Soldier Boy and Payback in THE BOYS Season Three, Explained - Nerdist
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Soldier Boy and Payback in THE BOYS Season Three, Explained

Spoiler Alert

Soldier Boy made his mark in The Boys season three and he was definitely no Captain America. Jensen Ackles totally embodies the role of a “Marlboro man” and supe who literally doesn’t give a s**t about anyone nor anything but himself. It’s a big upgrade from his comic version (more on that later). Season three takes us on a wild ride with Soldier Boy and his (former) collective of fellow heroes known as Payback. Let’s dive into all things Soldier Boy, Payback, and what roles they play in The Boys season three. 

What We Know About Soldier Boy, Payback, and Their Vought Connection on The Boys
Captain America Meme and Soldier Boy PSA for The Boys season three
Marvel Studios/Prime Video

We uncover our first bits of information about the TV version of Soldier Boy in The Boys first episode of season three. Maeve brings Butcher a file about Soldier Boy, saying that a weapon used to kill the supe might be strong enough to take out Homelander. Butcher knows who Soldier Boy is immediately, recalling that he died in a “nuclear meltdown” back in 1983 or 1984. It’s a fact that he doesn’t quite believe. Maeve encourages him to keep reading Soldier Boy’s confidential file, revealing that he was killed by BCL Red, some kind of advanced weapon.

She surmises that if they can find this weapon, then they can kill Homelander. He also uncovers a photo of Payback, a Vought supe collective he that he calls a bunch of “f***ing wankers.” Maeve tells him that the Seven passed them as the superior crew and that Crimson Countess, Soldier Boy’s girlfriend, would know what really happened to him. So Payback and Soldier Boy are essentially the older version of Seven and Homelander. As with all these heroes, Crimson Countess does borrow from Marvel/DC with some Scarlet Witch-esque powers. 

photo of the boys payback collective
Prime Video

The plot thickens in episode two when Frenchie and Kimiko head to VoughtLand, where they find Crimson Countess at a Soldier Boy exhibit. But, before things go awry, they watch a quick history video about him. Soldier Boy was born poor in South Philly and allegedly became a war hero (thanks to Compound V) against the Red Menace. He is Vought’s very first superhero (using that word loosely here). Soldier Boy is super strong, fast, can fight hand to hand, and has a shield in addition to his powers. A very Cap type of story, indeed. He gets all the props for being an all-American hero and saving us from a nuclear holocaust. Riiighhhttt. In the comics, he’s more of a bumbling weirdo who wishes he could be more like Homelander. We get the feeling this guy is much more confident.

Gunpowder, another Payback member, is a “rights to bear arms” dude who ends up tussling with Butcher after the latter says he would tell people that Soldier Boy allegedly abused him. So yeah, neither one of them are doing really great in life right now. There’s not much more to learn from Gunpowder after Butcher lasers his head in half. Sigh. 

Jensen Ackles Soldier Boy with a long beard and no shirt exits a deep freeze
Prime Video

The bulk of the backstory comes in episode three when they visit Grace Mallory and Ryan. Grace tells them the story of her short yet critical time with Soldier Boy and the Payback collective. (Butcher blackmails her into honesty.) She was into some shady drug trafficking business in Nicaragua during Operation Charlie. The “higher ups” decided to bring a crew of supes into an active war zone. The chosen supes were Payback, including Crimson Countess, Gunpowder, Soldier Boy, Noir, Mindstorm, the TNT Twins, and Swatto.

This somewhat lines up with the Payback collective from the comics, except that one includes Stormfront and Eagle the Archer, whom we met last season via Deep’s storyline. They are quite the tough villains who are dead set on killing our Boys crew. But, while Stormfront ultimately runs the comic Payback show, Soldier Boy is in charge in the TV lineup. He grossly “flirts” with Grace, who is disgusted with the group’s cocky, brash nature. Things quickly go awry when Swatto buzzes in the air and attracts enemy attention. Nearly everyone dies and Soldier Boy’s body is flown away with the enemy to parts unknown.

In later episodes, we get more of the scoop with Solider Boy and the Russians. It turns out Vought’s Stan set him up to be taken by the Russians with the remainder of Payback’s assistance. And honestly, it was not hard to convince them to turn on Solider Boy. He was mean, abusive, and just really sucked in general. The Russians did a number on experimentations on him, which took his powers to an unprecedented level.

Soldier Boy holds his damaged shield in Vought Tower battle
Prime Video

When the Boys break him out, we see that Soldier Boy can emit a burst of energy that pretty much kills everything in its path. And, if it is a supe, they will lose their powers. We see it happen to Kimiko and later with Maeve, although they both survive. Shockingly, Butcher and Hughie team up with Soldier Boy to show him the modern-day ropes and help him find (and kill) his Payback friends in exchange for killing Homelander. Very dark content. Solider Boy even gives Homelander a run for his money in terms of strength and pure meanness. Lowkey loved to see it.

Where Is the Rest of Payback? And What Happens to Them?

Well, we knew where Noir was because he’s in the Seven. And Swatto died during that battle where 160 men died and Vought wasn’t held responsible. But, thanks to Butcher and Hughie’s relentless effort to kill Homelander, Soldier Boy tracked down and killed Crimson Countess, Mindstorm, and the TNT twins. He did not get to Noir but that is only because Homelander killed him first.

All of it seems like it is for no reason, though. Solider Boy lives and goes back on ice. Many people die. And Homelander is worse than ever before with Ryan in tow. Soooo…yeah. We could see Solider Boy again in future seasons perhaps. And maybe they can somehow take him AND Homelander out.

Originally published June 3, 2022.

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