Note: Spoilers below for “The Boys” Season 3, Episode 1, titled “Payback.”
“The Boys” Season 3 opens with a key scene from Vought Studio’s world premiere of “Dawn of the Seven” — an obvious spoof on superhero tentpoles like “The Avengers” and “Justice League” — in and of itself a parody the events of Season 2, which saw the takedown of Nazi bride and Supe Stormfront (Aya Cash). Playing the disgraced, white supremacist villain in the film within the show is none other than Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron.
“Charlize came about like really all of our cameos, which is — you know — the really stringent and rigorous process of whoever returns [executive producer] Seth Rogen’s calls,” the show’s creator, executive producer and head writer Eric Kripke joked in an interview with TheWrap.
Within the first minute, the camera pans around Theron — who dons Stormfront’s signature purple suit (not unlike the actress’ outfit and role as the powerful Clea in the “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness” post-credits scene) — as she levels a gaze at Antony Starr’s Homelander, who is portraying a sanitized, family-friendly version of himself in the action flick.
“You’ll always be in my heart, but the Fourth Reich is in my soul,” Theron’s Stormfront muses, trying to entice Homelander to join her in making “flawless, Aryan, kinder-soldaten.” Kripke said the “Mad Max: Fury Road” star was an “amazing sport” when it came to the admittedly “ridiculous” lines.
“God bless her,” Kripke said, “I’m sure she thought [it] was just a short, quick little favor — now our super suit people are calling her and she has to come in for fittings and she shows up on the day and there’s this big set and she’s definitely going to be working all day. So she was such an amazing sport for all of that.”
He continued, “When I talked to her in the morning, she’s like, ‘This is some ridiculous dialogue.’ And she played it deep, with all of [her] heart … beyond the fact that it’s a hilarious cameo. She’s f—ing brilliantly funny in that role — how much she commits.”
Somewhat surprisingly — or unsurprisingly, given the show’s consistent penchant for flowing blood and extraneous guts — Theron’s cameo isn’t even the most off-the-wall occurrence in Season 3’s premiere episode.
The series’ third season picks up a year removed from the events of the Season 2 finale: Homelander, seemingly subdued, is on his national apology tour for dating a Nazi; Hughie, deciding to hold corrupt Supes and Vought accountable through intralegal means, is working with congresswoman (and secret head-exploding Supe) Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit); as a result, Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) is technically his employee, working in tandem with Congress to bring superpowered people to justice.
In one scene, Butcher and the Boys crash a Supe party attended by an out-of-control Termite (Brett Gedes) — named after his abilities of size manipulation. In a series of shots not for the faint of heart (or anyone who just had dinner), he crawls into a man’s urethra for sexual stimulation, only to sneeze and return to full human size — inadvertently sending a shower of intestines, spewing blood and body parts all over the room.
It’s a glorious display of everything “The Boys” has come to be known for, marrying unbelievably realistic visual effects with stomach-churning shock value — surpassing earlier scenes from Season 1 (like when A-Train physically ran through Hughie’s then-girlfriend) and Season 2 (when Congress members’ heads popped willy-nilly like balloons).
“They’re all delightful in their own way,” Kripke says of each explosion scene, confirming his love for “blowing people up” on-screen. Though, the scene with Termite is definitely up there, “for the reason [that it’s] a really complicated visual effect.”
“That’s kudos to my VFX department led by Stephan [Szpak-]Fleet because you need a guy to pop up, you need a guy to credibly be really standing there and then suddenly be a CG torso that then lands on a bed,” Kripke said. “And then you need the organs and the blood all of which are CG. And so, it’s so photo-real and they’ve gotten so good at the flow of the liquid, the bile.”
Gross? Maybe, but Kripke doesn’t see it that way. “I’m like, ‘No, but it’s so fun.’ Because you’re working on, like, ‘How do you hit the glimmer of the light just right?’ There’s such an art to it that it’s truly astonishing to watch them in process.”
The first three episodes of “The Boys” Season 3 are now streaming on Prime Video, with new episodes rolling out weekly thereafter.