*Massive spoilers ahead.*
Ever since DC and Marvel Comics entered the cinematic world, there has been no looking back. What was once ‘nerdy’ or ‘alternate’ now comfortably enjoys a significant entertainment clout. We’ve now come to a point where the superhero genre can be experimental with respect to its sub-genres and we’d gladly devour it, no questions asked.
Consequently, there couldn’t have been a better time for Amazon to release its latest ‘superhero’ series which essentially subverts the entire genre. The Boys gives us a world where superheroes are commodities. And just like world leaders and celebrities, their value is determined by how well they are marketed and managed by their respective PR teams. In the nefarious world of human commodification, it is but natural for superior beings to organically become morally corrupted.
Enter ‘The Seven’ — a group of ‘superheroes’ or ‘supes’ gone bad. While the whole group is a band of big bads as a whole, the standout bad guy is the leader of the group — the particularly sinister cape-toting ‘Homelander’.
Although our generation has seen the likes of Joker and Thanos, in Homelander we may just have got the most terrifying comicbook villain to date.
If not film, at least television can surely crown him the evilest villain there is.
Homelander is undefeatable.
Simplistically speaking, Homelander is Superman with a hint of Captain America. And just like Superman, he is pretty much indestructible. Except, he’s a sociopath version of both. He does what he does knowing fully well that it is a full-fledged crime. What’s worse is that he almost has blanket immunity due to just how massively he’s revered by the people in his world. People genuinely worship him like an infallible God, making it frustrating for ‘The Boys’ and us as viewers to see him win every time he actually commits atrocities.
Throughout the series, we are made to believe that his only weakness is his twisted relationship with Stillwell. This, however, is completely subverted by the end, when he nonchalantly murders her while making literal eye contact with his laser vision. In this moment, you know that he has no kryptonite.
He is genuinely diabolical.
At the end of the very first episode, we see Homelander singlehandedly blow up a private jet of a high-ranking official with his teenage son. In that very moment we learn that the tables in this show have completely turned. In this world superheroes are the bad guys — and Homelander is Satan in superhuman form. It is clear not in the explosion of the plane, but in the smile he exchanges with the child in the plane just before.
Another scene that cemented his stance as the big bad is when he leaves all passengers of a hijacked plane to die mid-air, for no apparent reason. Not only is he completely unflinched by this, he even thrives on the incident to gain mileage on his own corporate agenda.
His motivations are completely unknown.
Homelander spearheads a mission to create superpowered terrorists, deliberately crashes a plane(s), rapes his subordinate colleague, and a lot more. For what reason? No one really knows. And that’s what makes him genuinely terrifying. We’re completely in the dark about his motivations.
Even the simple act of him reuniting Butcher with his ‘missing’ wife who carried Homelander’s child proves how even playing mind games part of his strength. In that moment we can feel that depth of Butcher’s mixed emotions, but we have literally zero idea about Homelander’s motivations behind what he did.
We know he is pure evil. But we don’t know why. And that makes him bloodcurdlingly terrifying.
In a messed up sort of way, one even sympathises with him.
While he was worshipped and glorified later in his life, Homelander never had a normal childhood. He was raised like an animal, was experimented upon, and never got to learn empathy by experience. While those are the makings of a supervillain, at some level you even sympathise with him for all that he was put through to become what he is.
His attachment with his blanket and his anguish when he sees it randomly appear makes us genuinely feel for his past self. The genuine confusion and conflict that we feel as an audience adds to his complexity and character depth.
The bad-boy-ish Butcher is an antithesis to the good-boy image of Homelander. Which makes him the perfect hero-nemesis duo for our times.
With spot-on character development, Antony Starr does a fabulous job of playing the diabolical Homelander to the tee. And his character is totally up there in the villain hall of fame.