Not Just One of The Boys: The Psychology of Homelander

Drea Letamendi
TV Comics
TV Comics Streaming

With The Boys Season 3 upon us, Fandom asked clinical psychologist Dr. Drea Letamendi to take a look at the mind of one of the show’s most compelling and terrifying characters, Homelander. Read on to learn what she found…

Spoilers for The Boys Season 1 and Season 2 and The Boys Presents: Diabolical follow. 

Homelander is the leader of The Seven, a powerful group of superheroes owned and managed by the company Vought International. At first glance, The Seven look commanding and virtuous, front and center of a public-facing mission to defend America against all threats. In the world of The Boys, the superhero industry dominates everything, from politics to consumerism to entertainment. At the peak of The Seven’s popularity, the most recognized and celebrated member of the team is Homelander. With chiseled features, a glowing smile, and a patriotic superhero suit (including a U.S. flag for a cape), the blue-eyed blonde-haired hero is kept by numerous to be the perfect symbol of duty, excellence, and traditional values. He has the best of powers to boot. Much like a sure Kryptonian hero, Homelander has heat rays, super-strength, durability, flight, and x-ray vision. Impervious to all known threats, Homelander can withstand extreme temperatures and sustain disastrous attacks; no weapon has been identified that can injure him. At least, physically.

Homelander is dripping with charm and assuredness, dosing all with his confident smile and hopeful promises. But, hidden from the public eye, a truer form emerges. Homelander personifies the self-centeredness and materialism of the modern world, glorifying competitiveness, rugged individualism, dominance. He deeply embraces and over-aligns with his superior persona, embodying the virtues of an all-American defender with fervor. He is consumed by his image, and often isn’t sure where his real self ends and his performance begins. Socially bold and entitled, Homelander is often the first to step in front of the camera or deliver sappy statements about his unyielding commitment to justice. He savors his elite status, seeing himself through the eyes of the individuals who hang on his words: He is a God among men. And it’s clear that Homelander derives pleasure not from genuine emotional connections with his followers, but from the power dynamic. He will do anything—including executing innocent individuals who may tarnish his image—to keep up the reputation that he’s the “good guy.”

“It is my God-given purpose to protect America.” – Homelander

Homelander not only indulges in mass adoration, his entire ego relies on hero worship. The constant search for admiration and praise, the overt displaying of himself, and the hungry need for the spotlight operate to distract him from the truth within. Like Superman refueling his powers from the rays of the sun, Homelander must bathe in adulation to restore his delicate ego. Like the spinning of bad news, Homelander has learned to twist the superficial into the real. His fragility, though hidden by layers of confidence and zeal, is triggered by the absence of attention;  the moment he notices the hollowness within him, he’s assailed by bad feelings of self-disgust and inadequacy.  Somewhere beneath the layers of muscle, under the glorious sham, is the most vulnerable of hearts.

Creating a Psychopath 

One of the founding scientists at Vought, Dr. Jonah Vogelbaum, oversaw the creation, training, and indoctrination of Homelander, who he called “John.” As a test subject injected with the chemical agent Compound V, Homelander was primarily raised in an experimental lab room and under constant observation. Even as a baby, Homelander was deprived of the comforts of physical affection, stimulating toys, and enriching environments that would usually have fostered his psychosocial development. Vogelbaum was somewhat of a father figure to Homelander, offering smiles and affirming gestures through a little window of the lab room—but never offering him unconditional love in the form of genuine acceptance, warm and caressing contact, and one-on-one time that isn’t based in evaluation. In truth, Homelander’s lethal and uncontrolled powers kept the researchers detached and distant. Unintentionally, these protocols had some anti-socializing effects on Homelander.

“The child supplies the power, but the parents have to do the steering.” – Dr. Benjamin Spock, famous pediatrician and psychoanalyst.

