Seasons one and two of The Boys is streaming now on Amazon Prime. Would it be fair to say that Homelander is the greatest villain in TV history? I think so, and here’s why.
To put it mildly, this is a phenomenal show. It has excellent action, and intriguing story, and – most notably – incredibly well-designed characters. All of the characters have multiple layers. The good guys of the show (notable the titular Boys) all have flaws. The villains (such as most of the members of The Seven) all have at least one trait that make them even semi-redeemable.
However, none of the characters are as expertly designed and portrayed as Homelander.
Homelander, as portrayed by Antony Starr, is one of the most fascinating TV characters in recent years. It is still early in the show’s run, but one could argue that he might even end up in the upper echelon of the all-time great TV show and movie villains.
But why is he such a phenomenal character? What makes him stand out among his peers in villainy? In this article I will take a look at exactly those questions. So let’s don our America capes and dive in!
Before we move any further, an obvious note, there are SPOILERS in this article. If you haven’t watched the show yet and want to appreciate Homelander in all his glory on your own, turn back now.
Who is he?
In The Boys, Homelander is the leader of The Seven.
On paper, he is the Greatest American Hero. He even wears a cape that is decorated with the American Flag. He has super powers such as flight, near invincibility, and powerful heat vision. If that sounds familiar, it should – he is very much analogous to other All-American DC Comics stalwart, Superman.
He appeals to the masses and inspires them to love their country. He is represented as the Greatest American, representing true American values and all that is great about his country. When a documentary is filmed about his upbringing, his childhood home is presented as a vaguely Midwestern locale where farmland, fresh air, and baseball rule the day. He seems wholesome and true, and unlike his brethren in The Seven he is driven by his desire to help others and make the world a better place.
In reality he is…very much not any of those things.
Well, when you really stop to think about it, he might actually be all of those things. But just not in the way that you might think on the surface level.
To put it mildly, Homelander is essentially the Evil Mirror Universe version of Superman. If Superman is everything that is good about America, Homelander is everything that is wrong about it. Or perhaps, everything that is accurate about it. Superman is how America sees itself; Homelander is how the rest of the world tends to see America (there are actually quite a few excellent memes about this topic).
Superman is everything that makes America great. Homelander is what Makes America Great Again. Like Superman, Homelander is an assumed to be an alien who crashed into earth as a baby. Superman then did grow up on a quintessentially American farm and lived an idyllic life early on. But Homelander? He only pretended to grow up on a farm, as noted earlier in his documentary. In truth, he grew up in lab being experimented on using Compound V. He was either an alien or a baby stolen from his family and warped to become the American Ideal.
He seems like he does it for the people, but he only does it for himself. And while he seems like the best and purest of The Seven, he is actually the most ruthless and violent of all of them.
What makes Homelander such a great villain?
Perhaps it was a coincidence that Antony Starr, who portrays the All-American Homelander, is from New Zealand. Or perhaps it was a calculated decision intended for ironic effect. Either way, it is just one of many ways in which Homelander is inauthentic.
Like so much of America, or at least of how the rest of the world sees America, Homelander seems authentic. But is instead a carefully crafted creation of a laboratory setting. He is therefore completely inauthentic, a False God for a country that adores him but he does not care about. He’ll care about you but only for as long as it helps him. If you don’t fit his needs or help increase ratings or movie sales, he’ll drop you (sometimes very literally).
It is this duplicity and in-authenticity that is the biggest reason that Homelander is such an amazing villain. He seems like the greatest hero but only cares about himself. He, like his fellow heroes in The Seven, only want to save the day and beat the bad guys when the cameras are watching.
There are many times in The Boys in which we see this duality play out. One of these instances comes in the first episode when Homelander shoots down the Mayor of Baltimore’s plane, killing everyone inside (including the Mayor’s young son). The Mayor has just essentially blackmailed Madelyn Stillwell, the bureaucrat in charge of handling The Seven, into getting more money for a Baltimore-based superhero based on circumstantial evidence about the mysterious Compound V.
Not an honourable move you’d think. But it was a necessary one to get the protection he needed for his city.
Then, on the way home, the Mayor’s son notices a flying figure outside their aircraft. A heroic one. It’s a bird, he thinks. It’s a plane! No, it’s Superm Homelander! And he’s here to…murder everyone on board and cover up all evidence of wrongdoing and maintain the status quo.
And how does Homelander celebrate this heinous act? By pursuing Madelyn sexually, even though she has a young child. A child that Homelander is not the father to or a being that he even cares about. But don’t worry, everyone! Homelander will ultimately remedy this situation by…murdering Madelyn and framing Billy Butcher for it. Why does he murder her? Because she covered up the fact that Homelander had a son with Butcher’s wife Rebecca.
Homelander, the true American patriot, decides to make up for lost time and be a father to his son by teaching him to fly, just like his dad! Except he does this by throwing his son off of the roof of his house. When his son can’t immediately fly, and in fact gets injured by this act, Homelander doesn’t show concern. He just gets…irritated. Father of the year, everyone!
But no act in in The Boys is more illustrative of Homelander’s character than that of the doomed airplane flight that Homelander and Queen Maeve attempt to rescue. In short: terrorists hijack a plane full of innocent people. And Homelander and Queen Maeve (who Homelander had a relationship with…and it’s always unclear how mutual the feelings were) arrive to defeat the terrorists and save the day. But unfortunately the terrorists have also infiltrated the cockpit and taken out the pilots. When Homelander tries to defeat the terrorists, he accidentally takes out the airplane engines and sends the plane into a tailspin.
As the plane begins to spiral into the abyss, panic sets in. The people on board panic and plead for the great Homelander to save them. Queen Maeve desperately wants to help and save the children if nothing else. But Homelander senses that the mission is a doomed one. He and Maeve cannot save those on board, and since they cannot save the innocents and increase their popularity with the general public, Homelander decides to cut his losses.
It is better to save oneself and still look like the hero than try to save the innocents and fail. At least that’s what Homelander believes. So he convinces Maeve to leave with him. The plane crashes. And everyone on board dies a tragic death that could have been avoided had Homelander done something. Anything.
But he doesn’t do anything. And why? Because Homelander evaluated the risk against the reward, and he believed that letting the people on board the plane die. And then blaming those responsible as terrorists that threatened the fabric of America would be better for his brand in the long run.
And this is why Homelander is such a despicable, yet exquisite, villain.
Hate for America
He is the representation of why people hate America across the globe. He tries to act like he is the hero but he only does things that are good for him. Things that best represent his brand. Will trying to save a plane full of innocent people cause more risk to his health and well being than letting them all die to make America seem like the great martyr but making him look like the tragic hero?
It doesn’t matter in the long run. There is no morality. And there is no good vs. evil. There’s only good ratings and money drawn from tragedy. Homelander, and America, only cares about helping those than improve his “Q” rating and increases his merchandise sales.
Homelander’s America: where the bottom line and t-shirt sales outweigh the costs of human lives. And that is why Homelander is the great modern villain: for him, capitalism outweighs altruism.
And that’s why Homelander from The Boys is the greatest villain in TV history. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Catch our review of The Boys season two HERE.
Read IMDB information about The Boys HERE.
Cobra Kai Season 4 – Review
Cobra Kai season four is out now on Netflix and the All Valley is back and better than ever. Here’s our review.
SPOILERS: If you’re reading this then you’ve probably seen the show, but if not there are spoilers ahead.
It’s January, and new shows are popping up everywhere. This brings us to the show that I and my friends have been holding our breaths for: the fourth season of the hit Netflix series Cobra Kai! After three seasons, I wondered if there was anything left to mine from the Karate Kid lore or the Johnny/Daniel dynamic. I am happy to report that this might be my favourite season yet! It manages to not only expand upon the universe it has created, but to bring in a new villain, who is so bad that he threatens to outdo even John Kreese!
Season four sets us off where the third left off, with Johnny and Daniel having joined forces to fight Cobra Kai. Their friendship arc is the glue that holds this season together. The story focuses largely on whether they will be able to pull it together and make their partnership work. As in previous seasons, their relationship has its ups and downs. The stakes are heightened, however, as the season leads up to the All-Valley Tournament. A bet between the three senseis – Kreese, Daniel, and Johnny – means that losing the All Valley is losing the title of sensei.
This season explores the ways that both Johnny and Daniel work with the kids. It also examines the kids’ struggles as they prepare for the All Valley while dealing with conflict within the ever-changing network of friends and enemies in the dojos. Robbie has left juvenile hall and decided to join up with Cobra Kai as a means of inflicting revenge on both his dad and Daniel. Tori and Sam continue their rivalry. And John Reese’s old friend Terry Silver (of Karate Kid 3 fame) shows up to kick Cobra Kai into high gear.
Daniel’s son, Anthony, who has largely been absent until now, faces his own dilemma when his friends begin bullying Kenny, the new kid in town. This soft-spoken middle school character brings us into the world of the younger kids, setting up yet another storyline. Kenny becomes the victim of a gang of kids (including Anthony), enduring round after round of bullying before Robbie takes him under his wing. After his induction into Cobra Kai, the formerly shy middle-schooler becomes a bully himself.
Shades of grey
This brings me to one of my favourite things about the show. The constant back and forth dynamic between characters makes us feel that anything is possible. There is no black and white in the world of Cobra Kai. Where the Karate Kid told us that Daniel was good, and Johnny was bad, this show gives us a very different point of view. It’s a world where we’re never sure who to root for. In this season, we even see Hawk make a return to the “good guys” side after giving up his spot at Cobra Kai.
With Eagle Fang (Johnny’s new dojo) and Miyagi-Do teaming up, the kids – and the adults – have to learn to work together. Of course, complications ensue. Johnny becomes jealous of what he perceives as Miguel’s preference for Daniel over him. Sam wants to learn both her dad’s karate style and Johnny’s, despite her father’s discouragement. Meanwhile, at Cobra Kai, Kreese is losing his grip on the dojo. His former war buddy, Terry Silver, puts off a rather benign appearance in episode one, growing more and more evil with each episode.
This season is lacking in many of the big fight scenes of the previous seasons, instead choosing to focus their energy on the characters. The All Valley Tournament features several great karate matches and offers a satisfying conclusion to Johnny and Daniel’s arc. In the end, Cobra Kai takes the tournament win, but Johnny and Daniel have reached an understanding.
Tori defeats Sam to take the women’s All Valley trophy but later overhears her sensei paying off one of the referees. It’s clear that Cobra Kai has pulled yet another fast one. But the season ends on an even more ominous – and unexpected – note. Terry Silver assaults the over-aged former Cobra Kai member, Stingray, sending him to the hospital. He then makes a deal with Stingray to blame the crime on Kreese. We end the season with Kreese in handcuffs, Terry Silver set to take over Cobra Kai, and the future of Eagle Fang and Miyagi-Do uncertain. In a last shocking twist, Miguel leaves town in search of his biological father.
Although some may miss the school hallway throw downs, I found this one satisfying in a different way. It just goes to show that the ever-expanding Cobra Kai universe can keep bringing surprises season after season.
CULTURE CROSSING SCORE 9/10
Thank you for reading our review of Cobra Kai season four. Do you agree or disagree with our points or have anything to add? If so, leave us a comment below.
Check out our Hawkeye episode one and two review HERE.
Read IMDB information about Spider-Man: No Way Home HERE.
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