The Boys Season 3 First Reviews: Superhero Satire's Return is 'Bigger' and 'Bloodier,' Critics Say

Jaw-dropping gore, outlandish humor, and scathing political satire abound in the newest installment of the celebrated comic book series.

by | June 2, 2022 | Comments

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The Boys is back after nearly two years away. The wait is finally over as Eric Kripke’s adaptation of Garth Ennis’ bonkers, brooding, bloody-as-hell superhero satire returns for season 3, dropping the first three episodes on Friday, June 3 on Amazon Prime Video.

If the first two seasons can tell us anything, it’s that fans should be ready for more super-powered insanity. Homelander (Antony Starr) and the rest of The Seven Starlight (Erin Moriarty), Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott), A-Train (Jessie T. Usher), and The Deep (Chace Crawford) will once again face off against Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) and his Supe-killing friends Hughie Campbell (Jack Quaid), Mother’s Milk (Laz Alonso), Frenchie (Tomer Capon), and Kumiko (Karen Fukuhara).

Can Butcher’s crew take down Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit), and the rest of Vought Industries once and for all? And how will the sadistic Captain America–like Soldier Boy (played by series newcomer Jensen Ackles) play into things? The anticipation going into season 3 is quite high. Do the new episodes deliver the goods?

Here’s what critics are saying about The Boys season 3:

How crazy do the special effects get?

(Photo by Prime Video)

Season 3 ups the amount of splatter, the amount of pretty graphic sex, and the combination. A lot. – David Poland, Hot Button

Fans of the show already know it is hard, hard stuff, replete with graphic nudity, swearing, gleeful sadism and heaping helpings of exposed guts and brains. This is the sort of thing where somebody’s head will get partially blown open, and their killer lingers over them while they gurgle their last breaths, with a clear view of all things drippy and oozy inside what’s left of their skull. – Christopher Lloyd, The Film Yap

Meanwhile, Kripke & Co. continue to up the ante, if “ante” means “barrels and barrels of fake blood.” Season 2’s snake-penis reappears in later episodes, though it’s upstaged in spectacular, horrifying fashion during the premiere’s opening scene. Sound effects feature an extra squish. Explosions blast limbs an extra mile (or 10). Beatings are so regular they’re actually used as reference points. “The Boys” has never been an action series for the squeamish, but Season 3’s savagery both raises the bar and begs the question how much higher it can (and should) go. – Ben Travers, IndieWire

What about the writing and directing?

That’s a lot of story threads and characters to keep straight, but creator/head writer Eric Kripke and his colleagues keep it all meshed together in a tight, swift-moving show. The search for Soldier Boy, and revelations about Neuman’s upbringing as the ultimate super-powered Manchurian Candidate, provide much of the fuel for this season’s storytelling.
Christopher Lloyd, The Film Yap

Kripke and his writing team have a strong grasp of TV storytelling fundamentals, stocking each episode with a proper amount of twists and turns while never sacrificing characterization. Perhaps it’s not insignificant that Kripke got his start in network television (creating The CW’s fandom superhit Supernatural) where every minute is precious and every moment must build into another bigger moment, lest a viewer grow bored enough during commercials to change the channel. In that respect, The Boys remains the rare streaming TV property that understands how to exploit both the advantages of streaming (accessibility, memeification) and traditional serialized storytelling (escalation, rhythm, and *ahem* consistent episode lengths). – Alec Bojalad, Den of Geek

“The Boys” season three keeps the forward momentum going without letting its themes or emotional baggage bog it down or lose sight of the overarching narrative. The effortless way showrunner Eric Kripke juggles so many storylines in an increasingly complex world continues to impress. Even more so as the roster of characters grows, and everyone comes with well-defined arcs, personalities, and motivations. – Meagan Navarro, Bloody-Disgusting

Ultimately, “The Boys” season 3 is a wild ride that moves away from its comic book origins drastically, but only pushes the larger plot forward incrementally. – Karama Horne, The Wrap

How are the performances of the cast?

The Boys s3

(Photo by Jasper Savage/Amazon Studios)

Characters like Annie January a.k.a. Starlight (Erin Moriarty), Kimiko (Karen Fukuhara), and Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) build upon the cheeky “Girls Get It Done” Vought campaign from last season to uh…really get shit done. First introduced as the audience’s eyes and ears inside Vought in season 1, Annie has beautifully transformed into their conscience as well and it’s her who grapples with the most provocative moral questions raised in season 3. – Alec Bojalad, Den of Geek

The Boys is, as per usual, endlessly entertaining. Its cast deserves much of the credit for that, and this year sees standout performances from Karl Urban, Antony Starr, Dominique McElligott, and Karen Fukuhara. – Josh Wilding,

Homelander has one of the best arcs this season, and some of the best moments. He has his ups and his downs and Antony Starr steals many scenes. Starr is so very good at being a horrible person. He may come off as powerful and confident, but under the surface Homelander has some serious issues, which get addressed often in this season. You almost — ALMOST — feel bad for him. – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

There’s some nice character work, too, with Tomer Capone and Karen Fukuhara’s Frenchie and Kimiko being particular highlights and their relationship giving the show some real heart. Urban’s Butcher is still bloodthirsty, yet he’s still reeling from the death of his wife and has been slightly subdued following the events of season 2. – Fay Watson, Total Film

What about Jensen Ackles as Soldier Boy?

