It looks like Seth Rogen, Evan Goldberg and Neal Moritz are set to tackle the comic adaptation of the Boys for Cinemax sometime over the next few years. I assume they are deep into the scripting stage of the show which gives us a chance to break down our top choices for the 5 leads a villain and a supporting cast member for good measure. I guess they are feeling confident after team Rogen successfully adapted the first season of Preacher for AMC.
The Boys was written by Garth Ennis (Preacher) and drawn by Darick Robertson (Space Beaver) it ran for 72 issues between 2008 - 2012 it started at Wildstorm and switched over to Dynamite comics. The Boys is a very adult, subversive satire of the Super Hero genre. It follows the tough Brit Butcher and his team of nobodies to take down the well protected Super Hero class that is beholden to a corporate system that markets and cashes in on their fame while cleaning up their very deadly mistakes. No Superhero that you have read or heard of between Marvel and DC are spared in this series. They don't have the same names but you know exactly who Ennis is parodying. He is not a fan of the capes and this series is proof of that. It's fun it's dark and it's not at all ready for prime time which makes perfect sense that it will now be on Cinemax.
BUTCHER is the leader of the team, he's tough, he's ruthless and he really hates super heroes. Whoever Rogen and Goldberg chooses has a very difficult job ahead he needs to have a strong presence but he also shouldn't overshadow the other team members too much. So for starters this guy needs to be British or at least can pull off street level Cockney otherwise this doesn't work at all. A Tom Hardy or an Idris Elba would kill this role in a movie but you aren't going to get them for Cinemax so we have to dig a little bit deeper. Ray Stevenson would also crush this role as he brought strong turns to his roles in Rome as Titus Pullo and he's played a Garth Ennis favorite already, the Punisher in Punisher: War Zone, but he may be a bit old to play Butcher now. Now I'm going to start with one that may get some push back but you need to really think about this choice first. Nickolaj Coster-Waldau, Jamie Lannister from Game of Thrones. Yes I know he is already on a show he is a blonde pretty boy, but darken his hair and allow him to grit it out he could be a very good and formidable Butcher. He certainly has the chops and he can easily play a character that does deeply terrible things and still have the audience eating out of his hand which a good Butcher would need. Although a better choice may be another Game of Thrones alum Rory McCann who played the Hound. This guy certainly has the look and the physical build right out of the gate to be Butcher and he is equally as good as a character who does terrible things but the audience loves him anyway. I think in the end he may be the best choice.
WEE HUGHIE is the soul of the Boys and he's Simon Pegg, I mean seriously that's who he was modeled after and who he kind of acts like so it would be important for team Rogen to get him on board as the character. Hughie is innocent and joins the Boys after a tragedy when a Flash like Superhero kills his girlfriend, literally traumatizing him.
I can't fathom it would be that hard for Pegg unless his schedule doesn't work out. If that is the case there are a few others that might be able to play the character behind him. Hughie isn't a fighter so he shouldn't be imposing and he's also the comic relief. Which in my mind leaves someone interesting Daniel Radcliffe. Yes Harry Potter, the guy can actually act and he is surprisingly funny and I think he could bring something interesting to the role. I still think that Simon Pegg will ultimately do it but if he doesn't Radcliffe would work in a pinch.
THE FRENCHMAN is certifiable, he is the Murdock to this A-Team. He also may not actually be French but he is extremely violent and unpredictable. This one is going to be difficult, this is the time for a breakout star probably someone unknown.
Vincent Cassel could do this role in his sleep but he may be a bit old for it although he looked very spry for the recent Jason Bourne film. He's 49 which is skirting it just a bit I think I'm going to go with Jean Dujardin he was the star of the silent film the Artist and brought something truly interesting to the screen. He seems to be able to bring a wide spectrum to the table not to mention this guy was a stand up comic in Paris so he knows how to be funny and I think he could bring something fresh to the role. It may be tough getting him out of Paris but it's worth a shot.
MOTHER'S MILK is one of the first members of the Boys and friend of Butcher's. He's tough but he's got a good heart, a pure soul, hence the name. He is raising his daughter on his own away from an unfit mother. Initially he has reservations about re-joining the Boys but eventually comes back in. He is a pretty big guy very imposing, meticulous, but has a dry sense of humor.
