Having superpowers doesn’t make you a superhero as the Amazon Original series The Boys proves. The show — developed by Eric Kripke (creator of the Supernatural series) and based on comic books by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson — follows a group of elite super-people known as The Seven, who take advantage of their super abilities. For instance, their team-leader Homelander (Antony Starr) uses his x-ray vision to spy on his boss/love interest and eventually uses his laser eyes to kill her. Then there’s Translucent (Alex Hassell) who uses his invisibility to hang out in public bathrooms. Next is Lamplighter, who apparently burned children alive. The fastest ‘supe,’ A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), literally runs over a woman in the street and doesn’t stop to help. And there’s the aquatically adapted supe, The Deep (Chace Crawford), whose questionable relationship with a certain dolphin is the least problematic of his horrendous interactions with members of the opposite sex. All in all, they’re a super-douchey bunch.
Enter “The Boys,” a group of vigilantes determined to bring The Seven to justice because their lives have been irreparably altered by them. The Boys go after the supes and the corporation that controls them, called Vought International.
Superpowers, excessive gore, and sketchy morals make for an interesting series and offered plenty of opportunities to have fun with sound. Formosa Group supervising sound editor Wade Barnett and re-recording mixers Alexandra Fehrman and Rich Weingart were encouraged to push the envelope by showrunner Kripke, who didn’t have to worry about broadcast content restrictions on The Boys like he has to on the CW’s Supernatural. “A lot of the sounds we used would probably have been flagged as too over-the-top for network, like the sounds in the dolphin rescue or when Popclaw [Brittany Allen] bursts that guy’s head open. That is gory. And the subject matter of that scene is not something you’d ever find on network TV,” observes Barnett.
Kripke made sound design a priority early on, reaching out to Barnett to discuss the direction for the superpower sounds even before the first turnover of the first episode. He wanted to develop superpowers that sounded natural and organic and felt real, even though the supes are larger than life. “We did two rounds of sound design reviews, bouncing ideas off Eric. Once we got the first turnover, we did another two rounds. We probably did four rounds of sound design before the episode got to the mix, which is really great,” says Barnett. “Oftentimes, the showrunner will be very busy and won’t hear the sounds before we get to the mix stage. But that wasn’t the case on The Boys. Eric was very involved because the superhero sounds are a big part of the show.”