The Boys season 2 ended with happy endings and atomic tragedy. In a season that found room to skewer the gamut of American cultural trash, from white supremacy to corporate-backed superhero-movie hackwork, showrunner Eric Kripke brought his Amazon series back down to Earth in the final installment, and drilled down into the characters’ psyches until he drew blood. Butcher, Homelander, and the rest of the warring ensemble will never be the same (even if a few of them think everything’s peachy).
In the aftermath of the episode, Polygon spoke to Kripke about how season 2 sets up season 3, which got the greenlight way back before the new set of episodes premiered (and earned a spinoff series just a few weeks before the finale). The burning question: How does a show so deeply connected to the political and social landscape deal with the impending election between President Donald Trump and former Vice President Joe Biden? In broad strokes: The Boys will be The Boys. Find out more about Kripke’s thoughts on the season 2 ending and what’s in store for season 3 below.
[Ed. note: This interview contains major spoilers through the end of The Boys season 2 finale.]
Polygon: Season 2 introduced a new character, Victoria Neuman, who is a politician and ... a bit of an AOC proxy. The finale offers a wild twist: she’s a telekinetic killer! And clearly up to no good. In the same way that season 2 interrogated white nationalism and neo-Nazism as part of present day American politics, will season 3 use this character to say something about the world we live in?
Eric Kripke: We’re not we’re not making any statement about AOC at all. As we were designing the season, it came from the simple screenwriting math of “let’s talk about the character you would least expect and create the biggest surprise.” And then we built a backstory and biography that we’ll reveal in season 3 of why she’s doing what she’s doing, and how she’s not who we think she is. So it just came from that.
Frankly, my hesitation in the room was like, “I don’t want people to think that we don’t love AOC because we love AOC.” But we ultimately decided that the drive of the story had to come first.
As so often is the case in The Boys, the people we consider heroes often deceive us. Evil lurks everywhere in systems of power. On that note, will November’s election have an impact on season 3? Is it the same show regardless of who’s in power?
A fascinating question, and we have discussed it. I’ve never been asked it, but we’ve discussed it internally. If, God willing, Biden wins, the show might air — might — in a setting of more stability and sanity, and start to live as a historical document of the derangement of the Trump years rather than an up-to-the-minute, current depiction. I was talking about it with another producer, and I was saying, “Look, the show works because we write about whatever’s happening right now.”
During season 2, we wrote about the issues that were happening as season 2 was being written a year and a half, two years ago, and they just happen to be also current today. I’m writing season 3 about what’s very current today. And we’ll just have to see how it goes in season 3. If the cost is that I lose a little bit of the show’s relevancy means getting Joe Biden into the White House, that is a cost I’m more than happy to take.
The show continues to grow into its own thing while having ties to Garth Ennis’ original comic. How is Butcher reflective of the changes you’re making? Do you think he’s on the same path as the comic version of the character?
It’s actually funny, while we make a lot of changes from the books, we try really hard to keep the tone. Garth’s book was like a scathing satire of post-9/11 America, and obviously we live in a very different era, so we’ve had to adjust a lot of our story and targets to reflect what is happening today.
In terms of Butcher, it’s funny, I see my interpretation of the Butcher in the comics as reasonably similar. Obviously, a lot of the story is different, but if anything, I think the Butcher in the comics is like a little bit harder than our Butcher. I think our Butcher struggles with his conscience, I think he has like a glimmer of humanity in there that he’s really trying to protect. It’s hard in the circumstances that he’s in, but he makes human choices. He saves Ryan. He tries to do the right selfless thing with Becca. He’s trying to be a good person, it just doesn’t come easy to him. Whereas I think the Butcher in the comic is almost like the Punisher, a bad motherfucker from start to finish. So I think part of it just comes from, when once you have a live-action actor, and someone is charismatic as Karl [Urban], you want the audience to just see the humanity in the character.
Was there a moment this season where what you wanted to communicate came down to a really nuanced performance moment?
Karl and I were really simpatico about what we were trying to do with the character this year. I mean, Karl would say, by far, the toughest thing for him was that was the Becca death scene. And because he goes through so many emotions, in short order, from being wrecked over her death, to a complete blind rage and might bash in the kid’s skull with a crowbar, to realizing that he has to protect the kid at all costs. Those are some pretty wild swings. And yet, those to me represent the totality of Butcher. So we had a lot of conversation about just how to handle all those things.
This season expanded the mythology of the show through backstory and Vought’s global reach. I know your former Supernatural cohort Jensen Ackles joins the cast next season as the Captain America-like Soldier Boy and Amazon recently announced a spinoff series that’s focused on college-aged supes. How did season 2 lay the bricks for what’s to come?
Without giving anything away, Soldier Boy, played by Jensen, is really the primary mythology of season 3. But with that we get to explore new corners of this world. And look, Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson created it, I’m just playing in their sandbox. Maybe the thing I love most about the comic is what a fleshed out world it is — it’s really endless in terms of the amount of places you can go.
And in the beginning, we used to joke about the Vought Cinematic Universe, the VCU, but we’re sort of realizing that we’re finding corners of it that are interesting and completely writer-driven; Amazon is not coming to us demanding spinoffs. We’re coming to them, saying, “This is a really exciting corner of the world.” This idea, which is like a college sports show, almost these high-profile athletes competing for who’s going to get the best contract in the draft at the end of the year for what city they go to, is a really hard-edge college show. It’s such a big world, I think it’s going to just be a blast to keep exploring.