‘The Boys’ season finale even had its villain cheering. Here’s how they pulled it off
The following contains spoilers from the Season 2 finale of “The Boys.”
After a whale of a second season, “The Boys” stars Aya Cash, Karen Fukuhara, Antony Starr and Karl Urban, as well as showrunner Eric Kripke, sat down with The Times to sift through the rubble of the epic finale.
Season 2’s flashiest new addition was one even fans did not see coming: The white supremacist superhero Stormfront was changed from the Aryan, Thor-type bruiser of the comics to a social media-savvy, petite woman played by Aya Cash. She had perhaps the best line of the season: “People like what I’m saying; they just don’t like the word ‘Nazi.’”
Eric Kripke: I wanted to set my target on white supremacy and how it intermingles with alt-right nationalism. It’s stunning to me that I get questions like, “Were you worried about the controversy of having a Nazi be your villain?” Welcome to 2020, where suddenly it’s an edgy choice.
Aya Cash: [Eric and I] talked a little bit about people in our world who use social media in this way, the sort of cutesy, “tell it like it is” social media star who’s often using coded language, dog whistles ... instead of the Nazi flag-waving hatred that was in the comic book. I listened to some podcasts — I don’t want to name anything specific because I don’t want to amplify anyone — but there were some people I listened to to get a sense of that world and that rhetoric.
All-American hero Homelander’s (Antony Starr) attachment to Stormfront is undeterred by the revelation of her true nature.
Antony Starr: Well, not too dissimilar from certain current political figures, Homelander is a true narcissist. He puts his own feelings first, above and beyond anyone else’s. And the need he has for her supersedes everything .... I don’t think he is racist in the same way as her, definitely not. He’s an equal opportunity hater in that he has equal disdain for all humans, regardless of race.
“The Boys” is back for Season 2 on Amazon Prime Video. And whether you’re a super-skeptic or a Marvel fanatic, its blistering cultural satire is for you.
Stormfront, too powerful for any one of the female supers to take down, couldn’t handle fighting three of them — Starlight, Queen Maeve and Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara) — at once.
Kripke: We wanted to play off the satirical “Girls Get It Done” theme that was in the season but instead of the fake corporate version, this was a real one where the girls are like, shrieking profanities and curb-stomping Stormfront and being real people instead of this fake, sanitized “Strong Is the New Pretty” crap that Vought’s peddling.
Karen Fukuhara: Eric was telling me he wanted the fight to be very hands on. It’s less superpowers; it’s a beatdown. We had a lot of fun doing that. It was also a lot of fun to be on the set with four girls total; especially Kimiko — she doesn’t have a lot of scenes with the women of the cast.
Cash: Even I’m cheering. And I want a job in 2021. Even I’m like, “Get her.”
Fukuhara: When Kimiko [who does not speak] laughs a little ... “I’m gonna something with your Nazi kitty.” She does this movement [Fukuhara makes a gesture from Kimiko’s unique sign language]. Amanda [Richer] created the whole language for us. There’s one movement, it’s someone licking someone’s — I don’t know if that’s appropriate for [the newspaper], but it’s a fun little thing.
Cash: When I did ADR for my “death,” I couldn’t stop laughing. “This is so good!” We want to see her get what’s coming to her, and it’s so satisfying. I memorized a whole monologue in German — this much of it made it in. ... It’s so satisfying to see her all burned up.
For the Boys’ leader Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), the series has built to two emotional, hard turns he takes in the finale.
Kripke: We wanted a major arc in Season 2 to be Butcher wrestling with his humanity. Is he a human — represented by Becca and Hughie a little bit — or is he a monster — represented by his father? The good side wins .... It shows he has a soul, and it comes at a terrible, terrible cost. Just because you have a soul doesn’t mean things go easy for you. It’s easy to be human in the good moments. What’s hard is to be human in the bad ones.
Karl Urban: Becca’s story line and what happens to her adds an emotional depth to this season that was sorely needed. Full credit to Shantel VanSanten; her character went through a horrendous ordeal this season, and as an actor, she just showed up day-in, day-out and delivered it in spades. To tell the truth, those scenes were remarkably easy to shoot. You experience that a few times in your career, if you’re lucky, where you get the quality of writing that makes execution seamless. All I really had to do was work with Shantel, look her in the eye and tell the truth.
Urban calls the moment when Butcher realizes he can’t betray Becca by separating her from her son, Ryan, one of “pure and absolute love.”
Urban: There was something Eric Kripke was pushing me to do in that scene, I didn’t really want to go there, but I did it — the way Butcher tells Becca he can’t be part of her life, there’s a harshness, almost a brutality about it. He’s doing that to make it easier for her to accept it.
That dual-nature struggle in Butcher arises again when Becca dies and he almost harms Ryan.
Urban: He picks up the crowbar, and you see that inner monster that resides within Butcher. In that instant, that monster is going to do something pretty terrible. Then he sees Homelander and he snaps out of it.
Kripke: That sets up Butcher in Season 3. He’s got these two sides that are even more intense. He’s not somebody who knows how to process those emotions real well, which sends him on a real rollercoaster in Season 3.
Karl Urban, of Amazon’s “The Boys,” has played a convention’s worth of sci-fi, fantasy and comic-book roles. He says it “speaks volumes” about the industry.
Homelander’s final moment in Season 2 finds him having some X-rated “me” time atop a building.
Starr: That is a moment of pure weakness, need and his raw inability to deal with how he feels .... He’s utterly alone and emasculated. Powerless. It seems outwardly comedic, that particular act in that particular setting, and it is amusing in a visual sense, but I always saw the tragedy in it, right from the start. I asked Eric, “Where do we go from here?” And his response was “Homicidal maniac ...” which I thought he already was, so God only knows what Eric will cook up. But I’m gonna enjoy it, I’m sure!
Kripke: One funny side note about that rooftop scene is it was actually shot in Season 1. It was the one scene Amazon asked me to cut because they felt it went too far in the early days of the show. So in [the Season 2 finale] we actually had another moment for Homelander at the end, and Amazon gave us the note, “It’s probably just a little too ambiguous. Can you give us something with a little more punch?” “I got just the idea!”
Season 3 and the in-development spinoff
Kripke confirmed Black Noir would return, despite losing his fight with an Almond Joy. He was not bullish on Stormfront’s (or “Stumpfront’s,” as he called her) possible reassembly. He did confirm that CIA operative Mallory would, indeed, reform the Boys into the official team from the comics.
Kripke: The Boys that you meet in the top of Season 3 are the recognizable Boys from the comic book. They’re working for the CIA; they’re gathering dirt on superheroes. Their offices are in the Flatiron Building. So I think the fans will love it because it’s the Boys as they know them. And obviously everything goes to hell from there.
Kimiko and Frenchie seem to be in a good place ....
Fukuhara: The last scene where they’re dancing away, going upstairs, we took several different versions of that. It’s romantically lit, these two silhouettes dancing. We did a take with them just walking and one with the twirl, and I think the twirl made it in. I thought it was a cute moment, and we’ll see where that takes us. I have no idea.
The as-yet-untitled spinoff will take place at a school for superheroes. But X-Men, it ain’t.
Kripke: It’s almost a sports show of athletes competing for who’s going to get the best city in the draft at the end of the year. But even beyond that, we love the idea that if we’re going to do a spinoff. It’s wildly different from “The Boys.” It’s a college show and ... we want to deal with real college issues; it’s just that superheroes are the main characters. It’s our usual “The Boys” thing — sex and fraternities and corruption and everyone’s worried about the big draft. I think it’ll be a pretty hard-hitting, realistic college show.
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