Warning: This article contains spoilers for Seasons 1 and 2 of The Boys. [poilib element="accentDivider"] Amazon’s The Boys Season 3 is set to introduce us to Soldier Boy, played by series newcomer Jensen Ackles (Supernatural), while also, it seems, diving deeper into the origins of Vought International. Through its first two seasons, The Boys has already deviated from the comics in a number of ways, so it’s likely there will be some more surprises in Season 3 and beyond. The third season’s first episode is titled “Payback,” according to a recent tweet from showrunner Eric Kripke, which could apply to almost any of the characters after the events of Season 2’s finale… but probably is also a reference to the World War II-era superhero group that started it all, and which Soldier Boy belonged to. So, who are Soldier Boy and Payback, and how are they a skewed version of the Avengers? Read on, or watch the video below for the full story! [ignvideo width=610 height=374 url=[URL]https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/10/24/the-boys-season-3-soldier-boy-introduces-a-fked-up-take-on-avengers[/URL]]
Who Is Jensen Ackles’ Soldier Boy?In the comics, Soldier Boy is the de facto leader of a superhero group called Payback, the original group of superheroes created by Vought International prior to The Seven. Like many characters in the comic series, Soldier Boy is a name given to multiple iterations of characters. [widget path="global/article/imagegallery" parameters="albumSlug=the-boys-the-history-of-soldier-boy-and-payback&captions=true"] The original Soldier Boy led a superhero group called The Avenging Squad, a precursor to what would eventually become Payback. He and his Compound V-doped supersoldiers fought the Germans in World War II. Unfortunately, Soldier Boy unknowingly led them back to a US Army camp which caused not only a massacre of the Nazi soldiers, but also his fellow Avenging Squad team members in addition to many American soldiers. Soldier Boy, wounded from this attack, was ultimately killed by George Mallory (in the show, Mallory was gender-swapped into the character Grace Mallory, the former Deputy Director of the CIA and the founder of The Boys). The more recent iteration of Soldier Boy was much weaker and more timid than his WWII counterpart. His superhuman strength, speed, and shield-wielding are clearly a parody of Captain America, but he lacks the heroic nature and leadership of Cap, instead being the target of frequent bullying from his Payback team members. Soldier Boy’s only desire is to eventually make it into The Seven one day, and his naiveté leads him to be taken advantage of by many of the modern superheroes. He is even tricked into having sex with Homelander in exchange for a spot in The Seven, something which never comes to be. [caption id="attachment_2426997" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] The WWII-era and modern incarnations of Soldier Boy.[/caption] Vought never disclosed the death of the original Soldier Boy, instead leading the general public to believe that the modern iteration was the same hero from WWII that never aged, in part due to being exposed to Compound V.
Soldier Boy in The Boys TV SeriesWe know that Soldier Boy will be portrayed by Supernatural star Jensen Ackles, teaming up with The Boys showrunner (and Supernatural vet) Eric Kripke once again. According to Amazon, "Ackles will portray Soldier Boy - the original Superhero. After Soldier Boy fought in World War II, he became the first super celebrity, and a mainstay of American culture for decades." Soldier Boy has been hinted at throughout Seasons 1 and 2 of The Boys, most notably with a statue outside Vought International that depicts the supersoldier directing his forces and armed with a gun instead of his signature shield. Stan Edgar (played by Giancarlo Esposito) briefly mentioned Soldier Boy’s existence during WWII when Frederick Vought was dosing soldiers with Compound V. There’s also a poster of Soldier Boy on the wall in the bedroom of the crazed superfan that opens the seventh episode of Season 2. [poilib element="quoteBox" parameters="excerpt=Through%20the%20history%20of%20the%20supes%2C%20we%20can%20tell%20a%20little%20bit%20about%20the%20history%20of%20America%20and%20how%20we%20ended%20up%20in%20the%20current%20fraught%20position%20that%20we're%20in.%20Soldier%20Boy%20gives%20us%20an%20opportunity%20to%20do%20that."] "Through the history of the supes, we can tell a little bit about the history of America and how we ended up in the current fraught position that we're in. Soldier Boy gives us an opportunity to do that," said Kripke. Not much is known about just how Soldier Boy will factor into the overall story of Season 3; but the casting of Ackles leads us to believe he may be depicting the original version of Soldier Boy rather than the weaker character who inherited the mantle, which doesn't exactly seem like the actor's type. [ignvideo width=610 height=374 url=[URL]https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/10/10/the-boys-season-ending-explained[/URL]]
The History of PaybackPayback is a group of superheroes in The Boys comic that is led by Soldier Boy and includes Stormfront, Tek Knight, Eagle the Archer, Crimson Countess, Mind-Droid, and Swatto. It’s described as the “second most popular superteam” and was created by Vought prior to the creation of The Seven. The members of Payback are clearly a parody of Marvel’s Avengers, even using a similar naming scheme to describe their purpose. “Payback, in the world of our show, was The Seven before The Seven. We will be exploring the history of that team and all the members in it,” Kripke explained when discussing plans for the upcoming third season. In the comics, they were tasked by Vought to take down The Boys, but all failed… miserably, most being killed at the hands of Billy Butcher. Garth Ennis, one of the comics’ co-creators, spoke to CBR during the comic’s original release about the early team’s demise. “Ultimately, Payback failed because they don't know what they're doing with the (considerable) resources they command,” he said. Each of Payback’s members also tried to join The Seven at some point throughout the comic series, with none of them ever succeeding. [caption id="attachment_2427001" align="aligncenter" width="1600"] Payback in action.[/caption]
Stormfront and the Other Members of PaybackBesides Soldier Boy, the comics version of Payback has six other members that all parody the Avengers’ members in some way, similar to how The Seven takes after a twisted version of DC’s Justice League.