Throughout his youth, Homelander spent most of his critical waking hours performing tasks, taking endurance tests, and being stretched to his limits by zealous experimenters. A type of attachment formed with his creators; he didreceive attention by his surrogate caregivers, but only through the narrow and relentless anticipation to perform. A contingency. The pressure created a transactional relational schema for Homelander: when he masters his powers, he receives affirming words and time with his caregivers. Fail, and he undergoes more torturous tests and criticism. Homelander later admits that he often felt alone and scared as he learned to navigate his inhuman abilities, comparing it to “drowning.” This little supe wasn’t cold and feelingless from birth. He was often overwhelmed with emotions—battling fear, insecurity, and hopelessness—but was never taught how to regulate them. “I had to figure it all out by myself.”

Vought scientists should have known that extreme isolation, lack of physical contact, and a scarcity of social interaction would have deleterious effects on Homelander’s emotional development. Well-established science shows that babies can miss out on critical learning stages of development due to away caregivers. Early life deprivation can have long-lasting, irreparable effects on young brains. Even lab studies on mice show that being raised in impoverished environments have deficits in intelligence, curiosity, and “personalities.” Sure, mice need an abundance of toys, tunnels, and hideouts in their environments—humans need a more complex version of activity, stimulation, and exploration. Brains in richer, more stimulating environments have higher rates of synaptogenesis (neuron growth), leading to increased brain activity and a flourishing mind. Like a mouse in an impoverished cage, Homelander’s emotional, social, and intellectual potentials were stunted.

Attachment matters. In addition to sensory and intellectual stimulation, children need social bonds. But Homelander’s caregivers were fixated on supernatural progression, not empathy building. He was forced to endure torture—withstand blazing fires, survive for hours underwater, and overcome violent attacks. His body was cut, burned, and frozen. Aside from a soft blue blanket he clung to, Homelander couldn’t find solace or ease his pains. After repetitive tests of endurance and torture, he wasn’t soothed, healed, or even embraced

Homelander missed out on the “normal everyday stuff” of childhood. Youth often learn about core values, worldview, and beliefs from their parents. In a way, Homelander was in charge of his own upbringing, learning through self-discovery. He was taught him that he was a weapon, a tool. He was not “designed” for love, nurturing, or companionship.

Praised for destructive, not compassionate acts, Homelander learned to value anti-social features of his budding personality. Kill faster. Obliterate bigger. Think later. Feel nothing. This will come back to haunt him. Ethical science is about consent, but none of this was approved or wanted by him. It wasn’t humane. The resulting beliefs Homelander adopted would later extend to his treatment of others.

From Sensitive Boy
to Narcissistic Man

As a little boy, Homelander looked up to his scientist caregivers. “When he was around 5 or 6,” Dr. Vogelbaum recalls, “he was quite sweet. He cuddled up to me.” The doctor, however, rejected these wholesome requests for affection and connection, explaining that this was the time he “went to work on the boy,” and that Homelander “didn’t even want it.” This grooming, exploitation, and non-consensual expending of his body by a trusted adult led Homelander to develop confusing psychological constructs of “love.

In his psychosocial training sessions, Homelander was forced to learn and assimilate concepts ranging from religion (“Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior”) to patriotic duty (“stars and stripes”) to sports (“baseball is my favorite sport”). These systematic trials were designed to shape and perfect his mental fitness, a crude replacement of normal schooling, playing, attending church, and family dinners. After learning about the tradition of Thanksgiving in America, Homelander asks his teacher about his own family, wondering if he has a “mommy” as depicted in the training imagery. Somewhat reluctant but reassuringly, his teacher states that she can be his mom. Instinctively, driven by comfort-seeking, Homelander embraces her, but he squeezes so hard that she dies. Terrified at this outcome, he scurries into the corner of the lab and cowers under his blue blanket. Experimenters come rushing him, telling Homelander that it will be taken care of. He’ll have another teacher shortly. They’re expendable.

Compound V may have led Homelander down a path toward physical indestructibility, but the emotional abuse set him on a path toward psychological pruning. No lab can emulate a safe home, caring guardian, or loving family.  Indeed, one of the Vought scientists warned Vogelbaum, describing Homelander as having an “isolation-induced depression.”

