Amazon's The Boys will have to find a different way to power up their supe-spanking antiheroes compared to the original comic books. Generally speaking, the live-action TV adaptation of Garth Ennis and Darrick Robertson's The Boys is a faithful interpretation of its source material, but a number of significant deviations were made in bringing this colorful crop of characters to the screen. Perhaps the most important of these changes is how the origins of the Boys themselves are presented, with the Amazon version portraying the group as a hastily assembled team of amateurs with no firepower, no resources and no backup.
This is a stark contrast to the Boys of the comic books who are an established outfit with numerous links to the FBI and other officials that take an anti-superhero stance. Most notably, however, Butcher and the gang inject themselves with regular doses of Compound V to enhance their strength and durability, allowing the quintet to go toe-to-toe with genuine superheroes. Nothing of this sort happens in the TV adaptation. Instead, the team use blackmail on Popclaw and underhand tactics to kill Translucent, while Butcher employs a mixture of explosives and hostages as leverage during his climactic confrontation with Homelander in The Boys' season 1 finale, never wanting to choose a fist fight as a preferred option.
While it might be assumed that The Boys is saving its physical fight scenes for season 2, when the characters have grown into a more cohesive unit, a certain story arc in season 1 makes this impossible. In the first volume of the comic series, Butcher explains to Hughie that Compound V is what originally introduced superpowers into human biology, and that a cut version of the drug is used by all members of the Boys to keep up with the "supes."
Translating this plot device onto screen will prove tricky. For a start, comic books naturally operate in a more morally gray area compared to television, and The Boys can get away with far more on page than it can on screen. Showing protagonists essentially taking steroids in order to fight is something that's unlikely to sit well with either Amazon or its sponsors.
However, The Boys has already written itself into an ethical conundrum should it ever be permitted to adapt this particular element of the comic books. The TV version of The Boys includes a subplot focusing on A-Train who, desperate to maintain his status as the world's fastest man, relies on regular doses of Compound V to keep himself at peak performance. This results in something resembling a typical drug addiction storyline, where A-Train's use of V causes his life to spiral out of control and also results in him accidentally killing Hughie's girlfriend while high.
It'll be incredibly difficult for Amazon's The Boys to backtrack on the perils of Compound V and have Butcher, Hughie, MM and Frenchie start taking the substance - particularly Hughie, considering it caused the death of his ex-lover. In the comic books, this isn't a problem, since Compound V is presented as a necessary steroid from the very beginning, rather than the root of the Boys' problems as it is in the TV series, and A-Train kills Robin merely through his own carelessness, rather than due to the drug.
Perhaps a middle ground to this problem can be found in the Female. Amazon's The Boys drastically changed the Female's origin, transforming her into a former child soldier who was used as a guinea pig in Compound V experiments. Despite not being a proper member of the Boys at the start of the series, the Female does take on Black Noir and come out alive. Having someone on their side who is naturally imbued with the benefits of V will allow the Boys to take a more direct approach in season 2, but without resorting to taking the stuff themselves and delving into all of the murky, uninteresting controversy that such scenes would bring.
The Boys season 2 is currently without a release date. More news as it arrives.