Between slime pet and a dick pic to dad, Succession has tried to be probably the most grotesque present on tv. It comes shut, however Amazon Prime’s The Boys takes the distinction in a extra literal sense: within the at the moment operating third season alone, we’ve seen a person inside a bag of cocaine and we’ve seen The Deep eat a stay octopus with whom he had sexual relations. The Boys is grotesque all over the place by design, but it surely’s the collection’ essential antagonist Homelander (Antony Starr) that embodies it. Homelander can fly. Purple lasers shoot out his eyes. He wears a crimson, blue, and gold uniform with a cape. The one factor he doesn’t have in frequent together with his superhero counterpart Superman is blonde hair, combed to perfection like a 90s boy band member or Ryan Gosling in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie. At first look, Homelander would possibly seem to be Superman, however his character and delight of killing lots of people very violently and terrorizing anybody he doesn’t kill distinguishes him from his inspiration who saves the world and thinks glasses make him unrecognizable.
Within the second episode of the third and present season of The Boys, Homelander pops up on nationwide tv in a passionate speech about how he’s higher and extra highly effective than everybody. “I don’t make errors,” he says. “I’m not similar to the remainder of you. I’m stronger. I’m smarter.” Homelander’s eyes bulge as in the event that they’re about to come out of their sockets and his skinny lips widen as he screams, “I’m higher! I AM BETTER!”
This speech has been simmering in Homelander for a very long time. It’s the primary time he’s ever allowed himself to be trustworthy on such a big scale, as a substitute of being a company superhero firm’s golden boy. Antony Starr’s efficiency on this scene exemplifies how he creates worry, pleasure, and comedy with a nightmarish stare or a menacing smile. Sadly, the efficiency on this scene is so good that some blissfully unaware followers of The Boys fully missed the purpose and really suppose the character is nice. Each scene Homelander is in escalates my coronary heart fee and when a scene involving Homelander ends with out bloodshed, I set free a deep exhale after involuntarily holding my breath.
Starr has developed the villain from a foul hero with an affinity for breast milk right into a extra tragic – however nonetheless terrifying – one. The character has advanced with Starr’s layered efficiency which is emotional however not forgiving. As Homelander’s weaknesses are uncovered, together with his lonely childhood and his determined want for household and belonging, he turns into much more unhinged and violent. When he commits violent acts, together with burning Elizabeth Shue’s eyes off and pushing his son off of a roof, Starr, even with CGI-ed crimson laser eyes, exhibits all the things in Homelander’s face: temporary aid from his ache and twisted, euphoric pleasure.
Though Homelander has related arcs each season in that he discovers one thing Vought has been hiding from him and the betrayal makes him act out, and the character by no means adjustments, he solely will get worse, Starr by no means makes it really feel static or numb. Homelander nonchalantly kills enemies, harmless bystanders and even pals as casually as a standard individual checks their mailbox but it surely by no means appears like a villain sticking round too lengthy that it turns into exhausting and too handy, like Ramsay Bolton of Sport of Thrones. Starr’s method to portraying such a misguided and violent character is just like Invoice Hader’s efficiency on Barry: they provide you sufficient to hate the man, however sufficient to like watching them. It’s an ideal, Thanos-approved steadiness.
By now, Homelander needs to be useless. Nearly each character is a part of a mission to kill him, and a few, just like the titular The Boys, have been on that mission for the reason that present started. However Antony Starr’s chilling however compelling efficiency implies there’s extra to Homelander than we expect, however on the similar time he’s precisely who we see. The efficiency is what holds the present collectively and is, weirdly, the present’s coronary heart. Starr offers Homelander emotional depth however no excuses, both, and is so good that the present is not possible with out him.