The Boys on Amazon Prime has quickly become one of the most binged series that the streaming service has yet to put out. With a dark, gritty, and humorous take on the superhero genre, The Boys explores a lot of what superheroes may actually be like in the real world.
Despite having some major differences from the source material, the show still keeps the important moments and elements from the comics, making the two great parallels to each other. Looking at some of the key differences between the two, there are aspects where the show has improved upon as well as things the comics still do better.
Updated on September 6th, 2021 by Colin McCormick: As the third season of The Boys draws closer, anticipation among fans continues to rise. With some of the details about the new season being released, it is clear the show will be bringing in more fan-favorite elements from the comics while also maintaining its own take on the material. Fans may keep debating over which version of The Boys is the superior one, but as they compare, it becomes clear that both the show and the comic each have their own positive aspects of how this wild superhero story is told.
14 Comic: Even Wilder
The show has made a name for itself for constantly pushing the boundaries of outrageousness. Not only is it one of the darkest and wildest superhero adventures brought to life, but it is also perhaps the goriest show on television and always continues to one-up itself with its madness.
As hard as it is to imagine for fans who have only seen the show, but the comics go even further in their wildness. In fact, there are aspects of the comics that feel even too extreme for the show to attempt.
13 Show: Satirizing Superhero Movies
The Boys show came around at an ideal time as superhero movies were taking over Hollywood in such a big way that audiences needed a show that poked fun at the genre. Indeed, as The Boys explores the greedy corporate world of superheroes, it has fun with the modern comic book blockbusters.
From The Boys‘ version of Avengers films in the Vought Cinematic Universe (or VCU) to a joke about Joss Whedon rewriting one of The Seven’s movies, there are a lot of fun gags fans of the superhero movie genre will immediately recognize.
12 Comic: Fun Spoof Of Iconic Heroes
As comic book movies were not as in fashion when The Boys comic series came out, the books don’t explore that aspect in their satire. However, the books have a lot more fun poking fun at some of the most beloved comic book characters of all time.
Many storylines in the comics had “the boys” facing off with a hero or super team that bore a striking resemblance to iconic Marvel and DC heroes. Seeing darker versions of Batman and the X-Men being spoofed was an added bit of fun for fans.
11 Show: Improved Female Characters
While there are plenty of complex and interesting characters in The Boys comics, the female characters can sometimes leave something to be desired. Several of them are powerful superheroes, but they still manage to fall into familiar dull clichés.
The show seemed to recognize some of these faults and made an effort to address them. Kimiko is no longer a stereotypical silent Asian female badass but rather a loving, complicated ant-hero. Likewise, Queen Maeve and Starlight are heroes in their own rights rather than victims of the men around them
10 Comic: Hughie
While Hughie in the comics finds himself in many of the same situations as his TV counterpart, the show’s version definitely makes some significant adjustments to his character. Jack Quaid is a great fit within the show, but he is very tall, with a full head of hair, and American compared to the comic’s depiction of Hughie as a bald, short Scottish man.
Going beyond appearance, the show’s version of Hughie also feels like he’s at a much lower point in his life than he does in the comics. This can make his character seem a bit off, though it is actually believable that the comic book version of Hughie would react the same way. Hughie in the comics also adjusts to The Boys’ actions much faster than he does in the show.
9 Show: Homelander
Despite the fact that he is purely evil, it’s hard for fans not to be entertained by Homelander on The Boys. In the comics, Homelander is very clearly not the shining example he poses as from the very first issue. However, considering the tensions between Homelander and Butcher, it actually makes sense for the show to build towards the reveal.
By slowly showing Homelander get darker and darker, it helps reveal a bit more about Butcher’s own motivations, and the reasons The Boys are needed as a team. While there are also a few key differences between the show and comic versions of Homelander, the Amazon show just handles him in a much more compelling way. As the main antagonist of the series, it makes sense that the creators would take their time in developing him.
8 Comic: The First
While it may seem a bit unfair to judge the two in this regard, the comics are the whole reason the show exists in the first place. Since the launch of The Boys in 2006, author Garth Ennis took a very different approach to superheroes. This dark, gritty, yet highly comedic take on the superhero genre broke ground as the series explored the dangers of superpowered beings.
