The Boys is Amazon Prime's biggest hit, and a daring take on superhero tropes. Adapted from Garth Ennis's bestselling comics, it features a group of ordinary men who have taken it upon themselves to end the reign of a team of superheroes known as The Seven, who pretend to be good guys while indulging in all kinds of hedonistic and destructive activities at the public's expense.
The breakout character from the show is Homelander, leader of The Seven and a pastiche of Superman and Captain America. Despite being an out-and-out villain, Homelander is a complex character. Here are instances when he made audiences hate him, but also the times you feel sorry for him:
10 Despicable: Coercing Starlight Into Servicing Him
In the comics, one of the first things Homelander does is welcome a young, idealistic superhero named Starlight who wants to be a part of The Seven. The second thing he does is ordering her to pleasure him if she wants a spot on the team.
When Starlight issues a shocked refusal, Homelander states that it is the only way she is getting on the team. For the rest of her tenure on the team, every time Starlight interacts with Homelander is a painful reminder of what he did to her.
9 Despicable: Leaving Passengers To Die
The most infamous scene of the perceived heroes in action is when Homelander and his team attempt to avert a plane crash. After causing destruction within the aircraft with his poorly planned actions, Homelander decides the mission is a lost cause and bails.
Despite the cries of help from the passengers and Queen Maeve repeatedly beseeching him to carry at least some of the passengers to safety, Homelander refuses, since leaving any witnesses alive would mean the world would find out the truth about what happened aboard the craft.
8 Despicable: Lying About The Plane Crash
As if not helping any of the passengers was not enough, Homelander then used the tragedy of the plane crash to bolster his own image. He painted a moving scene where he would have been able to save the victims if only he had military clearance at the government level and had thus been alerted to the crisis in time.
He placed the blame for the tragedy at the feet of the enemies of America and was so convincing in his act that he actually managed to turn the disaster into a huge PR moment for himself.
7 Despicable: Creating A Super Terrorist
Homelander was always looking for ways to gain more power within the government, and one major way he conceived of to do so was to create a breed of superhuman terrorists who could only be contained by him. Never mind the number of lives lost and damage to the surroundings that his plot unleashed.
As always, Homelander's only concern was how the incident would make him even more indispensable to the government.
6 Despicable: His Contempt For Everyone Else
Despite his many grand speeches about ordinary citizens being the real heroes, and his projecting himself as only a humble servant, Homelander feels nothing but contempt for everyone around him. His powers make him a god-like being, and that is how Homelander sees himself.
The regular people who surround him are only viewed as ants whom he could crush whenever he felt like it for his own amusement or as fodder for his ambitions. In fact, it is difficult to believe that Homelander truly cares about anyone in his life, and in fact, only sees value in how useful those closest to him can be for his plans.
5 Despicable: Spying On Stillwell
Homelander isn't just an asshole on a superhero scale. He also manages to make the smaller creepy moments count. For instance, take his habit of spying on Madelyn Stillwell, one of the top-ranked officials within the company that created The Seven. Particularly, Homelander likes to watch Madelyn using the breast pump in her office with his X-ray vision.
What makes the scene put up on a whole other level of wrong is the fact that Stillwell knows Homelander is watching, and deliberately puts on a show for him.
4 Sad: His Childhood
Before you go blaming Homelander's nature solely on his own mindset, consider how he was raised. Homelander's mother died giving birth to her super-baby, and he was raised in a cold and sterile lab environment, completely bereft of companionship or affection, and programmed since infancy to be a product rather than an actual human being.
No wonder it feels like an act when Homelander has to mimic emotions like empathy or affection.
3 Sad: Seeing His Old Blanket
One of the rare few times we get to see Homelander lose his cool in front of an audience is when, during the filming of a saccharine commercial, he spies an old blanket lying on a bed that reminds him of the blanket he had as his sole companion during his childhood.
At that moment, Homelander goes from being the most powerful psychopath in the world to a wistful little kid trying to hold back tears at the memory of the inanimate object that once passed for a friend.
2 Sad: Longing For Parents
Homelander feels some degree of affection towards Stillwell and the man who was in charge of creating him in a lab. In a pathetic, twisted way, the company employees who have used him his whole life are the closest things to parental figures in Homelander's life, and he still tries to connect with them in his own fumbling way. This is why Stillwell's eventual betrayal of Homelander was even more painful.
1 Sad: Realizing Black Noir Tricked Him
Spoiler Alert for anyone who has not read the comics: It turns out the horrific acts that Homelander was filmed doing, which he himself believed he had performed, and which led him to lose his grip on sanity and go on an all-out rampage, were all orchestrated by Black Noir.
Homelander's realization that he had not actually committed the heinous acts he had already blamed himself for, and that he might have been an actual good man if Noir's treachery had not warped his mind, is quite heartbreaking to witness.