Spoilers below for
The Boysepisode “The Bloody Doors Off”
“We are in a war for the culture. The other races are grinding us down and taking what is rightfully ours. But we can fight back with an army of supermen millions strong. Because that is Vought’s true destiny.”
That’s right; Stormfront is a Nazi. A 101-year-old literal Nazi. Her confession to Homelander about her past (and his passionate embrace of it!) at the end of “The Bloody Doors Off” hits like a lightning bolt. The Boys season two wasn’t satisfied with giving us a super-powered, racist Proud Girl to hate; they needed to take it even further. But this isn’t a case of piling extra evil toppings onto an already evil sandwich. By choosing to make Stormfront’s racism and fascism the foundation of the entire corporation, and thus, the backing force behind the creation of superheroes to begin with, showrunner Eric Kripke and the writers of The Boys are forcing us to examine the connections between capitalism, white supremacy, and America’s obsession with super-powered “heroes.”
See, Stormfront’s husband was Frederick Vought, creator of Compound V and the founder of Vought International, and he was a scientist in Hitler’s cabinet tasked with creating a line of super soldiers. This differs from Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s comic in two major ways. In the comics, Stormfront is a man and was made into a “supe” by the Nazis as a child, and Compound V was created by a Jewish scientist Jonah Vogelbaum who was forced by the Third Reich to make it but managed to escape to the United States.
While waxing poetic about what a wonderful dancer Heinrich Himmler was, she explains that she was her husband’s first successful adult test subject for Compound V. Furthermore, once it was clear that Germany was not going to win the war, it was Vought’s mission to continue creating a “perfect” Aryan master race. She willingly confesses this to Homelander because she believes that in him (and his naturally born super-powered son), they have finally created their ideal man and the leader of their super powered army—essentially, their “Übermensch.”
But what is an “Übermensch?” It’s often translated as, literally, Superman (but more accurately would be “beyond-person” or someone who has gone above or beyond the norms of humanity). For Hitler and the Nazis (a.k.a. Vought International), the Übermensch personified their ideal: a biologically superior Aryan race (one that was tall, athletic, blonde haired, and blue eyed, i.e.: Homelander). It was the foundation of their entire eugenics program. Moreover, in the repugnant, illogical binary created by the Nazis, if there’s an Übermensch (superior race), then there must also be an “Untermensch” (inferior race) that must be eliminated in order for the superior race to thrive and profligate.
“I love him who labors and invents, that he may build the house for the Übermensch, and prepare for him earth, animal, and plant: for thus seeks he his own down-going.”
The Nazis also stole the word Übermensch. They perverted the term coined by Friedrich Nietzsche who originally used it in Thus Spoke Zarathustra to describe his vision of a humankind capable of moving past focusing on such paltry, nihilistic things as Christianity, Fascism, Feminism, Anarchism and other ideological movements he thought were rooted in platonic ideals and asceticism (basically anything he thought kept a person focusing on tomorrow instead of today.)
Nietzsche actually hated anti-Semitism and German nationalism so much he decided to reject his German identity and identify as Polish near the end of his life (unfortunately he stayed a raging misogynist until his death). It was actually his sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche, who was in charge of his estate and was BFFs with Hitler, who pushed for his terms to become the go-to catch-phrases for the Nazi party.
But back to Homelander. Not only is he the physical epitome of Vought’s Übermensch goals, he has also spent a lifetime being indoctrinated with their political ideals. He is misogynistic, homophobic, xenophobic, racist, pro-military, pro-American imperialism, and naturally, anti-abortion. Oh and he’s also a stone-cold sociopath and mass murderer. (Lest we forget, he has already murdered a plane full of people and blamed it on Supe-terrorists, along with being the one to give Compound V to terrorist cells in order to intentionally start international conflicts.)And he’s spawned a super-child! Of course Stormfront thinks they have finally achieved the Nazi equivalent of a Kwisatz-Haderach!
He is also a not so subtle allegory for Superman. Which ties back to Nietzsche’s Übermensch! See, Superman co-creator Jerry Siegel first envisioned a villain with that name who was supposedly modeled on Nietzsche’s ideas in 1933’s “The Reign of the Super-man” and it wasn’t until artist Joe Shuster came along that the name was applied to the laser-eyed, flying, strong-man hero we know today. Later comics would bring in villains modeled off of the original evil Übermensch mold (like “Ultra-Humanite” and even Lex Luthor) including an alternate universe Superman named “Overman.”
However, Siegel and Shuster were both Jewish and interested in creating an alien superhero that was able to unify and save a fractious planet, not dominate it. Some (like Will Eisner) have argued that Superman was created as a “golem” character to fight back against the Nazis who were beginning to take power in 1930s (when he was first created). He certainly kicked Nazi ass many times over the years and issues, but unlike a Golem he never loses control, or goes on murderous rampages, and never needs to be destroyed. In fact, according to Brad Ricca’s
But this is 2020, and in the world of The Boys, Homelander isn’t the lost child of alien civilization but a product of our own white supremacist, capitalist design. There is no fantasy, Middle America, cornfed upbringing; he was raised in a lab by scientists. He wasn’t born with superpowers and thus naturally superior, but was injected with a drug as a baby in order to perpetuate a dead Nazi’s sociopolitical agenda. This isn’t meant to invoke sympathy for Homelander, but rather get across a subtle lesson from the show that even this seemingly all powerful super-human is actually still just a pawn—a tool of an authoritarian capitalist system that was put in place and been manipulated long before he was born.
American capitalism has been inextricably linked to white supremacy since the country’s inception. Our economy was originally, and some would argue still is, a slave economy. In fact, when the United States constitution defined Black people as only being worth ⅗ of a human they were creating an economic and social system of Über and Üntermensches. The Nazis actually praised the American system and copied a lot of its most atrocious ideas. So when the U.S. government welcomed Nazi scientists into our space program, it was an unsurprising extension of that connection.
Which is what makes Stormfront’s reveal one of the darkest but most accurate skewers of our culture on the show to date. She isn’t just a representation of the falsity of the “white female liberal ally” or a demonstration of how social media is able to so swiftly indoctrinate its young users (4chan and YouTube, I’m looking at you) into fascism and white supremacy. What Stormfront admitting to being a Nazi signifies is, to use the old adage, that those aren’t bugs in the system, they are features. The evil never went away, it simply got a makeover and a sassy undercut. And, much like how Homelander and Stormfront are now bedfellows, American capitalism and white supremacy are designed to help each other.