The Inverse Interview
How Eric Kripke made 'The Boys' even more... diabolical
“It's hard not to love a superhero named Ranch Dressing Cum Squirter.”
Or, to quote a viral bit of online satire: “Jeff Bezos Sees Nothing Wrong With Funding Two Shows About How Lex Luthor’s Arch Nemesis Is Actually the Bad Guy.” (This joke works even better when you’re looking at a picture of the Amazon founder’s bald Lex Luthor-shaped head.)
Unsurprisingly, when I read those words aloud to The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke during a late-night Zoom interview, he quickly clams up:
“No comment. I'm not touching that!”
Satire aside, Kripke tells Inverse he does see some very positive similarities between Invincible (an ultra-violent animated series about a Superman stand-in who turns out to be evil) and The Boys (an ultra-violent live-action show about a team of superheroes with a secretly evil leader with powers similar to Superman). Especially now that the latter has gone animated in the new anthology special, The Boys Presents: Diabolical.
It doesn’t hurt that Invincible showrunner Simon Racioppa also took the helm on Diabolical and wrote its most intriguing episode, which delves into the early crimefighting days of The Boys’ Superman stand-in, Homelander.
“It's inevitable that they're going to share a lot of the same influences,” Kripke says before adding that each story in Diabolical is widely different depending on its writer, director, and plot. “We wanted each episode to have a form that best serves its content.”
In the interview below, Kripke talks about teaming up with Justin Roiland, Seth Rogen, and Andy Samberg; reveals his favorite new supe; and answers our most spoilery questions about The Boys Presents: Diabolical.
This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity. Spoilers for Diabolical ahead.
From Justin Roiland to Awkwafina, the list of people involved in Diabolical is wildly impressive. Who was the biggest surprise?
I was shocked that each and every one of them wanted to be involved. There wasn't one single person who turned out to be a fan of the show that I didn't say like, “Oh my God, they're a fan of the show? That's amazing.”
Because at the end of the day, I'm a writer, and that means that I'm always one word away from failure and everybody hating my stuff forever. So the fact that this many people were fired up and excited to be a part of it was so surreal and wonderful and mind-blowing.
We meet a ton of new superheroes in Diabolical. Do you have a favorite?
I mean, it's hard not to love a superhero named Ranch Dressing Cum Squirter. That's a personal favorite of mine. But no, they were all awesome. This was such a fun project because Diabolical is just kind of this idea lab, this incubator of trying new things. From the beginning, we said we really don't want to do things that we could do in The Boys or even in live-action. We wanted everyone to be as experimental as they possibly could.
The fun of this show is just letting really smart, creative people run with the ball and execute their vision with very little interference from us outside of trying to help and support them. That's why you end up with things that are each one is so different and idiosyncratic and are products of their particular creator.
Most of the new supes we meet end up dying, but Ghost from Episode 2 survives. Will we see her again in The Boys?
I don't know, we haven't had any hard discussions about it. But Ghost is a very cool character. Obviously, Justin [Roiland] and Ben [Bayouth]'s episode is totally fucking insane, but Ghost has this pathos to her that I think really grounds it and gives you just like a little core of something really human and painful. You really understand why they go on this revenge mission. She's tortured. Like, she can't eat anything and is hungry all the time. That fucking sucks!
“For me, Rick and Morty is the best show on TV, period.”
It's just those little details. I couldn't be a bigger fan of Justin's work. For me, Rick and Morty is the best show on TV, period. His ability to sort infuse moments of pathos into the wildest concepts is one of the things that makes his stuff so compelling.
I really enjoyed the telekinetic supe with the big brain in Episode 1. Was he from the comics or an original creation?
That was an invention of Seth and Evan [Goldberg] just creating an antagonist like a big bad of that particular episode. Even in Garth Ennis’ episode with the Great Wide Wonder — this sort of insane hopped-up-on-drugs-heroin-enemas superhero — that's a new creation too. He never existed anywhere in the books. We really wanted to uncover new ground. So we figured if someone wanted to create a new superhero, even if they're not in the books, they should go ahead and do it.
“Even in Garth Ennis’ episode with the Great Wide Wonder — that's a new creation too.”
Diabolical reminds me a lot of Invincible since both shows mix animation, superheroes, and extreme gore. Were you inspired by that show?
Oh, definitely. Simon [Racioppa] our showrunner is the showrunner of Invincible, so it's inevitable that they're going to share a lot of the same influences. And the one that Simon wrote, the Homelander backstory, has a visual style in line with Invincible.
We wanted each episode to have a form that best serves its content. Seth [Rogen] and Evan [Goldberg] really from the beginning wanted to do a Looney Tunes one, and the experiment was: Can you do that in our world with zero dialogue? Can we do a classic Hollywood animation, but then really just horrifically violent and gory?
Then you look at Andy Samberg's. He wanted to create this really poetic story about love and loss with this elderly couple where the woman is dying of cancer. It's completely serious and completely inspired by Korean cinema. He felt would best serve the story he was telling.
The final episode ends with Black Noir handing a young Homelander a note, but we can’t see what it says. Do you know what Black Noir told Homelander?
Yeah, we discussed it. He's just communicating to him about how they're on the same team. I won't get into super specifics about it, but I'll let people imply what they want. But yeah, we discussed it.
The Boys Presents: Diabolical is streaming now on Amazon Prime.