For years, Homelander’s physical and emotional needs were not met. Verbal communication was not used to foster belongingness, comfort, and self-esteem. Physical affection was not used to raise security and safety. What he needed most, alongside proper guidance, limits, and consequences, was unconditional love. Not love for what he could do, but for who he is.

Dr. Vogelbaum isn’t solely to blame for Homelander’s atrophied brain development. As Homelander “graduated” to the ranks of The Seven and gained notoriety, he was rewarded for his power-boasting and narrowmindedness. He’d become perfect for the role at Vought – indestructible and wholesome on the outside, callous and remorseless on the inside. His pathological egocentricity was stoked from the constant coaching and objectification by the management at Vought.

“I’m the world’s greatest superhero.” – Homelander

Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD) is an enduring mental condition characterized by grandiosity, lack of empathy, and an unreasonable hypercritical style. Grandiosity is very relational. Even though a person with NPD seems alone on their mountain peak of self-absorption, they’re deeply fixated on how they stack up compared to others. Persons with NPD have an inflated sense of importance, but to keep up that power boost, they must belittle, abuse, and violate others. Homelander carries an exaggerated sense of superiority above and beyond the category of superhuman powers. He believes he is more handsome, intelligent, talented, and charming, and thus more deserving than others. His special mission to protect others only further bolsters the delusion that he is superior. He uses his martyrdom to command more adulation and attention.

Homelander is seldom interested in the feelings of others, and this pattern is consistent with individuals who have NPD. It isn’t that he doesn’t detect hurt feelings, he simply does not see the value of attending to others unless it benefits him or his agenda. Even further, he worries that closeness with others may disclose the big defect within him, that at no time in his history has he felt fulfilled. Not everything he touches turns to gold. Homelander pushes himself mentally, working hard to cover up the flaws, missteps, or setbacks that would expose him. He exaggerates his achievements only to have to live by those unrealistic expectations.

When Homelander is deployed with his Supe counterpart, Queen Maeve, to intercept a plane hijacking, he makes a bad error. To the relief of the passengers, the two Supes are easily able to take out three terrorists in the plane’s cabin. But they were not prepared to find a fourth terrorist in the cockpit. The assailant shoots the pilot, and Homelander reacts quickly, decimating him with his lasers and, inadvertently, destroying the plane’s controls. The plane now destined to crash, Homelander makes the executive decision to desert all 123 passengers. Maeve protests, explaining that they have the ability to save a few before the plane crashes, bringing a young girl and her mother forward toward him at the now blown off exit. But it is all or nothing for Homelander. He bulldozes Maeve, forcing her to be an confederate in the abandonment of the terrified passengers as the plane goes down. No one would live to disclose his carelessness and impulsivity at the controls. He’s later able to spin the tragedy, leveraging the loss of life to suggest more resources and military involvement of Vought’s Supes.

“Everything’s under control.” – Homelander

Most individuals with high storeys of grandiose narcissism actually feel quite vulnerable. They’re hypersensitive to the judgment of others, constantly worrying that minor flaws or weaknesses will crack the otherwise perfect image. Underneath his arrogance, Homelander is troubled by a deep self-loathing. He notices his faults and underperformances, like catching a hair out of place in the mirror. This kind of narcissism, known as vulnerable narcissism, reflects hypersensitivity and introversive self-absorbedness. To compensate, Homelander engages in a number of compensatory beliefs and behaviors – like hiding the self, angry outbursts, and having a contingent self-esteem, all features he was rewarded for as a boy.

When he is feeling attacked, Homelander indulges in grandiose fantasies, which means getting preoccupied with imagining his own success, power, brilliance, and social standing. For a narcissist, these exaggerated beliefs can feel real to them. Homelander’s grandiose fantasies often take a gruesome form. At a protest, for example, some of the dissenters begin shouting at Homelander. In response, he imagines decimating the entire crowd with his rays, tearing them to bloody bits in a one fell swoop. This mental indulgence gives him a boost of satisfaction, a dose of dopamine to remind himself that he is indeed more powerful—and thus better—than they are.