There are a couple people that could pull off this character maybe Boris Kodjoe, he's not a bad actor he could pull off the look but is he imposing enough? I always think of Mother's Milk as a gentle giant. There is also Common who could be interesting or even Mike Colter who is killing it as Luke Cage right now. No, I think someone who can be apart of the absurdity that is the Boys while keeping his smarts and looking damn imposing is Terry Crews. He's one of the best parts of Brooklyn 99 and the Expendables series he can play silly he can play serious and he is almost always a lot of fun. I think he could bring a lot to the role.
THE FEMALE is an interesting one, she is mute but obviously she can be expressive in other ways. She is also incredibly violent and extremely gifted fighter. She has a lot of emotional issues as her violence is triggered by touch due to a past trauma. The only one she seems to have a connection with is the Frenchman and with Butcher's dog Terror.
Rinko Kikuchi has played her part in a few fanboy-centric films like Pacific Rim and 47 Ronin. Bingbing Fan has a unique look and could probably take the role somewhere she also has shown up in a few comic book movies as Blink in X-Men Days of Future Past and she showed up as a doctor in the Chinese version of Iron Man 3. Honestly though the best choice here who can be expressive, playful, dangerous and clearly posesses the fighting ability is Rila Fukushima. She played kick ass warrior Yukio in the Wolverine. She originated the role of Tatsu/Katana on Arrow which she nailed, and frankly it's a shame she didn't get more airtime. She's got the perfect screen presence for the Female and she would be damn good on this bloody violent TV show on Cinemax.
There are a few of the supers we can take a look at that make sense as a protagonist but I'm going solely with HOMELANDER. This guy is the leader of the 7, a group of Super Heroes with a pristine public record but deeply troubled real life. Homelander is a real dick he is a cross between Superman and Captain America and publicly he is seen as morally righteous. Behind the scenes however he's a rapist scumbag who thinks he's untouchable.
So whoever plays this guy has to look like your typical superhero, square jaw nice face, built like a tank. He also has to be able to play a calm but terrifying tyrant, almost as an alter ego. An interesting choice could be Brandon Routh. He is clearly no stranger to superheroes as he's played Superman on the big screen and Ray Palmer's the Atom on Arrow. He's clearly got the physicality and the ability to play to the appearance of a white hat super hero. What makes him interesting is his psycho turn in Chuck and Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Honestly the more I type the more I like this choice as he can truly represent the ascetic that Garth Ennis is going for with the character.
I thought I would end it with another Superhero, but one who has a different view from Homlander, ANNIE JANUARY AKA STARLIGHT. She's innocent and very naive she's been under the impression that the heroes of the 7 along with all of the prime superheroes are righteous and moral and share her conservative religious values. She learns rather quickly that none of that is the case. Annie can fly and project a blinding light. Her character may be the toughest to cast yet as she probably has the most growth of any of the characters in the books. She starts out as a wide-eyed young woman looking to do good and as her morals are constantly challenged, as she is exposed to overt misogyny and sexism she becomes a very strong capable character, albeit a bit more cynical. She also has an on again off again relationship with Hughie.
Now finding the right actress will be difficult, .but I assume it'll be only 10 or 13 episodes a season so it should be doable for some of Hollywood's top actors and actresses. Keeping that in mind I have a couple of women that might fit the bill nicely. Emmy Rossum can play both sweet and innocent and balls out tough given her role on Showtimes Shameless. There is also Alexandra Daddario who has played a super heroine in the Percy Jackson movies and has also worked on the seedy darker side in the first season of True Detective on HBO. In the end I want someone who could be an every woman but has the ability to grow into her superhero role and eventually embrace her darker urges. Ultimately as the story goes she evolves through this and comes out clean on the other side, I'm thinking of Emily VanCamp. She has played hero on the big screen as Sharon Carter in the Captain America movies and she played up her dark manipulative and rather destructive side on the show Revenge for four seasons. It also helps that she actually looks the closest to Annie of any actress on my list.
So these are my picks, if you are reading Seth Rogen, I hope that helps you pick the best cast available. I have to admit I don't envy you this is going to be a much harder production to pull off than Preacher and it is far sillier, raunchier and downright disturbing and that is if you do it right.