The Boys: Understanding the psychology of superheroism

Exploring the Dark Side of Superheroism: A deep dive into the psychology of The Boys (Image via Amazon Prime Video)
Exploring the Dark Side of Superheroism: A deep dive into the psychology of The Boys (Image via Amazon Prime Video)

The Boys, a TV series created by Eric Kripke, is a deconstruction of the superhero genre that explores the dark side of power and fame. The series follows the story of a group of vigilantes who set out to expose the corruption, exploitation, and abuse of superheroes by the powerful corporation Vought International.

Through its exploration of the psychological motivations and desires of its characters, the series delves into the complex nature of heroism and villainy. From ambition to control, the motivations driving the supes of The Boys are both fascinating and disturbing.

The show provides a psychological and sociological critique of the superhero myth, exposing the dangerous consequences of unchecked power, ambition, and desire.


The complexities of superhero identity in The Boys

The Boys: A deep dive into the dark world of superheroism (Image via Amazon Prime Video)
The Boys: A deep dive into the dark world of superheroism (Image via Amazon Prime Video)

The ambition of supes

The series critiques the American Dream and the notion that anyone can become successful, powerful, and famous with hard work and talent. The show portrays superheroes as individuals who have bought into this myth, pursuing fame and power without regard for the consequences of their actions.

They are portrayed as arrogant, selfish, and entitled, with a tendency to abuse their power and exploit their fans. The ambition of the supes is seen as a threat to the safety and well-being of the general population.


The desire for control

The controlling nature of power (Image via Amazon Prime Video)
The controlling nature of power (Image via Amazon Prime Video)

The Boys explores the psychological and sociological consequences of the desire for control and power. The superheroes are portrayed as individuals who are in control of their own lives, their bodies, and their strengths.

However, this control is often used to dominate and control others, leading to a toxic and abusive relationship between the supes and the public. The desire for control is also seen as a manifestation of underlying insecurities and psychological traumas, such as Homelander's need for validation and affection.


The nature of evil

Exploring the duality of good and evil (Image via Amazon Prime Video)
Exploring the duality of good and evil (Image via Amazon Prime Video)

The Boys provides a nuanced view of the nature of evil, challenging the conventional notion that evil is a force that can be defeated by good. The show portrays evil as a complex and multifaceted phenomenon rooted in human nature and the social, political, and economic systems that shape our lives.

The series suggests that evil is not the product of evil individuals but the result of systemic and structural inequalities, abuses of power, and social injustice.


The fantasy of superheroism

The fantasy vs reality of superheroism (Image via Amazon Prime Video)
The fantasy vs reality of superheroism (Image via Amazon Prime Video)

The Boys also critiques the fantasy of superheroism, which is often seen as escapism and a means of coping with the realities of life. The show suggests that superhero fantasy is a dangerous illusion that distracts one from the world's problems and encourages individuals to rely on external sources of power and authority.

The series argues that the superhero myth perpetuates a cycle of violence, exploitation, and abuse and that it is a false hope that ultimately leaves people feeling powerless and vulnerable.


Final thoughts

Concluding the Psychology of Superheroism in the series (Image via Amazon Prime Video)
Psychology of Superheroism (Image via Amazon Prime Video)

The Boys is a cautionary tale that warns viewers of the dangers of superhero myths and encourages them to be critical of the sources of power and authority in the world.

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Edited by Adelle Fernandes