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The Boys Season 4 Episode 5 Destroys Marvel So Hard It Will Make You Cringe

Contains spoilers for "The Boys" Season 4, Episode 5 – "Beware of the Jabberwock, My Son"

"The Boys" has always been very critical of the superhero genre to the point of relentless parody, but it's usually content to spoof specific tropes and characters. The Seven is pretty explicitly a corrupt, corporate Justice League, Tek Knight (Derek Wilson) is the show's take on Iron Man, Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) parodies Captain America, and so forth. However, Season 4, Episode 5 takes a brief break from riffing on individual superheroes and their teams, instead turning its ruthless gaze at the chief progenitor of the superhero movie phenomenon — the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

"Beware of the Jabberwock, My Son" features an in-universe convention that introduces the viewer to the Vought Cinematic Universe, or VCU for short. Much like the MCU, this mega-franchise is divided into various phases — only, the VCU is already at Phase 6, and there are several more to come, with plans all the way up to Phase 19. 

This stacked slate of projects is already a massive swipe at Marvel and, to a lesser extent, DC. Still, while some shows might be content to introduce the VCU as an offhand joke and move on to other things, "The Boys" milks it for all it's worth — and then some. The VCU slate is jam-packed with tiny details that make fun of the concept of superhero movie universes, while keeping the hardline conservative values Vought is increasingly pushing at the forefront.

The Boys doesn't pull its punches with its cinematic universe parody

The details the VCU title chart hides are copious and pause-worthy. Tek Knight is the clear Batman parody here, with various "Dark Knight"-inspired movies and even a gritty reboot called "The Tek Knight" on the way. "The Deep: Gods & Dolphins" is a pretty clear riff on "Thor: Love and Thunder." The as-yet unseen G-Men have their own series of movies with titles like "G-Men: Days Past from the Future," a gleeful take on "X-Men: Days of Future Past." Meanwhile, the show's resident right-wing propaganda mouthpiece Firecracker (Valorie Curry) spearheads the new Vought Faith studio in a series that features religious themes, from "Firecracker: Lord's Soldier" to a Christmas movie.  

The surprise Will Ferrell cameo in Episode 2 also keeps on giving. Not only did Eric Kripke cut one wild, unscripted "The Boys" Season 4 kiss between Coach Brink (Ferrell) and A-Train (Jesse T. Usher), but viewers now find out that the movie they've been shooting, "Training A-Train," is heavily coded to resemble a notorious real-world movie that doesn't tell you everything about the true story, "The Blind Side." By portraying future NFL star Michael Oher as a withdrawn, lost person who needs guidance, "The Blind Side" lies to us in many ways — and if the similarities between it and "Training A-Train" aren't obvious enough, we even see Coach Brink and A-Train recreate the pose from the "Blind Side" poster.   

The Boys mercilessly parodies the MCU's budgets and schedule changes

Apart from jokes about individual movies and overly ambitious franchise-building, the episode also makes a point of mentioning the VCU's copious reshoots and that a particular TV project is the costliest one in history. This is another potshot at the MCU, as many of its Disney+ series rank among the most expensive TV show productions of all time

As for the reshoots — well, juggling a massive cinematic universe is hard. As such, rescheduling, director replacements, rewrites, and other major changes to MCU releases are as much a part of the MCU's DNA as the superheroes themselves. One of the worst culprits is the Mahershala Ali-led "Blade," which is still in the early stages despite being in the works for years. "That deal was in 2019, and they still haven't shot it, which is pretty much the craziest thing in my professional experience," Ali's attorney Shelby Weiser told The Hollywood Reporter.

Part of this stems simply from the fact that there has never been an endeavor like the MCU in cinematic history. The sheer scale of the interconnected universe is so vast that it's impossible to avoid the gears getting muddied up every once in a while. Still, there are those who find the constant tinkering excessive ... and "The Boys" Season 4, Episode 5 makes clear that the show subscribes to that particular newsletter.