Excuse the hell outta me while I get my Kiwi buzz on…
Amazon’s The Boys has not one, but TWO Kiwi leads. I tell you, we are like a virus, once you catch us, you can’t get rid of us.
It’s not just any old TV, either. It’s good, really bloody good. The kind of show it’s hard to turn off.
I imagine that’s hard to believe in these days of post-Endgame “superhero fatigue”, but it’s true. The Boys is crucial telly, mostly because it merciless take the piss out of superheroes.
You can read more about why I reckon this show is so great in The Sunday Star Times, but suffice it to say, the show would be nothing with out it’s two Kiwi frontmen.
First up is Karl Urban (Lord of the Rings, Star Trek, Thor: Ragnarok), who plays the amoral, often immoral, Billy Butcher, a soldier of fortune whose life was ruined by Superheroes long ago.
Now Butcher makes it his business to expose the hubris, entitlement, hypocrisy and danger of “Supes” whenever he can. Or, you know, just plain kill them.
Urban clearly relishes this role as a hard man with a heart, well, a heart buried deep in the black tar dripping cavern that passes for his soul.
If I have any criticisms of him in the role, it’s that he’s possibly too warm to play the part as it was written in the Garth Ennis books: Butcher by name and nature, the character is truely twisted by his hatred of superheroes.
That and is his flip flop accent that’s 3 parts Dick Van Dyke, 4 parts Ponsonby Road. Urban does his best to differentiate his Eastender drag from his over the top “barra-boy” accent in Thor, but it’s much of a muchness.
While I do think they should have cut their losses and just made Butcher a Kiwi, he’s still a compelling character and Urban gives it some welly.
He can’t compete, however, with Antony Starr (Outrageous Fortune, Banshee) who plays Butcher’s arch-nemesis, Homelander.
God, where do I start with the performance? OK, first of all, I didn’t even realise it was Starr until about two episodes in. I thought they’d found some US unknown who was giving it his all everything in just inhabiting the role of a life time.
Starr is so good, so good, as the two faced, morally bankrupt, megalomaniacal leader of the “Supes” that I will eat my own hat if he doesn’t get an Emmy nod next year.
Flip flopping between patronising, avuncular master-of-all-he-surveys, and despot, Starr really amps up the creepy and the crazy.
It makes what could have been a hammy, awkward performance in less deft hands, something truly chilling.
It’s all part of why this is crucial post-Endgame superhero TV. If there was ever a time to deconstruct what superheroes really represent to some folks, then it’s now. And The Boys nails it.