Fragility and Depression

Despite the wide belief that narcissists and psychopaths do not feel emotions, most who have extreme versions of these conditions are not completely cold and unfeeling. In fact, Homelander is driven to be loved and cared for, and while his campaigns often result in the violation or abuse of others, he lives with the consequences. Homelander is also periodically aware of his repelling features, that those who really know him like Maeve are fundamentally revolted by him. In his quiet solitude, he is saddened and shameful of the person he has become

Homelander is reminded of his difficult origins during a publicity stunt that involves him visiting his “childhood home.” In front of the cameras, he gives the intimate stories he’s been coached to narrate, down to the details of his parents, his bedroom, and his birthdays. He’s forced to talk about a family he’s never met, toys he’s never played with, books he’s never read. When he encounters the blue blanket that was his only source of comfort as a child in the lab, Homelander is crushed by sadness. He reaches out to his handlers, infuriated by the intrusive traumatic memories associated with the blanket, but they’re more interested in the photo op. He returns to the script as directed, but when he describes his counterfeit childhood, he actually is able to conjure the details of his own fantasy, momentarily savoring the false memories of a safe, joyful, and loving childhood he never had.

When Homelander visits Dr. Vogelbaum in private, the doctor confesses that Becca Butcher, the woman Homelander sexually assaulted, had become pregnant with his baby. Vogelbaum paints a horrible picture of Becca being killed by the baby during childbirth, and the baby dying shortly after.  Though Vogelbaum remains cold and distant with Homelander, he offers his version of an apology. He compares Homelander’s upbringing to “cross breeding dogs,” explaining that atrocities occur in experiments all the time.  “You should have been raised with a family,” Vogelbaum laments. But when Homelander asserts he’s the most powerful superhero among them all, Dr. Vogelbaum reacts with disdain and disappointment.

“You’re my greatest failure.” – Dr. Vogelbaum, creator of Homelander

This interaction with Homelander was yet another experience of rejection and dismissal, and because Vogelbaum is like a father to him, it has lasting effects. Homelander is constantly defending against feeling unsatisfied, rejected, unworthy, and wary of the world. Though he has an outward appearance of confidence, independence, and perfection, his self-talk is doubting. He tries to “unhook” by pushing emotions to the side and shoving away unwanted feelings, but this “bottling” technique of coping is only temporarily effective. After the confirming and biting words of his father, Homelander is unable to deny his disgrace and sadness. He is a mistake.

Not Quite Love Affairs 

Like numerous narcissists, Homelander can be charming and create favorable first impressions. These attributes can attract partners and friends initially, but their superficiality and self-absorption lead to troubled relationships. Madelyn Stillwell, the director of Hero Management at Vought, is one of the first to recognize that under Homelander’s sturdy exterior is an impressionable interior.  Seizing the opportunity, she begins grooming him to advance Vought’s agenda. She sees him as a tool she can crank for the betterment of the company.

In his early days at Vought, Homelander struggled to sustain the feeling of importance. When other Supes like Black Noir were celebrated, Homelander was flooded with feelings of neglect and invisibility. All or nothing. Stillwell reminds him that “getting on stage” is the future she is construction for Homelander, but she expresses disappointment when he shows weakness or hesitation. “You need to take it,” she commands. Stillwell combines this ego fluffing with affection, touching and caressing him.

Stillwell manages to exploit Homelander’s weakness, his craving for closeness and comfort. She uses touch to awaken this unmet need, and the feelings it brings up for him are confusing but satisfying nonetheless. Her sweet-talk and stroking hit the right spot for him, attractive to his oversimplified moral schema that when he follows orders, he is rewarded. “You can’t be bad,” she coaxes. “You have to be good.” A new surrogate emerges – and again, it is transactional and contingent on his powers. He trusts her as anybody would a caregiver, and he begins to comingle the concepts of mother and lover.

