The opening episodes of GEN V are a serviceable opening salvo to a story that is struggling to find relevance.
After four outrageous seasons, the world of THE BOYS has barely been explored. Yes, we’ve seen the rise of The Seven and the downfall of several heroes. Yes, we’ve witnessed Starlight rise and fall from grace and become the leader of the resistance. And finally, we’ve seen Billy Butcher and his gang of rebels go to the depths of human depravity to tackle their enemies. However, despite all that, the wider aspects of the visceral and wholly adult superhero genre have barely been laid bare. Until GEN V came along!
Now the showrunners behind The Boys are inviting us to enroll in Godolkin University, the prestigious superhero-only college where students train to be the next generation of heroes. In Gen V Eric Kripke intends to expand the sandbox and forge a bold new pathway for future adventures. But what is the franchise without The Boys? Are the supes still relevant without the Seven? Or should the series stay in its lane and focus on what brought us to the dance?
A NEW CHAPTER
Sadly, dear readers, it’s a bit of a mixed bag. With Gen V, Kripke and his team of visionaries have presented us with a bold new chapter that tries really hard to compete with itself. But ultimately, it feels far less relevant than its predecessor. Yes, the obligatory bloodletting box is ticked. Of course, the outrageous and crude aspects are included. And as always, there is an ulterior motive by the bigwigs in Vought Tower. But in the end, Gen V feels like a slightly cheaper version of American Pie – albeit with a few supes thrown into the mix. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. But with a wafer-thin plot, and a few token teenage melodramas to endure, Gen V feels like a missed opportunity.
For the most part, the opening salvo sets the tone remarkably well and reminds us of the sandbox we are playing in. With the franchise’s traditional cut and thrust delivering a typically eye-watering intro, we are introduced to the first character that will carry the series forward. The series centers on Marie Moreau, a superpowered teenager who against all the odds finds herself enrolled at Godolkin University. Her major? Becoming the next member of the Seven. But with her superpower manifesting as the ability to bend blood, her skillset seems somewhat limited. Far from the wholesome abilities of her heroes.
Nevertheless, she moves into her new dormitory ready for a fresh start and quickly becomes acquainted with her new roommate, Emma (Lizze Broadway). Emma has the power to shrink herself to a minuscule size, which is a classic power in the comic book realm. But as always, Kripke and his team of creatives have gone the extra mile to add more relevance to her abilities. More importantly, the soul-destroying side effects associated with using her powers. These side effects are commonly attributed to a real-world issue, and I applaud the showrunners for highlighting this serious compulsion.
With Emma and Marie firmly established as a budding teen dynamic duo, the showrunners introduce us to the rest of the supes that will frequent our screens every week. Maddie Phillips stars as Cate Dunlap, a mind controller. Derek Luh and London Thor pull double duty as the gender-swapping Jordan Li. Chance Perdomo stars as Andre Anderson, a well-liked super-student. And finally, Patrick Schwarzenegger stars as Luke Riordan / Golden Boy, Godolkin University’s poster boy.
Although this unlikely band of Supes are friends, they all find themselves pitted against each other. And the prize is points. Much like the power players in Vought Tower, the teenagers are judged on their popularity points. And like Homelander, Starlight, and Queen Maeve before them, points mean power. The points system is based on abilities, popularity, marketability, and social media footprint. And just like their heroes, one public misstep can be fatal. But when a juicy mystery sets a chain of events in motion that affects them all, the teens risk it all to uncover the strange goings-on happening on campus!
THE BOYS MEET AMERICAN PIE
Although the series features all of the hallmarks of The Boys franchise, the opening episodes stay true to the University setting and double down on the teenage drama. Here all the tired tropes of the raunchy teenage drama genre are dusted off and reintroduced for all to see. And sadly, we’ve seen it all before. Even with the addition of superpowered teens, the show throws in almost every trope the genre has to offer, and the result is a tired and stale formula that has been done hundreds of times over. In truth, there is nothing new here. Even though Kripke injects a hefty dose of The Boys formula into proceedings. But it fails to give it purpose. Nor does it justify its existence.
When the show does hit the high notes, it excels. These fleeting moments are few and far between and are limited to the superpowered smackdowns the series is famous for. As well as the outrageous imagery we have become accustomed to. And there is a ton of that on display here. But sadly, it all feels forced. The Vought conspiracy feeds into the wider narratives of the mainline story and hints at what may follow in the forthcoming season of the show, and more breadcrumbs will drop as the show unfolds. But after three serviceable but forgettable episodes, there isn’t much to chew on here.
The strength of the series can be found in its stellar cast. Maria, played by the charming Jaz Sinclair shines as the true backbone of the series. Her past is a tragic one. Sinclair taps into the essence of this trauma to deliver a wounded performance that deserves acclaim. In truth, it’s her relationships with her peers where the series shines. From the trauma attached to Emma’s powers to the constant pressure to conform, there are legitimate teenage struggles at play here and I applaud Kripke for these thought-provoking aspects.
Lizze Broadway truly shines as Emma and her labored performance is a series highpoint. We truly feel for her in her darkest moments. And we yearn for her to overcome her condition and her domineering mother who intends to use her as a cash cow. Her story echoes Starlight’s upbringing, and the parallels make her an instantly likable protagonist. And when the relationships between the teens are strengthened by their joint experiences, the essence of a true family dynamic comes to the fore. And that is a joy to behold.
Overall, the opening episodes of GEN V are a serviceable opening salvo to a story that is struggling to find relevance. Despite all the tropes and iconography of the mainline series being injected at every turn, the show fails to emerge from its shadow. And when all is said and done, the crux of the plot whittles down to a functional side offering to keep us nourished until Season 4 hits our screens. So the question remains, what is the franchise without The Boys?
If you’re hoping for American Pie with superheroes, you’re in luck. This series effortlessly oozes those qualities in unlimited quantities. However, if you’re here for a compelling storyline brimming with the usual satire associated with the franchise, you might want to rewatch seasons 1-3 of The Boys. Because the franchise without The Boys is just child’s play!
Gen V launches with a special three-episode premiere on Prime Video on Friday 29th September. New episodes will release weekly every Friday thereafter. Subscribe to our newsletter at the top of our homepage to stay up-to-date with all the latest news and reviews from Future of the Force.
Phil Roberts is the Owner, Daily Content Manager, and Editor-In-Chief of The Future of the Force. He is passionate about Star Wars, Batman, DC, Marvel, Star Trek, Indiana Jones, Ghostbusters, King Kong, and the Ray Harryhausen movies. Follow him on Twitter where he uses the force and babbles frequently!