In April 2016, it was announced that Eric Kripke, along with Seth Rogen and Evan Goldberg, were developing a TV series based on the comic book The Boys. The comic series was written by Garth Ennis and co-created, designed, and illustrated by Darick Robertson between 2006 and 2012. The comics are based in a world where superheroes exist as the tools of a corporation called Vought International. The top echelon of heroes are know as "The Seven" with some key characters broadly parodying DC/Marvel characters: Homelander is a pastiche of Superman and Captain America, Queen Maeve is Wonder Woman, A-Train is the Flash and the Deep is Aquaman. Soldier Boy, the character that Jensen will play, references Captain America. Also in this world are a group known as "The Boys", led by Billy Butcher, who seek to bring Vought down. There had been numerous development attempts at the comics over the years including as as a movie at Columbia Pictures and Paramount.
Seasons One and Two
In November 2017, Amazon ordered the first, eight episode, season of The Boys. Ahead of the series premiere, on July 19, 2019, Amazon Video renewed the series for a second season which premiered on September 4, 2020. Unlike the first season, where the whole season was dropped at once, Eric Kripke insisted that the second season drop one episode a week. Kripke said of the problem with the full season drop “People burn through it in a week or two. There’s an intense amount of activity and then it sort of fades…. There’s so many great moments in season 2, we want to give it time to marinate so people can reflect on it and talk about it before they move on to the next thing and be in the conversation a little longer. I think a little anticipation for the fans is healthy.”
Season one was both hugely popular and well-received by the critics. Viewers loved the sardonic humour along with the high levels of violence, gore and sex which provided a contrast to the more anodyne MCU and DEC movies. The second series was even more successful, and it became the first non-Netflix show to rate in the Nielsen Top 10 streaming shows.
As filming started on Season 3 of The Boys in February 2021, it was announced that a number of Supernatural alumni are joining the series. In addition to Jensen, they include writer Meredith Glynn who is fresh off Supernatural, and David Reed who left Supernatural in 2012 and has since worked on Revolution, Aquarius and The Magicians. They will both join the series as who joins as executive producers. Jim Michaels who was a co-executive producer based in Vancouver for Supernatural took on the same role, but left the show partially through the season. Already on-board alongside Eric Kripke are executive producer and director Phil Sgriccia who left Supernatural at the end of Season 14, and composer Christopher Lennertz.
Kripke posted a reaction shot from a production meeting for the "Herogasm" episode. In the comics, "Herogasm" is an annual Vought-sponsored bacchanalian weekend of sex, drugs and anything goes.
Jensen as Soldier Boy
On the 17th August, Jensen announced via his Instagram that he will be joining Season 3 of Eric Kripke's series The Boys as the character Soldier Boy.
- “When I was a child, I had a crazy, impossible dream — to provide Jensen Ackles with gainful employment. I’m happy to say that dream has come true. Jensen is an amazing actor, an even better person, smells like warm chocolate chip cookies, and I consider him a brother. As Soldier Boy, the very first superhero, he’ll bring so much humor, pathos, and danger to the role. I can’t wait to be on set with him again, and bring a bit of ‘Supernatural’ to ‘The Boys.’”
Danneel and the kids sent their best wishes via a cute video. Jared commented with:
- "Couldn’t be happier for my brother from another mother!! Thrilled you’re gonna keep kicking ass and takin names. They’re lucky to have ya."
And on Twitter added:
- "We’ve been “The Boys” for fifteen years, so it’s nice to see the tradition live on. Congrats on your superpowers brother, you deserve it!"
From late 2020, Jensen took at least six trips to Los Angeles for fittings, as the costume for Soldier Boy was constructed. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Jensen mentioned that, coincidentally, he would be wearing the same boots as Soldier Boy that Dean Winchester wore although a different color. The costume was from a concept by Greg Hopwood and designed and made by Laura Jean Shannon who said of the costume:
- "Soldier Boy is the original bad ass. Our goal was to highlight a bygone era of overt masculinity and grit. With that pedigree we dove headfirst into baking in an all-American quality grounded in a military soldier’s practicality with a heavy dose of old school cowboy swagger. We knew that the actor had to have Steve McQueen looks and chops with a John Wayne attitude, luckily Jensen Ackles embodies all of that."
Jensen also impressively grew out his beard between the end of filming Supernatural in September 2020 and the start of The Boys production in May 2021, and will sport it in the early appearances of Soldier Boy. Due to COVID restrictions, Jensen was required to quarantine in Toronto for 14 days before being able to start filming. He is expected to be in Canada filming the series until August, and will not be able to travel home to Austin during that time.
- “It’s been awesome. I mean, I love the guy so much. And just to have him read my words again is such a treat. I mean, on the first day of dailies, I reached out to him. Funny enough, his very first scene as Soldier Boy was taking place in a shitty motel room. And so he’s in this shitty motel room reading my words. And I just was like, ‘This is great. This feels like coming home.’ It’s been awesome. The cast loved him. They saw immediately what a good dude and what a really fine actor he is. And really all of our conversations have been about how to make sure that this is not Dean Winchester. How do we give him a look that feels a little different and register of voice and mannerisms? I think he and I are both really interested in creating a different character. So it’s been a blast. I mean, he’s such a good actor. The metaphor I use is he just has a lot of Crayons in his Crayon box and you can really use all of them to do something, I think, really nuanced.”
- "I just saw dailies with @JensenAckles that are SO FUCKING WEIRD & FUNNY & a scene I've always wanted to do! I wiped a tear laughing. So happy to be working with him again. Wait till you meet Soldier Boy"
- The Boys: The Official Podcast
- ‘The Boys’ Showrunner Reflects on Pressures of Adapting Fan-Favorite Property by The Hollywood Reporter