Homelander’s curiosity for Stillwell leads him to use his x-ray vision to spy on her, catching tender moments between her and her baby. Observing their cherished bond—the cuddling, the cooing, the breastfeeding—Homelander is filled with a complicated, Freudian-level envy.  He is struck by the natural and raw union, which builds more yearnings within him for one-on-one time with Stillwell.

But the constant cycle of affection giving, control, and dehumanization reaches a boiling point. Homelander is gutted to learn that Becca and his child are alive and that Stillwell participated in keeping him away from them. When Stillwell and her baby are captured and kept hostage by Billy Butcher, Homelander uses his heat vision to burn her to death. Her baby is discovered safe and sound, several miles away.

“I don’t need anybody but myself.” – Homelander

Killing Stillwell was a violent and impulsive end to their troubled relationship. Homelander extinguishes the harm done by her, but he remains irreparable. As a way to fill the void, Homelander begins setting up “sessions” with Doppelganger, a shapeshifting Supe who can do a perfect impersonation of Stillwell, down to the protective, whispering assurances and sensual touches. Much like therapy, these meetings with a fake Stillwell restore Homelander’s self-confidence and help him process difficult emotions. Hidden away in a cabin, unseen by the public eye and distant from the pressures of Vought, this new surrogate brings Homelander both physical and emotional soothing.

In one desperate visit to the cabin, the farce isn’t as curative as it’s been before, and Doppelganger notices Homelander’s disappointment. Intuitively, Doppelganger morphs into a copy of Homelander, sowever wearing Stillwell’s black lingerie and heels. He kneels to perform a sexual act, but Homelander slowly grips him by the neck. As he looks at himself, Homelander says, with full conviction, “I don’t need anybody to love me,” and he snaps his look-a-like’s neck. “I don’t need you.

Killing Doppelganger speaks to Homelander’s impulsivity and dysregulation; distressing feelings are dealt with by lashing out. He’d rather destroy another person than let him see the emptiness inside of him. But strangling an exact copy of himself also represents his deep self-hatred and thwarted belongingness. It’s a rageful and violent behave toward the self, a type of pseudo-suicide that allows him to feel what it would be like to end his existence and therefore permanently escape the relentless turmoil.

If there is anybody who understands Homelander’s struggle, it is Queen Maeve, a Supe who is almost as powerful and adored by the public for her Wonder-Woman-like warrior image. The two have dated (presumably for the optics), and, at times, Maeve notices the burden with Homelander’s desire to be loved by the world.

Homelander’s display of insecurities and instability is similar to men with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), which is characterized by major temper shifts, impulsivity, and an unstable self-image. Within him is a wild storm of depression, anxiety, and irritability as he is desperately, constantly, trying to keep his painful feelings of himself bottled up.

Like others with BPD, Homelander responds to emotional “overload” by transferring the chaos to other people, with gaslighting, blaming, and violence. When Maeve has a close bond with any other person, Homelander sabotages the relationship. He strikes before he is replaced, undermined, or abandoned. Even when Maeve and Homelander are no longer an item, he continues to harass and control her. During a live talk show, Homelander outs Maeve as a lesbian, spinning his statement to showcase his LGBTQ allyship. This public steering allowed him to steal the spotlight and Maeve’s agency, but he also knows the power play would wound both Maeve and her partner, Elena, emotionally.

A Storm is Coming

People with Borderline traits are likely to attract “stormy relationships,” and select romantic partners who would co-create dynamics that are unstable, rocky, and discordant. With no emotional roadmap for what a loving, trusting relationship is like, Homelander is guided by a broken compass.

“People love what I have to say. They believe in it! They just don’t like the word ‘Nazi’” – Stormfront

Aptly named, Stormfront is a Supe who replaces the fallen Seven member, Translucent. Her powers are a near-equal match for Homelander’s, wielding super-strength, flight, and the weaponization of elements. Stormfront surprises the rest of The Seven with her edginess, and manages to gain a vast following by being authentic, speaking her truth, and angling her message toward the idea of “reclaiming” the American culture. As someone who challenges institutional authority (even Vought), Stormfront is seen by numerous as part of a new wave of superheroes, ones who detach themselves from grasping self-serving corporations and transfer their power directly “serve the people.” Ultimately, Stormfront uses her fame to raise a white supremacy agenda, through the insertion of emotion-laced xenophobic fear-mongering sentiments.

