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Your superpower is the ability to watch all these shows
Did you hear? Homelander (Antony Starr) is the bad guy. Huh. Season 3 of Amazon Prime Video's The Boys turned out to be one of TV's ultimate troll jobs as Homelander went full right-wing and appealed to his meathead base by laser-eyeing a Starlight #MeToo supporter in front of his fans, much to their delight. Apparently his turn as a villain was news to some. To them I say: what show were you watching the first two seasons?
But now that we're all spent from our herogasms, octopus three-ways, and exploding genitals, what should we watch until Season 4 comes out sometime next year (hopefully)? We've compiled the best outlandish superhero shows and movies readily available to stream in case you're tired of all the Marvel gloss and prefer to see supes make bodies explode.
What if I told you that one of the best superhero spoofs — not the best, because that's The Boys, obviously — was animated? Well it is, and it centers on the DC Comics rascal Harley Quinn, voiced here by the otherwise squeaky clean Kaley Cuoco. What makes Harley Quinn a good recommendation for The Boys fans is that it is raunchy as heck, filled with colorful cursing and dirty deeds (but not as dirty as co-creator Justin Halpern wants it to be, thanks to image-conscious DC). It's also delightfully meta, with real superhero business in the story, including Suicide Squad director James Gunn included in some episodes. Add in a spectacular voice cast that includes Lake Bell, Alan Tudyk, Giancarlo Esposito, James Adomian, Andy Daly, and Ron Funches, and it's a pleasant surprise. -Tim Surette
This animated anthology series, which takes place in the same universe as The Boys, is probably the best place for any fan desperately searching for their next Boys fix to start. Consisting of eight episodes, all of which are animated in different styles, some involve characters we already know (like Chace Crawford's The Deep) and some don't, but they're all darkly funny and touch on the same themes we've come to expect from The Boys. In one episode, Awkwafina voices a woman who takes Compound V and befriends her sentient poop; in another, the tone softens into something more emotional to tell the story of an older Korean couple who try to prolong their time together. All in all, it's a fun series that won't take up too much of your time (the longest episode clocks in at only 15 minutes) and will satiate you when what you really want is more of The Boys' particular brand of storytelling. -Allison Picurro
We've reached the point in superhero pop culture where subgenres are becoming full-fledged genres themselves. If The Boys is at the center of silly, anti-superhero sentiment, it's got company in Peacemaker, an off-shoot of the 2021 DC Comics film The Suicide Squad. John Cena stars as the titular lunkhead, a beefy bro weapons expert who wants peace, no matter how many people he has to kill to get it. That sense of goofiness pervades the action-comedy, which is full of gory violence, weirdo superheroes, meme-y conversations, and the greatest and silliest opening credits sequence we've seen on TV in a long time. It's also quite good, even if it's more surface-level entertainment with less social commentary than The Boys.
Between the exploding heads, whale innards, and death by cunnilingus, few shows match the depravity of The Boys. But right up there with it, if not blowing fully by it, is AMC's Preacher, which also happens to be based on a comic sprung from the twisted mind of Garth Ennis. The premise is absolutely insane — a small town Texas preacher (Dominic Cooper) gets possessed by a supernatural creature of pure evil and pure goodness, sending him on a quest to find God with the help of his girlfriend Tulip (Ruth Negga) and an alcoholic vampire named Cassidy (Joe Gilgun). Heaven, hell, and even Hitler get involved. The TV adaptation never lets up on the blood and guts that seemed unfilmable in the comic, making it an easy transition for fans of The Boys.
Sometimes you just want to see a superhero snap and beat the snot out of a person with their super-strength, just like The Boys. The DC Universe series Titans will scratch that itch of yours, you bloodthirsty sicko. Like The Boys, Titans will shock you as a troupe of teen heroes — including Robin (sans Batman) and Rachel Roth — team up to fight bad guys but leave the handcuffs at home, preferring to dispense their own sense of justice in dimly lit back alleys and warehouses. It's violent, is what I'm saying, with may scenes that will make you say, "That [body part] is not supposed to bend that way!" These young heroes also have chips on their shoulders, as they try to crawl out of the shadows of other more famous superheroes from the same universe, putting it in the same vein as The Boys' caped heroes who aren't always looking for truth and justice.
The Umbrella Academy is the other show du jour for people who like their super-powered characters mixing it up with some over-the-top violence. Also based on a comic book, the series follows a group of adopted siblings with superpowers who were brought together to be a superhero team, but have problems gelling because of their disparate personalities. Years later, they reunite to unravel the mystery of their origins while also trying to stop an impending apocalypse. It has a similar cheeky sense of dark humor to The Boys, but less cynicism, and plays around in a much bigger sandbox than The Boys. Case in point, one character is half-ape and lived on the moon, and time-travel is the backbone of the second season. Both shows also love to ironically visit the jukebox for their music cues, but The Umbrella Academy uses less Billy Joel.
