Eric Kripke, the creator of Supernatural and Timeless, developed two “wildly, schizophrenically different” projects at the same time: writing and producing Eli Roth’s PG-rated The House With a Clock In Its Walls (out Sep. 21) and the hard R-rated show The Boys.
“I would mention often to my colleagues I couldn’t be working on two things that are more polar opposite than these two things in that it was always a transition,” Kripke tells EW over the phone from Canada, where The Boys is currently filming. “I gotta get myself into my mind frame for The Boys, which is very, very gritty and very adult, and then sometimes the next day suddenly I had to switch and be ready to work on House, which is tapping into the curious wonderstruck child that I remember being.”
House was written, he says, by that same “wonderstruck kid” inside of Kripke. The Boys, the writer jokes, was written by his inner “jaded, cynical adult.”
Garth Ennis, the comic creator behind Preacher, is also the creator behind this equally graphic comic. Keeping it in the family, the Amazon adaptation has Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, who brought Preacher to AMC, as executive producers. Kripke is the showrunner.
The material focuses on a group of CIA operatives dubbed “The Boys,” who are tasked with monitoring the activity of the world’s superheroes and keeping them in check. Spider-Man is all about “great power” yielding “great responsibility,” but the heroes of Ennis’ comics have been corrupted by power.
“I want it to be graphic when it needs to be, because that’s what’s best for the story, but I want to tell this character story about these regular, blue-collar humans taking on these entitled, super-powered, one-percenter gods and the relationships amongst them,” Kripke says of the eight-episode drama series. “So, it gave me a great compass to decide when things from the books weren’t gonna fall into the story because they didn’t service the characters and then when shocking moments did because it takes your breath away when one of your characters has to go through that.”
Bringing these characters to life is a cast that includes Karl Urban (Star Trek), Jack Quaid (The Hunger Games), Laz Alonso (The Mysteries of Lara), and Erin Moriarty (Jessica Jones), with Dominique McElligott (The Last Tycoon), Chace Crawford (Gossip Girl), Jessie T. Usher (Shaft), and Nathan Mitchell (iZombie) playing parodies of classic heroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Batman.
Kripke doesn’t want The Boys to be “shocking for shocking’s sake.” Though, he confirms “there is madness” in the show. (Disemboweling and dismembering are, after all, common occurrences in the comics.)
“I’ve been in close contact with Garth Ennis through it all and he’s read everything I’ve written, so it’s with his approval, as well,” he says. “I said there’s a lot of heart in this story that I really wanna dig out. There’s amazing relationships and there are people who really care about each other.” With a focus on “the emotion and the psychology of the characters” with the “punk rock provocative” tone of the comics, Kripke hopes to attract a wider audience.
“The Boys, you’ll see, it really sets out such a unique world and it’s recognizable, but you’ve never seen it before,” he says. “It takes place in the most realistic street-level version of world as possible. It just happens to have superheroes in it.”
The Boys will launch on Amazon sometime in 2019.