By Nick Romano
July 17, 2019 at 09:30 AM EDT
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Between the allegories for the dark sides of celebrity and politics on Amazon’s The Boys, showrunner Eric Kripke (Supernatural) says he’s “puncturing and deconstructing culture. Period.” But, with a dark satire featuring a new roster of superheroes, plays on DC and Marvel are never far off.

Antony Starr plays Homelander, the leader of a superhero group called the Seven. And there’s a reason he looks like Superman swallowed Captain America and developed a God complex. Based on the comics by writer Garth Ennis (Preacher), The Boys follows these sociopathic superhumans and the shady company, Vought, that financially backs them, giving these out-of-control super-stars free reign to do whatever they please — even green-light their own blockbuster movie franchises. Homelander’s movie poster, for example, is a spoof of Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel landing (the kind Deadpool might drag you for).

Superhero movies are king in our current culture, which means Kripke feels free to run rampant with gags at the expense of DC blockbusters and the behemoth that is Marvel.

“Every time they make a superhero thing, they’re making a Zack Snyder movie,” says Kripke, who is a self-professed fan of superhero aesthetics. “In the stuff that Vought makes, we were inspired more by DC than Marvel. The Marvel stuff is actually reasonably grounded, but the DC stuff tends to get a little pretentious, and we wanted the Vought superhero movies to be a little full of themselves.”

In EW’s exclusive photos from The Boys, Hughie (Jack Quaid) was once a fan of these supes in the Seven, but he gets a rude awakening to their callous regard for human life when A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), a speedster like DC’s The Flash, isn’t paying attention to where he’s going and runs straight into Hughie’s girlfriend at super-high speed.

Jan Thijs/Amazon

The DC comparisons come direct from the source material, in which Ennis commented on the comic book culture of the time through depictions of Queen Maeve (a play on Wonder Woman), Black Noir (a play on Batman), and The Deep (a play on Aquaman). “From Garth and [artist] Darick [Robertson], I think even at that time, they were more interested in taking shots at DC than they were at Marvel,” Kripke says. “I think, even then, DC people were held up as these gods whereas the Marvel heroes were always regular people.”

Updating the story for a 2019 audience, Kripke looked at other aspects of the DC world, including the Christopher Nolan Dark Knight trilogy and David Ayer’s Suicide Squad. In a broader sense, Kripke suggests “we’re probably way more towards taking shots at Marvel,” given how Disney’s world of The Avengers dominates everything in 2019.

In fact, when people ask Kripke to describe The Boys, he says, “Marvel’s real and the superheroes they have are real and they’ve taken over the world and that’s the show.”

The Boys, premiering on Amazon Prime this July 26, is heading to San Diego Comic-Con for a panel on Friday. So, stay tuned for more super R-rated debauchery.

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