Glorious 'The Boys' Spinoff 'Gen V' Is Filled with College-Set Coming-of-Age Caped-Crusader Chaos

Its superheroes might be younger, but nothing has been toned down in this characteristically gory and raucous entry in the Vought Cinematic Universe.
Sarah Ward
September 29, 2023

Instead of Gen V, you could call this spinoff The Boys Jnr and it'd fit in an array of ways. The superheroes are younger, with the series' eight-episode first season focusing on students attending Godolkin University, rather than adults who've been there, done that and are weathering the brutalities of life as grown caped crusaders. The minutiae of Gen V's characters' lives is firmly teen-centric as a result, including dates and crushes, dorms and lectures, making new friends and peer pressure, and the like. Obviously, their worries largely aren't of the world-weary, years-of-existential-malaise kind, but span making friends, scoring the right classes, wanting to be popular, breaking curfew, navigating social media, body image, sex positivity, morning-after regrets, dealing with overbearing parents and plotting out the future.

There's nothing smaller about the hefty, hearty, utterly gleeful splashes of gore and violence, however — the eager amounts of guts and penises, too — in the latest show inspired by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's comic book. Streaming from Friday, September 29, Prime Video's next dive into this satirical superhero world is The Boys but in college, the same chaos, carnage and characteristic raucousness all included. Slotting into the Vought Cinematic Universe after the OG series (which has dropped three seasons, with a fourth on the way) and the animated The Boys Presents: Diabolical, Gen V stems from the 'We Gotta Go Now' storyline, sporting youthful leads but zero tone and vibe changes. So springs an OTT coming-of-age tale that's gruesome, irreverent, subversive, funny and, yes, filled with bodily fluids.

Set at the same time that The Boys' fourth season will take place when it hits — its episodes have been filmed, but no release date has been locked in yet due to Hollywood's 2023 strikesGen V follows the blood-bending Marie Moreau (Jaz Sinclair, Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) as she scores a university place that could change everything that she knows. Stuck under the cloud of a past tragedy until now, her scholarship to the Vought-approved God U is the ticket to her dreams, with becoming the first Black woman in The Seven her ultimate aim. Her approach going in: putting her head down, working hard and securing a path beyond the facility that's been her home for much too long. She's warned what will occur if she doesn't succeed, with more time spent institutionalised the only other option that superhero organisation Vought foresees.

Before Marie arrives at God U, Gen V begins with her backstory, plus with the reason that doing her best is so important. The show's developers Craig Rosenberg, Evan Goldberg and Eric Kripke, all The Boys alumni, also establish that their adolescent angle is as essential as caped crusaders and diving back into havoc caused by the corrupt mega-corporation that is Vought. When a young woman has Marie's distinctive powers, how do they manifest? When she reaches puberty and gets her first period. In opening moments set eight years earlier, just as A-Train (Jesse T Usher, Smile) is welcomed into Vought's top-tier superhero crew, there's a body count, emotional scars that Marie will never get over, and also an ultraviolet start to the series' exploration of compound V-dosed kids who were given the drug by their mums and dads to turn them into something special, only to be forced to live with the consequences.

Accordingly, college's everyday trials and tribulations were never going to be the only challenges in store once Gen V steps foot on campus, and Marie with it; more follow. Academic disappointment comes early, when hotshot Crimefighting Department head Professor Rich Brinkerhoff (Clancy Brown, Ahsoka) won't let her into her dream course, but that soon seems like a minor woe. As Marie rooms with Emma Meyer (Lizze Broadway, Based on a True Story), who can scale down her size, fitting in doesn't come easily. And when she meets the resident cool clique, including literally hot number one-ranked pupil Luke 'Golden Boy' Riordan (Patrick Schwarzenegger, The Staircase), his persuasive girlfriend Cate Dunlap (Maddie Phillips, Teenage Bounty Hunters), the magnetic Andre Anderson (Chance Perdomo, also Chilling Adventures of Sabrina) and the gender-shifting Jordan Li (Never Have I Ever's London Thor and Shining Vale's Derek Luh), she swiftly discovers that everything at her new school isn't what it seems.

There will be blood by the bucketload — even if Marie's powers weren't tied to it, this is a VCU entry — plus secrets, lies, class clashes and life-and-death stakes. And, in a show that also gives its characters a mystery to chase, there's also a creepy underground facility known as The Woods that Marie, Emma and their pals keep being drawn to. Gen V delivers a savvy balance of wild fun and perceptive smarts as well, in a series that plays like The Boys mixed with The Sex Lives of College Girls, Scooby Doo, Wednesday and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Like the latter pair, it's highly cognisant that growing up is weird and hellish. It similarly knows how to use fantasy and horror — here, being a caped crusader at a sinister uni that specifically trains them, rather than the ultimate goth girl or vanquishing the undead while living on a hellmouth — to explore the many struggles that accompany facing maturity.

While a few key cameos pop up from its predecessor, Gen V's is 100-percent focused on the franchise's newbies, their supe and uni experiences, and the shady happenings around them — which is a pivotal move. Indeed, that's what makes it a perfect The Boys spinoff, and never an easy facsimile, lazy wannabe or unsubtle reminder of what else exists in the broader saga. Gen V dwells in the same realm with the same atmosphere and same bite, but always dons its own personality, is committed to telling its own characters' tales and proves genuinely keen to broaden the Vought Cinematic Universe. Tearing into what's become the biggest type of on-screen stories right now is still the same mission, complete with blatant Marvel digs, yet it's done in a story that puts the ups and downs of being a teen in this situation first and foremost.

It's no wonder, then, that Gen V is as entertaining as The Boys to watch. It's also no surprise that Marie and her classmates easily earn the same investment as Billy Butcher (Karl Urban, Thor: Ragnarok), Hughie (Jack Quaid, Oppenheimer), Frenchie (Tomer Capone, One on One), Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara, Bullet Train) Mother's Milk's (Laz Alonso, Wrath of Man), Starlight (Erin Moriarty, Captain Fantastic), Maeve (Dominique McElligott, The Last Tycoon) and company. Alongside confidence, strewn-around viscera and its sense of humour, casting remains one of this core franchise's talents, especially with Sinclair, Broadway, Perdomo, Thor and Luh. And any X-Men or The New Mutants comparisons? Just as The Boys knowingly smashed through its Avengers and Justice League commonalities, so does this new sharp, cynical and imaginative chip off the old block.

Check out the trailer for Gen V below:

Gen V streams via Prime Video from Friday, September 29.

Published on September 29, 2023 by Sarah Ward
Tap and select Add to Home Screen to access Concrete Playground easily next time. x