Butcher is on a mission to kill Homelander, but The Boys season 3 could make the victory bittersweet by having the supe die a hero.
Warning: SPOILERS ahead for The Boys season 2.
Amazon’s gritty, blood-soaked superhero satire The Boys has Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) on a mission to kill the psychotic superhero Homelander (Antony Starr), and season 3 could give him a bittersweet victory. Despite Billy and the Boys’ many efforts to expose Homelander for the villain that he really is, the star-spangled leader of the Seven is still a hero in the eyes of the public. And even if Billy does succeed in killing him in The Boys season 3, Homelander could live on in other ways.
Based on the comics by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, The Boys season 2 ended with a mixed victory for its titular vigilante group. Homelander’s girlfriend Stormfront (Aya Cash) was publicly exposed as a hundred year-old Nazi who had once worked alongside the likes of Hermann Goering and Joseph Goebbels, and had plans to bring the Third Reich into 21st century America. Stormfront also suffered devastating injuries at the hands (or rather, eye lasers) of Homelander’s son, Ryan (Cameron Crovetti). Tragically, though, Butcher’s long-missing wife Becca was fatally injured by Ryan’s attempt to save her.
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Having temporarily prevented the widespread distribution of the supe-creating drug Compound V, the Boys went off in different directions at the end of season 3: Frenchie and Kimiko taking some time to themselves, Mother’s Milk reuniting with his family, and Hughie going to work for Congresswoman Victoria Neuman. But with Homelander still leading the Seven, Butcher has some unfinished business.
Homelander Is Still A Hero To The Public
The Boys’ names were cleared at the end of season 2, and their inside horse Starlight (Erin Moriarty) was restored to her role within the Seven. Unfortunately, Homelander scrubbed the dirt from his own image as well, disavowing Stormfront and giving a press conference publicly reaffirming the superhero team’s promise to serve and protect the American people. Homelander suffered a fall from grace earlier in the season, when footage emerged of him casually killing an innocent bystander during his sloppy execution of a “super-terrorist.” It was Stormfront who helped him to regain popularity by doubling down on jingoism and dog-whistle racism, and preying on people’s fears of the supervillain bogeyman he’d created. At the end of The Boys season 2, things appear to have returned to an uneasy status quo, with Vought not able to profit off the sale of Compound V, but still able to make money selling Homelander dolls and superhero movies.
There is one loose end, which Maeve (Dominique McElligott) is currently using as a shield for both herself and Starlight: the footage from Flight 37 of Homelander coldly abandoning a plane full of passengers instead of trying to save them. This is far more incriminating than the other video; people (unfortunately) will care more about Homelander leaving Americans to die than directly killing an overseas civilian, and it will prove that Homelander lied about not being able to reach the plane in time. However, while Butcher would probably love for this footage to be released, Maeve and Starlight need it for protection so long as Homelander lives, and after his death the only person it could still hurt would be Maeve herself.
Butcher Will Kill Homelander, But The Public Won’t Know The Truth
The struggle for the Boys has always been twofold: to physically take down supes, and to expose them for what they really are. The second part of that mission is arguably the most important, since as long as the public image of superheroes remains intact, Vought can keep making more of them to replace any that the Boys manage to kill. When they successfully killed Translucent (Alex Hassell), an even more evil superhero – Stormfront – was brought in to replace him. Homelander is among the most evil superheroes we’ve seen so far in the series, but Vought could easily be hiding more wild cards like Stormfront up its sleeve. After all, season 3 is set to introduce the original Homelander, Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles).
The Boys season 3 killing off Homelander but preserving his heroic image in the eyes of the public would be a perfectly hollow victory for Butcher. Moreover, it would highlight the overriding message of the show so far: that the true evil isn’t Homelander himself, but the corporation that created him and which cultivated his psychopathy. Butcher’s anger has primarily been directed at Homelander so far, for what he did to Becca, but killing the leader of the Seven and realizing the futility of doing so could put Butcher on a more direct warpath against Vought.
Butcher Is Already Hated By The Public
Though the CIA isn’t actively hunting him or putting his mugshot on TV any more, Billy Butcher is still a long way from being a model citizen. Within the show, it hasn’t been all that long since he was framed for the murder of Madelyn Stillwell, whose death left her infant son an orphan. Madelyn’s name has taken a beating since her death, with Vought using her as a scapegoat for the unpleasant truths about the company that have come out, but the public still knows Billy best as a murderer. Moreover, while Homelander has mastered the art of smiling for the cameras, Butcher’s abrasive personality means that he’ll never be embraced as a hero. What this means is that Butcher is primed to be painted as a supervillain by Vought – especially if he offs Homelander and ends up being known as the killer of America’s greatest superhero.
Why Butcher Is Destined To Lose
Warning: SPOILERS ahead for The Boys comics.
Given how much The Boys has already deviated from the source material, it’s unlikely that the show will have the same ending as the comics. However, it could have a similarly tragic ending for Butcher. In the final issues of Ennis and Robertson’s The Boys, Butcher gets his wish of exacting revenge on Becca’s behalf – but it brings him no closure, and he instead feels immediate regret knowing that his wife wouldn’t have wanted it. At a desperate loose end without Homelander to fight against any more, Butcher hatches a plan that will result in countless lives lost worldwide, and even kills Mother’s Milk, Frenchie and the Female when they try to stop him. Poor Hughie is forced to stop his mentor and ultimately end his life.
Again, The Boys is unlikely to adapt this ending exactly – though a villainous turn for Butcher would certainly be an interesting thing to see in the show. But the important thing about Butcher’s ending in the comics is what it reveals about him as a character: even when he gets exactly what he wants, he still cannot win. Killing Homelander wouldn’t bring Becca back, or restore the years that Butcher was apart from his wife. His very instinct to use violence to achieve his goals was instilled in him by his hated, abusive father. Instead of bringing him peace, killing Homelander is more likely to leave Butcher at his lowest point yet.
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