Which DC and Marvel superheroes served as inspiration for the rip-roaring cast of The Boys? In the original comic book series by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, The Boys serves as a bloody and grossly satirical take on the superhero genre, subverting long-established tropes and toying with readers' expectations. However, the story also takes direct shots at the giants of the comic book world, Marvel and DC. Many of the biggest, most outrageous superheroes in The Boys are straight-up parodies of the comic book world's biggest names, hilariously poking fun at the giants of the industry.
Amazon's The Boys adaptation follows suit, and perhaps even takes the satirical elements to a new level. After all, the original comic series began in 2006 and the superhero genre has evolved significantly since then, particularly with regards to their presence on the big screen. This new landscape provides The Boys with a new palette of potential targets, and the Amazon series takes full advantage, ripping on a host of big-name figures from the genre's more family-friendly output.
The Boys' DC comparisons are certainly more overt, particularly in the comic books, but Marvel don't escape unscathed either - there's plenty of satirical ribbing to go round. But while The Boys does raise some interesting talking points regarding the direction and commercial aspect of the superhero genre, most of the parodies are done with a wry smile and a knowing wink, rather than any outright malice. Here are all the Marvel and DC character parodies in The Boys.
Homelander - Superman/Captain America
America's favorite Kryptonian is undoubtedly the biggest inspiration behind Homelander. The Boys plays on the DC icon's God-like status in glorious fashion, giving the leader of the Seven all of Clark Kent's best powers and abilities including flight, heat vision and even X-ray vision - an ability The Boys naturally twists into something more sinister. However, there's also elements of Marvel's Captain America thrown into the mix. Visually, Homelander incorporates Cap's stars and stripes motif and his overt exploitation of patriotism reaches levels Superman could never achieve with his Kryptonian heritage.
The Deep - Aquaman
One of the most direct parodies in The Boys is Chase Crawford's The Deep, who acts as a clear riff on DC's Aquaman. The Boys takes a grim look at the darker side of Aquaman's fish communication powers, and goes on to prove how aquatic anatomy could be a problem with groupies. Most notably, however, the series plays on the idea that Aquaman has always been widely derided by comic fans for his goofy look and relatively odd powers. This was in the days before Jason Momoa came along and gave Aquaman's reputation a much-needed boost. The Deep is seen attending therapy sessions to discuss his inferiority complex - something Aquaman would've no doubt also done had he been aware of his status as a figure of ridicule.
Queen Maeve - Wonder Woman
Another clear parallel can be found between Queen Maeve and the female third of DC's fabled trinity, Wonder Woman. Both characters have origins steeped in ancient mythology, with the DC character deriving from Greek lore and Maeve named after a warrior from Irish legend. Highlighting their mythical natures, both characters wear stylized metallic suits of armor with a matching sword, although Maeve's weapon wouldn't come close to matching Diana's in a fight. Like Wonder Woman, Maeve is also one of the more ethical members of the Seven, acting as a moral compass compared to the debauchery of the other members..
Starlight - Stargirl/Northstar & Aurora
Starlight and Stargirl have very different superpowers, with the latter wielding a staff to manipulate energy, while also being able to fly and shoot stars. Starlight, on the other hand, generates intense rays of light from her body, similar to Northstar and Aurora from the Marvel comics. However, the design and concept of Stargirl does seem to heavily inform Starlight in The Boys. Both are presented as apple pie American role models and are the more innocent faces of their respective superhero teams. Physically, the two heroes share a close resemblance, and Stargirl is known for being somewhat relaxed about revealing her true identity - something The Boys references with Starlight on several occasions.
Translucent - Emma Frost/Martian Manhunter
Any number of superheroes from both the DC and Marvel rosters have been able to turn invisible, but Translucent's carbon-based skin is far more unique, perhaps most commonly associated with Emma Frost from Marvel's X-Men comics. Predominantly a psychic, Frost can turn her skin into a carbon-based impenetrable exterior, much like Translucent. Charlies Xavier presumably never thought of using Frenchie's method to defeat her though. Furthermore, Translucent's comic equivalent in Ennis and Robertson's The Boys is a character called Jack From Jupiter - a not-so-subtle nod to DC's Martian Manhunter who, incidentally, could also turn invisible.
Popclaw - X-23
Perhaps equally as indebted to Wolverine, Popclaw's ability to grow claws through her skin to use as weapons is a trick straight from the X-Men canon. Logan was famous for drawing three prongs through his knuckles, X-23 cut that down to two, now Popclaw is reduced to one single protrusion from each limb, however the concept itself is unique enough to trace directly back to Marvel. Since Popclaw is female, she can perhaps be more readily compared to X-23 than Wolverine himself.
Nubian Prince - Black Panther
Just as Black Panther is introduced as the prince of Africa's fictional state of Wakanda, Nubian Prince is named as the heir to the African region of Nubia. Furthering the connection, both characters wear sleek black superhero outfits adorned with traditional African design elements. Madelyn Stillwell also cynically describes Nubian Prince as "not too militant, Caucasians love him too," which could be interpreted as a subtle commentary on the distinct lack of superhero movies starring a black lead character.
A-Train - The Flash
In the comic version of The Boys, A-Train and the Flash have more in common than just super speed, with A-Train's brash arrogance and exuberant personality acting as an exaggerated caricature of his DC counterpart. This influence is less apparent in the Amazon series, where A-Train is a more conflicted character, concerned about his relevance in the Seven and paranoid his drugs running side-business will be unearthed. Still, the death of Robin is a shining example of what horrors could occur if Flash was really zipping across the world in a blur of red spandex.
Vought American - MCU
The Boys draws several comparisons between Vought and the modern Marvel Studios machine. A cameo from Seth Rogen reveals that the company have their own VCU - the Vought Cinematic Universe. One company executive also utters the line "everybody loves a team up," openly lampooning Marvel's crossover releases such as Avengers and Captain America: Civil War. There are even references to Vought opening theme parks outside of Paris (Disneyland Paris) and releasing the billion dollar-grossing G-Men: World War - a mashup of X-Men and Civil War.
The Seven - Justice League
While Vought may parody Marvel to some extent, the Seven are a complete ripoff of DC's famous Justice League. With their formal sit-down meetings, national celebrity status and individual superhero likenesses, the Seven have far more in common with DC's premier superhero team than other groups, such as the Avengers. The similarities continue in the comic books, where the Seven operate from a skybase instead of a regular skyscraper, somewhat akin to the Justice League's Watchtower space station.
The Boys season 2 is currently without a release date. More news as it arrives.