Amazon Studios Patrick Schwarzenegger lights up as Golden Boy in 'Gen V'
The powers that be at Amazon recognize the irony of their situation: They're taking one of their top series, The Boys, which brutally pokes fun at the superhero entertainment complex, and turning it into its own superhero entertainment complex. "I think it tickles us to no end," Vernon Sanders, head of television at Amazon and MGM Studios, remarks of life now imitating art.
The wildly popular R-rated satire starring Karl Urban, Erin Moriarty, Antony Starr, and Jack Quaid has already spawned the animated anthology offshoot series, Diabolical, and now is set to unleash a proper live-action spinoff in the form of the college-set Gen V, hitting Prime Video on Sept. 29. What started as a mere comic-book adaptation has morphed into a full-blown franchise. "I think part of the thing that audiences love is that they're taking the piss out of all of the exhaustive superhero explorations that we've seen and turning it all on its head," Sanders continues. "But I actually think they've done it so well that they have earned the right to expand and explore. So, the same irreverence that The Boys has is in Gen V. And at the same time that we are definitely growing the universe, we're also unafraid to make fun of ourselves in doing it."
The Boys, based on the graphic comics from writer Garth Ennis and artist Darick Robertson, introduced a world revolving around superheroes who are more branded products than people. Vought International is the corporate overlord behind the entire shebang: The executives financially back the Seven, the premier squad of heroes led by the Superman-esque Homelander (Starr), in addition to running their public personas (e.g. movie franchises, endorsements, theme park rides, social media presence, etc.). The titular "boys" of The Boys are a covert group dedicated to keeping these supes, who often act like out-of-control celebrities, in check.
By the season 3 premiere in 2022, The Boys was Amazon's top show, and the most popular superhero series, according to Nielsen ratings. But the idea of a spinoff began even before the drama's surprise Emmy nomination for season 2. Sanders recalls showrunner Eric Kripke approaching the executive team shortly after the 2019 season 1 premiere with "his vision for this whole universe that was beyond just The Boys. And he has really stayed true to that vision." Gen V, a series centered on the students of Godolkin University, the Vought-owned-and-operated college dedicated to molding the minds of young supes, was apparently the first idea Kripke's team wanted to get up and running. (Craig Rosenberg, a director and writer on The Boys, developed Gen V before passing showrunner duties to Michele Fazekas and Tara Butters.) The goal was to make an authentic college drama, but because these young adults all have immense powers, it makes dorm life much more volatile.
"In The Boys, we're seeing a bunch of superheroes where they wound up," says Asa Germann, who plays Sam, one of the young supes of Gen V. "But in this show, we aren't only following the supes in terms of their journey about becoming supes. We're following their journey in terms of how they're becoming people and how they're growing up and evolving and learning and creating relationships and destroying relationships — and really, at a core, figuring out what it means to be a hero. The thing that I love so much about our show is that we don't actually really answer that question."
But if you're looking for answers, sneak a peek at our cheat sheet. EW can respond to your burning questions surrounding the highly anticipated spinoff: How it blends with the Boys universe, all about the new class of supes, and what plans are in store for Godolkin's fall semester. Make sure to study up on your A to Gen V.
The Godolkin staff never wastes an opportunity to remind their students — but especially their donors — of the caliber of heroes that once roamed the corridors of the university. Strongwoman Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) and speedster A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), staples of the Seven, are two of the most famous graduates. Statues of supes litter the campus grounds as symbolic notes to freshmen that they too can follow in their footsteps… assuming they play their cards right. Usher reprises his A-Train role from The Boys on Gen V, while EW can exclusively confirm that Chace Crawford's the Deep will cross over.
B: Blood (and lots of it!)
