Amazon's The Boys is more popular than Netflix's The Umbrella Academy. The superhero genre has never been bigger, and networks and streaming services alike are choosing to prioritize TV series adapted from comic books. Naturally, the so-called "Big Two" - Marvel Comics and DC Comics - have inspired many big hits, but there are signs that their dominance is fading.
The Umbrella Academy, based on the popular comics by Gerard Way and Gabriel Bá, became the biggest digital show in the United States. Critics and audiences alike were wowed by the strange, trippy series that explored everything from time travel to end-of-the-world events. In fact, The Umbrella Academy was more popular than even The Flash. Amazon's The Boys has been greeted with similar rave reviews, but until now it's been difficult to place the two shows side-by-side and compare their popularity.
Data released exclusively to Screen Rant confirms that The Boys actually maintained stronger demand in the US market than The Umbrella Academy through its entire first four weeks post-launch. According to Parrot Analytics, a third-party data company who measure online demand for TV shows, both are outliers in terms of general demand, with sustained interest that isn't normal for binge-released titles. Here's how the percentages look:
- Launch Day: The Boys was ahead of The Umbrella Academy by 32 percent
- 7 Days After Launch: The Boys was ahead by 23 percent
- 14 Days After Launch: The Boys was ahead by 33 percent
- 21 Days After Launch: The Boys was ahead by 20 percent
- 28 Days After Launch: The Boys was ahead by 10 percent
At present, it looks as though The Boys is outpacing the competition. There is, however, an important caveat; the gap is lessening. The Umbrella Academy has remained unusually popular - the chart shows demand up to 13 weeks after release where the show was still holding strong - and it will be interesting to see whether The Boys sustains its lead in the long run.
Regardless of which ends up the biggest, there's a sense in which demand for both The Umbrella Academy and The Boys reflects the extent to which comic book adaptations have become mainstream. Both shows are based on comics that delight in upending the standard superhero tropes, essentially serving as commentaries on just how messed up the world would be if there really were superheroes. That kind of subversion can only work on the small screen if the general audience is steeped in comic book lore, able to fully appreciate the irony of the artistic approach being taken.
Competition in the superhero genre is hotting up. Warner Bros. has already launched DC Universe, a dedicated streaming service that features original DC live-action shows like Titans and Swamp Thing. Meanwhile, Disney is prioritizing Marvel content for both Disney+ and Hulu, with upcoming TV series including Loki, Moon Knight, and Ghost Rider. Fortunately, the remarkably high levels of demand for both The Boys and The Umbrella Academy proves that Netflix and Amazon can still compete, and that well-produced superhero adaptations based on lesser-known brands can be even bigger than shows inspired by the Big Two's more established heroes.