Jensen Ackles as Soldier Boy

(Photo by Prime Video)

When we do see him, Ackles is brilliant, chewing the scenery as a lewd Winter Soldier version of Captain America. – Karama Horne, The Wrap

The actor is nothing short of extraordinary as Soldier Boy, a twisted Captain America-type Supe who is pretty much what you’d expect to see from a crotchety World War II veteran pulled into the present day. Ackles delivers some pretty heinous lines at times, though he does so in a way that’s believable and makes this character legitimately feel like he’s a relic from another age and a true man out of time. – Josh Wilding,

The character who arguably makes the biggest impact this season, however, is the debuting Soldier Boy. Honestly, the less said about this guy the better, but Supernatural alum Jensen Ackles is outstanding as the highly inappropriate, yet disarmingly complex Captain America take-off. – David Poland, Hot Button

Reunited with Supernatural creator and The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke, Ackles is clearly having the time of his life playing one of the nastiest, stuck-in-time characters in a series that has its fair share of them already. With a voice that hits like a boot on gravel, Ackles doesn’t really make his premiere until about midway through the season but becomes such a larger-than-life presence that imagining anyone else in the role begins to feel impossible. – Spencer Perry,

What are the overall themes this season?

(Photo by Prime Video)

An expansive exploration of power and what it means to have it. That theme amplifies quite a few character arcs, but Annie and Kimiko’s journeys prove to be the Season 3 standouts. – Perri Nemiroff, Perri Nemiroff

“The Boys” Season 3 examines how forming a country around the white male ego — and its predilection for lashing out over looking inward — has created quite a few problems. As in the past, the series still enjoys its macho perspective a little too much, producing a few nagging blind spots (in addition to some extremely blunt real-world references). But hey, Season 3 isn’t pulling its punches, and most of them land with an outsized wallop. – Ben Travers, IndieWire

The Boys has remained steadfast in its themes and motifs throughout its run, examining concepts like America’s historical footsie with fascism, the relationships between fathers and sons, and absolute power corrupting absolutely. Season 3 adds another important theme to the ledger: how far should good people go to defeat evil? At one point in season 3, Hughie utters what could be the tagline for the season “The high road doesn’t work. I’m just so tired of losing.” It’s a valid question, borne of frustration that is eerily reflected in much of our political discourse today. – Alec Bojalad, Den of Geek

And season three densely packs in themes of PTSD, power imbalances in relationships, power addiction, the desire for normalcy and what that means, the media’s reach and influence, past sins rearing their ugly head, and more. Above all, the lines of morality get run through the mud, obscured beyond recognition in sobering ways. – Meagan Navarro, Bloody-Disgusting

Where The Boys continues to excel is in its ability to totally lampoon real-life events, both the insane reality of modern politics and the nature of corporate branding/capitalism. Chace Crawford’s role as the world’s biggest dumbass, The Deep, is another high mark, especially as his previously-maligned hero now begins a comeback tour that seems as purely orchestrated as what we read in that headlines every other week. Countless other topics are touched upon with stinging satire, from Fox News talking heads to the “Blue Lives Matter” movement, and they’re all given a proper spin to fit into the world. That said, some viewers may find the show exhausting at times, largely because it’s reacting to the last five years of our lives in major ways – Spencer Perry,

Any final thoughts?

Jessie T. Usher in The Boys Season 3

(Photo by Prime Video)

Overall, though, The Boys delivers a mostly satisfying experience over the course of its eight episodes, and while a more definitive creative direction is needed for season 4, this year at least sets the stage for that and does so by delivering its fair share of delightfully messed up moments that serve as a reminder of why this is still one of the most gloriously inventive TV shows you could hope to find. – Josh Wilding,

The Boys season 3 is bigger, bloodier, and more political than ever before. It is completely bonkers and filled with jaw dropping moments, shocking twists, and pure insanity. It doesn’t get much better than this. – Tessa Smith, Mama’s Geeky

It’s an absolutely dizzying spectacle of gore and grim humor — and, based on the early episodes, quite possibly the best season so far. – Christopher Lloyd, The Film Yap

I’m glad to say “The Boys” are back and better than ever. – Danielle Ryan, Slashfilm

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