, [composer] Christopher Lennertz, we sort of couldn't help but drop some stuff in because that show was such a huge part of our lives." The "Supernatural" Easter eggs don't stop at Jensen Ackles, either. One eagle-eyed Twitter user caught that actor Jim Beaver shares the same name in both universes, Robert Singer. The character is called Robert Shaefer in the comics.

A missing original member of The Seven

When "The Boys" premiered in 2019, many people met the corrupt super-team The Seven for the first time. Unfortunately, for fans of the source material, there was a considerable absence in the mock Justice League line-up. While most of the original characters from the Garth Ennis comic books receive a close-to-the-original adaptation, one member of The Seven was created from scratch for the series, eliminating a fan favorite comic personality.

Although limited to a few episodes, it is hard to forget the pivotal role Translucent played in the series, as he was incidentally the first victim of The Boys' newest recruit, Hughie. Fans of the series may be surprised to know that Translucent doesn't stem from the comics: He was a replacement for the comic version's original member of The Seven, Jack from Jupiter. Showrunner Eric Kripke addressed this change in a Reddit AMA, explaining that the character's alien theme added too much fantasy in a series that was trying to stay as grounded as possible.

"The story to the public is that people were suddenly and spontaneously born with these powers," Kripke said when asked about the replacement. "That's not the truth of course, but Vought is pitching a Mutant like mythology to the public. To say one of their heroes is an alien kinda kills that myth. Jack always felt too fantastic for the world we were trying to create." Thankfully, with "The Boys: Diabolical" animated spin-off, Jack from Jupiter received an on-screen debut.

Barack Obama is a big fan

"The Boys" has some heavy themes, touching on everything from racial issues to sexual assault. Mix in the often abrasive gore and violence, and it is safe to say that "The Boys" is not a show made to appeal to the masses like the ones made by Marvel and DC. That being said, there's still a huge audience for this kind of content: The series attracted 8 million viewers in the first 10 days of Season 1's release, becoming the first non-Netflix series to break into Nielsen's top 10 most viewed streaming shows.

With such huge numbers, it is inevitable that the show's fanbase would include the odd celebrity. Still, it is a rare feat for a superhero action series to earn a stamp of approval from a former president. "The Boys" earned a unique endorsement from the 44th President of the United States, Barack Obama. When discussing popular culture with Entertainment Weekly, Obama recognized the show for the way its turns "superhero conventions on their heads to lay bare issues of race, capitalism, and the distorting effects of corporate power and mass media."

Karen Fukuhara uses a unique sign language

Karen Fukuhara first sliced her way onto the screen in 2016's "Suicide Squad," but her arrival as Kimiko Miyashiro in "The Boys" won hearts over. Injected with Compound V, she has become The Boys' muscle as their only (permanent) supe. Although the character in the comic books can speak but chooses not to, the Kimiko of the live-action series is portrayed as mute. As explored in Season 2, Kimiko's trauma from witnessing her parents' violent death has left her unable to vocalize her feelings. While the character will often use writing or a mobile phone to help express herself, the actor had to learn sign language as a primary method of communicating on screen.

Despite the consistent use of sign language throughout the series, "The Boys" official Twitter account has revealed that Kimiko does not use ASL or any other common sign language. The sign language you see the character using is totally original to the series, particularly Fukuhara's character. In an interview with Insider, the actor explained that she worked closely with sign language coach Amanda Richer to develop the one-of-a-kind language. "We have a whole vocabulary list, if you will, of Kimiko and Kenji's language," she said. "Going into it, I didn't think that signing could be as powerful as it is. When Kimiko's trying to get the point across to Kenji in episodes two and three, she's really pouring her heart out and it's through signing, because she can't speak, and it's so powerful."

The comic books are more violent than the TV show

Whether the source material is better or worse than the refined adaptation is a debate carried on through endless franchises and will permanently have a certain level of subjectivity. It is not an argument that we are going to settle today. However, in the case of "The Boys," preferences over material may have to do with how strong of a stomach you have. The obscenely gruesome portrayal of the beloved superhero comic on television is arguably a toned-down version of The Boys' never-ending battle against superpowered beings in the books.

There are several changes from the comic book version of "The Boys" to the television series. They range from details like Stormfront being a male in the literary material to more extensive plot alterations, such as the books being much more episodic than the ongoing TV drama. But, as well as all the differences that fans debate, there is one thing nearly everyone who has consumed both versions can agree on — the comic books are even more violent than television can portray. If you love the gritty violence of the TV show, chances are you're going to love the comic books even more.