TheBoys is an R-rated middle finger to the moralistic view of superheroes, and superhero group Payback is one of the show’s first diabolical parodies of Marvel’s Avengers.
In Episode 3 of the new season of TheBoys, a suped-up Billy Butcher gets the gang back together to desperately find a way to kill Homelander, leader of the most popular Avengers spin-off The Seven, eleven and for all. To do so, the citizen vigilantes search for a secret weapon that Queen Maeve of The Seven told Butcher about. It turns out, this weapon was responsible for killing Soldier Boy, Vought’s earliest super soldier. Their quest leads them to former CIA Deputy Director Grace Mallory. During a classified operation in Nicaragua, she was a case officer where Russian soldiers presumably murdered Soldier Boy, using some super gun before helicoptering his body back to their homeland. Through her recollection of that catastrophic event, we find out about one of the first groups of superheroes Vought tried to shove into military action—Payback.
“Season 3’s fun because it’s not just about Soldier Boy, but it’s about the team he was a part of, which is called Payback,” TheBoys showrunner Eric Kripke told Illuminerdi.
In the show, Payback is a collection of eight superheroes (seven if you count the TNT Twins as one) brought together to help the United States’ fight against communism by aiding Contra rebels in Nicaragua looking to thwart Russian-backed forces in support of a socialist government forming in the country during the Iran-Contra conflict of the late 1980s. Now that Season 3 is out, we get to go a bit deeper into one of the first superhero groups in the history of TheBoys.
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Before Homelander was the superhero embodiment of American exceptionalism, Soldier Boy was one of the first prototypes of the American superhero in TheBoys universe. The loudmouth parody of Marvel’s Captain America is the leader of Payback. And he has the strength to help America win World War II—and presumably has strength comparable to Homelander. His anti-aging ability preserves not only his skin, but also the sexist norms of the 1940s, when telling a female case officer for the CIA she needs to smile was acceptable to him.
Crimson Countess, played by The Walking Dead‘s Laurie Holden, es TheBoys‘Scarlet Witch. Except, you know, with less reality-warping and grief-induced mayhem, and more fireballs and chimp empathy (Did you know chimps physically can’t cry? Me neither). She did show the same viciousness as Scarlet Witch when she blew up a Homelander mascot in front of children at an amusement park in the second episode of this season. So far on this season of TheBoys, she’s only shot a few fireballs, but in the comics, she has Homelander-style heat vision lasers and can manipulate fire on a greater level than Season 2 standout Lamplighter. We may not have seen the last of what Crimson can do.
When you see Swatto on TheBoys, think Marvel’s Hank Pym with less common sense and shrinking ability. In the show, Swatto is little more than a human fly regarding his ability to produce bug wings from his back and be a nuisance by buzzing around when he’s not supposed to. Joel Labelle, who plays the bug-eyed superhuman, has mostly been seen on screen as a stunt actor on shows and movies like The Handmaid’s Tale, X Men: dark phoenixand star trek: Strange New Worlds. Swatto was useless in the comics, which does n’t change in the show as he does nothing to help Payback once they go under attack besides fleeing to his demise of him.
The Newsroom‘s Kristin Booth and marcella‘s Jack Doolan are super siblings Tessa and Tommy, respectively, known as the TNT Twins. To be honest, we have no idea what these two can actually do since they’ve only been on screen posing, cowering, and recovering. They could be TheBoys‘ version of Wanda Maximoff and Vision’s twin boys, Billy and Tommy. But, TNT suggests their powers could be of the explosive variety and less of the hyper-speed and reality-warping variety of Tommy and Billy. They’re little more than placeholders in a Payback group that never ascended to the level of The Seven.
Black Noir is the only member of Payback to make it to The Seven, and with good reason. As The Seven’s resident assassin, we’ve seen Black Noir take out foes without making a sound, survive a supervillain explosion without moving an inch, and be a pretty damn good piano player when he wants to be. He talks a lot less than the Avengers’ assassin Black Widow and has a tree nut allergy that has brought him to his knees. But, Arrow‘s Nathan Mitchell plays him with a wordless stoicism that is cool and bone-chilling.
Think of Gunpowder as a far-right fear-mongering Hawkeye with superhuman precision with bullets rather than arrows. Dexter‘s Sean Patrick Flanery is a smug prick of a superhero who can hit a target no matter where he’s positioned. Unfortunately for him, he can’t withstand laser beams.
Similar to the TNT Twins, we don’t really see Mind-Storm do much on TheBoys as a member of Payback besides run and hide when the bullets and missiles started flying in Nicaragua. His character of him is likely a revamp of telepath Mind-Droid from the comics. Until we see Orphan Black‘s Ryan Blakely do more than protrude his large forehead for a pose, we’ll reserve judgment on how useful Mind-Storm is in TheBoys universe.
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