Watchmen vs. The Boys

With The Boys releasing on Amazon Prime today, and the new Watchmen series being promoted for HBO, I noticed a couple of similarities, and thought I could take a look and see how much of these shows are the same, and what makes them different.

Watchmen

Alan Moore is known for writing some of the greatest comics of all time. V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, Batman: The Killing Joke, and Watchmen, which is on Time’s “Top 100 Novels” list. The story follows a hero Rorschach, as he tries to figure out why someone is killing a lot of ex-superheroes.

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While that may be the plot, reading the story, you find out that it is really about consequences, and people who see themselves above them. Whether it is someone who moves through time as we move through space, a rapist who ends up having a child with their victim, or someone who wishes to “kill millions, to save billions.” The phrase “Who Watches the Watchmen?” is used multiple times throughout the story, asking for accountability from these so-called protectors.

Alan Moore wasn’t trying to show how great superheroes can be, but instead how dangerous it is to put people on such a high pedestal, or such a strong position of power, without a plan to keep them in check.

Of course this new season seems like the focus will fall more on the “Black/Blue Lives Matter” political conversation. Vigilantes have been outlawed, and are trying to take back their place, by force. They are attacking the police, as a way of violent protest. The police, in response, have begun wearing masks to protect their identities from the vigilantes. Now both sides, free from recognition, are able to act without accountability.

The Boys

Garth Ennis, best known for Preacher, wrote The Boys from 2006-2008, which looked at modern celebrity culture, and how superheroes would act and react to that culture.

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The story follows two major groups, one called “The Seven,” a Justice League-type group of heroes that abuse their power, in violent, or sexually gratifying, ways. The other group are called “The Boys,” a secret superpowered CIA squad, who’s jobs are to take down the superheroes if they go out of control.

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The show is much more gratuitous with their graphic language and violence, and don’t seem to be as concerned with a political message, as much as a cultural one.

Compare

Both stories focus on the idea that superheroes, while do things initially for the good of others, eventually succumb to their more animalistic instincts, and become selfish. We see the same in superstars all the time, when everyone around you does whatever you want, you start to believe you can do whatever you want.

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Having unchecked power is always dangerous, because then no one can hold you accountable to your actions, and you lose all sense of responsibility.

Both shows are set in the modern day, and aim to show a spotlight on issues in American culture, about power, and who we grant it to.

Contrast

In Watchmen, the heroes don’t enjoy their positions of power. Many of them become reclusive, resort to alcoholism to cope, or are never able to enjoy a “normal” life, because the rabbit hole of crime never ends.

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In The Boys, the heroes enjoy their status, and use it to celebrate (Highlight for NSFW, they have a full orgy in “Herogasm”). They are being held accountable, but it seems they don’t take it seriously because of how powerful they are.

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While one story focuses on power in the bureaucratic sense, the other focuses on power in who or what we idolize. But both are about abuse of power.

What show are you most excited for? Let us know in the comments below!

4 comments

  1. Gee, its really, like, coowuuul to like, compare these two middlebrow tv shows and then, like, contrast them too? Just like when we was kids reading comics, oi?

    But then how about we be adults just for a moment, and point out that “Watchmen”, not the movie or the tv show, but the original graphic novel by the genius Alan Moore was a work of fictional art (Alan Moore, who hated the twisting of his narrative concept by the movie, “Watchmen”–so lord only knows how he feels about the videeuh). Moore’s is a work of fictive art with VERY adult themes. How about we look at what a blatant ripoff and further dumbing down or adolescent rising up, whatever, of Alan Moore’s baby, his concepts, his critique of capital, and his social criticism this silly tv frolic, “The Boys” really is? The critique has descended to camp. Privitization, consumer culture, and the loss of moral shame are not fitting foci for camp. Camp is for post rap music–nearly everything after Public Enemy died

    I’ll concede that despite the camp and the cynicism of cartooning up with boot white, there is some passingly interesting characterization but only because of the intensity of Butcher and Hughie and the acting skills of Jack Quaid and Charles Urban (who’s beamed dowwwwwwwn a looooooooonnnng way from the Enterprise to grace this silly tripe). The two are good together, and every scene they share moves forward and manages to dredge up empathy from this phlegmatic camp of corporate inhumanity.

    Still the mediocrity of derivitive TV narratives and plots and [themes?] is ubiquitous, of course, otherwise Hollywood and cable would have to actually respect and pay writers like Moore. But in this particular stolen property the mediocrity is outdone by the shamelessness of the derivations, and those derivations are outdone only by the overt, gob-dropping arrogance of an industry without any ideas left that would openly rip off the best graphic fiction published in twenty years with no expectation (or without giving a good frack) that those of us who can read and who love Alan Moore’s work will call ‘crap’ on this shameless, arrogant disrespect for intellectual property.

    Like, oooooo-mehgaaaaaawd!

    Like

    1. Sounds like you’ve got enough of an opinion to write an article yourself! I do believe that as a story, the original ‘Watchmen’ comic is a beautiful masterpiece, and ‘The Boys’ is closer in spirit to ‘Deadpool’ than that story. I noticed that people I spoke to were confusing the two shows together, which is why I wrote the piece.
      However, if you are going to belittle me or what I write, then I will kindly ask you to leave. You are welcome to criticize my thoughts, opinions, or writing, but I’m going to ask you to refrain from the “coowuuul” attitude.
      If you are looking for a deeper dissection, and I’m not “adult” enough for you, there are plenty of places online that will satisfy that need.

      Like

  2. Then again, an outside argument could maybe be made that anything that continues the career of Elisabeth Shue, one of the more interesting actors of the 1990s (leaving “Las Vegas” and “Palmetto”) might me worth looking in on just for the three good actors working the series to see where the characters go. Maybe.

    Like

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