In the world of the dark superhero universe you start with Alan Moore’s Watchmen and The Killing Joke, and you might pick up Frank Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, Brad Meltzer’s Identity Crisis, Mark Millar’s Old Man Logan, Garth Ennis’s Crossed, and if you go back a bit further you might pick up Jim Starlin’s Batman: A Death in the Family. And you take another look at Tim Burton making Batman movies. You also might stumble over Garth Ennis’s The Boys and Brian Michael Bendis’s Jessica Jones. These last two comics are making their way to your television this summer, first with the return of Marvel’s Jessica Jones for its third season on Netflix as the swan song for all its Marvel series, and then Amazon Prime is stepping in with an adaptation of Ennis’s The Boys, dark in every other way that Jessica Jones isn’t. Those are in addition to Brightburn, a movie written by the live-action superhero guru Gunn brothers about a kid with Superman powers who doesn’t use them for good. Meaning lots of bloody gore and violence. It’s still in theaters.
Our first trailer is for the final season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones. Should it be a surprise that everything seems exactly as it was in the last season? Is it enough that Krysten Ritter′s anti-hero conquers her demons one at a time? Viewers want to cheer her on, to do anything to get happy in a dark and dreary real-life New York, but without development of her character beyond returning to the bottle and self-inflicted pain, we’re left to turn to other characters. Thankfully that left her adopted sister Trish, played by Rachael Taylor, as last season’s real hero to root for. But does Jeremy Bobb (Russian Doll) have a chance at filling in as next villain as Foolkiller after David Tennant’s performance as Kilgrave? And why another new guy for Jones, bringing in Benjamin Walker (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) instead of Luke Cage or The Punisher?
The Boys is a different kind of dark, but in many ways it’s just another effort to do what Alan Moore did with Watchmen–deconstruct superheroes until they are only recognizable because of the capes and costumes. So think of the depraved nature of Mark Millar’s Kick-Ass, but add a multiplier. Or if Watchmen was a normal school day, The Boys is Watchmen where the teenage kids take over. The kids in this case include Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg as producers, so expect plenty of “adult language” aka expletives, and their typical brand of raunch and bodily fluids. Is there a chance of some subtlety or nuance with these guys behind the series, or can we hope for something closer to Superbad? The more promising elements in the trailer are found in the costumes (by Iron Man costume designer Laura Jean Shannon, Titans’ designer Joyce Schure, and Doom Patrol’s designer Carrie Grace) and the cast, including pop culture icon Karl Urban (Thor: Ragnarok, Star Trek, The Lord of the Rings, Judge Dredd, Xena: Warrior Princess) and Erin Moriarty, who also starred on season one of Jessica Jones, Elizabeth Shue (The Karate Kid, Leaving Las Vegas), and Jennifer Esposito (Spin City, NCIS).
Take a look at these trailers for some of the darker edge of superheroes in genredom:
The final season of Marvel’s Jessica Jones arrives June 14 on Netflix, The Boys arrives July 26 on Amazon Prime, and Brightburn is still in theaters.