THE BOYS Showrunner Reveals Whether We Should Sympathize With Homelander After Brutal Fourth Episode

THE BOYS Showrunner Reveals Whether We Should Sympathize With Homelander After Brutal Fourth Episode

The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke has revealed whether the idea was to get fans to sympathise with Homelander after the shocking - and violent - events of "Wisdom of the Ages." Read on for details...

By JoshWilding - Jun 21, 2024 06:06 AM EST
Filed Under: The Boys
Source: TV Insider

In this week's episode of The Boys, "Wisdom of the Ages," Homelander returns to the laboratory where he was raised and proceeds to torment and murder the staff who experimented on him as a child.

Frank is burned alive in an oven after turning the heat up on the young John to test his powers, while Marty is forced to masturbate in front of his fellow scientists after nicknaming a young Homelander "squirt" when he caught him doing the same as a boy. 

When he fails to perform, Homelander lasers Marty's penis off by blasting a hole through the guy before the facility's boss, Barbara, shows up. She points out that John could have broken out at any time but chose to stay because of his need for approval. 

As the episode ends, we learn Homelander has locked her in his old room and brutally slaughtered everyone, leaving Barbara surrounded by gore and body parts. 

Talking to TV Insider, The Boys showrunner Eric Kripke weighed in on whether Homelander achieved his goal in this episode and if the idea was for us to sympathise with the villain.

"His goal was to finally confront his feelings of vulnerability and humanity and his need for approval and love because he feels like that all originated from [his] time there. So he wanted to confront it and kill it. And was he successful? I think he thinks he was successful. The thing about Homelander is no matter how hard he tries to kill the part of him that’s human and become a god, he’ll never be able to because he’s human and as much as he’s disgusted by it or represses it, he has human emotions and I think that’s what’s slowly driving him mad is he’s someone who hates humanity and yet he is one."

"And I don’t need [the audience] to be sympathetic towards Homelander, I wanna go on record with a hot take that I do not condone or approve of any of his behavior. But I want them to understand him a little bit more and get why he is the way he is. I don’t like nor do I know how to write villains who are just evil for the sake of being evil. They’re evil because they have a really heavy disconnect between their internal life where they think they’re a hero and their external life when they’re definitely not. And so I’m interested in that space and, and what makes someone so self-deluded."

It was interesting to see what made Homelander the monster he's become in the present day, but hard to feel too sorry for him when his response to that trauma was mass murder. 

Recently, Kripke shared his thoughts on The Boys fans viewing Homelander as a hero. You can find his comments in full here

In The Boys season 4, the world is on the brink. Victoria Neuman is closer than ever to the Oval Office and under the muscly thumb of Homelander, who is consolidating his power.

Butcher, with only months to live, has lost Becca's son and his job as The Boys' leader. The rest of the team are fed up with his lies. With the stakes higher than ever, they have to find a way to work together and save the world before it's too late.

The series stars Karl Urban, Jack Quaid, Antony Starr, Erin Moriarty, Jessie T. Usher, Laz Alonso, Chace Crawford, Tomer Capone, Karen Fukuhara, Colby Minifie, Claudia Doumit, and Cameron Crovetti. Season Four will welcome Susan Heyward, Valorie Curry, and Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

The first four episodes of The Boys are now streaming on Prime Video. 

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Origame - 6/21/2024, 6:14 AM
Ok, wtf is wrong with this guy? Does he not understand that you can sympathize with someone you still disagree with?

It's like "yeah I can sympathize with you. Sure, you're still a monster who killed people, but I sympathize with you"

This must be what he meant by people calling him the hero.
WarMonkey - 6/21/2024, 7:26 AM
@Origame - The thing is he's unknowingly writing a parody of the Far-Left and the things that only exist in their minds. Unless one is an obsessive CNN or MSNBC watcher they would have no idea he's trying to make a satire and doing political commentary on Trump. So for most people it's just a show they like and Homelander is just another character played by an actor they are impressed with.

He's just making a fantasy show about the Far-Left's political fantasies and is so far up his own butt he doesn't even realize it. It's hilarious!
bobevanz - 6/21/2024, 8:04 AM
@WarMonkey - it took clowns like you three seasons to catch on
Itwasme - 6/21/2024, 8:38 AM
@Origame - I think he kind of counters the sympathy point with the last bit about understanding a bit more why Homelander is the way he is.

So maybe his first phrase isn't about condemning people who sympathize with him, moreso saying that narratively they don't have to. As a writer they can establish goals for the characters, narratives, and even the audience experience. He may merely be stating his goal isn't to create sympathy. Frenchie is a good case this season. People kind of miss the narrative moves being made around him. He's being isolated from the team narratively speaking, whereas Kimiko is being brought further in. She's becoming less and less an outsider. So my gut is narratively they are positioning Frenchie or Kimiko to die - most likely Frenchie.

Not sure if all that makes sense and it is confusing when you think of past things Kripke has said, but that's my take on it. Kripke is talking from his own personal goals in the narrative not what the actual experience is.
Origame - 6/21/2024, 9:03 AM
@Itwasme - but you have to take this into account with what he's said in the past.
lazlodaytona - 6/21/2024, 6:43 AM
Homelander's arrogance of wanting to be a god is what makes him so detestable. He knows he's still got human qualities but he's so arrogant he just won't accept it.

That's why it'll be so sweet when he gets taken down. I hope it's by Butcher, Ryan, and a combination of the rest of the gang (maybe even the speedster finally turns on homelander and helps take him down too)
TheVisionary25 - 6/21/2024, 6:47 AM
That might have been one of the darkest & heaviest episode of the Boys so far and that’s saying something…

It’s interesting that Homelander is an Evil Superman-type character because Clark’s greatest strength imo is his humanity but for the former , it’s his weakness or “Kryptonite”.

