If you’re already a fan of the ‘The Boys’ franchise, you should know better than to watch anything from the same universe while eating. Things have a way of getting bloody, gross, gory, and crazy. Created by Evan Goldberg, Eric Kripke, and Craig Rosenberg, the 2023 series ‘Gen V’ focuses on the first generation of superheroes, who discover that their parents injected them with compound V to give them special powers.
Episode one begins violently, the opening moments are like Stephen King’s 1974 horror novel “Carrie” packed in a capsule and crushed by a hammer. Jaz Sinclair plays Marie Moreau, an orphan with a troubled past, who gets a fresh start when she earns a full scholarship to Godolkin University, a prestigious institute for students with superpowers. There, she encounters a diverse group of students with various special abilities, all competing to maintain their positions in a competitive ranking system. With a shady past, weird superpower, and no social media presence, Marie Moreau must work exceptionally hard to achieve her dream of becoming a supe (short for superhero). Since the timeline is somewhere around the same as “The Boys”, a lot of its characters also make brief cameos in this spin-off.
Titled “God U”, short for Godolkin University, episode one introduces a bunch of primary characters and the most splashy of them is ‘Golden Boy’ (Patrick Schwarzenegger), who burns up like the sun while fighting, is ranked numbers one and is almost sure to become a part of “The Seven” in the future, the most elite superheroes who work for Vought, the firm responsible for making compound V. Patrick Schwarzenegger looks like a young Homelander, he is tall, fit and has the face that’s made for smiling for tabloids. Maddie Phillips is Cate Dunlap, Golden Boy’s girlfriend and her character feels like a cross between a young Rogue from ‘X-Men’ and Allison Hargreeves from ‘Umbrella Academy’. ‘Gen V’ also introduces a gender-fluid supe called Jordan Li, portrayed alternatively by London Thor and Derek Li. Jordan Li is ranked 2, possesses superhuman strength, agility, durability, and the ability to switch between two distinct male and female personalities. Chance Perdomo plays Golden Boy’s best-friend Andre Anderson and it’s going to take more than the first three episodes to completely understand his super-powers, as he doesn’t get to display them much. Among all the new young supes, Marie’s roomate Emma Meyer (Lizze Broadway) was the most relatable college student, who’s just there to have some fun and constantly tries to cheer Marie on. Emma can shrink to the size of an ant and has a popular YouTube channel, which also makes her vulnerable to cyber-bullying.
Episode one ends with a tragic unexpected death and also introduces a mystery about a top-secret dubious facility. Titled “First Day,” episode two of Gen V is all about corporate strategy, image-building, and spinning a bunch of lies to the masses. After a gory student suicide on campus, the university goes into overdrive to correct its image and constructs an entire narrative around the incident to redeem its reputation. Marie is given a rare opportunity for a complete makeover, Andre and Cate team up to solve the mystery of the secret facility. Meanwhile, Emma battles body-image issues, and Jordan Li grapples with their fall in rank and the reality that, as an Asian gender-fluid individual, they might not fit the ‘brand’ of Vought International.
While ‘Gen V’ isn’t as vicious, violent or straight up crazy as “The Boys”, it does dwell into some more deeper issues than egoistical men hellbent on revenge. For instance, the character of Marie, a disadvantaged orphan, symbolizes the class struggle within the story. She finds herself pitted against privileged students who always have the protective safety net of their parents. In contrast, even a minor mistake by Marie could potentially unravel her entire life. The plot also explores the vast generation and thought gap between some of the students and their parents. The young superheroes in ‘Gen V’ are living testaments to the twisted desires of their parents, who injected them with the ominous Compound V as infants, shaping them into unwitting products of fame, power, and profit—an unsettling and morally complex backdrop to their ‘heroic’ journeys. The 2022 animated series “The Boys Presents: Diabolical” had a hilariously dark short called ‘An Animated Short Where Pissed-Off Supes Kill Their Parents’, which set good ground for this new spin-off.
Titled ‘#ThinkBrink,’ episode 3 delves deeper into Andre’s investigation of the secret facility, but his actions also jeopardize the life of a crucial character. The first three episodes of “Gen V” contain numerous references to elements/scenes already seen in ‘The Boys,’ I wished this spin-off series could have dedicated more time to campus drama, college conflicts, and the occasional crime-fighting, rather than sweeping its student protagonists in the politics of the adult world and its dark secrets.
Marie’s initial interactions with most students on campus are less than favorable, but episode three signifies a turning point for her character, hinting at the possibility of more meaningful friendships and connections. The episode concludes with a shockingly brutal scene and an unsettling plot twist, placing my favorite character in jeopardy and leaving fans eagerly anticipating the direction ‘Gen V’ will take in the upcoming episodes. While the series may not match the breakneck pace and hardened demeanor of ‘The Boys,’ considering its cast of youthful characters, the first three episodes lay a sturdy foundation for what promises to be an engaging inaugural season.
You can stream ‘Gen V’ on Amazon Prime Video.