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.
Squid Game – Review
The Players and Games
On 17 September 2021, South Korean, Netflix series Squid Game was released. Unbeknown to many including writer and creator Hwang Dong-hyuk, this nine-part drama quickly became the most talked about and watched show around the world.
The extremely well written, staged and thought-out show is a mix of ‘Black Mirror’, ‘Hunger Games’ and ‘Battel Royal’ all rolled into one. To make an intense and binge-able series from start to finish.
The series can be watched with subtitles or dubbed. We would suggest watching it subtitled as some of the dubbed voiceovers don’t quite match up to the characters and you can lose some of the intensity in the scenes. With both options, however, you will still be able to get a good handle of the story, as you follow hundreds of money-poor contestants take on the deadly childhood games.
SPOILERS: If you haven’t watched the whole of Squid Game yet. Stop reading here as we are about to review the players and the games, with some hefty spoilers added in.
All dressed in green tracksuits the players are the focus of the story, and the costuming made sure they did just that. In Screen Rants video Squid Game: 15 Things You Missed, we find out that Dong-hyuk wanted the players in school uniforms. But after realising they would have to wear shorts and skirts, he went with the PE style tracksuits in green, the opposite colour to red on the colour wheel… to make sure the blood stood out.
The game starts with 456 players, but there are eight main characters, who we are invited to find out more about within the story.
Seong Gi-hun (player 456)
The very first player we are introduced to is gambling addict Seong Gi-hun, Played by actor and successful model Lee Jung-jae. Gi-hun lives with his mother, bets all her money on horses, has a lot of debts, and gets his own daughter’s birthday gift from an arcade game. Which cleverly links to the boxes they use for coffins, within the game.
Gi-hun, is a great main character because through his lies and bad habits, his narrative is written to show that he has a compassionate side too, which you can relate to.
Kang Sae-byeok (player 067)
The next character we meet is Kang Sae-byeok, portrayed perfectly by model Jung Ho-yeon, in her first ever acting role. The character arc of the strong, independent, pickpocket, is so interesting and endearing to watch. She goes from depending on herself to becoming part of a team and putting her trust in others.
Her back story is of wanting money to help her brother leave an orphanage and to move her mother from North to South Korea. This puts her in a very sympathetic light which urges us the viewer to root for her.
Cho Sang-woo (Player 218)
The next player we are introduced to is Cho Sang-woo, this complex character played by popular TV actor Park Hae Soo. His own story and mannerisms are what make him such an interesting and confusing character who one minute you like, for example when he helps the team out in tug-of-war game or the other minute you despise especially after the stunt he pulled with Ali, in the marble arena. This makes him one of the best characters to have in a show like this as he is unpredictable, like we saw at the end of game six.
Oh il-Nam (player 001)
The heart and soul of the team… or so we thought! Was Oh il-Nam player 001- we should have known!
One of the smartest players in the game was expertly played by actor and writer, Oh Young-soothe. The likable old man had us going all the way to the end and even made some of us cry in the marble game making the twist at the end of the series even better.
Jang Deok-Su (Player 101)
All good games need a villain, luckily there were a lot within the 456 players, but none were as bad as actor Heo Sung-tae’s portrayal of tatted Jang Deok-su.
Player 101, comes in hitting one of the female players and leaves being dragged down by another one! His well-written character had us shouting at the screen and hoping for a worthy death, and after his betrayal to Han Mi-nyeo before tug of war, she served him the cruel departure from the game we had all hoped for.
Abdul Ali (Player 199)
After saving Gi-Hun in the red light, green light game. Abdul Ali showed not only his strength but his love and trust in others which unfortunately would also become his demise…Thanks to snaky Sang-woo.
Actor Anupam Tripathi took his first big TV role and ran with it becoming one of the most loved characters in the series. Even getting a barrage of meme’s made for the character following his wrongful and underhanded death.
Han Mi-nyeo (Player 212)
Due to the copious amounts of death and blood, it’s always wise to have a little comic relief. Han Mi-nyeo’s character was certainly that, with her frequently used catchphrase of ‘I’m good at everything, except for the things I’m not’. Portrayed by Californian born actress Kim Joo-ryeong, the loud and obnoxious character really gave the competitive edge to the game, especially in the honeycomb games when she cheated, using a lighter to melt the candy! Her character, however, did get a little grating at times.
Ji-yeong (Player 240)
Our biggest issue with this character was that there was simply not enough screen time! Played by Lee Yoo-mi in her first major role, the character of Ji-yeong captured our hearts in just three episodes. Particularly as we got to know more about her harrowing backstory if only there was a way that both Ji-yeong and Sae-byeok could have left the marble arena together!
The main part of the story of Squid Game, is the six schoolyard games, which the players must play and win to get their hands on the life-changing sum of money.
Game 1: Red Light, Green Light.
The aim of the game is not to move when the ‘creepiest doll in history’ is looking, otherwise you are eliminated, and in this game, this doesn’t just mean out! When the ‘creepy doll’ isn’t looking you need to run as quick as you can and try and cross the line within the time frame. Sounds easy right? Not when you realise if you move… you die!
Red Light, Green Light is where the players realise what kind of game they are involved in and where we lost over half to the players too!
The schoolyard set and creepy doll voice just add to the tension of this game, which is also amplified by the visuals of the game in play accompanied by the switch over to the Front Man as he watched the game through monitors whilst listening to the song ‘Fly me to the moon’.
Game 2: Honeycomb/Dalgano Candy
To be safe in this game you need to successfully cut out a shape from Honeycomb, without damaging or breaking the shape. The only tool you are given to help you is a needle.
At the beginning of this game, we truly see the back-stabbing side of Sang-woo, as he realises what game it is, as the players start to pick their shape, before knowing what they need to do.
In the know, Sang-woo goes for the easiest shape, a triangle, and neglects to warn the others as Gi-Hun walks over to pick the hardest shape, the umbrella. This game separates the cheaters from the thinkers as Mi-nyeo and Deok-su use a lighter and Gi-Hun uses his brain and licks the shape free.
The climbing frames, bright colours, childish music and gunshots provide the perfect setting to make this whole scene completely unnerving for the players and the viewers.
Game 3: Tug of War
In teams of ten, it’s time for the players to play Tug of War. The main basis of this game needs no introduction, but instead of being pulled into a pile of mud like the classic game… you get pulled to your death.
Due to the Dr, Player 111, and his extra gameplay with some of the guards. (That involved selling body parts) Deok-su and his team know what game was coming up and managed to put together a team of strongmen to win their heat. Unfortunately, Gi-hun and his team didn’t have the same knowledge and in turn looked to have a weaker team than others. Luckily Il-Nam and Sang-Woo had solid gameplay ideas which saved the team.
The setting for Tug of War, took a bit of a dark turn and away from the schoolyard setting. With yellow and grey platforms set in a pitch-black room. Within this game, we lost half the players.
Game 4: Marbles
With this series, we all had the fear that at one point out favourites would be pitted against each other but not this early! Asked to pair up the players thought they would be playing together in teams like the last game, but that was not the case.
In the game of Marbles, the pairs were left to decide for themselves what game they wanted to play, with the loser being eliminated!
Probably one of the hardest games to watch as most pairs were playing a game of chance. If you were anything like us, we were hoping there was going to be another twist where some of the characters would survive in pairs but instead, we lost some big players and learned who were not to be trusted.
Having two games back-to-back where we lost half the players each time really helped keep the momentum of the story.
Game 5: Glass Bridge
To start this horrifying game of chance, the players had to pick their order, before knowing what the game was which led to a very tense moment where Gi Hun, almost went first. His indecisiveness helping him hugely here.
The aim of this game is for the remaining players to make their way across the glass bridge hopping from glass square to glass square, hoping to land on the tempered glass, rather than the normal glass which would break instantly sending them plummeting to their death.
Again, set in a pitch-black room with a few lights this game was intense! But it did however whittled the players down to three and showed Sang-woo’s ‘do anything for the money’ character again.
The added glass blasts at the end of the game also added an extra twist of tension as front runner Sae-byeok got severely injured.
Game 6: The Squid Game
With only two players left after Sang-woo eliminated Sae-byeok with a dinner knife, it was on to the final game and namesake of the series, Squid Game.
This game is divided into attacker (Gi-hun) and defender (Sang-woo). The attackers’ objective is to reach the “home” square marked on the opposite side of the field, while the defender’s purpose is to block them and push them out to win.
However, let’s be honest we saw very little gameplay as it ended up in a fight between the two finalists. The end of the game was gripping to watch, particularly with the knives in play and Gi-huns indecisive personality. Just as we think it’s all over, rather than putting his foot in the home square Gi-hun tries to get an injured Sang-woo to walk away from the game so they can both survive, giving up on the money.
But it a massive twist Sang-woo picks up the knife from the floor and instead of killing Gi-hun, like we anticipated, he kills himself. This was a great call from writer Hwang Dong-hyuk as it was unexpected and gave us a little extra from Sang-woos character. However, we can’t help but think that maybe it would have been a bigger twist if Sang-woo did kill Gi-Hun and won the games as no one was routing for him.
What do you think about our thoughts on the players and games within Squid Game? Let us know in the comments below.
Check out book to movie adaptations coming soon HERE.
Read IMDB information about Squid Game HERE.
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