Also I concur , somebody give Anthony Starr an Emmy already!!.

User Comment Image
Vigor - 6/21/2024, 7:12 AM
@TheVisionary25 - he's putting in a really good performance. Show wouldn't work without him
TheVisionary25 - 6/21/2024, 7:17 AM
@Vigor - yep

It’s definitely a big reason of why the show is as good as it is.
Apophis71 - 6/21/2024, 7:27 AM
@Vigor - Wouldn't work without Karl Urban as Butcher either, I get why many would Antony above Karl for an award but both are I'd say equaly as brilliant and as important in that regard. There are ample others doing a great job pulling off their roles but non at the level those two are to my mind.
WarMonkey - 6/21/2024, 7:16 AM
"I don’t like nor do I know how to write villains who are just evil for the sake of being evil. They’re evil because they have a really heavy disconnect between their internal life where they think they’re a hero and their external life when they’re definitely not."

He wrote Supernatural and the character who did evil simply cause it felt good as the big bad lol...

Azazel was a powerful demon and a Prince of Hell who served Lucifer. Until Sin City, Azazel's name was not revealed and he was referred to by nicknames such as The Demon, The Yellow-Eyed Demon, or Yellow Eyes. Once he killed Mary Winchester, the Winchester men hunted him for nearly two and a half decades and finally...
JesterDavid - 6/21/2024, 3:11 PM
@WarMonkey - Is your argument that someone can't grow as a writer in the... *checks dates* 24 years since season 5 of Supernatural aired?

He was 36 when he did season 5 and 30-31 when he planned out the show. I'd hope he'd improve over that time.
WarMonkey - 6/21/2024, 3:27 PM
@JesterDavid - He said what he said so I responded to what he said.
Apophis71 - 6/21/2024, 7:22 AM
Just in case, I think, adding in the details of his birth SHOULD help in a way, without any real downside beyond making him more clearly a full evil god after assuming he managed to shake off the last of his humanity.

It is near impossible to say anyone is born evil, a baby doesn't have an understanding of right or wrong, however laering his way out of his mother and killing medical staff is as close to it as it comes in that it meant even if can't label as 'evil' meant he was a dangerous killer before being in the facility. That kinda removes the notion that his time being expiremented on made him a killer thus can view it as sort of removing the idea he was turned into a dangerous murderer.

It also, however, doesn't negate what they did to him as a child, the psychologists making him need love as a control measure could be viewed as good I suppose. Do you put the monster down as a baby or try to make him more human the latter can be said to be the more acceptable option (even if ultimately turns out to be wrong).

However to then experiment putting a kid through extreme pain and humiliation and push his abilities to the extreme using that control method is even worse if anything. Whilst not removing that Homeland is truly a full villain and showing how he became what he is what they did to him as a child WAS evil without doubt and 'just doing my job' is no excuse.

TLDR Showed how he came to be thus an understanding but doesn't shouldn't make him a sympathetic villain, he has become pure evil after shaking off the one thing the psychologists did that could have made him a hero instead and the experimenting on a kid to push him to the next level with his powers was evil in the extreme.

Strangely in a lot of ways this was maybe the slowest burn episode of The Boys ever, and likely the darkest, yet at the same time feel it was one of the best but can get why some would mark it down as lower scoring.
HermanM - 6/21/2024, 7:24 AM
Antony Starr is easily the best actor on the show and the show has ironically made Homelander a much more dimensional and developed character than he ever was in the awful comic, so much so that he is not only empathetic but the most interesting character on the show and people were glad to see him kill his child abusers.
thespiderkat - 6/21/2024, 8:02 AM
What’s the new obsession with “sympathizing”? A lot of people find the Lannisters, or kingpin, or killmonger and many other movie or tv villains as interesting or more interesting than the heroes not because they see them as role models but because they’re complex characters that can bring good performances out of the actors playing them. Not everything has to be a political purity test…
Apophis71 - 6/21/2024, 8:45 AM
@thespiderkat - Think the term 'sympathizing' is over used, can find out how a villain became what they are without having ANY empathy for the choices the character made and the path they walked down. Having a two dimensional evil villain doing evil things with limited understanding CAN work well, however it is interesting to see what and why they are motivated to do what they do, what makes someone become evil.

However, there is a need at times for shades of grey characters, pure evil and pure good can be boring and extremely rare IRL (and at one point a frequent complaint when onscreen character were pure this or that and 2D) thus there IS a place for some sympathetic villains and we can feel what a character went through in their past is horrific and wrong in every way without feeling sympatheticaly towards what they have become.
soberchimera - 6/21/2024, 9:02 AM
@thespiderkat - Agreed, look at Hector Hammond from Green Lantern and Hannibal Lecter from Silence of the Lambs, one they tried to make sympathetic and the other not at all, and look at how those two were each received.
clintthahamster - 6/21/2024, 9:28 AM
@thespiderkat - I find the exercise of understanding a character's motivations to be interesting, but I agree that it's been overdone at this point. It's one thing to hint at a traumatic event that set them down the path of villainy, another to have an entire episode showing the villain's origin. That said, I think this episode was really well done, and it seems like they weren't so much trying to make the character sympathetic as they were giving him the opportunity to destroy what was left of his humanity (which in his mind was weakness.)
bobevanz - 6/21/2024, 8:05 AM
I mean there are people who will vote for a felon as president, soooo I'm not surprised in the slightest
MotherGooseUPus - 6/21/2024, 8:24 AM
Great episode. Low key was super dark and i loved it. i liked fleshing out the pasts of most of these characters. Anthony Starr has been AMAZING to watch this season.
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