This article contains spoilers for the first three episodes of The Boys Season 2
Aya Cash is a familiar face to many TV junkies, but whether you know her as Gretchen Cutler from You’re the Worst, Sherri in Easy or Joan Simon in Fosse/Verdon, nothing can prepare you for her disturbing role as Stormfront in the second season of Amazon’s ultraviolent comic book adaptation, The Boys.
Swiftly added to The Seven as a replacement for the late Translucent, Stormfront has been gender-flipped for the series, originally appearing in Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson’s comics as a male villain who leads a twisted Avengers-like super-team called Payback. Though he’s a Hitler Youth-raised Neo-Nazi with Superman-level powers, Stormfront claims that he’s a reincarnated Viking. The truth, however, is that he’s absolutely the result of a super-soldier experiment by the Third Reich – an evil version of Captain America, in many respects.
“I knew in the comics that [Stormfront] was a male, he had been a part of Nazi youth and that was a big part of the character, and that I was going to play a bad guy with a capital B,” Cash told EW. “My agents actually were like, ‘You need to figure out if this is something you wanna do.'”
After having a long talk with showrunner Eric Kripke, Cash felt reassured that The Boys could handle Stormfront in a smart way. “We can have a dialogue about extremism and about racism and it’s gonna be done in a way that both honors what is true in that and also has some fun with it because this is a satire.”
In The Boys, Cash’s Stormfront has indeed been shaped as the attractive, convincing face of the far right, and if more than one similarly unsettling and popular person from the real world pops into your mind while you’re absorbing that, Kripke and co. have done their jobs well in reflecting the problem of social media-friendly fascism on the show, albeit on an amplified scale.
So far in Season 2, we’ve seen Stormfront using racial slurs and deliberately killing people of color if she can get away with it, including innocent bystanders. This was more shocking after she was introduced as perhaps a positive challenger to Homelander’s superiority in The Seven, ready to hold him accountable for his words and actions on a live stream for her fans and going on to dish out helpful advice to Starlight that she utilized deftly while manipulating A-Train over her Compound V theft. But we’re left in no doubt that, despite her initial appeal, Stormfront is a terrifying villain.
“I wanted to talk about white nationalism, and xenophobia, and some of the things that have been happening in our world lately, and the character Stormfront was a way to do that,” Kripke explains.
Kripke, who previously created longrunning fantasy drama series Supernatural for The WB in 2005, notes that when they gender-flipped Stormfront for The Boys, they not only provided Homelander with “his worst nightmare” – a strong woman “who isn’t afraid of him and steals his spotlight” – but made the character less two dimensional, too.
“In the comics, it’s sort of what you see is what you get from the very first moment you meet him,” Kripke says. “And that’s not really how hatred works these days. I think a lot of people espouse some pretty hateful ideologies, cloaked in a pretty savvy, even sometimes attractive social media packaging. And they say they’re coming off as disruptors, or free thinkers, and they’re a lot of times, good looking young men and women to attract a younger generation. And then you sort of dig deeper into that and you realize that they’re peddling the same old bullshit that people have been peddling for a thousand years. And we wanted to kind of demonstrate that. We wanted to sort of present hatred and intolerance as we see it today, which I think is a lot more insidious. And that was the experience we wanted to create with Stormfront, of someone that you liked and seemed irreverent, but the deeper you dug into her, the darker she got.”
Kripke says that as The Boys starts to uncover the truth about Stormfront’s ideology, she becomes increasingly threatening. “Once you go down the rabbit hole of, of looking at online white nationalism and how often they’re packaging it with pretty girls and pretty guys, and it’s such an intentional move to recruit a new generation. It’s really scary shit.”
“She brings a real new terrifying level of evil to the show,” adds star Karl Urban, who plays Billy Butcher in the series. “She’s formidable and her presence has a ripple effect that affects everybody, everybody in The Seven and everybody in The Boys, she’s a game changer.”
It’s clear that in the first three episodes of Season 2, we’ve only just seen the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Stormfront’s evil effect on the world of The Boys.