Had the comic not been so successful, there wouldn’t have been a show in the first place. However, the show also does a great job of keeping things different enough from the comics to keep it interesting and unpredictable, but similar enough to tell that they’ve read and understood the source material. Without the source material, though, there would, of course, be no show.
7 Show: Butcher
While the show may have made some drastic changes to Hughie, it arguably improves upon Billy Butcher. Firstly, Karl Urban is a perfect fit for the character. Urban expertly captures Butcher’s attitude and aggressive mannerisms, perfectly representing the comic character in live-action. The show also begins to explore Butcher’s backstory far earlier than the comics. As a result, Butcher is much more relatable, much earlier on.
Though he was always likable in the comics, it takes several issues before readers begin to figure Butcher out. By the end of the first season though, it is already evident that Butcher is an incredibly complex character. Though some changes were made to his character as well, the show’s version of Billy Butcher is easily one of its strongest parts, making him arguably better than his comic book counterpart.
6 Comic: More Characters
Both The Boys comics and the TV series have an incredibly wide cast of characters. From the five members of The Boys to The Seven and any members of other super teams, both interpretations juggle a plethora of different personalities. However, the comic has an even bigger cast. The Boys themselves are actually all introduced fairly early. For example, The Female was part of Butcher’s old crew in the books, and Hughie is the only new member when the team is reassembled.
Because of the pacing in the book, it also focuses more on other heroes in the universe. While the series still takes time to focus on members of The Seven, the comics focus on former members, younger superheroes, villains, and more, all while juggling the cast of The Seven and The Boys. Though the show could explore those areas eventually, the book excellently manages the characters throughout its whole run, giving it a bit of an edge over its live-action adaptation.
5 Show: Creative Liberties Work Well
As mentioned previously, the show isn’t exactly a word-for-word adaptation of the comics. The Boys actually takes several liberties from the source material that help distinguish it from other superhero shows. However, for all the liberties taken, fans of the comics can still tell that the show’s creators have read the source material. The characters are similar enough and the important situations are all still there.
The adaptation typically just changes who did or said what, at least as far as the important things go. It also manages the same dark humor throughout the books. While these distinctions don’t necessarily make the show better than the actual comics, they offer a unique take that is simultaneously familiar and unfamiliar.
4 Comic: More Time With the Characters
Season 1 had a lot of characters to introduce in just a few episodes. As a result, character introductions are rather rushed. While certain characters are still incredibly strong, some did feel as though they could have used a bit more screen time.
In the comics, though, the pacing just makes it seem as though the character interactions and individual moments are a bit more balanced. Readers aren’t really given too much or too little information at a time, and actually get a chance to relate to the characters a bit more. While the comic series is over, making it easier to binge at this point, the balance still feels a bit more natural than the TV show, giving it a bit of an advantage in this regard.
3 Show: A Heavier Focus On Politics
One thing that Season 1 focuses heavily on is the political ramifications of superheroes in the real world. While the comic also comments on this theme, it only becomes a major part later on in the series. With today’s social climate, incorporating a political element early on was a wise move on the showrunner’s part.
This allowed the show to juggle new situations, some that proved to be incredibly humorous and others that heightened the stakes. Knowing how Homelander could react as an official member of the U.S. Army or the like made The Boys’ mission all the more dire, which is something lacking in the early stages of the comics.
2 Comic: The Boys Themselves
In the comics, The Boys had already known each other for years by the time they are first introduced to readers. As mentioned previously, Hughie is the only new member of the group as Butcher reforms the team. Because of this, the comic versions of the characters feel more like a family.
In the comics, Mother’s Milk and Frenchie get along reasonably well. Likewise, The Female is established as one of the strongest members very early on. Her backstory actually isn’t given until a bit later in the series. Having the pre-established dynamic between The Boys actually helped readers relate more to Hughie, as they felt like they were in the same place as him. Furthermore, seeing the team grow closer together again was part of the draw.
1 Show: The Focus on the Heroes
With the comic focusing much more on The Boys themselves, Amazon’s adaptation focuses a bit more on the actual heroes. Starlight is easily the most recurring super in the comics. While she is still seen a lot in the show, audiences still get to spend time with other heroes like Homelander, Translucent, and The Deep.
While certain heroes still get developed in the books, it is nice to see them as a more regular part of the story. Even though most of them are terrible people, they still provide plenty of great moments that are often humorous, add character depth, or move the plot forward. As a result, The Boys TV series feels more like a superhero show than the books.