The Boys season 3 brings Legend into live-action, but largely wastes the comic character. Fortunately, there is a good reason for doing so …
WARNING: Spoilers ahead for The Boys season 3, episode 5
The Boys‘live-action Legend can not compete with his comic counterpart – but has a good excuse not to. Of all The Boys‘characters yet to join Amazon’s TV series, Legend was among the most eagerly anticipated. Originally a 1950s comic book writer for Vought, Legend penned famous supe stories and came to know everything about the men and women behind his characters, from fatal weaknesses to sordid gossip. Older, bitter, and working out of a shady comic book store basement, Legend serves as a regular informant for Billy Butcher, plugging the Boys with intel, tip-offs, and rogue supes they should check out.
Played by Stranger Things‘Paul Reiser, Legend could not be more different in The Boys season 3. Both versions are ex-Vought employees, total perverts, and amputees – but that’s where the parallels end. Whereas the original Legend could typically be found in a dingy basement, The Boys season 3’s Legend lives like an aging rockstar in a penthouse apartment. And rather than being a disgruntled comic book writer, live-action Legend was Vought’s vice-president of hero management, once occupying the same lofty position held by Madelyn Stillwell. Legend isn’t a fountain of supe knowledge, and shows very little interest toward helping the Boys. He’s just a fountain of grim anecdotes about old Hollywood. The only mental encyclopedia this Legend possesses is the list of celebrities he may or may not have slept with.
The Boys season 3’s Legend is so different from the source material, it’s a wasteful use of that particular character. Legend’s entire persona is a pathetic, skeletal basement husk who always hated the supes his comics depicted as heroes, but is now getting a measure of revenge through aiding Butcher. Paul Reiser’s Legend cuts the completely sideways figure of a retired-but-still-lively 1970s movie producer who thinks the world’s gone mad because he can not keep his cocaine next to the office stapler without receiving a call from HR. Comic Legend fell down to the Boys’ level, whereas TV Legend is still rolling around in the relative luxury Vought afforded him, and couldn’t care less what dangerous antics the “talent” get up to. Such a stark turnaround in personality means Paul Reiser could’ve played a completely new character in The Boys season 3 and few would’ve noticed.
Reiser’s Legend has absolutely zero reason to become the Boys’ informant, and lacks the encyclopedic superhero knowledge required to do so. The feeling is apparently mutual, as why should the Boys trust Vought’s former Stillwell? Working with a lead comic writer who turned on his employer makes far more sense than the man who was once the heartbeat of Vought American. This mutual uneasiness in The Boys season 3 completely cuts out the raucous dynamic Butcher, Hughie and Legend share throughout the comics, leaving the live-action interpretation as little more than a namesake Easter egg, when Legend had the potential to offer much more.
While some viewers might feel disheartened by how drastically Amazon’s The Boys changes the Legend, such extreme measures were necessary. Garth Ennis’ original Legend was a savage parody of Stan Lee, who sadly passed away in 2018 still beloved by comic book fans the world over. Had The Boys season 3 adapted Legend authentically, widespread offense would’ve been impossible to avoid. The Boys is not known for its tact and restraint, admittedly, but negatively parodying a real life man who died only 4 years earlier could only feel like a cheap shot made in bad taste. Satirizing fictional characters, corporations, and politicians is one thing; going after Stan Lee is quite another, and would’ve risked landing awkwardly with both The Boys‘core audience and the wider mainstream.
By switching Legend from a comic book writer to a superhero relations executive, then tossing out the crusty old man persona for a bolder, ostentatious, larger-than-life Hollywood retiree, The Boys season 3 successfully steers the character away from resembling Stan Lee in any way, shape or form. Never getting an authentic live-action Legend with his crazed superhero rants and dirty librarian vibe is certainly disappointing, but avoiding a disrespectful parody that would alienate fans more than it’d make them laugh quite rightly takes priority here.
Join Amazon Prime – Watch Thousands of Movies & TV Shows Anytime
Start Free Trial NowMore: The Boys Shock Death Avoids Season 3’s Worst Starlight Story
The Boys continues Friday on Prime Video.
What We Know About MBFFL’s Whitney’s Trip To St. Lucia
About The Author