One of the main hooks of The Boys – a core reason for its continuous success in an economy tired of the superhero genre – is how it looks at the commodification and commercialisation of powers and good deeds. This carries through in the new spin-off series Gen V, starring Jaz Sinclair, Chance Perdomo and Lizze Broadway. On top of the extreme violence and gore, what’s fascinating about Gen V is how this attitude of monetising and branding superhero work is first cultivated and encouraged in an environment full of young, impressionable students and adults looking to take advantage. Take Marie (Sinclair), the main protagonist: she has the tragic origin story down pat, a redemption arc waiting to happen, and determination and ambition to be great. Under the influence of bright lights, glam and fame, the audience can see how her innocence slowly peels away in favour of something more sinister and accepted by the world created by Godolkin University.
Gen V is sort of like a hybrid of My Hero Academia and Sky High, only it’s set in college rather than high school, and it covers explicit topics of sex, violence, cyberbullying, eating disorders and self-harm, all wrapped in dark satire. The world itself, the campus and the idea of splitting supers into two groups depending on their powers and social following is very Sky High. But its coverage of hero corruption, the breadth of powers and different forms of activation are all things familiar within My Hero Academia. It’s important to note that a lot of the power activation in Gen V is heavily tied to circumstances teens and young adults face, from Marie’s self-harming, playing with gender identity and binary with Jordan, to purging food as a necessity to use powers. This brings forth further questions on the ethics of powers intertwining heavily with each character’s growth and development.
The first episode is an enticing introduction to the series. It’s packed with action that showcases a lot of the new and unique abilities, cold and dry laughs, as well endless amounts of pop culture references. But there are also layer upon layer of potential plot points that can go in numerous directions – from Marie’s story arc, the elusive idea of “the woods”, to the never-ending corruption of Vought. Anyone watching will leave with as much information as they are missing – already seeing the ways the story can go, and still wondering how everything else will play out. All the characters have something interesting going for them, not just Marie, with Emma’s (Broadway) inner turmoil regarding her powers as well as the constant barrage of bullying she faces being one of the more impactful and grounded stories in the overarching world of superhero morals and ethics.
Gen V is an excellent expansion to The Boys, and it’s definitely what the Marvel Cinematic Universe and James Gunn’s DC Universe wish they could do with their new generation heroes.
Gen V is released on Prime Video on 29th September 2023.
Watch the trailer for Gen V here: