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The Boys and Gen V Emphasize the Physical Cost of Superpowers

Whether their parents fully knew what they signed up for seems to be on a case-by-case basis, but regardless, these young supes have had to come to grips with the fact that they were given superhuman abilities essentially at random without their consent. The writers of Gen V take this even further by focusing the show’s story on young supes who have to deal with the cost of Vought’s big experiment even more than others.

Emma Meyer (Lizze Broadway) has the ability to shrink and grow in size, but this power is dependent on the amount of food she has in her body. In order to shrink, she has to purge or throw up. In order to grow, she has to eat until she’s at her desired size. Even though Emma insists that she has everything under control, growing up with a power that forces you to essentially develop an eating disorder in order to use it can’t have been easy. Add in the fact that Emma’s mother is constantly looking to exploit her powers for fame and insists on measuring her to make sure that she’s not “too big” or “too small,” and it’s no wonder that she struggles to see her worth beyond the spectacle that Vought and her mother have created her to be.

Emma’s roommate Marie Moreau (Jaz Sinclair) has the ability to control blood, both her own and other people’s. She had no idea she had powers until she accidentally killed her parents after she got her first period. Ever since that day, she mostly uses her own blood to fight, which means that she has to cut open her hand every time that she wants to use her powers and there isn’t a pile of bleeding bodies lying around. The season finale of Gen V did reveal that Marie is durable enough to survive a blast from Homelander’s (Antony Starr) heat vision, so this likely doesn’t do her a ton of harm, but it’s still important to note that she is still actively cutting and inflicting damage upon herself when she uses her powers like this, even if it does only feels like a paper cut to her.

Cate Dunlap’s (Maddie Phillips) powers of persuasion have limitations. If she “pushes” too many people, her eyes become bloodshot and she can succumb to violent seizures. After she stops taking the medication given to her by Dean Shetty (Shelley Conn), Cate also begins to be flooded with the thoughts of those around her. Cate’s actions in the season finale may be questionable, but there’s no denying that she’s been dealt a shitty hand. The powers that she didn’t ask for, that her parents shunned her for, can also kill her if she uses them too frequently. 

By far the biggest physical cost of powers that season 1 of Gen V has shown us thus far involves Andre Anderson (Chance Perdomo) and his father Polarity (Sean Patrick Thomas). In the penultimate episode of the season, Polarity suffers a seizure during an on-air interview and is rushed to Vought tower, where doctors attend to him. Andre accompanies his father, who remains unconscious while receiving treatment. After speaking to a doctor in the season finale, Andre learns that every time his father uses his metal-manipulating abilities, his brain tears a tiny bit. It turns out that decades of using his powers have taken a toll and Polarity has now suffered irreversible brain damage.

Even though Andre didn’t inherit his abilities from his father and was also injected with Compound V as a child, their powers have manifested similarly up to this point. Because of this, the doctor warns Andre that using his powers further would likely mean a similar fate for him. But what choice does Andre really have at this point? 

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