[Warning: The following contains spoilers from the first three episodes of The Boys Season 2. Read at your own risk!]
When The Boys first debuted in 2019, fans and critics alike were blown away by Amazon‘s adaptation of Garth Ennis' hit superhero comic. The series garnered praise for the chaotic joy it found in revealing the insidious nature of both people who are supposed to save us and the institutions they stand for. A major part of the series's success was due to the fact that Homelander (Antony Starr), the leader of the world's most renowned superteam, was one of the most degenerate villains of all time. Between kidnapping and imprisoning the woman he sexually assaulted, letting a plane full of people crash to force the US military's hand in a power play, and killing his boss for loving her newborn baby more than him, Homelander's depravity felt impossible to top in Season 2. But the first three episodes of Season 2, which premiered Sept. 4, proved everyone wrong with the introduction of two villains who seem even more sinister and cutthroat than Homelander (and worse, they are working together).
The first, and seemingly more prickly thorn in Homelander's side in Season 2 is Stormfront (Aya Cash), a superhero hired by Vought CEO Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) as the latest member of the Seven. She courteously breaks the surprising news to Homelander while livestreaming their first meeting for her audience of millions. The embarrassing encounter, which makes Homelander look like a stiff, incompetent, leader, is only the opening salvo in Stormfront's efforts to destabilize Homelander's throne.
After livestreaming his inability to have a normal conversation without a script, Stormfront kills a “super terrorist” (while spewing racial slurs) that Homelander claimed as his kill, and then outshines him in the celebratory presser that's broadcast everywhere in the world. Homelander's professional and public stock falls fast in the face of a supe who doesn't care about shilling to corporate bosses and gives her fans behind-the-scenes insight into the supe world.
“Stormfront, she comes in as this charming disrupter,” said showrunner Eric Kripke in an interview with TV Guide, pointing out the new supe's social media savvy and intrinsic ability to command an audience that even Homelander dreams of having. “But Stormfront is wearing her own mask, and there's something much more awful happening underneath. She is somebody who's very good at making people angry, getting them riled up, motivating them against an enemy that is, frankly, in most ways fictitious. Like so many things that are happening in our world, when people are scared, it's an easy means to control them.”
As Stormfront uses whips up fevered, public support for supes to fight Compund V fueled terrorism (along with border control, tightened immigration, and racially charged American nationalism), Homelander squabbles over unimportant branding issues — completely missing where the real fight is. “The problem for Homelander is Stormfront isn't playing his game. She's playing a completely different game that he doesn't know how to play,” said Starr. “And that's the problem because usually Homelander sets the terms of engagement. But she puts him on the spot immediately and he's not used to dealing with that kind of person, someone who doesn't respect slash fear him.”
“But he might learn some things from her, who knows?” interjected Cash, before pointing out that while there's tons of antagonistic tension between the two, their main agenda of killing people they've deemed a threat — which in Stormfront's case seems to be minorities, and in Homelander's case seems to be anyone who doesn't love him — isn't so different.
“Or he might kill her,” joked Starr. “Look at it this way, you've got two people as you said, arguably, equally equal in psychopathy, so there will be blood.”
But while Stormfront is taking up all of Homelander's attention and energy, there's perhaps a more insidious threat waiting in the wings this season in the corporate machinations of Stan Edgar. Esposito said that initially, the Vought CEO hired Stormfront without consulting Homelander because, “She shoots straight from the hip, and [is] not afraid. She says how she feels…She's going to move some thoughts and feelings around in other Seven's brains, she's gonna shake things up.”
But when Homelander confronts Edgar to make it clear how unacceptable circumventing his control over the team is, Edgar tells him in no uncertain terms that between the two of them, Edgar has all the power here — after all, Vought isn't a superhero company, it's a pharmaceutical company and now that their best ad for the drug, Homelander himself, went and spilled the secret about Compound V, it's Edgar's right to clean up Homelander's mess however he sees fit.
“He's got to keep the stock price high, and he's got to run this company,” said Esposito, painting a picture of a ruthless company man dealing with a crisis big enough to bankrupt the company and send its senior leadership to prison. To Edgar, the right tool — or perhaps weapon — to use at the moment happens to be Stormfront.
“I don't think Homelander poses any threat to Edgar whatsoever,” said Esposito. “Edgar goes into this whole speech and wants to educate Homelander in a way, to allow him to know that he's not the driving force behind all what's going on. Edgar is able to do that because he at present, is the face of Vought. But the question behind that is, is he really all of Vought? How complicated and how deep is all this go? Unquestionably, Edgar has a plan for Homelander and Stormfront.”
But while Edgar seems to be holding the reins of the Seven in the first three episodes, Cash said that might not remain the case in the rest of the season. “Part of the reason Edgar had Stormfront come to the Seven might be her social media skills and the new energy she brings in terms of bringing younger audiences, but it also might be that he didn't have a choice,” said Cash ominously.
As the season goes on, the power struggle between the three is sure to evolve in the ugliest way possible. Whether Stormfront's neo-Nazi agenda overtakes the Seven, or Homelander manages to gain ultimate control over the team, or Stan Edgar eliminates them both in an effort to shore up Vought's financials, it seems unlikely that any of these characters will walk away from the season unscathed. But it does mean the stage is set for they most explosive season of The Boys to date.
“They definitely head towards a climactic showdown,” said Kripke. “But it doesn't go quite the way you think it does.”