Amazon Studios Jaz Sinclair as Marie Moreau, who has the ability to manipulate and weaponize blood
The Boys actor Jack Quaid is typically the one coated in fake blood, whether it's from a drug-fueled speedster exploding through his girlfriend, a rectal pipe bomb, or a boat crashing through the bowels of a whale. That's why Lizze Broadway, who plays size-shrinking supe Emma Meyer on Gen V, went to him for advice when it came time for her to get drenched. "I was like, 'How do you get the blood off?' He's like, 'Shaving cream and Dawn soap will be your best friend,'" she recalls. And it was good advice: "Shaving cream is the only thing that gets it off!"
Emma's roommate Marie Moreau (Jaz Sinclair), the primary character of Gen V, knows all about blood. That's her power: She can manipulate and weaponize the body fluid, turning the gooey innards into whips, blades, and the like. That's why she always keeps a pocket knife on her for easy access. "She has moments where she has to decide, do I want to look like a hero or do I want to be a hero?" Sinclair says of her character, who uncovers a deep-seated mystery at Godolkin that will test her resolve. "And she's chosen following the rules in moments that have gotten her into some trouble with her friends, but I think that ultimately she's choosing to be a real hero and to do the right thing, even if it is at her own expense — even though she's wanted more than anything forever to be in the Seven."
C: Compound V
Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) always said that his company, Vought International, isn't in the superhero business. They're in the pharmaceutical business. For years, the mega-corporation sold their supes to the public as protectors clandestinely chosen by God to use their abnormal powers to safeguard humanity from evil. The true story? Vought paid off parents to inject their infants with a serum called Compound V, which is the real source of the various powers. The animated anthology show Diabolical featured an episode where a bunch of orphaned teens learned this truth and sought revenge. Now, Gen V will chronicle the first generation of young supes to live with the knowledge that they're all a bunch of science experiments and not the living gods they once believed themselves to be.
D: David Caruso
Amazon Studios Emma Meyer (Lizze Broadway) and her YouTube costar David Caruso
No, the star of CSI: Miami doesn't make an appearance on Gen V. We're talking about the gerbil. Fans of The Boys already saw one crazed rodent, a Compound V-injected hamster named Jamie, in season 3. Now they're getting David Caruso, Emma's pet gerbil. Using the name "Little Cricket," Emma shrinks down to size as the star of her own YouTube videos titled "Fun Size With Little Cricket," which costars David.
There are two tracks a supe can take when they arrive at Godolkin. They can go the route of the Lamplighter School of Crime Fighting, which, let's be honest, everyone dreams of attending. It's the school that churns out the world's newest crop of heroes. (Shawn Ashmore portrayed the fire-wielding former Seven member Lamplighter on The Boys.) But, if you're not powerful enough or your abilities don't quite have that commercial appeal, you might want to try the Crimson Countess School of Performing Arts, where you can take classes like "Movement: Your Life Is Your Stage" or "The History of Acting: From Stanislavski to Bourke." (Laurie Holden appeared on The Boys as the plasma-blasting Crimson Countess.) Regardless of school, every supe needs the basics, which means course work like "Understanding Branding."
Frederick Vought and Patrick Godolkin founded Godolkin University in 1965. Their goal was to prepare the best and brightest young heroes to take their place as America's chief defenders. In the timeline of Gen V, which takes place after the events of The Boys season 3, Godolkin dean Indira Shetty (Shelley Conn) is running the show. Although she has no powers herself, the dean has her eye on incoming freshman Marie. Conn describes Godolkin as "a little bit like a superhuman zoo because you have a constraint of this academic system versus these soft souls trying to find themselves."
Meanwhile, Professor Rich "Brink" Brinkerhoff (Clancy Brown) heads the School of Crime Fighting. He's known for honing the skills of Queen Maeve, A-Train, and the Deep — and he's taken Golden Boy (Patrick Schwarzenegger) as his new protege. And actor P.J. Byrne returns to the Boys universe as Adam Bourke, the in-house Vought filmmaker who shot Dawn of the 7 and is now a guest professor at Godolkin.
