The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke recently claimed that Marvel Studios films and superhero films in general lead people to embrace “people like Trump and populists.”
Kripke’s comments came in a wide-ranging interview with The Hollywood Reporter, where he claimed that superhero myths in general have “undeniable fascist underpinnings.”
As for Kripke’s comments on Marvel Studios, they came after he was asked what he thought the shortcomings of Marvel and DC movies are and how he’s trying to correct them with The Boys.
The showrunner responded to the question saying, “People might be surprised to know this, but I’m actually a fan of the Marvel stuff. The filmmaking is often impeccable. I actually really enjoy the humorous tone that a lot of them are written in.”
“They’re snarky and fast and glib and I like that style. My issue with them are not the movies themselves, but that there’s too many of them overall,” he added.
He would then elaborate on his problem with the fact there are too many superhero films. He explained, “I sort of believe it’s dangerous, not to overstate it or be overdramatic, but it’s a little dangerous to train an entire generation to wait for someone strong to come in and save you.”
“That’s I think how you end up with people like Trump and populists who say, “I’m the only one who can come in, it’s going to be me,'” he continued.
He then added, “And I think in the way that pop-culture conditions people subtly, I think it’s conditioning them the wrong way — because there’s just too much of it. So I think it’s nice to have a corrective, at least a small one in us, to say, ‘They’re not coming to save you. Hold your family together and save yourselves.'”
I don’t know what Marvel Studios films Eric Kripke has seen, but most of them don’t see people waiting for someone else to come in and save them. In fact, the opposite is true. In Iron Man, Tony Stark doesn’t sit around and wait for the United States military to find and save him. Instead, he builds his very first Iron Man suit to save himself and free himself from terrorists.
In Captain America: The First Avenger, Steve Rogers isn’t just sitting around and waiting to join the fight against the Nazis and Japanese in World War II. He’s going to every sign-up he can in order to try and join up despite getting consistently denied. His persistence leads him to be chosen for Project Rebirth.
Still, despite being recruited into the project by Dr. Abraham Erskine, Colonel Chester Phillips doesn’t believe him to be the right choice to have the Super Soldier Serum injected into him. It’s not until Rogers jumps on a grenade to save the rest of his soldiers that Phillips is convinced.
In a bit of a twist, Thor also doesn’t sit around and wait for anyone to save him. He leads Loki, Sif, and the Warriors Three in a raid on Jotunheim after Frost Giants had infiltrated Asgard. This act results in Odin stripping his abilities and banishing him to Midgard. However, despite losing his powers he still doesn’t sit around and wait for anyone to save him. He attempts to reclaim Mjolnir, but is still deemed unworthy.
Then when his newfound friends are under attack, Thor decides to protect them from the onslaught of the Destroyer. Thor jumps in and chooses to defend his friends. He doesn’t wait for anyone to save him.
In fact, literally all of the Marvel Studios films show heroes jumping into action and not sitting around and waiting for people to save them. Star-Lord and the Guardians of the Galaxy set out to stop Ronan the Accuser.
Doctor Strange seeks out the Ancient One in order to fix his hands and eventually embraces the role of Sorceror Supreme to defeat Dormammu.
Spider-Man chooses to fight against Vulture against the wishes of Iron Man. Black Panther faces down Killmonger and Carol Danvers joins the Air Force and becomes a test pilot before she is exposed to the Tesseract and gains the abilities to become Captain Marvel.
Ant-Man even risks going back to prison to try and make some money so he can see his daughter again.
The Marvel films literally show the exact opposite of what Kripke claims. And as for his claims about The Boys giving you a message about holding your family safe, I’m not sure he even remembers the first season?
Hughie’s girlfriend is murdered in a split second by A-Train. Butcher believes his family was murdered by Homelander. The two actually team up to exact revenge against The Seven. Their families are gone and the focus is on vengeance. It doesn’t make you want to save yourself. I would argue the show actually embraces losing yourself in the self-destruction of revenge.
Later in the interview, Kripke would also be asked if he was worried about any backlash from the show.
He answered, “I don’t have control over that. As a writer, you can drive yourself crazy trying to worry about what the reactions will be.”
“The truth is we’re firmly within the superhero genre. We have action scenes. We have superheroes fighting. People are launching lasers and shit at each other. The world is at stake. We have all of those things,” he continued.
Kripke then added, “We’re just deconstructing it as we go and playing the thought experiment of “what would they really be like in this world?” So I think the show works for people who love superhero stuff and people who hate superhero stuff.”
I think that statement tells you all you need to know about Kripke’s view of the world. If he thinks The Boys depicts superheroes as they would be in this world, he has a very grim view of humanity. And I would argue Kripke’s grim view of the world is probably what we need less of in our pop culture.
Perhaps Hollywood should return to the hopeful view of Superman, where he is the beacon of Truth, Justice, and the American Way.
I would argue that view is why mangas and anime like My Hero Academia are becoming so popular. You have heroes like All-Might, Deku, and even Bakugo who are willing to stand up against the darkness and provide a beacon of light and hope.
What do you make of Kripke’s comments regarding superheroes and Marvel films?