Powers' main claim to fame is being the first original television series for... PlayStation. Which is probably the reason you've never heard of it. The series was originally set up at FX, but managed to last two seasons on PlayStation's short-lived streaming service from 2015 to 2016. Another series based on popular comics that looks at a world full of superheroes from the perspective of people who don't have superpowers, Powers follows a former superhero who lost his abilities and uses his experience to help a special division of the police that deals with superhero crime. There's also a Compound V-like substance that boosts superpowers and a darker take on what a world with superheroes would actually be like. It's not readily streaming on subscription services at the moment, but you can buy it from Amazon. Hey, I wanted to make this a list unlike any other! I could have just put Daredevil here, but where would that get any of us?
The best part of The Boys is the notion that not all heroes are heroic, and that's doubled down on by The Suicide Squad, James Gunn's film about the famous DC superhero team made up of superpowered convicts. The movie, a follow-up to the disappointing 2016 David Ayer film Suicide Squad, shares very little in common with its predecessor, which is a good thing, as Gunn takes these lost souls and runs with the ridiculousness of their situations for an all-around fun time that will definitely remind you of The Boys. Cartoonish violence, goofy gore, and heroes with silly powers and origins (wait 'til you meet The Weasel and Polka-Dot Man) are everywhere, and by the time the team fights a giant alien starfish you'll already be asking for a proper sequel.
If The Boys was a person, you'd throw that demented maniac into a straitjacket and lock it in a room with padded walls. If Happy! was a person, it would already be in that room in its own straitjacket, and then it would eat The Boys. As far as The Boys pushes the line of decency, Happy! stage dives headfirst over it, following disgraced police detective Nick Sax (Christopher Meloni) as he drinks and snorts his way toward death while moonlighting as a hitman. After nearly dying from a heart attack, Nick starts to see his daughter's imaginary friend, a blue alicorn named Happy (voiced by Patton Oswalt), and the two go on wild adventures that involve unraveling a conspiracy involving sex cults, aliens, and more. It's the kind of show that will blow up a gaggle of nuns in hideous ways in its cold open, just because it can. This show is positively bonkers; even Homelander would say it's too much.
One of the best selling points of The Boys is that it's the superhero show for people who are tired of the same old superhero shows and that "great power, great responsibility" B.S. Along those same lines, FX's mind-bending Legion, from Fargo's Noah Hawley, is unlike any other superhero show you've seen or even imagined. Part of the Marvel universe, Legion follows David Haller (Dan Stevens), the son of Professor X who is diagnosed with schizophrenia and placed into a mental institution, where he begins to suspect that he may have superpowers. Far from the standard hero arc and origin stories of other superhero shows, Legion is a stunning visual masterpiece with a story that demands a lot out of its viewers to decipher (which is a nice way of saying it's confusing AF).
The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke has found his place with his first show on a streaming network; previously his only work was under the puritan guidelines of broadcast television, starting with The CW's Supernatural and followed by NBC's Revolution. Supernatural is a great show... if you have four extra years to spare to get through its 15 seasons (in truth: Kripke was only majorly involved in the first five seasons, which is excellent television and the show's best era), and Revolution was... uhhh, a good effort. But we'll recommend checking out Timeless, which gathered a devout following during its two seasons on NBC from 2016 to 2018. Just know that it's a lot different from The Boys in that it harkens back to the classic TV adventures of the old days — you won't find porn parodies or dolphins getting squashed — as it tells the story of a team that travels back in time to stop a nefarious group from rewriting history. With an emphasis on teaching viewers about lesser-known historical figures who were women or people of color, it's more important than your typical series, and it's a great showcase for Kripke's ability to write characters and put their relationships to the test. Plus, it's part of the extended Kripkeverse, and features actors from The Boys, including Malcolm Barrett, Claudia Doumit, and Goran Visnjic.
If you ever wondered what a version of The Boys following the superheroes who aren't in The Seven would look like, it'd be like this short-lived but hilarious superhero comedy that aired six episodes on Britain's ITV. Like The Boys, superheroes are not uncommon in No Heroics, leading to some being more popular than others while the lesser-known work odd jobs to become famous. It has a similar cynical take on superheroes, with most of them being jerks and dealing with regular-people problems or using their powers as parlor tricks. Unfortunately, even though it was nominated for best new British comedy at the British Comedy Awards and an American version was being developed with Freddie Prinze, Jr., the internet appears to have forgotten about this show as it's not readily streaming anywhere. That's too bad. It was one of the first shows to jump on the superhero bandwagon with a unique take on the genre.
If what you like most about The Boys is Antony Starr as Homelander, you absolutely must check him out in the criminally underrated action drama Banshee. In the 2013-2016 Cinemax show, Starr plays an ex-con freshly out of prison who assumes the identity of Lucas Hood, the new sheriff of the small town of Banshee, Pennsylvania, and its surrounding areas after the real lawman is killed in a bar fight before anyone in town knows who he is. As such, Hood walks a not-so-fine line between criminal and cop, and it leads to messy fist fights, exceptional action sequences, and violence that wouldn't be out of place in The Boys. But despite its pulpy action roots, Banshee is also a compelling story about identity and evolution, albeit one that is regularly complicated by small-town power dynamics and organized crime. I've never met a person yet who didn't like the show after they watched an episode or two, and I don't expect to start now. -Kaitlin Thomas