WARNING: The following contains major spoilers for The Boys Season 2, available now on Amazon Prime Video.
All Might of My Hero Academia and Homelander of The Boys are among the top heroes within their respective universes, and both heroes aesthetically appear as American (or American-inspired) symbols. Despite similar physical traits, however, they're worlds apart in personality thanks to the infrastructures of their worlds, physical setbacks, and much more. With that in mind, let’s dive into what prevents All Might from becoming Homelander.
All Might Doesn’t Always Look Like All Might
One of the most significant factors that distinguish All Might from Homelander, and something that prevents him from becoming an egotistical narcissist like the aforementioned "All-American" hero, is his inability to sustain his hero form. This is largely due to the life-threatening injury he received during his battle with All For One. Despite his image being quite important to him, you won’t find All Might shopping at the grocery store in his hero form. He typically only utilizes it for hero-oriented tasks and in order to maintain his appearance as the #1 hero. It is difficult to imagine him developing a big head without seeing a huge hero body every time he looks in the mirror... especially with him spouting blood every so often.
On the other hand, Homelander is in his hero form 24/7. He can’t go to Planet Vought for lunch without being recognized by his, or any, fans. He feeds off of this everywhere he goes, and even uses his appearance, and mere existence, to intimidate anyone and everyone, and to take everything that isn’t automatically given to him by the threat of force, or even death.
All Might Is a Devoted Teacher
As with Izuku Midoriya, All Might’s successor (commonly known as Deku), academic hero institutions such as U.A. help All Might devote himself to molding the next generation into heroes capable of saving the world. Since All Might personally trained Deku and passed the One For All Quirk to him, empathy, selflessness and hope are his core tenets. This isn’t exclusive to Deku, too, as can be seen after Katsuki Bakugo and Deku’s fight early in the anime. All Might makes a point to explain his perspective on the situation to their teacher that helps him delicately choose punishments because he has been actively attempting to prevent Bakugo from walking down a supervillain path.
Homelander, on the other hand, utilizes empathy as a weapon for his personal agenda. This is evidenced when we meet Homelander’s son, Ryan, who is the world’s first natural-born Supe. In Season 2, Homelander tries multiple times to push (literally, on one memorable occasion) Ryan to practice using his powers, largely without success. His frustration and impatience are always clear in his eyes and body language. When Homelander’s girlfriend, Stormfront, expressed nostalgic feelings about family, Homelander barges into Ryan’s home and tricks Ryan into an anxious show of father-son bonding. He even goes so far as to shatter Ryan’s grasp, or lack thereof, of reality, propelling him into the real world in order to keep this weak bond between father and son alive.
In a moment of truth, though, the psychopathic Homelander reveals his anger about the supposed death of Stormfront, rather than expressing sympathy to, or empathy for, Ryan’s heartbreaking first display of his powers.
All Might Doesn't Have As Many Powers As Homelander
While Homelander has superpowers similar to that of Superman, i.e. super strength, flight and heat vision, All Might, despite being the "Symbol of Peace," is limited, in the anime so far, to super strength, super speed and the superhuman ability to take a hit. Although All Might's Quirk, One For All, and his unbreakable spirit push him to enhance his abilities far further than what is thought to be possible, matching that up against the similar powers supplemented by flight and heat vision could be considered unfair.
Homelander’s powers put him in a position in which he can literally murder a person in the blink of an eye, whereas All Might would need to get into his hero form and take a bit more time to inflict damage to that extent. One For All, in and of itself, is also a Quirk that has the potential to significantly harm the possessor of that power, which has been shown time and again in Deku’s continuous trial and error of the power. In this regard, a moral compass combined with a reduced ease of access to a deadly superpower helps keep All Might on the right side.
Vought Doesn’t Exist In My Hero Academia
One major difference between the two shows is that there isn’t an all-encompassing corporate organization calling all of the shots in the world of My Hero Academia. Hero agencies are run by heroes, and for the most part, they carry out patrols throughout their designated cities to help citizens. Although some heroes do other activities like modeling and marketing to keep themselves afloat, it isn’t quite to the extent that Vought takes it. While Vought has a packed celebrity-type daily schedule for every hero in The Seven, most heroes within My Hero Academia spend their time training, obtaining intel on potential threats, or actively stopping crime in the streets.
The fact that Vought is a large, monopolizing private company that isn’t sanctioned by the government and milks every Supe for all that they’re worth also factors into the toxic work culture that put Homelander on a pedestal as the most important product that was ever created. Homelander and The Seven have been continuously utilized to lobby for military sales and chemical weaponry, whereas All Might, and the other heroes that went to hero schools in My Hero Academia, are registered and have to go through extensive permit tests to legally work as heroes. The government’s role serves to prevent My Hero Academia's heroes from doing whatever they want, as a type of check and balance system.
All Might’s Life's Goal Is Growing the Next Generation
All Might’s goal as a hero, to the public, is to uphold his image as the "Symbol of Peace,” and to save as many people as possible. Behind the scenes, he also holds the responsibility, as the eighth possessor of One For All, to defeat All For One and pass on his Quirk to a worthy successor. And he's succeeded in most regards -- so far.
At the outset of The Boys TV show, Homelander didn’t seem to have any life goals except to continue being Vought’s most valuable asset. This all changed when Stormfront came onto the scene in Season 2, and especially when she shared her and her husband’s Nazi-inspired, racist agenda that -- she revealed -- created Homelander, and then put him in the center of it all. It is difficult to imagine a noble, self-sacrificing hero like All Might even listening to an agenda like that, let alone go along with it. The only way Homelander is interested in aiding others is if they're directly connected to him, or can further his own image or agenda.
All Might Exists In A Different Hero Society
In the world of My Hero Academia, 80 percent of the population has a Quirk. In fact, being Quirkless is looked down upon and even treated like a disability. Some individuals even go as far as marrying partners for specific Quirks, which their children will then inherit. All Might himself was Quirkless until One For All was passed along to him and was nurtured by a loving, caring teacher.
In The Boys, Homelander and other Supes were injected with a chemical that produced superpowers as babies, and, since Supes are less common in that society, they are seen (and some, like Homelander, see themselves) as gods. Still, Homelander was raised by doctors, and we hear mention that he grew hateful from this harsh, unloving environment. The lack of a caring parent reveals itself over and over again in many of his preferences and thought-processes throughout the show.
For better and worse, All Might and Homelander, respectively, are both results of the infrastructure built into their respective worlds by those that seek to use their powers for "good." Despite being similarly revered, their huge differences in personality are truly reflective of their environments, upbringing, abilities and, ultimately, their mental fortitude. While Homelander may be more powerful than All Might, All Might's will power alone could crush Homelander's only weakness: his ego. Despite all of their differences, though, the fact remains that they are incredibly entertaining to watch (for very different reasons) and both have killer smiles.