StormfrontArguably the most powerful member of Payback is Stormfront, a Nazi survivor from WWII and the first successful recipient of Compound V. In the comics, Stormfront is male, but as we saw in Season 2 with the introduction of Aya Cash’s female version of the character, the source material is often changed on this show. Most notably, Stormfront is inducted into The Seven during Season 2, something that never happened in the comics. Stormfront has the power to control lightning, much like Thor (with a sprinkle of Shazam!), and in the show it was revealed that she was married to Vought founder Frederick Vought back in WWII-era Germany. They had a child together, but due to the side-effects of Compound V, Stormfront has outlived her husband and daughter. [ignvideo url="https://www.ign.com/videos/the-boys-season-2-finale-what-stormfront-said-in-german"]
Tek KnightTek Knight is the only superhero in Payback not imbued with superpowers. Instead, he is a wealthy playboy possessing a sophisticated suit of armor that he uses to fight. Clearly drawing inspiration from Iron Man, Tek Knight also takes some cues from Batman as he operates out of a cave and had a sidekick at one point (and a butler). In the comics, Tek Knight had a brain tumor that caused him to become a sex addict, having sex with anyone and anything that he could. The Boys comics had a notorious miniseries titled “Herogasm” which is everything you might expect. In a Reddit AMA thread, Kripke already hinted that “Herogasm” may show up in Season 3 in some form or another. Although Tek Knight hasn’t made an appearance in the TV series, he has been mentioned briefly. In Season 1, Butcher finds out he saved an elderly woman, while Season 2 hints at his having a showdown with Shockwave on the cover of a newspaper.
Eagle the ArcherEagle the Archer is the team’s resident Hawkeye, equipped with a bow and arrow and pinpoint accuracy. He’s actually the first Payback member to make an appearance in Season 2, saving The Deep from his downward spiral and recruiting him into the Church of the Collective. After refusing to cut his mother out of his life, he is excommunicated from the church, with its members told not to associate with him in any capacity. Now that Eagle the Archer has been cut loose, maybe it’s time to team up with the remaining members of Payback to seek… er… payback? [caption id="attachment_2427002" align="aligncenter" width="1327"] Eagle the Archer in The Boys Season 2.[/caption]
Crimson CountessCrimson Countess draws inspiration from Scarlet Witch with her red costume and matching cape. She has the ability to fly and can generate extreme amounts of heat. While she hasn’t made a formal appearance in the show, her name was dropped in Season 1 when Starlight expected Crimson Countess to get the open spot in The Seven over her. In the comics, she is in a relationship with Mind-Droid, a clear parallel to Scarlet Witch and Vision’s relationship.
Mind-DroidMind-Droid is actually not a robot, but a human in a robotic suit. He possesses telepathic abilities allowing him to read the minds of others. He also has a jetpack giving him the ability to fly. No mention has been made of Mind-Droid in the TV series yet.
SwattoSwatto takes his cue from Ant-Man, given that he can manipulate his size and fly around. He doesn’t talk, instead communicating in a series of buzzing noises that only Mind-Droid can understand. He is also unmentioned in the TV series so far. [ignvideo width=610 height=374 url=[URL]https://www.ign.com/videos/2020/09/02/the-boys-how-much-does-homelander-know-about-homelander[/URL]]
How Will They Fit into Season 3?The Boys Season 3 is set to begin filming in 2021 and will see the titular group officially sanctioned by the CIA while they continue to fight against the machinations of Vought. With The Seven falling apart at the seams, and Homelander on a mission for revenge, it will be interesting to see how Kripke integrates Soldier Boy and Payback into the story. Will it be a series of flashbacks to give some context to how Vought came to be? The biggest question is how many of Payback’s original members are still alive. Given that there’s a statue memorializing Soldier Boy outside Vought International, it’s possible that he is no longer living (at least in his supe iteration). Could Ackles be given the mantle as a new-and-improved version of Soldier Boy, maybe one that is brought in to keep Homelander in check? Stormfront was critically wounded at the end of Season 2, but her status in Season 3 is unknown. And Eagle the Archer was alive and well last we heard. Since the comics depict Payback attempting to take down The Boys, it’s possible we’ll see this story arc play out in some fashion. This could give The Boys a bit of a distraction while the fractured Seven reassemble into a full team once more. (Or who knows, maybe Soldier Boy will be joining The Seven, replacing Stormfront!) For more on The Boys, check out how Victoria Neuman’s mindblowing reveal could shake things up in Season 3 and why The Boys’ showrunner thinks the MCU is “dangerous” in the way it portrays superheroes. [poilib element="accentDivider"] Matthew Adler is a Features, News, Previews, and Reviews writer for IGN. You can follow him on Twitter @MatthewAdler and watch him stream on Twitch.