Why So Many Fans Are Shocked By Homelander's Arc In The Boys Season 3

"I am very excited for everyone to meet the real me," declared a grimacing Homelander (Antony Starr) in the Season 3 premiere of "The Boys." It might be the scariest threat he's delivered on the show thus far. Season 2 ended with Homelander defeated, masturbating atop the Chrysler Building in a futile attempt at restoring his tarnished dignity. Season 3 is about him clawing back up, and it's terrifying.

In doing so, it's also clearer than ever that the biggest influence on the character isn't Superman or Captain America, it's Donald Trump, another malignant narcissist with bleached blond hair and a history of cozying up to Nazis. Showrunner Eric Kripke confirmed this in an interview with Rolling Stone, bluntly titled, "Yes, Homelander on 'The Boys' Is Supposed to Be Donald Trump."

In a truly baffling turn of events, some "Boys" fans are shocked. Despite two prior seasons with the subtlety of a sledgehammer, these fans hadn't clued into either Homelander's irredeemability or that the show's satire is aimed firmly at the right. Let's look into why they are shocked and why they shouldn't have been.

The Reddit mess

This hullabaloo began on "The Boys" subreddit. The tipping point was season 3, episode 5, thanks to the character Blue Hawk (Nick Wechsler). Blue Hawk's name and "color-blind" crimefighting that's really not anything of the sort are a not-so-subtle shade of the Blue Lives Matter crowd. You can read /Film's Michael Boyle go into more detail on that storyline here.

A now-deleted post on the subreddit titled, "Was really liking Blue Hawk until the end of his speech." The poster elaborated, "His speech should have been sarcastic because there is no reason to [apologize] for eliminating criminals." Other members of the community tore this apart. As a forum moderator succinctly said, "Right-wingers are finally understanding that the show is making fun of them."

The situation earned more attention thanks to writer Ryan Broderick tweeting about it, which "The Boys" official Twitter account then highlighted. Broderick screenshotted both the deleted Blue Hawk post and another one, "The Boys perfectly displays what the dictator trap is." This post praised the show's satirical depiction of Homelander's Trumpian rule of Vought, but ended up locked due to fans who, as Broderick put it, "thought Homelander was cool." Broderick observed of pro-Homelander commentators, "They know he's the bad guy. They want ... [him] redeemed so they don't get uncomfortable [for liking him]." That Homelander's only getting worse no doubt grates them.

For reference, many posts and comments on "The Boys" subreddit were removed due to community Rules 3 and 6: "Be civil" and "No politics" respectively. However, even the community's left-leaning members refused to be silent, one arguing that Rule 6 is too restrictive since the show is so blindingly political. Indeed, the parallels between Homelander and Trump are so obvious it's nigh impossible to discuss his character arc and not get political.

The pointed parallels

Vought CEO Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) attempts to neuter Homelander's power by making Starlight (Erin Moriarty) co-captain of the Seven. Homelander's Nazi girlfriend Stormfront (Aya Cash) then dies by suicide on his birthday. By the end of season 3, episode 2, he's had enough and goes on a deranged, self-congratulatory speech, all aired on live TV.

The speech bears many hallmarks of Trump's rhetoric (if you can call it that). Homelander declares, "you need me to save you, I am the only one who possibly can," akin to Trump's declaration, "I alone can fix [America]," at the 2016 RNC. He also says, "All my life rich people, powerful people tried to muzzle me, cancel me, keep me obedient." As Trump does, Homelander is attacking the same elite he's a part of. This sort of anti-establishment conservatism is inherently contradictory. A movement all about shoring up tradition and capital can't topple them, especially when its leader is someone lifted by those power structures.

Unfortunately, just like disaffected white people flocked to Trump in the real world, many ex-Stormfront fans find themselves with a new icon in Homelander. What many Trump fans like about the man is that "he tells it like it is," meaning he voices their preconceived prejudices. Homelander is getting an audience for similar reasons.

In episode 5, while being interviewed on the "Cameron Coleman Hour," Homelander is asked about a recent super-villain attack. His response is, "America is safe, go to your restaurants, go to your movie theaters, live your lives!" This is a clear shot at Trump's laissez-faire handling of COVID-19. He continues his attacks on the media in Episode 6: "The American people know ... when someone is lying to them." He didn't have to say "Fake news" to get the point across.

Self-pitying power

In the aforementioned Rolling Stone interview, Kripke elaborated:

"[Homelander's] always been a Trump analogue for me... He has this really combustible mix of complete weakness and insecurity, and just horrible power and ambition, and it's just such a deadly combo. Of course he would feel victimized that people are angry that he dated a Nazi. All he ever wants is to be the most powerful person he can be, even though he's completely inadequate in his abilities to handle it. So it's white-male victimization and unchecked ambition. And those issues just happened to reflect the guy who, it's just still surreal to say it, was... president of the United States. And it's a bigger issue than just Trump. The more awful public figures act, the more fans they seem to be getting."

Conservatives' fixation on cancel culture has indeed created many martyrs. Gina Carano, fired from LucasFilm due to anti-Semitic and transphobic social media posts, is now starring in the Daily Wire-produced "Terror on the Prarie." The film's marketing puts her "cancellation" by Disney front and center.

Homelander's mix of power and self-pity resonates with the type of people he's appealing to in his world and ours. He's literally the most powerful man in the world, but also sees himself as a victim because not everyone worships him. His fragile ego drives his actions, like how he stocks Vought's leadership with cronies like the Deep (Chace Crawford), Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell), and Ashley (Colby Minifie) while firing or killing (RIP Supersonic) those who step out of (his) line. Speaking to his own reflection in episode 6, Homelander finally acknowledges how he craves to be loved even by "mud people" he views as lesser.

Why the shock?

It's honestly inexcusable for fans to be shocked at Homelander's descent. For one, it'd be out of character for the show. Many of the contemptible supe characters, like the Deep and A-Train (Jessie Usher), have been given pitiable moments and opportunities for change. A-Train was offered a spot on the anti-Homelander team by Supersonic, while back in Season 1, the Deep was sexually assaulted, experiencing the same pain he caused Starlight. And yet, these characters continually squander their chances for growth. Why would Homelander, who's committed the same crimes as those two and worse, be the one who finally turns over a new leaf?

Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) has had the closest thing to a redemption arc, but she was never evil, just apathetic. Indeed, all of her worst moments were because of Homelander's influence.

As for the political side, satire of right-wing figures is baked into Homelander's character, even in Garth Ennis and Darrick Robertson's original comics. For one, there's his name. It's a pastiche of the Department of Homeland Security, which was founded after 9/11. Since the organization's inception, that name has been criticized for nationalistic connotations. Fitting for a character literally draped in an American flag who embodies this country's ugly Id. "The Boys" began publication in 2006, so the Bush administration cast a shadow over its satire. Season 1 echoed this, between the plane crash plot point and Homelander all but quoting George W. As the series has gone on though, the politics have become more and more of the moment, hence a Homelander that's more Donald than Dubya.

With all this mind, it's baffling how right-wingers could latch onto Homelander as a figure of valorization. As Eric Kripke himself asked, "Um... are they actually watching the show?"