If there’s one thing we learned throughout the first season of Amazon's hit comic book series The Boys, it's that superheroes are truly awful people. That perspective, perpetuated by Billy Butcher's (Karl Urban) vengeful focus on bringing down each and every supe, has been the modus operandi behind every action he and his crew have taken through each episode.
But what happens when, after all this time, Butcher's initial reason for going on this extremely bloody tear was all a lie? For years, Butcher was under the impression that his wife Becca was murdered by Homelander (Antony Starr) and his team of celebrity superheroes. The rage and grief from this loss fueled Butcher to transform into the vengeful maniac we've all grown to love. But in the final moments from last season, Homelander revealed to Billy that not only is his wife still alive — but she's been raising the blonde sociopath's child in secret.
Inverse spoke with series stars Karl Urban and Antony Starr, and executive producer Eric Kripke to explore how this pivotal reveal will alter the story trajectory of Season 2.
"The last thing we saw was Homelander having dropped [Butcher] off on the lawn just to show him that: one, your wife's alive; and two, she gave birth to my kid," Starr tells Inverse. "So then, of course, the only reason Butcher's not dead is because now he has that knowledge. And, honestly, I can't think of a better way to break his heart than to have him know that [she's alive] and to keep him away from her."
Billy Butcher seems to be drawn to heartbreak like a supe to sex and drugs. So the discovery that, after all this time, the love of his life was actually still alive brings a new urgency to the man's mission.
"The revelation that Becca Butcher is alive and the fact that she has a child with Homelander is a complete game-changer," Urban added. "If Season 1 for Butcher was about taking down The Seven at all costs, Season 2 becomes about saving his wife."
And then there's the introduction of the kid. The last thing Butcher expected to find was Becca, alive, and well. Yet, here she was living that suburban mom life, taking care of a young boy that looked an awful lot like his superhero nemesis. That discovery alone has got to do a number on Billy's already fractured mental well-being.
"In the book, there is the child and Butcher kills him right after he's born, and right in the room," Kripke says. "But what a valuable character because, from Butcher's perspective, he's half the person he loves most in the world and half the person he hates most in the world."
What's worse for Butcher: believing Homelander killed your wife or knowing he raped her and now is the father of her secret child? Not for nothing, but Billy Butcher could probably use hours upon hours of therapy to work through these issues.
Butcher's been portrayed as his own sort of unruly monster up until now. But he's still human, and that humanity was mostly seen through flashbacks in Season 1. His deep-seated pain drove his erratic, and often chaotic, leadership strategy which put The Boys into some extremely sticky situations. Heading into The Boys Season 2, they've all been labeled domestic terrorists and have been driven into hiding. Now that Billy's no longer looking to take Homelander and himself out together in a blaze of glory, how exactly will things look for him and his crew this time around?
"In Season 1, Butcher was prepared to sacrifice everything and anything to achieve his goal of hard-out revenge," Urban says. "That didn't work out well for him. So in Season 2, it's very much a journey of humanizing him."
Humanizing Billy Butcher probably means a dynamic shift within The Boys — which, if we're being honest, would be a welcome adjustment. But that's not to say Butcher, Hughie, Frenchie, Mother's Milk and Kimiko will be ending their supe-killing ways anytime soon. Remember, Vought Industries (the evil corporation that owns The Seven) manufactured "Compound V," a drug linked to the creation of superheroes. And getting this information out to the public is still of dire importance to not just clear our heroes' names, but deliver some overdue justice in the process.
And if Butcher can go toe-to-toe with Homelander again, without jeopardizing the well-being of Becca and the boy, you best believe he definitely will take that chance.
"[The Seven] are like chlamydia and Butcher is gonna get in there and he's gonna smash them," Urban says, teasing more supe battles in Season 2. "But first and foremost, it's about rescuing his wife and that's what he sets out to do. Really, the question is: how far is Butcher willing to go in order to achieve that goal? And what is too high a price to pay in order to achieve this goal?"
The Boys Season 2 will premiere its first three episodes on Friday, September 4, with each new episode dropping each week, to Amazon Prime Video.