Last year, Jensen Ackles officially made the jump from Supernatural to plain ol’ supe when he announced he was joining Amazon Prime’s The Boys as Soldier Boy, a name very hard to say with a straight face. However, while we now have our first look at him in his superhero get-up, we still have many questions about just what brand of crooked Ackles’ caped crusader will assuredly be. While we won’t know exactly what levels of glory and gore to expect from him until he graces our screens next year, we do know a bit more about just want The Boys costume designer wants him to get across to viewers, and a lot more about what role he played in the comics.
Solider Boy’s look was first revealed in an exclusive feature with Entertainment Weekly, where Amazon shared an image of Ackles with the publication as well as a comment from The Boys costume designer Laura Jean Shannon.
“Soldier Boy is the original badass. 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.”
Now you might have noticed some words and phrases in there — phrases such as “bygone era,” “all-American,” and “military soldier” — that when coupled with the shield Soldier Boy is holding invoke the image of a certain star-spangled Avenger, and that’s no coincidence. The Boys creators Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson designed Soldier Boy based on the Marvel hero Captain America, but whereas Captain America serves as an optimistic representation of American values, Soldier Boy is more of a glass-half-empty interpretation.
Much like Captain America, Soldier Boy served the United States during World War II, dodging bullets all while maintaining a can-do attitude that — surprisingly enough — is authentic. However, something far more important about Soldier Boy isn’t quite so genuine: his service record. In the comics, Billy Butcher states he is certain Soldier Boy didn’t actually serve in the war. In time, we come to discover this is kind-of-sort-of true. While perhaps the first Soldier Boy did, “Soldier Boy” is not one person but is rather a legacy title passed down to a new man when the former Soldier Boy dies, which, if we know The Boys, might just be an all too apt commentary on how America sees soldier as dispensable. In the show, it’s likely we’ll see the third incarnation of the character portrayed.
When it comes to what super powers Soldier Boy has, it is once again apt to compare him to Captain America. Much like Cap’ he possesses super human strength, wields a shield, and has great weapons skills. However, one of Captain America’s more crucial skills Soldier Boy does lack is any semblance of bravery. Despite how genuine his “golly gee-whiz” safe-for-work heroic act is, Soldier Boy is a coward who will serve any one with power greater than his own, which primarily includes — you guessed it — Homelander.
You see, Soldier Boy is the leader of the super group Payback, which you might quickly realize is a play on Avengers. While Payback is an older group than the Seven, since the Seven was created Payback’s reputation has grown considerably less impressive, leading Soldier Boy to yearn to abandon Payback and earn a spot on the Seven. To do so, Soldier Boy would do just about anything to please Homelander, including mass murder and having sex with him — an incident that’s part of a larger and very explicit movement the show has said they’ll be tackling next season. Look, I hate to be the bearer of bad news here to any Team Dean fans, but it really doesn’t look like Ackles is here to jump in and save the day.
While the exact details of what Ackles will be doing in season 3 have yet to be revealed, the showrunners stated his character will allow them to “tell a little bit about the history of America and how we ended up in the current fraught position that we’re in.” It looks like we’re in for an even bumpier ride this next time around, folks.