The Superhero genre has grown over the years as it has gained popularity among mainstream audiences. With this growing popularity, the genre has expanded into stories, like The Boys, that challenge and question what the reality of a world full of superheroes would look like through a more cynical lens. Comic books are at the core of superheroes making animation a perfect medium for these stories and recently more mature animated superhero stories have found their way on screen.
A perfect example of this is The Boys Presents: Diabolical which takes the same gore, violence, grotesque humor, and cynicism as the live-action series, but explores it through multiple animation styles and stories. The Illuminerdi had the opportunity to participate in the WonderCon 2022 The Boys Presents: Diabolical roundtable interviews with Executive Producer Simon Racioppa and Supervising Director Giancarlo Volpe. We asked Simon Racioppa, who is also an Executive Producer on Invincible, about what the animated medium can bring to the superhero genre that live-action can’t, and he broke down how this medium allows for certain things that may be too much for live-action.
“Scope, I think is a big one. Obviously like Diabolical or Invincible, to do either of those shows live action the budget would have to be ridiculous, too high to do them. Even with budgets like you see on Game of Thrones, and other big shows, I just feel like we would have to change the subject matter so much to fit Invincible into a TV show if it wasn’t animated. Animation was really the only medium to use to tell that story and do it properly. So, I think that’s what it allows you to do. Is do a truer adaption of certain materials than you could do if you had to do it live action.”
THE BOYS PRESENTS: DIABOLICAL EXECUTIVE PRODUCER AND SUPERVISING DIRECTOR DIG INTO HOW ANIMATION CAN MAKE GORE MORE PALATABLE FOR AUDIENCES
Given the violence and gore in The Boys live-action series, it is hard to imagine what lines they won’t cross, especially with the promised “Herogasm” episode in Season Three. However, Racioppa’s point about Invincible and even some of the more disgusting ideas in The Boys Presents: Diabolical, like Awkwafina’s episode, are a strong argument for animation allowing for more violence and grotesque story beats. Simon Racioppa was then asked if he believes animation makes this gore and violence more palatable for audiences.
“I feel like if you did have the budget and you took a couple of Diabolical episodes or you took episodes of Invincible and you shot them as live action, I think they might be unpalatable. Like you may not, they would just be grotesque gore. But because we were able to do it animated, there’s a little bit more detachment in between them, that lets you take it in a different way.
This is probably a question for some psychologist actually to dig into an answer. But I feel like you can watch something that’s animated and you perceive it in a different way than if it is live action. And probably someone much smarter than me could answer that question on a better level. That’s my sort of read on it. So, it lets us push the limits a little further than you could in live action.”
There is a certain level of detachment from animation versus live action allowing for more insane possibilities that would likely be too much for audiences to handle in live-action. This question was also posed to Giancarlo Esposito who has worked on numerous animated projects over the years.
“One of the things that I have found, I’ve said this before is, I’ve never been terrified of a cartoon. It’s interesting because there are people who say they have been. But I’ve watched some movies where I was like, ‘I don’t know that I want to finish this.’ You feel like you are just getting the hairs on the back of your neck standing up. So, there is clearly something a little softer or safer about animation.
We were trying to overcome that. Especially on the gore scenes. But there’s a certain point where there’s only so much more blood I can add to the shot. I told our designers, for example, when that poor woman gets her jaw ripped off, I was like, ‘I’m not gonna insist that anyone pull reference to draw this. And, I’m not going to check it,’ I have no desire to, I’m actually quite squeamish. So, it was like, as long as it sort of feels correct, let’s just go with that.”
Animation is an ideal medium for the superhero genre even outside the horror, gore, and more disturbing nature of series like The Boys Presents: Diabolical and Invincible. Projects like Into The SpiderVerse and What If…? prove that this medium can be the perfect way to fully show off the possibilities of superheroes. This harkens back to Simon Racioppa’s point about animation allowing for truer adaptations. That’s not to say that the live action movies and television series aren’t fantastic and an integral part of the genre’s popularity. Hopefully with projects like Into The SpiderVerse, What If…?, Invincible, and The Boys Presents: Diabolical proving what animation can bring to the table more superhero stories will be explored through animation.
The Boys Presents: Diabolical is available now on Prime Video. The Boys season three is scheduled to premiere on Prime Video on June 3, 2022. Do you think the gore, violence, and disgust are more palpable in animation versus live action? Do you want more animated superhero movies and series? If so, which ones do you want next? Leave your thoughts in the comments below or on our social media and check back with The Illuminerdi for more on The Boys.