The Boys Just Eviscerated Marvel's Most Tired Tradition

All is not well at Marvel Studios, and The Boys Season 4 is definitely taking notes.

Antony Starr and Cameron Crovetti in The Boys
Prime Video

It’s not a great time to be Marvel right now. The superhero studio has suffered a steep fall from grace in a short amount of time. After a slew of subpar projects onscreen, and plenty of strife behind the scenes, Marvel’s cinematic universe is on shakier ground than ever. And if that wasn’t enough, The Boys is officially back with more searing satire. Season 4 is leaning a bit heavier on political parody than previous seasons, but its latest episode finds some time to squeeze in a jab or two about Marvel, starting with one of its most hallowed traditions: the D23 Expo.

D23 is a “fan event” orchestrated by Disney itself; it’s basically Comic-Con, but exclusively for Disney brands. In recent years it’s become the place where big franchises announce upcoming projects and reveal future film slates — but as studios like Marvel and Lucasfilm struggle with their output, even that has effectively become a punchline.

Spoilers ahead for The Boys Episode 5!

‘You can't imagine the effort we put into this one shot, I was obsessed,” showrunner Eric Kripke tweeted. “I wanted to be able the describe the plot of every one, with legit graphic design.”

Prime Video

There’s a lot going on in The Boys Episode 5, with Hughie (Jack Quaid) dealing with his supe-ified dad (Simon Pegg), the rest of the Boys tracking down the virus that fatally infects supes, and the Seven searching for the mole in their midst. The latter plot plays out mostly during V52, Vought International’s take on the D23 expo.

Rather than appointing a Kevin Feige-type to unveil Vought’s latest plans, The Boys trots out its heroes for an appropriately-awkward presentation. A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) shares an exclusive first look at his upcoming film — which is basically The Blind Side meets The Flash — while the Deep (Chace Crawford) unveils Vought’s new diversity initiative, “Black At It” ... you know, since there’s more than one Black supe in the Seven now. (And one “unspecified”!)

All this is chiefly designed to point out A-Train’s growing disillusionment with Vought: he’s already broken ranks to help Hughie procure a dose of Compound V, and despite nearly getting caught, he’s closer to defecting than ever. But V52 also serves as impossibly prescient satire, especially with Marvel in such dire straits.

The Seven are barely holding it together — and incidentally, so is the real-world studio The Boys is satirizing.

Prime Video

The Boys’ latest episode is imitating real life to a spooky affect. With Blade encountering one issue after the next, a handful of films either indefinitely stalled or undergoing another round of reshoots, and the Multiverse Saga without a clear focal point, there’s plenty of material to skewer. And of course, The Boys can’t cover it all — but the series has its finger on the pulse in a major way, and its take on D23 is just one example of that.

The Boys Season 4 is streaming on Prime Video.

Related Tags