G: Golden Boy
Amazon Studios Golden Boy (Patrick Schwarzenegger) and his posse: Andre Anderson (Chance Perdomo), Cate Dunlap (Maddie Phillips), and Jordan Li (Derek Luh)
Golden Boy, a.k.a. Luke Riordan, is… well, the golden boy of Godolkin. Think of him like the Human Torch from Marvel comics, in that he can set his whole body ablaze. "When we first meet Luke, Golden Boy, he is top of the rankings," Schwarzenegger says of his character's position at the top of his class. "He is number one. He is the strongest. He's the best. He's the most capable to be part of the Seven. And that's when we find out that Brink has actually been grooming him and has finally decided that he's ready for the Seven, that he made it."
Part of being number one is the popularity that comes along with it. He's best friends with Andre Anderson (Chance Perdomo) and Jordan Li (played by both London Thor and Derek Luh) — and dates Cate Dunlap (Maddie Phillips), a Godolkin junior who always wears gloves because she can telepathically push people to do whatever she wants through touch. "She is very fun-loving, she likes to have a good time, she's kind of wild, and she's very, very observant, which has been really fun to play," Phillips says of her character. "She sees everything, and there's a lot of mystery that goes with that. She's got a really big heart, and she doesn't always take the route that a lot of the other characters wanna take, but that doesn't mean that her intentions aren't also good."
H: Heroes 101
Those who scrutinize the backgrounds of every frame will be rewarded. Just like The Boys, Gen V is filled with props and set decorations that point to the larger world. The crew created book covers for Professor Brink's written works, including The Hero Inside All of Us, How to Make Yourself a Hero, Villain or Hero: A Matter of Perspective, Histrionic-Free Heroics, Aerodynamics of Human Flight, and Superphysics: Make the Impossible, Possible — all of which should be required reading of any prospective student looking to get on his good side.
Aside from all the superpowers, Luh believes the writing for the spinoff is "on the pulse of what it's like to be a college student in today's age" — a world in which all the youngins are trying to become influencers or go viral online. Just look at Broadway's Emma and her mission to make "Fun Size With Little Cricket" a thing. "The play on Gen V is obviously Gen Z. We are the Gen Z in this world," Luh says. "They've done such a good job of showing how absolutely insane it is to be a college student at any time, but especially now, because everything is recorded. Everything can go on social media. So, I think it's even more crazy to do something crazy now than it was 10 years ago."
J: Jordan Li
Amazon Studios London Thor as one-half of Jordan Lie in 'Gen V'
Unlike some of the other supes at Godolkin, there are different sides to Jordan Li, the number two top-ranked student and a TA of Professor Brink at the School of Crime Fighting. Two actors portray Jordan, who uses they/them pronouns and has the ability to shift between male and female forms. As a male, played by Derek Luh, Jordan is dense and indestructible, able to withstand gunfire without leaving a mark. As a female, played by London Thor, they are more agile, with the added bonus of being able to fire energy blasts from their hands.
"It's been really easy sharing a character with Derek," Thor says. "When we first met, it was kind of an immediate click — we both had similar thoughts. We both were open to talking about the character and open to each other's opinions. We built this character from the ground up. Luckily, I don't know how, maybe just the fact that we've been stranded in Toronto [filming] for four months together, we managed to take on each other's personalities sometimes. Our characteristics are pretty similar. It's been great having a partner like that."
K: Knight, Tek
Amazon Studios Derek Wilson arrives as Tek Knight on 'Gen V'
Another familiar character from Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's The Boys comic book series is making a debut in live action. EW can reveal that Future Man actor Derek Wilson, who previously starred on another Ennis adaptation (AMC's Preacher), will arrive in Gen V as Tek Knight. In the comics, Tek Knight was a member of the superhero team Payback and, like Marvel's Iron Man, used a suit of armor to power him up. The TV version of The Boys already made mention of the character back in season 1 during a support-group meeting for average humans who have been the collateral damage of heroes.
