While it’s true The Boys (by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson) is an established and widely successful series with its own rich lore and intriguing, original characters, its existence is also rooted in parody, as the comic series not-so-subtly insults and corrupts beloved DC and Marvel Comics characters in every one of its 72 issues and spin-off miniseries.
Not only are there a plethora of characters who are direct parodies of Marvel and DC superheroes, The Boys also finds ways to roast the two publishers in other, more creative ways. From mocking entire superhero teams and educational programs with an uncomfortable level of unchecked autonomy, to the very nature of superhero obsession and idolization itself in the more meta sense, The Boys doesn’t hold back in its criticism of the entire superhero genre. Here are 10 times The Boys roasted Marvel and DC (with good reason).
More than a few times, DC has really leaned into the idea of Superman being evil, which was something that was cool and interesting the first few times, but has now become tiresome and repetitive. There’s Lord Superman, Red Son Superman, Cyborg Superman, Bizzaro Superman, and Injustice Superman – just to name a few. So, if DC is this comfortable corrupting the supposedly incorruptible Man of Steel, why can’t The Boys do it?
Homelander isn’t just another ‘evil Superman’ to add to the list (which DC itself created), but rather he’s a parody of the entire ‘evil Superman’ trope. A living reminder of every time Superman betrayed his own character by becoming evil.
The Godolkin Institute is a direct parody of Marvel Comics’ Xavier’s School for Gifted Youngsters, complete with a headmaster who exploits children. Charles Xavier trained teenagers to fight international, superpowered terrorists like Magneto, all to push his own political agenda. While Xavier admittedly isn’t as bad as Godolkin, who is a pedophile that sexually assaults his students regularly, there was a time when he wasn’t too far off. In the original X-Men comics, Xavier was in love with Jean Grey, who was a few years shy of eighteen years old at the time, which is actually something that was re-confirmed in the ‘90s during the Onslaught storyline.
Godolkin was an extreme version of Xavier, but not by too far a stretch, which is why Marvel Comics deserved every bit of that harsh comparison.
Black Noir was a parody of Batman in The Boys all the way up until the moment it was revealed he was just a clone of Homelander who was always destined to kill him. At that point, Black Noir became much more than simply a parody of Batman, but the very essence of Batman’s ‘VERSUS’ battles against Superman in DC continuity. It’s no secret that fans love a good Batman v Superman matchup (indeed, there’s an entire movie with that literally as its title), and the proof is in the DC comics themselves. One could argue it’s a bit exploitative of the characters, serving a narrow, action-heavy event where these decades-long allies fight within a storyline written specifically with this fan-service matchup in mind.
So, what does The Boys do? It crafts an entire character whose whole purpose in life is this ‘Batman v Superman’-esque battle. And given how many times DC has gone back to this particular well, Black Noir is a parody that’s well-earned.