The Boys comes in the wake of a decade of movies involving the MCU. Superhero movies have seemingly dominated the landscape ever since Iron Man proved that great acting, special effects, and story could be found in a film where people had been given super powers. And with heroes came villains, none so dominant as the Mad Titan Thanos, who became the over arching nemesis across several phases of MCU films. Single-minded in his objective, he had been stripped to his most essential facets, an archetypical villain with little room for nuance.
Then along came Homelander. Homelander was an altogether different breed of villain. He wasn’t big, purple, and angry. He was jovial, charming, and wearing a star-spangled cape. He was a superhero. In a world where superheroes are celebrities, revealing one side of themselves to the public and another in private, Homelander was the most frightening villain the genre had seen in a long time; a wolf wrapped in sheep’s clothing. Here’s 10 reasons why Homelander is actually scarier than Thanos. Season 1 of The Boys is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.
10 HE’S A COMPLETE SOCIOPATH
Homelander doesn’t have a clear divisive line between “right” and “wrong”. In fact, he’s like the complete textbook definition of a sociopath. Despite being a “superhero”, he has a completely antisocial attitude, lacking all empathy for the rest of Earth’s population, and a complete lack of a conscience when it comes to his destructive desires.
Thanos wasn’t called the Mad Titan for nothing. He wanted to exterminate half the population of his dying homeworld when it was running low on resources. Though his proposal was rejected by the other Titans and he was dubbed a “madman”, his reasoning was sound, and not without some element of compassion.
9 HE CANNOT BE REASONED WITH
Homelander lacks any inkling of a conscience. He “appears” to care about his fellow superheroes in The Seven by verbally commending their bravery in public appearances, and yet has no qualms about threatening bodily harm them when he feels they’ve compromised The Seven’s public image. Nothing they can say will change his mind.
Thanos isn’t exactly amenable to entering into talks with The Avengers by any means, but even his single minded purpose of destroying half of Earth’s population at random is rationalized so completely on screen you get the impression that in Marvel’s effort to make him a sympathetic villain, he could be reasoned with.
8 HE HAS TWO FACES
Homelander’s strength and skill lies in his ability to present himself one way to his adoring public, and another behind closed doors. He’s a supposed “good guy” that will verbally berate and physically annihilate anyone that contradicts what he says or questions his authority.
Thanos is simply Thanos. He’s all bad, all the time, and the world at large knows it. Outer Space knows it. Every superhero on Earth knows it, and they’re all grouped together to try to stop him and his intergalactic armies. He isn’t a wolf hiding in sheep’s clothing, which lessens the lingering element of fear he represents because he can never get the drop on anyone.
7 HE’S WILLING TO SACRIFICE ANYONE AND FEEL NO REMORSE
Homelander shocked viewers when he melted Madelyn Stillwell’s face off in the series finale. Why? Because only a few scenes earlier he’d been curled up, infant-like on her lap, docile and demure. They’d been exchanging sweet nothings, and it seemed like he was content finally getting what he wanted (her supplication in exchange for his). When Bill Butcher thought he could leverage Madelyn against Homelander, Homelander simply removed the leverage.
Thanos made a pretty significant sacrifice of his own – Gamora for the Soul Stone. Gamora was like a daughter to him, so the gesture wasn’t without weight, but the difference is that Thanos still regretted it. He had to do it, but he regretted the action. Homelander simply felt no remorse whatsoever.
6 HE HAS THE BEST PR/SPIN TEAM ON THE PLANET
In Homelander’s reality, superheroes are celebrities, with carefully crafted public personas. Their biographies and social media are often complete fabrications that fit the narrative the superhero is supposed to be telling. In essence, the “goodness” of superheroes is completely fabricated, and Homelander’s may be the worst offender. Homelander has legions of fans that will never believe how horrible he is because his PR team is too effective at their job.
Thanos has no such assistance. Granted, he doesn’t really need it, being a galactic conquerer and all, but at the same time, it means that he can never retract a statement, shift blame, or corrupt good people into joining his homicidal raiding party. No one will ever think ill of Homelander as long as they believe in his carefully crafted brand.
5 HIS DAMAGE IS MORE MATURE
The Boys airs on Amazon Prime where, like Game of Thrones on HBO, it can get away with a lot more graphic violence (like the kind in the comic), nudity, and psychological mayhem. To that end, all of the damage that Homelander inflicts is a lot more gruesome than anything that could possibly be seen by Thanos.
Thanos, as he appears in the MCU at least, can never go to that level of detailed destruction. Outside of Deadpool, no part of the MCU will ever get anything close to an R-rating, and will always be restrained by appropriate levels of conflict as dictated by its parent company, Disney.
4 HE HAS NO OPPOSITION
As far as Homelander is concerned, no one on the planet can stop him. There have yet to be any superheroes (or supervillains, for that matter) that can bring him to justice. And it isn’t just because he’s the most powerful superhero (though his abilities do seem to mimic Superman’s), but because no one believes he’s doing anything wrong so they don’t lift a finger.
Thanos was opposed by ever superhero and super being on the planet when he attacked Earth. Everyone wanted to stop him. He would not have been allowed to continue his master plan because the Avengers and everyone else would have kept trying to prevent him from using the Infinity Gauntlet.
3 HE’S A SUPERHERO THAT LETS THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE DIE
What’s perpetually disturbing about Homelander is that he presents a blue-eyed, square -jawed version of the American Dream that supposedly stands for justice and liberty. Yet even though he floats around with a gold eagle on his uniform and the American Flag as his cape, he’s perfectly willing to let an entire airplane full of innocent civilians die for the sake of PR.
Thanos is also willing to let thousands of people die – it’s been his plan from the get. However, his one-dimensional world-ending ethos makes sense for his barbaric race of beings. It can also be excused as easily as he’s an extraterrestrial, humans can’t exactly hope to grasp his motivations anyway.
2 HE SMILES TOO MUCH
Whenever you see Homelander on screen, he often has a huge smile on his face. His blue eyes dance, his white teeth gleam, and he’s the poster boy for charm and good looks. He’s disarmingly positive and upbeat, always read with a high-five and a wink. People feel better just being around him.
Thanos is a dyed-in-the-wool villain. He only smiles when he’s in the middle of kicking some of America’s Ass. His smile is supposed to be ironic, because villains don’t have fun. That’s why psychologically we don’t like him and his perma-scowl. But what if he smiled non-stop and kept giving us finger guns?
1 HE CAN CASUALLY TURN INTO A KILLING MACHINE
The fascinating thing about Homelander is how he can shrug off the glint in his eyes and the reassuring smile and just turn into the most chilling embodiment of merciless slaughter. Growing up in a lab to be the world’s best superhero, he had no human connection, and no emotional ties. He can be responsible for letting an airplane full of hundreds of people die, and then show up at their funeral and give a tearful eulogy.
Thanos vacillated between a war-monger and a paternal figure, especially around Gamora. But ultimately he remained militant and one-dimensional, and there wasn’t enough of a difference in his demeanor to indicate he was manipulating anyone the way Homelander is.
NEXT: The Boys: 5 Characters From The Comics We Want To See In Season 2 (& 5 We Don’t)