Still freshly wounded from his twisted relationship with Doppelganger, Homelander seeks a connection with Stormfront. He’s at first quite wary of her, noticing her performative attention-grab and libertarian thirst-traps, but does learn her value with fans and takes her advice to doctor fake memes to improve his public image. Both ruthless and power-hungry, the two form a highly charged romance.

During the honeymoon phase of their new romance, Homelander wants to surprise Stormfront with a bouquet of roses, but she insists that he waits for her in his trailer on the set of his movie. She takes much longer than expected “20 minutes” to return, and Homelander grows irritated. He learns that her campaigns and attention are elsewhere. Not on him. He quickly feels rejected, unimportant, abandoned. In fact, Homelander was not on Stormfront’s mind, as she was busy plotting to create a Compound V-fueled “army of Aryan supermen.” Learning he is not the center of her life, Homelander begins to fill with familiar and painful emotions of unwantedness. His recurrent fears of impending abandonment –coupled with his explosive temperament—lead to increased impulsivity and violence. Most of us would just toss out the flowers but instead, Homelander burns down the entire trailer in a fit of rage.

People with Borderline and Narcissistic disorders form intense and conflict-ridden relationships with others, often over-exaggerating their importance in the connection and even idealizing the relationship beyond the realities. They create frantic campaigns to avoid real or imagined abandonment by loved ones. As such, Homelander is romanticizing the qualities and abilities of Stormfront. And when matters go wrong, as they will, he knows no other way but to cope in hyperdrive.

Homelander later discovers that Stormfront is actually Liberty, a Nazi Supe from the 1930’s and wife of corrupted founder of Vought International, Frederick Vought. Caught in her lie, Stormfront angles her agenda to appeal to Homelander’s desperate ego. “We are at war for the culture,” she explains, defending her white supremacy ideology. Doubling down, scratches Homelander’s itch for command and dominance, focusing the mission on him as the center of it all. “You will be the man who will lead us,” she asserts, lapping at his blue eyes and blonde hair. “You are everything that we dreamed of.”

The two are a fuse and a fire. The intensity of their shared lust hits colossal levels. But Stormfront appears to have a sturdier and more robust sense of self (she’s his senior by decades). She doesn’t need Homelander to feel superior—as a racist, she’s already fully convinced. Meanwhile, Homelander clings to an ideology (and the romance attached) because it’s filling an empty void.

Sins of the Father

Once Homelander discovers that his son, Ryan, is alive and living with Becca Butcher at a Vought compound, he’s eager to meet him. To Becca’s horror, Homelander unexpectedly visits, landing in their yard and pulling Ryan out of his routine whenever he pleases. At 8 years old, Ryan is a timid and quiet boy. Homelander is frustrated with Becca raising their son as a non-Supe, seeing Ryan as a sheltered and soft-mannered kid. He imposes on their family dinners, homework time, and playtime, insisting that he’s present as a role mannequin for Ryan—and hoping that having a man in the house will toughen Ryan up. Homelander can’t help but intimidate and mentally stranglehold Becca as a part of this dynamic; he drops in whenever he wants, knowing it terrifies her. But Homelander also sees the red flags in Ryan’s lifestyle. In this façade of a home, hidden away by Vought, Ryan is in a different type of experiment. He is isolated from the outside world.

Pulling from the trivia and concepts he learned from his early training (God, football, and the U.S.A.), Homelander begins to co-parent with Becca, but much of it is a pantomime. His campaigns for a trusting father-son relationship appear to serve as a self-fulfillment, to repair the wounds left by his own harsh upbringing.

