"It's not when it's words on a page, it's when it's images on a screen that once in a while I say 'My God, what have we done?'"

In recent years, the "Superhero" genre has become a cluttered one, hasn't it? 20th Century Fox's 'X-Men' and Sam Raimi's 'Spider-Man' franchises kicked off the resurgence of what an action movie could be in the early 2000s. Ever since then, Marvel, DC, Netflix and any other studio with an interest has found at least one successful corner of the market to conquer.

But of course, they haven't all been successful, especially when it comes to nailing that tricky adult audience. Marvel's efforts have played mostly towards being kid-friendly, while DC titles have varied so much in tone and expression, it's impossible to lump them into one category (but on the whole, they've been disappointing).

In terms of TV shows, however, studios generally tend to fair better. Disney+ is stacking up on MCU miniseries; while Netflix has had some success in getting the genre off the runway. 'The Umbrella Academy' delivers on laughs and shocks, and has a decent following; 'Jupiter's Legacy', meanwhile, was a dud that blatantly tried to copy a certain Prime Video series...

And that series was the foul-mouthed, bloody-spattering, shock-inducing series called 'The Boys'. With an 85% and 97% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes for the two previous seasons, and gaining quite a huge following in the process, the adult-focussed franchise is giving more child-friendly productions a run for their money.

Ahead of season three hitting Prime Video this June, we caught up with series developer Eric Kripke to get the low-down on what to expect over the next eight episodes, what's next for Homelander, how he got Jensen Ackles on board, and what his plans are for the franchise in the future.

AUSTIN, TEXAS - MARCH 12: Eric Kripke attends '“The Boys” are Back! Inside Prime Video's Hit Series' during the 2022 SXSW Conference and Festivals at Austin Convention Center on March 12, 2022 in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Travis P Ball/Getty Images for SXSW)

So my jaw dropped twice within the first 10 minutes of the season premiere - what was your thinking going into season three?

There's definitely conscious thought about kicking off this season with a bang and finding an exciting way to start. And if you really look, there's a Homelander/Maeve action scene, and then there's Robin; in season two, there's a Black Noir insane action sequence and so we always do want to kick off big. I never want to be one of those TV producers that are up their own ass and say sh*t like "I'm just making an eight-hour movie". I'm in the TV business and it's my job to be entertaining, so we search around for that.

The Termite scene was like an adult version of 'Honey I Shrunk The Kids'...

Yeah, a little bit! Pulling that off logistically, by the way, beyond just conceiving it, the building that had to happen around all of that was... There's a book to be written on that, it was just so funny. And weird.

You tweeted a photo of yourself in shock at the 'Herogasm' storyline - does that happen to you often where you're thinking "Oh my God"?

In the writing of it, I don't quite consider the consequences of what we're doing. [Laughs] We're trying to figure out what's best for the character or how to make it outrageous but not gratuitous, which is an interesting line. Usually the answer is that you have to ground it - you need this moment to tell that story. And usually if you can do that, usually you're in good shape but when it's just nuts just to be nuts, we tend to self-police and cut it out.

But I'm so down and looking at the story, it isn't until I'm watching the footage back daily of the material that you do suddenly realise "Oh my god, people had to do this!" [Laughs] And you're seeing it visually and it's come to life and that's when it hits me. It's not when it's words on a page, it's when it's images on a screen that once in a while I say "My God, what have we done?"

Do you think the worst of Homelander is still to come? He's been pretty batsh*t crazy already.

Yeah, absolutely. I would say one of the biggest stories we track over the entire series of 'The Boys' is Homelander's slow descent into complete madness because a completely psychotic Superman is an apocalyptic problem. But he has all of these guard rails, right? He needs people's love and he needs to appear like a hero. And so there are things that are stopping him from killing millions of people but really the run of the show is we're slowly peeling those away.

This season he finally shows a little bit of who he really is to the public and they love him even more! So all comparisons to recent US Presidents are completely intentional; the worse he acts, the more worse he gets. And that is shocking to Homelander and obviously bad news because he can start being himself, which you don't want him to be [laughs] you definitely do not want him to be himself. It's worse this season and it's gonna keep getting worse.

The Boys season three poster

You've worked with Jensen Ackles on 'Supernatural' and he's back with you for 'The Boys'. What was it like working with him again and how did you get him on board?

it was a little unexpected because Soldier Boy is this WWII character and we were looking at older actors; we were looking at guys in their 50s. We weren't really finding who we needed and then Jensen, in the middle of all of that, just happened to call. We probably talk once or twice a year, and he happened to call to talk over something and we were just catching up and 'How are you doing'. And [I said] 'Well, we're trying to cast this Soldier Boy part and kind of having trouble... Hey wait a minute, would you want to do it?'

And he said 'Yes! Send me the script', and I sent him the script and he called me back and he said, 'I would love to do this'. He auditioned because there's a lot of executives and producers and he had to fight for that role. He auditioned several times but was really committed to it and to showing everyone that he could do it.

It's been a blast! I love writing for Jensen because there's nothing he can't do. He can handle emotion and action and comedy, all with equal skill. As a writer, you get to write with a lot of confidence because you just know that he'll be able to pull off whatever you're throwing at him. And it was fun to see him read my dialogue again. It was like coming back home. It was very nice.

Not to compare you to Marvel, but as they've gone from movies to TV, would you ever consider 'The Boys' going from TV to movies? What's the plan...?

[Laughs] Ahh... No real plan for movies... Sure! Never say never. Funnily enough, I think the short-term plan is to do a bit of what Marvel is doing on television of expanding the universe. It's a really rich universe where we've just started filming our college spin-off and that's been a blast and a whole other world of satire and humour and violence.

If the shows turns out to be good - a lot of spin-offs are not - we're really aiming for it to be great, but if that spin-off is great and we can do one or two others that are great, I would be happy spending the next couple of years doing that.

I think that once I'm done with 'The Boys', I'm out! [Laughs] I'll never find a show-running gig [like this]. It's all going to be a disappointment and a long, slow downward slide after this, so I need to drop the mic and go whenever this 'Boys' universe is over.

'The Boys' season three begins on Prime Video Friday, June 3. The season finale will be available on Friday, July 8.