Supernatural alum Jensen Ackles has officially arrived in The Boys season 3, as revealed in a first-look photo of him suited up (and supe-d up) as Soldier Boy, a character ripped from the original Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson comics.
A Captain America-esque figure, Soldier Boy is the original superhero. He's also the leader of the team Payback, which, in the world of the show, was the premiere group of superheroes before the Seven was formed.
Soldier Boy was active in the 1940s during World War II at a time when Vought founder Frederik Vought had "practical applications of Compound V tested in the field," Giancarlo Esposito's Mr. Edgar once said in season 2. "Soldier Boy killing Germans by the dozens" was one of those applications.
Amazon Studios Jensen Ackles' Soldier Boy in 'The Boys' season 3.
"Soldier Boy is the original badass," The Boys costume designer Laura Jean Shannon, who created Ackles' suit with concept artist Greg Hopwood, said in a statement. "Our goal was to highlight a bygone era of overt masculinity and grit. With that pedigree we dove headfirst into baking in an all-American quality grounded in a military soldier's practicality with a heavy dose of old school cowboy swagger. We knew that the actor had to have Steve McQueen looks and chops with a John Wayne attitude, luckily Jensen Ackles embodies all of that."
Showrunner Eric Kripke is just happy fans will finally "quit clogging" his "Twitter notifications with demands" to see Soldier Boy, he added in his own playful statement.
"When I cast Jensen as Soldier Boy, the first thing I said was, 'I'm most excited for you, because of the amazing process you'll go through with LJ, our Super Suit designer.' It took six months but the experience surpassed Jensen's expectations," he said. "LJ has made a work of art that tips its hat to the WWII Soldier Boy from the comics, while taking it in a sleek new direction. And if you think the photos are cool, just wait till you see Jensen in action. It's one of my very favorite suits."
It's unclear at this point if Ackles' character will also be involved in the present-day storyline of season 3, (SPOILERS) which picks up after the Boys disbanded and Congresswoman Neuman (Claudia Doumit) was revealed to be a head-exploding supe, but it seems likely. We already know Aya Cash's Stormfront has lived for decades without aging.
After tackling white supremacy, police brutality, alt-right extremism, and an actual Nazi in season 2, Kripke told EW season 3 will delve into "the history of the supes" and the team Payback in order to "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."
Clearly there are some big changes between the Soldier Boy in the comics and the Soldier Boy on screen. For one, Payback and the Seven operated at the same time in the comics. The character on the page was more of an anxious, insecure supe who was constantly belittled and overruled by his team member Stormfront (originally depicted as male). Soldier Boy was also vying for a spot in the Seven, which led to a particularly... intimate moment between he and Homelander during the comic arc known as Herogasm — which, as it happens, is being adapted in season 3.
By comparison, Ackles teased his version of the character on Instagram with an image of his Soldier Boy shield. "Every dent, every scratch, every mark tells a story. A story that ends with me, winning," he wrote.
Season 3, which is in production now, returns with Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Karen Fukuhara, Laz Alonso, Tomer Capon, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Dominique McElligott, Jessie T. Usher, Chace Crawford, Nathan Mitchell, Colby Minifie, and Doumit.
Dexter and Sleepy Hollow actress Katia Winter also joins in the role of Little Nina.