Ryan Butcher will return in The Boys season 3… just in time to see his adoptive father figure get superpowers. Does this make Billy a better father?
Will gaining superpowers bridge the parent-child gap between Ryan and Billy Butcher in The Boys season 3… or have entirely the opposite effect? The first trailer for The Boys season 3 has dropped and, in a shock twist, Karl Urban’s Billy Butcher is getting a super-powered upgrade. The man who once lived strictly by “the only good supe is a dead supe” is now very much a supe himself, seemingly ingesting some Compound-V offshoot (the vial he holds is green, rather than the traditional blue). Butcher now possesses super-strength and an orange set of laser-eyes, eerily similar to Homelander’s trademark blasts.
The Boys‘ season 3 trailer also confirms a return for Cameron Crovetti as Ryan Butcher. Born as the result of Homelander raping Becca Butcher, Ryan spent his formative years in a Vought-sponsored bubble with his mother, but their sheltered lives turned upside-down after Homelander discovered the secret. A violent custody battle ended in Becca’s death, and Billy promising to keep his late wife’s son safe. The Boys season 2’s final moments saw Ryan head into the care system, and it wasn’t clear whether he’d continue to have a presence in the narrative. Fortunately, Ryan is shown in Amazon’s The Boys season 3 trailer. Not so fortunately, he’s pretty angry, and could still be struggling to control his powers.
Though Butcher eventually became something resembling a father figure to Ryan (“don’t be a c**t” counts as parenting, right?), Karl Urban’s character could never understand the loneliness and fear Ryan felt as a developing superhero. For all his many parental flaws, Homelander did at least empathize with the super-puberty Ryan was undergoing and, in one of precious few redeeming moments for the Seven leader, genuinely helped his son adjust to the Compound-V life. That’s a perspective Butcher could never hope to offer, and you could even argue Homelander was the best person to raise Ryan after all – even after pushing the kid off a rooftop.
In The Boys season 3, however, Billy Butcher joins his step-son in the super-powered club. Even better, Butcher’s abilities mirror Ryan’s pretty closely, with both sharing super-strength, laser vision, and possibly even more we’re yet to witness. A lack of superpowers was the biggest omission from Butcher’s parental toolbox – the one thing he couldn’t possibly “learn” along the way. Now juiced-up on V, Butcher can relate to Ryan’s constant struggle for control and the feeling of natural superiority that comes from being a supe. Surely, that makes him a better mentor for the youngster, right…? Perhaps not. Looking closely at Ryan’s brief appearance in The Boys season 3’s trailer, he rips off the St. Christopher necklace Butcher gave to him at the end of season 2.
While Ryan would certainly benefit from a fellow supe’s guidance, that’s not necessarily what he needs from Butcher. In the years before Homelander came along, Becca was the perfect mother to Ryan, raising him into a kind and conscientious young boy – all without the aid of superpowers. Butcher was supposed to keep Becca’s spirit alive the best he could and ensure Ryan was raised the way she’d have wanted. By turning himself into some budget Homelander, Butcher is the very antithesis of someone Becca would want keeping an eye on her son. So, when Ryan begins spiraling out of control and having anger problems in The Boys season 3, is an equally angry and equally out-of-control Butcher really the parental figure Homelander’s son needs? Would the kinder, wiser Butcher from The Boys season 2’s finale uphold Becca’s spirit better? And is seeing Butcher become like Homelander why Ryan tears off his St. Christopher?
Ryan’s return to The Boys naturally suggests his stint in care will end badly (who’d have thought?!), meaning Butcher needs to step-up his parenting game. Inheriting superpowers may bring him closer to Ryan in one sense, but could do more harm to their relationship in the long-term. Ryan doesn’t need another Homelander in his life – he needs another Becca.
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