Spoilers below for anyone who hasn't yet watched the first three episodes from The Boys Season 2.
Perhaps the biggest change that Amazon's The Boys introduced in its Season 2 premiere was the arrival of Aya Cash's Stormfront, a gender-swapped take on the hyper-biased supe from the comic book. After she instantly embedded herself beneath the agitated skin of Antony Starr's Homelander, the Seven's leader arrogantly confronted Giancarlo Esposito's Stan Edgar about the decision, and was none too pleased by the Vought CEO's DGAF approach. Though everyone else cowers from Homelander's gaze, Stan Edgar stands forever firm and fearless.
Stan Edgar is very likely the one Boys character who fears Homelander the least, since unlike Karl Urban's Billy Butcher, Stan's views aren't predicated on his innate hatred of the supe. When CinemaBlend had the pleasure of speaking with Giancarlo Esposito ahead of The Boys' Season 2 premiere, the actor reasoned that his character views Homelander as being something of a major man-child harboring fairly simplistic urges. When I asked If Stan truly is fearless of Homelander, here's what Esposito told me:
I believe he's truly fearless. Look, I've watched these episodes, and in the moment, of course, I wanted to know all the information that I'm trying to pass on it and share with Homelander in regard to what Vaught really is, and where he stands within the company. And I love when he's asked, when he turns in that wide shot from his desk, and he says, 'Oh, oh!' He's genuinely surprised. 'You wanted to be consulted on Stormfront?' Like, whoa! He really starts to get that this guy's ego is out of control, and he has to put him in his place, but also has to educate him. Look, when I see what Homelander does, I would fear him. But I don't believe Stan Edgar has any fear of Homelander at all. And when I was doing the scene, I thought, 'Just think in regards to being very calm, and dealing with a child, but with respect.' But also, you can't forget the vision of how Homelander could take you out. So in the back of my mind, I've got Compound V in my blood, so I'm not worried at all. [Laughs.]
Any parent who watched Stan Edgar and Homelander's conversation in the Season 2 premiere likely recognized all too well the tone that Giancarlo Esposito used in the scene. Instead of blowing up on Homelander and performatively pulling rank, Stan stays calm while confidently opening up the hero's eyes to the big picture. (And also dropping a Soldier Boy reference.) Vought is not a superhero company, but a drug company, and in Stan's eyes, the product is worth far more than its superpowered mascot. If Homelander was focused on something beyond just himself, then Stan might have more to worry about, but we're definitely dealing with the most heinously narcissistic member of The Seven, Stormfront included.
Giancarlo Esposito talked more about how Stan Edgar's understanding of Homelander's psychological situation is the key to their imbalanced relationship, while also championing showrunner Eric Kripke and his creative team for giving the show's characters so many layers. In his words:
And the other part of it is, I believe I know what Homelander really wants, and I believe what he's missing is love and compassion. He never had a childhood; he missed it, so he has these tantrums which come out in his anger. And so to be able to really understand him psychologically means he's no threat whatsoever, because I get what he's after. He also wants stardom. I love this show! Because it's like, everyone has something that they really, really want that they won't be able to live without. And what is that? Is it power? Is it fame? Is it money? Is it respect? So much of this. How do we win the war and win the battle, in terms of The Seven, who are wondering, 'I thought that this was my natural power.' And so they're starting to find out the essence behind what is really running through their blood and how to be able to contain and understand their expectations. And that's what Stan does, you know? He's able to really contain and understand what Homelander's expectation was walking in the door, but wants to move him to a new understanding, and I think he does a good job doing it.
In recognizing those issues with parents and family, Stan Edgar thankfully didn't give in to Homelander's most salacious whims and wishes in the ways that Elisabeth Shue's Madelyn Stillwell did in Season 1. We probably won't see any breastmilk refrigerators anywhere in Stan's office, although since this is The Boys, I won't completely rule it out just yet.
Speaking of the dead-but-not-completely-absent Madelyn Stillwell, I brought up how Stan Edgar was forced to quickly find his footing with Homelander, since dealing with The Seven and other Vought factions was below his paygrade before Madison's untimely exit. He had to quickly assess the situation and handle things humanely, without resorting to The Seven's brand of problematic and highly dangerous behavior. Giancarlo Esposito shared his thoughts on Stan stepping up to bring in some order.
That's right, but he has to come out of his shell. He's got to stand there at a press conference, and Homelander's gotta say all these things, and Stan has to be respectful. Because this is a play, this is a movie, this is our lives right now. We're in a world where everything's a carnival. I mean, Kripke got it right, man. [Laughs.] I watch this show, and every time I watch it again to prepare for interviews and make sure I have all these facts in my head and don't want to give away too much and all that, I realized how brilliant this show is. We're all playing out our own drama, and the backdrop of this world and life has become in so many ways cheaper and cheaper and cheaper. Right? So we because we're able to watch death and destruction in our own living room, we're able to see it on our streets, we're able to experience it, so it becomes less valuable. And I think what Edgar is trying to do is to bring value back to humanity in some way. But that takes a certain type of control. As you see now what's happening in the world, people don't want to do this. They don't want to be told; they don't want to do that.
There's definitely a certain value to Stan Edgar's side of the coin, even if viewers shouldn't exactly feel kinship for one of the many people responsible for introducing and forcing Compound V into people's lives for decades on end. Still, in the side-bet battle of "Stan Edgar vs. Homelander," it's way easier to put money on Vought's head honcho, even without any heightened powers to speak of, because he came into the game knowing the players and the rules, while everyone else had to catch up.
To that end, Giancarlo Esposito talked about Antony Starr's Homelander angrily realizing just how sincere and true Stan's argument is.
And Homelander's face when he turns away from Stan Edgar, you see it in his face: he is so pissed, he is so angry. Why doesn't he just flare me? Because he can't, right? Because he realizes that Stan has shared something with him that's very, very important, and because he can't let himself out of the contract. He walks in saying, 'Maybe I'll go somewhere else.' Yeah, okay, big guy, go somewhere else. [Laughs.] So it's an interesting dynamic that's reflective of what's happening in our world today, and I think that's why this show is so phenomenal, and believable. All of the acting and all the characters have different challenges in their personal agenda, accepting themselves as the superhero superpower. I think it's fascinating to have to police these superheroes who really have humanity inside them, but want to deny it.
Considering Homelander pushed his own kid off a room and can't stop making The Deep feel like shit about his gills, it may still be a long while before viewers get a glimpse of any humanity behind those laser-blasting eyes. But if it ever happens, it'll likely be because he learned a few lessons from Stan motherfucking Edgar.
We have lots of questions about what's coming next after these first three episodes, so check those out and remember The Boys' remaining episodes will be debuting weekly on Amazon Prime Video every Friday. Stay tuned to CinemaBlend for more exclusive Boys content and bookmark our 2020 Fall TV premiere schedule to see what shows are coming soon.