If Godolkin students have any hopes of making the Seven, or any superhero team for that matter, then grades aren't essential. It's all about the rankings. The university maintains a list of all its supes based on skills and social media presence. "The ranking system factors in all of these qualifications for all of the students and chooses a top 10," Sinclair explains. "And essentially, the top 10 students are the ones that are positioned to represent a city or hopefully be in the Seven." Golden Boy's number-one spot is so coveted because it practically guarantees him entry to a top superhero team upon graduation. When the series begins, he's closely trailed in the rankings by Jordan at number 2 and Andre at number 3. "They say it's a fair system. But like a lot of things in Vought, it's absolutely not," Sinclair says, "because then you get kinda famous, and all of a sudden, you're number one."
M: Magnetic attraction
Amazon Studios Andre Anderson (Chance Perdomo) and his dad Polarity (Sean Patrick Thomas)
The world of The Boys has its own master of magnetism, a la Magneto or Polaris from X-Men. Perdomo's Andre, a junior at Godolkin and the best friend of Golden Boy, has the ability to manipulate metal. His father is the supe Polarity (Sean Patrick Thomas), who has a similar power. "Polarity is this big-time superhero who didn't quite make it to the Seven, but he's up there and his name holds prestige, both in entertainment and in the practical superhero aspect," Perdomo says. "And Andre, he doesn't want anything to do with that… Well, he does, but he doesn't. He's in his father's shadow, but he wants to step out of it. He doesn't want to use his name, but he kind of has to use his name. And he's quite a slacker. He's a charmer, he's a slacker, and he doesn't want any responsibility whatsoever."
His dad, however, has high hopes for his offspring. "I'm on the Board of Trustees of Godolkin University, and my son is one of the leading students at Godolkin University," Thomas says. "I'm trying to help elevate his stature and get his franchise up to the point where he can maybe join the Seven."
Amazon Studios Claudia Doumit returns as Congresswoman Victoria Neuman in 'Gen V'
Congresswoman Victoria Neuman can't stop, won't stop. Actress Claudia Doumit returns to her Boys role of the ambitious politician who's hiding her own supe nature. (She can telekinetically make people's heads explode.) At the end of season 3, after it was revealed she was Stan Edgar's adopted daughter, Ms. Neuman ousted Mr. Edgar from Vought and turned her sights to the White House. She appears on Gen V making a pitstop at the Godolkin campus while on the campaign trail as the running mate of presidential candidate Robert Singer (Jim Beaver). She will also have a role to play in season 4 of The Boys. "It was great to shoot Gen V because they tee up a lot of stuff that's going to happen in season 4 for The Boys," Doumit says.
"The thing we asked for, and the thing they delivered, was to create a show that lives on its own — that has its own engines — and then we can have fun with the ways in which the worlds collide," Sanders adds. "So, over the course of the season, there are definitely some crossovers, and Gen V pays off some of the direction of where we're going in season 4 of The Boys in great ways. I can't wait for the fans to dive in."
O: Oh s---!
Amazon Studios Chance Perdomo's Andre Anderson gets into a sticky situation
Just a reminder: Gen V is an extension of The Boys when all is said and done, so expect a lot of that familiar mayhem not suitable for Marvel or DC. (You don't see Captain America throwing himself into the sweaty pits of Herogasm.) "Every time you get a script, you go, 'I can't be shocked anymore,'" says Sanders. "And then you start reading it, you're like, 'Can we do this? Should we do this?' There are quite a few moments in the first episode that I think shocked us in probably all the right and wrong ways. The team wants to really push the envelope in ways that are always earned, but definitely pushing the envelope for us as a [streaming] service."
The writers behind The Boys have a tendency to take something as G-rated as lovable cartoon animals and turn them into something twisted. (See season 3, episode 7.) Gen V joins in the fun with puppets. Though his character details remain under wraps, actor Jason Ritter pops up in what looks to be the Sesame Street of The Boys world, called Avenue V. There's even a muppet version of the Deep. Of course, in this context, it's less sing-a-longs and more muppet-on-muppet disemboweling.