Homelander completely misses the mark when pushes his unconsenting son off of the roof of the house, convinced that Ryan would respond successfully to the toughness of these teachings. The child falls to the dirt with a thud, to the horror of his mother. Ryan seems to be unscathed (he’s half Supe, after all), but the experience shook him to the core; the veneration of his father sets in.

Meanwhile, Homelander continues to try to build the relationship he never had. He sees an possibility for a love without contingencies. He sees the possibility of Ryan having what he missed out on, and the idea that he can fulfill those needs reignites something within Homelander.

Despite Becca’s strong disapproval, Homelander, Stormfront, and Ryan take a field trip to Planet Vought, a popular restaurant chain themed to superheroes. Within minutes, their table is bombarded by fans seeking selfies and autographs, and while Homelander is quite used to this treatment, he notices the growing discomfort in his son. Seeing Ryan withdraw and show distress, Homelander delicately picks him up and takes him to calmer ground, away from the cacophonous crowd. There is genuine assurance and protection in Homelander’s tone. Nurturing seems to be a natural part of his being, accessible only when the relationship is free of contingencies. For a brief moment, Homelander wasn’t seeking accolades, reward, or attention.

Homelander is exploring this new connectedness, this possibility to feel genuine approval in the form of parenting. He gives Ryan the advice, encouragement—and even the warnings—a loving parent would offer, feeling himself proud of his ability to set boundaries and build the healthy guardrails he did not have as a science experiment. But how much of this “fathering” resembles a repairing of Homelander’s own brokenness, and what are the costs to Ryan?

Hope for Homelander? 

When Stormfront tells Homelander’s son that he needs to be “open to hate,” Homelander reacts with visible disagreement. Stormfront goes on to tell Ryan that individuals will hate him for being white, and that he may be a victim of “white genocide.” In Homelander is a cautious recognition of the kind of indoctrination he may not want to be a part of, and he steps in to redirect the conversation. The familial bond begins to come undone.

Later, Stormfront attacks Becca, almost strangling her to death, and Ryan, seeing his mother in her defenseless grip, uses his laser beams for the first time directly at Stormfront. But Ryan does not yet have control and precision of his power, and he mistakenly wounds his mother in the effort to save her. Homelander arrives to discover Stormfront, charred, limbless, and hardly breathing. Becca has died from her wounds. Homelander attempts to take Ryan with him, but it is too late. The destructive, gruesome altercation leaves Ryan terrified and untrusting of any superhero, especially his father.

“It doesn’t matter who made us or how we got here. We are family.” – Homelander, in a speech to The Seven

A person with both types of narcissism – grandiose narcissism and vulnerable narcissism – will usually not overcome their problems on their own. Paradoxically, they believe they are superior to others but are nothing without them. Homelander will continue to seek the approval, affection, and love from others in disruptive, desperate, and ruthless ways. Narcissists like Homelander are often unable or unwilling to acknowledge weaknesses or to fully comprehend the impact of their behavior on the individuals around them. His entitlement rage, the tendency to fly into an explosive outburst with the slightest provocation, feels good in the moment because it relieves the feelings of shame. But in the long term, Homelander’s volatile behavior will push others away and perhaps threaten his standing as the leader of The Seven.

The failing of all his relationships leads Homelander to return to the love he can count on: his fans. He wears a vacant gaze and saccharine smile like one wears a suit. The resonation of applause and cheers fills his empty soul, pumping false confidence back into his Compound V-laced bloodstream. Ethical science is about consent, but none of Homelander’s treatments and trials were approved or wanted by him. It wasn’t humane. Those tortures taught him that he doesn’t belong to himself, that despite the most powerful abilities at the hint of his fingers, he is owned by Vought. Homelander lives in a nightmare no one else can understand, creating for himself the replication of the trials in the lab, repeatedly reliving the vacancy of the tiny room and the loneliness of the blue blanket.

Drea Letamendi
Dr. Drea is a licensed clinical psychologist and mental health educator. She co-hosts "The Arkham Sessions," a podcast dedicated to the psychology of Batman.