Which Edgy Superhero Show Is Better?

Full of blood ‘n’ guts, profanity, action, and dark humor, Amazon’s The Boys and HBO Max’s Peacemaker share a lot of similarities. The Boys became incredibly popular in 2019 because the series represented a departure from the family-friendly presentation of the superhero genre in the MCU, and to some extent even the DCEU. Peacemaker promised more of the same gritty take on capes and cowls, but with the kind of frolicking humor that made James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad (on which the spin-off is based) so much fun.

RELATED: 10 Ways James Gunn Improved The DCEU

Both series feature critiques on the superhero genre, both include cultural commentary, both have a diverse cast of colorful characters, and both definitely don’t pull any punches when it comes to in-your-face ultra-violence and action. But which of these edgy superhero shows is better?


5 Ways Peacemaker Is Better Than The Boys

Peacemaker Has More Outrageous Humor And Better Physical Comedy

John Cena in Peacemaker with Eagle

Murder jokes? Check. Superhero jokes? Check. Embarrassing nudity? Check and check. Peacemaker has an “anything goes” policy when it comes to its sense of humor and its physical comedy, both of which are maxed out even during the tensest or most emotional scenes.

For a light-hearted superhero show, the unique humor keeps it from becoming too saccharine and helps highlight the concept that an edgy approach doesn’t always have to mean gritty and dark. Peacemaker recognizes that an alternative superhero series doesn’t have to take itself so seriously, and can be bright and colorful while still being wildly subversive.

Peacemaker Has Better Heroes

Peacemaker Cast New Task Force X Team Members

With the foul-mouth of Butcher, and the casual misogyny of Homelander, Peacemaker is no saint, but he’s not mean-hearted; His willingness to change makes him a likable –and fallible– hero underdog that fans can root for. His team is composed of similar misfit characters who exhibit bravery, heroism, and unwavering support for one another.

Harcourt is every bit as lethal and cool under pressure as Peacemaker, and Adebayo underestimates her own abilities around hardened professionals but nevertheless comes through in the clutch, and even Vigilante, a character that showcases what can happen when a superhero is radicalized by their calling, proves he has a heart under his sociopathic edifice.

Peacemaker Has Better Music

Peacemaker Awesome Mix Music Soundtrack

There’s no question that James Gunn is the master of the needle drop. His movies have a soundtrack finely crafted to buoy the action and carry the emotional beats to epic and meaningful crescendos. Peacemaker is no exception, and its soundtrack is exceptional. Full of glam rock and hair metal, it’s at once completely irreverent and totally on-brand.

Just watching Chris Smith unapologetically sing along to metal songs in his tighty-whities is both hilarious and heartfelt, especially given how little the character connects emotionally with anyone around him (no offense, Eagly). From the very opening credits, which include Wig Wam’s boisterous chorus from “Do You Wanna Taste It” and synchronized dancing, Peacemaker lets fans know how much music will be a big part of its charm.

Peacemaker Has Better Family And Friendships

Peacemaker Adebayo Partners

At its core, Peacemaker is perhaps most about family, chosen or otherwise. The bonds held between Peacemaker and the rest of the team growing convincingly over time, to the point where fans may not notice the subtle character development and wonder why they’re suddenly getting very emotional over Economos’s monologue about dying his beard.

RELATED: 7 James Gunn Trademarks In Peacemaker

The team starts out keeping a vigilant eye on Peacemaker, but soon gets won over by his hapless optimism and even crude sense of humor. The chemistry between the cast that worked so well in Gunn’s other movies about found family (Guardians of the Galaxy, The Suicide Squad) is on full display here. One of the strongest bonds is between a square-jawed libertarian white man and a plus-sized queer Black woman, and not once does it come across as pandering or forced, just authentic and genuine.

Peacemaker Has Better Gore

Peacemaker Adebayo Cow Guts Metahuman

People’s bodies get blown apart in excruciating detail in peacemaker, so fans of seeing supes exact vengeance soaked in the blood ‘n’ guts of their enemies will not be disappointed. Limbs fly, guts rain, and eagles peck out people’s eye sockets, all in the name of justice!

At one point in the finale, there’s so much blood raining down on one of our heroes that the word “bloodbath” seems quaint by comparison. The dark side of superhero work is highlighted in the sheer amount of carnage and gore that comes with the job.

5 Ways The Boys Is Better Than Peacemaker

The Boys Has Better Superhero Meta-Humor

Homelander looking proudly at his son Ryan in The Boys

What has made The Boys so remarkable in the age of superhero movies and television shows dominating media has been its sometimes profound commentary on the genre as a whole. It arrived right at the right time when fans began to examine the machinations entailed in superheroes actually existing in the real world.

With groups like The Seven, so clearly patterned after The Justice League, the series explores the ramifications of fame, fortune, and social media changing how superheroes view their place in society. Not to mention, the effort put into making fictional superhero news channel VNN, news hour Seven on 7, and other Vought products seem real only adds to the authenticity of the world (and its humor).

The Boys Has A Better Plot

The Boys Season 2 Finale Homelander Faces Billy Butcher

The Boys breezes by faster than a speeding bullet by keeping a careful rein on its plot, which never strays far from Butcher, Hughie, and the rest of The Boys trying to take down Vought and its egomaniacal supes. Every piece of character development and sub-plot connects back to the greater objective, and that helps it not go too off the rails.

RELATED: 8 Plot Twists In The Boys That Everyone Saw Coming

When coloring outside the lines of established genre parameters, it’s important not to mess with the basics. Having a tight storyline and inherent logic In World allows for the freedom to be ridiculous when it can have the most impact (like Homelander making out with himself).

The Boys Has Better Villains

Both Chris Smith aka Peacemaker and Homelander were raised from birth to be stone-cold killers while harboring “neo-fascist libertarian” beliefs, and while both were supposed to be heroes, Peacemaker ended up being something of an anti-hero, and Homelander ended up being one of the greatest villains the genre has ever seen.

Like a perverse, psychotic Superman, Homelander uses his fame and abilities to control and manipulate, all the while maintaining an unimpeachable image of sterling purity. It’s exactly this paradox that makes him so diabolical and dangerous, considering he’s one of the most powerful superheroes on earth. Exploring the scenario of what would happen if Superman chose to burn the whole world down makes for a villain with complexity and depth.

The Boys Is A Better Cultural Critique

No one would blame The Boys of being subtle, so it comes as no surprise that its cultural critique is right on the pulse, about politics, religion, and pop culture. It firmly draws a line in the sand about racism, bigotry, prejudice, ethnocentrism, and nationalism in a way that encourages dialogue and a shift in perspective, while also touching on the psychological effects of too much screen time (focused on superheroes, at least ).

make no mistake, The Boys isn’t preachy, but provocative, especially as it tackles lesser examined issues like corporatism and classism, all through the superhero lens (Vought+ is a streaming surface referenced in the series that shows blockbusters sensationalizing the work of real supes). Every episode acts as a chaotic cautionary tale to be analyzed and pondered.

The Boys Has Better Action And Special Effects

Billy Butcher in The Boys Season 2

There’s no doubt about it, The Boys Contains action and special effects on par with any superhero cinematic universe, especially in its second season. When Homelander flies and wields his laser vision, or Stormfront alters the weather, their powers feel fully realized enough to do the sort of damage usually reserved for Batman or Superman on the big screen.

Having a certain caliber of action helps its commentary because it seems to perfectly integrate into the most impressive superhero fictional worlds, and if everything is interconnected in one way or the other, then it helps The Boys’ reason d’etre and allows it to be taken more seriously.

NEXT: 7 Ways The Finale Sets Up Peacemaker Season 2

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