Q: Quotes to live by
"Being a real hero is not about glory. It's about sacrifice." —Professor Brink
"Stay humble, support your team, and be the best hero you can be." —A-Train
"Word, broseph." —The Deep
R: Red River Institute
First introduced in an episode of Diabolical and later revisited in season 3 of the mothership show, the Red River Institute is a group home for orphaned supes — but especially for those with dangerous, hard-to-control powers. Neuman went through the Red River system, and now we meet Marie as another member. Kripke previously told EW that the Red River Institute "becomes an interestingly bigger and bigger part of The Boys universe" — and eagle-eyed viewers will have seen Marie's name when Hughie was scrolling through Red River profiles in search of background on Neuman in season 3.
S: Season 2...?
Amazon Studios Jaz Sinclair's Marie Moreau arrives at Godolkin University
Is Gen V just meant to be a one-and-done limited series, or are there bigger plans in the works? According to Sanders, it's the latter, and the spinoff will continue to work in conjunction with the mothership series. A writers' room reportedly opened in January for Gen V season 2, with Fazekas as sole showrunner. "We think that if fans respond the way we've responded to Gen V we will have many more seasons of the show," says Sanders. "In the master plan between Eric and Michele and Tara, I think these shows will continue to talk to each other in fun ways."
T: Turbo Rush
Who can forget A-Train's trainwreck commercial for Turbo Rush energy drink on The Boys (which poked fun at that real-life Kendall Jenner Pepsi ad)? The branded beverage makes a return in Gen V, with the campus media team filming a promo with Andre. It's just another example of Vought monetizing their heroes, just like Voughtland, Vought-a-Burger, and Planet Vought. In real life, Amazon actually made some Vought merch for diehard fans to purchase, like the Seven-themed dildos of season 3. "I don't want to steal marketing's thunder, but there's a whole slew of things, in-world fun, that we're about to roll out for everyone," Sanders teases. So, what do the Gen V teens think of Turbo Rush? "I wouldn't pour this on my d--- if it cured cancer," Andre says.
U: Under wraps
Still considered top secret by the creators of Gen V is something called the Woods. Inside the show, it's said to be Godolkin's darkest secret. Asa Germann's Sam, who we still don't know much about, is somehow involved and actively trying to break free. Outside of it, the creators aren't revealing much just yet. But we do know that the Woods is part of the main mystery that sidetracks Marie on her mission to graduate top of her class. "I mean, the Woods is terrifying!" Sinclair says. "It's so creepy in there. I don't even like hanging out on that set. Even the greens that they pick, they're really oppressive colors. It looks dirty. It looks like it's been there for a really long time. They have creepy little smiley animals on the walls. It's awful."
Vought is like that dirt-stained gum you can't get off your shoe. Once you've stepped in it, it sticks. The corporation's presence in Gen V is hard to shake. In addition to Dawn of the 7 filmmaker Bourke, The Boys star Colby Minifie returns as Ashley Barrett. The acting CEO of Vought still tends to literally pull her hair out when dealing with any kind of supe PR crisis. And Godolkin is run by Vought, so she's likely going to have a lot of those on Gen V. Somebody get her more wigs!
In our own world, which also happens to be dominated by pop culture superhero fare, between all the Marvel Disney+ series and DC Studios rebranding its cinematic universe, The Boys stood out at a time "when people were really hungry for a new narrative," Sanders believes. "There's just been a lot of superhero storytelling available to audiences right now." If there is such a thing as "superhero fatigue," Sanders thinks "it's because the bar is higher and higher, just given the amount of stuff there is out there."
Even as Amazon is now tripling its own superhero output, the exec notes, "To cut through, you have to have something that really stands out and is doing something that feels fresh." It can be hard to remain new and relevant when The Boys has already orchestrated a giant superhero orgy sequence and a battle with killer dildos. But, now with Gen V, that freshness comes from injecting a heavy dose of college-kid angst into this debaucherous world. "Over the course of the series," Sanders says, "I think who these characters think they want to be and who they ultimately become is where the juice is."
All actor quotes in this story are from interviews conducted prior to the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike.