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Homelander – ‘The Boys’ Charismatic Superhero With a Dark, Twisted Core Explained

5 Minute Read
Jun 10 2024

During three seasons of The Boys, Antony Starr has made Homelander a household name. But where did this evil Superman analog come from?

Homelander is a classic flying, almost unbeatable, laser-eyed superhero with a twist. He’s presented to the public as a good-natured, modest, and sincere Boy Scout and patriot. He’s anything but. Comic writer Garth Ennis created him as the anti-Superman/Captain America and described him as:

“…an almost entirely negative character. He is really just a series of unpleasant urges kept in check by his own intelligence, which is enough to understand that he can have anything he wants so long as he doesn’t push his luck too far.”

– via Newsarama

This super sociopath entered the zeitgeist thanks to Antony Starr’s performance in The Boys. But there’s more to him than being simply evil.

Antony Starr as Homelander and the comic version
via Dark Horse and Amazon

Who is Homelander?

Homelander, also known as John Gillman, was lab-grown and raised by Vought Industries. His genetic father is Soldier Boy, America’s first superhero. From his conception, he was a corporate science experiment. John was initially a sweet, average boy with extraordinary powers. To turn him into the strongest man in the world, the scientists had to make him violent and aggressive by putting him through painful experiments.

He was forced to fight strength-enhanced guards, and at one point, he was boiled alive to test his skin’s capabilities. Not understanding his strength or how to control his powers, he killed people without intending to.

young homelander in the boys
via Amazon

In his childhood, they attempted to mold him into the perfect supe. A supe Vought could control. Instead of becoming a hero with a moral center, he created a sociopathic alternate personality to survive abuse and grew to be filled with rage and indignation. John became a super-powered human the corporation couldn’t entirely control.


Later, he became the founding member and leader of Vought’s super team, The Seven. His first mission was to top a group of terrorists that had taken hostages at a chemical plant. As he had in his childhood, he underestimated his powers and kills the hostages. The survivors call him a monster, and his response is to kill all of them in a fit of rage. The mission fails, but he covers it up by killing everyone and destroying the scene. A habit he would rely on regularly in his career to hide his mistakes.

As time passed, he started to lose control of the facade that hides his true nature. Homelander has become more unstable and even more cruel and enraged as a result.

the boys the seven promo poster with antony starr
via Amazon

READ MORE: The Seven – Origins Of ‘The Boys’ Corporate Superhero Team

Who Plays Homelander?

Antony Starr plays Homelander in Amazon’s The Boys, based on Garth Ennis’ comics. Before being cast in 2018, he was in several television series, including Banshee and American Gothic. He won the AACTA Award for Best Actor in a Supporting Role for Wish You Were Here.

The actor said that we should see Homelander as the evil character he is, rather than just being misunderstood.

“There’s a very strange thing that’s happened with the character, though he is clearly not a good guy. A lot of people have glommed onto him. There’s a weird element out there that actually kind of idolize him. I’ve seen some shit on Twitter and I’m like, ‘Wait, What? You are missing the point entirely!’ What if Superman were a narcissistic sociopath?”

– via LA Times
Antony Starr as Homelander
via Amazon

Starr is returning to face off against Butcher in Season 4 of the series, which will debut on Prime Video on June 13th.


What Makes Homelander So Powerful?

Homelander gets his powers from a combination of supe genetics from his father and his exposure to Compound V as a child.

Compound V is a chemical serum developed by Nazi geneticist Frederick Vought to create super soldiers for the Third Reich. After the war ended, experiments with serum continued in the Vought International labs. The best results happen when it’s introduced to infants and children and introduced to subjects that already have powers.

compound v the boys
via Amazon

What is Homelander Like in The Boys Comics?

This section may contain spoilers.

The show and comic book versions are similar but vary in degrees. In the comics, Vought told the world that he came from outer space in the comics to hide the development of Compound V. The scientists strapped a neutron bomb to Homelander’s back during his childhood to control him while carrying out experiments.

In the comics, Homelander’s superpowers go beyond the ones he has in the show. He’s also more unhinged, heartless, and murderous. He doesn’t care about human life at all and will do absolutely anything to gain power. While his hunger for power isn’t as ruthless, Antony Starr’s take on the character in the show uses intelligence to attain his goals and will use manipulation to get what he wants rather than resorting to violence first.

via Amazon

While what happened with Becca Butcher is part of the comic’s story, it doesn’t result in a son. The assault ends with Becca Butcher’s death. The romantic (for lack of a better term) relationships with Stormfront or Stillwell aren’t in comics. In addition, while he’s presented as straight on-screen, Homelander is bisexual in the comics.

The most significant difference, which changes the story entirely, is that Homelander has a clone in the comics. A clone that is even more powerful than he is.


Do They Ever Kill Homelander?

This section may contain spoilers.

While the Amazon series hasn’t shown if Homelander will die, the comics have. After leading a coup and taking over the U.S. government, he was killed off-panel by Black Noir. The black-clad member of The Seven is a powerful Homelander clone that Vought created to kill him if he got out of control.

It’s obvious that Black Noir won’t be the one who takes Homelander out in the show – if anyone does. Homelander killed Black Noir in Season 3. We have to wait to find out how the show’s writers decide to end Homelander’s story.

Author: Mars Garrett
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