Is Homelander From 'The Boys' TV’s Biggest Narcissist?
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for The Boys Season 2, Episodes 1-5.]
The lead Supe at the center of Vought International's superhero team The Seven has some serious issues ranging from oedipal fixations — like a disturbing craving for milk — to unemotional fits of violence. But despite his clear mommy issues, Homelander's biggest problem isn't necessarily his reliance on female figures, but instead the concerns over his own image and his distrust of anyone else besides himself.
Sure, his rage is something to be feared, but Homelander has proven again and again that his most hated trait is lies. All throughout Season 1, Madelyn Stillwell (Elisabeth Shue) was able to anchor Homelander down, pulling him back in when he began to act out, but when he learned that Vought had hidden his son Ryan (Cameron Crovetti) that he'd conceived with Billy Butcher's (Karl Urban) wife Becca (Shantel VanSanten) from him, that had been the final straw.
Madelyn died for her lies which were used in part out of fear as well as to control Homelander. By killing her, Homelander killed his ability to trust anyone but himself and in doing so has continued to feed his growing ego. It's all about image for Homelander and this mentality continues throughout Season 2, whether it's his need to have control over the narrative or looking as good as possible to outsiders unaware of just how twisted things are behind the scenes.
Stormfront's (Aya Cash) arrival only pushed this further into perspective as Homelander's public image and numbers plummeted. Her outward progressive stance that called out Vought's flaws including their sexualization of women and politicization of Supes boosted Stormfront's rising star while Homelander's stock sunk. Just like him though, Stormfront's story behind the scenes is much more sinister as her blatant racism while on the job promotes a similar callousness for humans that Homelander has also exhibited. Anyone else remember that plane crash scene from Season 1?
Raised in a lab, it's no wonder that Homelander has mommy issues, but also being told you're the best and brightest throughout his career has no doubt had a negative effect as well. And without any empathy or humility to balance that out, Homelander's inherent narcissism continues to be magnified. In Season 2's fourth installment, "Nothing Like It In the World," Homelander continues to grapple with Madelyn's absence by feeding his oedipal fantasies in a remote cabin with shape-shifting Supe Doppelganger (Dan Darin-Zanco) standing in as Shue's character.
In that same episode, he makes an appearance on a talk show with Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) hosted by Maria Menuonos, during which he outs his fellow Supe as a lesbian. Done in anger over the lies he's been fed, Homelander retaliates against Maeve by revealing her personal business on air. The decision backfires on his personal image as pro-Stormfront and anti-Homelander memes and negative attitudes towards his spotlight behavior surface.
Clearly pissed over Stormfront's growing popularity and her public indifference towards his behavior, Homelander confronts her in this episode and is told, "You have fans, I have soldiers," by the powerful woman. When she tells him he just needs help connecting with his audience, he shuts her down and opts for the cabin to get away from it all. But instead of indulging in his fantasies, Homelander says something interesting, "I don't need anyone ... but myself."
Perhaps this is said in response to his own experiences with the lies and people who have spread them or it's a straightforward fact. When Doppelganger shifts shape into Homelander himself, his satisfaction in himself and coming face to face with his own mirror image speaks volumes regarding his narcissism. The scene itself could be The Boys' own interpretation of the greek mythology surrounding Narcissus — the hunter who fell in love with his own image.
Eventually Homelander turns on this literal Doppelganger and kills the Supe who still appears in his own likeness. Whether or not that means something remains to be seen, but the symbolism of killing one's self is a possible statement on squashing any lingering self-loathing.
Almost everything Homelander does is for his own image — when he claims it's for the greater good or to save humanity, it's always because it's something he wants. Even his time spent with son Ryan in Season 2 is tainted as the Supe seeks affection and love from a boy that's only met him a few times. While Homelander appears to take an interest in Ryan he almost always decides to do as he wishes without taking into account others' feelings.
In Homelander's eyes, Becca's a liar and therefore any desires or wishes she has for him to stay away are invalid, but when Ryan asks him to leave, that's when Homelander listens. Maybe it's because Ryan is part of him, which feeds into the narcissism concept or perhaps it's because the boy hasn't lied to him yet, at least that Homelander's aware of.
In Episode 5, "We Gotta Go Now," Homelander continues to grapple with his public image, upset when he discovers that a recent mission hasn't been received well by the public due to images sustained by innocent victims while he took out a terrorist. During a political rally essentially spewing hate towards Homelander and his actions, the Supe shoots off despite Vought's advisement to address the people himself. Joining the rally stage, he talks at the crowd but their lack of listening and continued animosity sparks one bloody daydream in his mind as he imagines lasering the mass gathering into a gory mess of limbs and dismembered body parts.
Realizing that nothing he says can turn his image around, he flies off before behaving that rashly and seeks advice from his biggest adversary of the season — Stormfront. She has the tools he needs and it does work. By the episode's end the pair end up engaging in an angry sex match that has to be one of the most bizarre scenes on this insane show yet.
But despite Homelander's gratitude for her help in rehab-ing his social image, it's not entirely convincing that he cares for Stormfront in a pure way. She's functional and useful to him right now, but what happens if that ceases or if she decides to lie to him? We can't help but think that his narcissism and violent ways will win out.
So, while being one of TV's best villains, Homelander also appears to be one of its best narcissists as well. Will ego win out? Continue to tune in as Season 2 of The Boys continues on Amazon Prime Video.
The Boys, Season 2, New Episodes, Fridays, Amazon Prime Video