‘The Boys’: Why Homelander Is TV’s Best New Villain
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for the first season of The Boys.]
Amazon Prime Video’s latest satirical fare, The Boys, is more delightful than it would appear on its rough and tumble exterior, and it has everything to do with its compelling characters — particularly supe and Seven leader Homelander, played by the riveting Antony Starr.
The 8-episode first season introduces fans to a world where Vought International manages the superheroes (supes) of the world, and they are marketed like today’s biggest stars. Along with their public appearances, viewers saw the supes’ more debauched sides when they weren’t saving civilians and putting on an act.
Imagine the most self-absorbed, psychopathic celebrity you can muster and add lethal superpowers into the mix and you’d have Homelander — a Superman-Captain America hybrid with a lack of empathy for any and everyone. Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s able to turn on and off the camera ready smile and reassuring demeanor of a hero in the blink of an eye. Homelander’s ability to transform into a casual killing machine is enough to give anyone whiplash.
Taking into account his past — he was bred in a lab, groomed to become the supreme superhero that he appears to be in the show — Homelander didn’t have a normal upbringing, and with a lack of human connection or emotional ties, that makes him a perfect villain.
When viewers first meet the man in charge of Vought’s hero group known as The Seven, he appears to be amiable… until we later see him take down a plane carrying a politician that didn’t bend to Vought’s corporate executive Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue). But it wasn’t the simple action of using his laser beam vision, it was Homelander’s ability to smile at the child inside the plane before ruthlessly taking them down.
That was the first glimpse at his truly evil side, but various moments throughout the first season only proved his just how dark the patriotic figure is. Apart from his demented relationship with Madelyn — which [Spoiler Alert] ended with him charring her brain from the outside in — Homelander’s “power” over his fellow bad supes solidified his bully persona.
Whether it was his controlling discussions with Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) or being reprimanding with A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) and The Deep (Chace Crawford), Homelander repeatedly asserts his dominance.
Perhaps the most heartless moment exhibited by this scary good villain was Maeve and his failed attempt to rescue a plane overrun by terrorists. When the pair arrive on board, they take down the threats within the plane’s cabin. The plan goes south when a trigger-happy terrorist shoots the only living pilot, taking out the window and causing Homelander to carelessly laser the control panel, which renders the plan unable to fly.
Unlike Maeve, who wants to help, he promises to save the passengers, knowing he plans to abandon them. When Maeve pleads that he take a mother and daughter, he refuses, threatens the passengers with his laser vision and throws some colorful language into the mix.
“Take these two,” Maeve begs him, “just these two, please.”
“No. What? So they can tell the world that we left the rest of them to f**king die?” Homelander answers before telling desperate passengers to “stay back. All of you, stay back. You stay the f**k back or I’ll laser you, goddamn it! I will laser every f**king one of you!” The moment embodies the show’s tagline perfectly — “never meet your heroes.”
And just like the good villain he is, Homelander even appears at the memorial for the lost passengers, speaking in memory of the victims that no one besides Maeve knows he refused to save. But even with his bad behavior, it’s the personal story from Billy Butcher’s (Karl Urban) perspective that paints Homelander into a true monster.
Towards the end of the season, we learn that Billy’s wife disappeared after Homelander presumably raped her. Believing her dead at the hands of the supe, Billy’s season-long quest for revenge makes him the perfect counterpart for the baddie Homelander.
While there may be so many evil moments for him in Season 1, even at Homelander’s worst, he’s a great and compelling character to watch and that’s what makes him one of TV’s best new villains.
The Boys, Season 1, Streaming now, Amazon Prime Video