The Boys and Watchmen are both Action-fiction TV series that examine the idea of superheroes and break down their accountability in different ways. Superheroes, as we are all aware, are people with abilities far superior to that of a normal human being. They tend to have a lot of powers which they use to either save others or destroy them. Even though both the series address the same ideas, one was far more successful than the other. However, both the shows are a must-watch for all superhero fans.
Here’s a breakdown of some of the factors that differ in both the shows and which one is better.
The Boys VS Watchmen: Story
Based on the comic book “The Boys”, the series of the same name is developed by Eric Kripke. The story is set in a universe where all the superheroes are looked up to for the work that they do. They are recognized as heroes by the general public but outside of their heroic personas most of them are rude and arrogant. At the beginning of the series, they create a group called Seven where a drugged member accidentally kills Hughie Campbell’s Girlfriend while a new member who happens to be a heroine joins Seven and is forced to face the truth about her admirers. That’s how the plot is set for The Boys.
Watchmen on the other hand is also based on a comic of the same name created by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons. Here, the story takes place 34 years after the comic book events. The show is set in 2019 in Tulsa, Oklahoma where a group called the Seventh Kavalry wages a war against the minorities and the police force of New York. On the “white night”, Kavalry attacks the homes of 40 Police officers that were working with the TPA (Tulsa Police Department). Out of all the officers that survive, only two end up being a part of the same police force namely Detective Angela Abar and Police Chief Crawford Judd. The story moves forward as we see that the officers decide on wearing masks in order to hide their professions and not reveal their identities to stay safe. It is a treat to see how all the officers stay disguised by using costumes and even though costumed vigilantes are considered saviours by everyone, they haven’t really done anything worth bringing a considerable change in the society or halting the violent war that took place between Russia and the US, for that matter.
Both the shows begin on a different note but conclude on slightly similar notes where superheroes are pitted against villains. Talking about the plots, it is difficult to say which one is better since both of them are centred around different things. However, Watchmen was the most-watched TV series amongst both since it came first.
The Boys VS Watchmen: Superhero Accountability
As mentioned earlier, both of these series approach superhero ideas from different perspectives. Watchmen break down superheroism by showcasing the flawed side of them. They intend to raise a very important question- Are superheroes trustable with all those powers? Rather than glorifying their superiority and people’s blind worship of them, the show critiques them which is an interesting angle to watch.
Whereas, The Boys doesn’t focus on the flaws of superheroes as long as it doesn’t hurt the Voughts. We see A-liner commit a serious crime yet get away without any punishment rather just with a mere apology. The series breaks down superheroes but critiques obsessive celebrity behaviour. This is the main difference between both the series.
However, both don’t emphasise the corrupting power of superheroes. Instead, they preach the idea that superpowers can be used for evil acts and its virtue is in the right hands which isn’t a very morally correct concept to glorify but at the end of the day, the shows have a Superhero VS Supervillian narrative. And what is a supervillain if not a superhero with evil intentions?
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The Boys VS Watchmen: Popularity
Now, this is a debatable topic since both of these series have made a mark considering their differentiating factors. However, if we talk about the comic books that these shows are based on, watchmen Comics was much more popular than The Boys. According to the viewers, they were aware of the existence of Watchmen comics way before the show was adapted so it goes without saying that watchmen were the more popular one. But some fans defend this by saying that The Boys got the superhero concept way better than Watchmen. Also because of the fact that Watchmen premiered before The Boys, the former got some loyal fans. If we were to compare the writing of the two shows, Moore got it better. All of the characters are deeply layered and embody extremely different perspectives from one another, which is a major thing that makes the show a must-watch. Characters of The Boys, on the other hand, were not so neatly layered as they were kind of straight-up swapped. The good guys are total morons and the bad guys are actually good guys.
While some people also argue that Watchmen was the one that paved the path for The Boys since, without the former, the genre would have moved in a completely different direction. Even though the writing of both shows was remarkable, Moore was better at making a more impactful story and giving way to two more similar shows including The Boys.
The Boys VS Watchmen: Character Comparisons
To do an out and out comparison, we can take two of the iconic characters from both the series- Homelander and Doctor Manhattan.
In The Boys, we see how Homelander is extremely rude and corrupt but he is still worshipped by the general public as a “heroic” figure. He is the perfect representation of how people in a slightly higher position will likely turn into corrupt because of blind devotion and respect by the public and the fanbase. And exactly how all of these things are used against us. But as soon as we hear his childhood story, we find out that he is actually not corrupted by the love and worship of fans but rather from the time he was younger. The fact that he was born without a mother and was placed into a position that he did not deserve to be in is something that really makes for sympathy in our hearts. Basically, Homelander happens to be a “superhero” in the public’s eye but is actually a “supervillain”. The entire combination of good and evil throughout the series makes for an interesting watch.
On the other hand, when we take a look at Doctor Manhattan from Watchmen, we see that he was an ordinary person until an accident which literally transformed him into a “worship figure”. He completely detaches himself from the rest of humans and stops caring about any tragedy that occurs- which means his superpowers completely separate him from mankind, making him almost inhumane. He is all about “God-like” abilities rather than a human persona but still ends up getting three successors who are all pitting for manhattan’s powers. One is a narcissist, another one a white supremacist and a virtuous woman. However, there is no point in this since none of them is worthy of Manhattan’s powers because his god-like features will inevitably make his successors into demigods. Another factor of trust arises with the successors because what if they use those powers for their personal gain and benefit? Whose to be responsible, moreover, who decides whether or not they are deserving of Manhattan’s superpowers. They all believed that he could be a good force if he wanted to be, but he chose otherwise.
The differentiation in the layers and the personalities of both the characters are pretty clear even after the show has uncanny similarities. However, the former stands out because not many shows have put forward the concept of superheroes being corrupt and using their powers for immoral and evil acts while also shedding light on the blind fan following and worship by the general public. Both the shows have managed to give a unique angle to the superhero universe by showing the influence of power while also showing that some people don’t deserve superpowers whatsoever. Moore and Gibbons have examined the idea that people having powers should be held accountable instead of simply getting away with it because that then results in corruption, arrogance and tyranny.
Antony Starr portrays the character of Homelander in The Boys and Yahya Abdul Mateen II stars as Doctor Manhattan in Watchmen. Both the actors have delivered phenomenal performances so it is again debatable as to who is better but we shall save that for later.
Where To Watch The Boys And Watchmen Online?
Both the series are available on different streaming platforms- One being a 12 issue mini-series and another one being a 60+ issue series. You can watch The Boys on Amazon Prime Video and Watchmen on Disney+Hotstar.