Caution: Potential spoilers ahead for The Boys
Dominique McElligott’s portrayal of Queen Maeve in Amazon’s The Boys inspires considerably more sympathy than her comic counterpart – could a tragic end await the debauched Wonder Woman in season 3? Eric Kripke’s live-action The Boys TV show follows the Garth Ennis comic book in broad terms, but adds deeper layers to each of the main cast, and few benefit from this approach more than Queen Maeve. Like the original Seven heroine, McElligott’s Maeve is jaded and hopeless, relying on substance abuse to see her through the trauma. However, live-action Maeve is both more relatable and more sympathetic. Her desire for a normal life with Elena shines through, she repeatedly sticks her neck out for Starlight, and season 1’s plane incident continues to haunt Maeve’s every waking moment.
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With The Boys casting Queen Maeve in a much softer light, could her kindness be rewarded in season 3? Given the show’s track record, probably not, no. The Boys season 2 ended with Maeve blackmailing Homelander, forcing Vought’s most depraved creation to stop terrorizing The Boys and other Seven members in exchange for the damning plane footage staying hidden. Never one to take setbacks on the chin, Homelander is going to be gunning for Maeve in The Boys season 3. The bravery of The Seven’s Queen has put her directly in the firing line of Vought’s most powerful and deranged supe.
Heading into The Boys season 3, all necessary pieces are in place for the most tragic of Queen Maeve endings. In the original comic, Maeve finally does the right thing by shielding Starlight from Homelander, allowing Annie to escape at the cost of her own life – a shocking and sad conclusion that falls short of delivering an emotional gut-punch. Comic Maeve isn’t just less endearing than Dominique McElligott’s character, she’s also much less important to the overall story, making her death less significant as a result. Based on the current trajectory of Amazon’s The Boys, with Maeve becoming increasingly bolder in her hatred of Homelander, a similar showdown awaits, and while the winner is a foregone conclusion (unless he has a secret allergy we don’t know about), the scene will be much more tragic due to the additions Eric Kripke has made to Queen Maeve’s story.
The prominence of The Boys‘ Elena storyline, especially in season 2, reveals Queen Maeve’s hopes and dreams for the future. Though she clearly enjoys the trappings of superhero life, she’d instantly leave the Vought gig behind if settling down safely with Elena was possible. Knowing Maeve’s deepest desire will make her inevitable demise at the hands of Homelander infinitely more upsetting when the moment finally comes.
Queen Maeve’s obvious capacity for kindness, which also came to the fore in The Boys season 2, will further amplify the impact of her death. In the comic books, Maeve shows glimmers of virtue before eventually coming good in a noble final sacrifice. On TV, however, Maeve has defended Starlight, battered Stormfront, turned on Homelander, and defeated Black Noir with a well-placed candy bar. She’s a bona fide hero trapped in an apathetic and miserable facade, and watching Antony Starr rip Maeve’s head from her shoulders before this potential is fully realized will go down as one of The Boys‘ biggest tragedies.
The drawback in creating such a complex and compelling live-action Queen Maeve is that killing the character off becomes exponentially harder. No sense sending McElligott packing in season 3 if The Boys is going to run until season 8. But whenever it happens, self-sacrifice looks to be an inescapable fate for Queen Maeve, and with their rivalry as fierce as ever, Homelander will almost certainly be the man responsible. Comic readers might’ve been shocked when Maeve bit the dust, but TV show viewers will struggle not to feel a lump in the throat when she goes down swinging against her evil ex.
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