Amazon's adaptation of The Boys has taken quite a few liberties from Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's original comic book series, but there's probably no bigger change so far than that of Becca Butcher. Becca’s story changed significantly in The Boys Season 2, but what does that mean for Season 3 and beyond? To find out, we caught up with Becca herself, Shantel VanSanten.
Warning! Spoilers ahead for The Boys Season 2.
In the comics, Becca was raped by Homelander and subsequently disemboweled by the superpowered fetus within her, before Butcher beats it to death. Thankfully, The Boys TV show gave Becca an extended role — until she still died at the hands of her superpowered son in the Season 2 finale.
"I was basically raising the second coming of Christ, or a new Homelander."
A lot happened in that finale as The Boys tied up several loose ends, introduced some new plot threads, and subverted one of the worst tropes in superhero stories. So we reached out to Becca herself, Shantel VanSanten, to discuss the events of the Season 2 finale, what happens to Ryan in Season 3 now that he's killed his mom, and the weirdly hopeful message of this very cynical show.
"We end it in a more hopeful place, even though we blow up people's heads and all," VanSanten tells Inverse. "We even see a tiny bit of humanity in Homelander, and the cracks start to show in both the heroes and the villains."
Though (some) evil is defeated in the season finale, the Boys also lose tremendously when Becca is killed by her own son, leaving Ryan's fate open-ended. One of the biggest changes from the comics was the added agency to Becca's character, subverting the "fridging" trope (female characters meant only to die in order to motivate the hero, which gets its name from a 1994 Green Lantern comic).
Throughout Season 2, we see Becca trying to raise her son Ryan to be everything Homelander is not, even if it means keeping him isolated from the entire world.
"A lot of the season is the fight between nature versus nurture," the actress says. "Becca hopes she can raise her son to understand empathy, compassion and love. Even Homelander and Butcher are seeing their human side fighting their monster side, how they were raised against how they inherently are."
If Homelander is supposed to be The Boys' twisted version of Superman, then Ryan is Superman as originally imagined by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster — a superpowered being who becomes a beacon of hope because he is properly raised by loving, caring parents. Through Becca and Ryan's storyline this season, The Boys argues that it is because of Martha and Jonathan Kent that Kal-El becomes Clark Kent and not General Zod. (2019’s Brightburn took the opposite approach, arguing that a Superman-like kid raised by loving parents could still turn out evil.)
VanSanten knew Becca taking on this huge task of raising the world's first natural-born superhero was important, and not without sacrifice.
"Eric [Kripke, the showrunner] said I was basically raising the second coming of Christ, or a new Homelander," she says. "That's a huge responsibility."
There are even some moments in the season that hint at Homelander knowing he's as messed up as he is because of the way he was raised, and that he wants Ryan to be different. He looks genuinely concerned at Becca sheltering Ryan from the world, arguing that isolation is what made Homelander the psychopath he is today. Becca responds that her existence as a loving mother is the only thing that matters.
And yet, the finale seems to shut down the comparisons between Becca and Martha Kent the moment Ryan accidentally kills his mom. Throughout the season, we saw Butcher try his hardest to escape with Becca, rescuing her from Vought and Homelander — while maybe leaving Ryan behind.
Ultimately, none of that matters. And by the end of The Boys Season 2, Butcher only sees Ryan as a weapon, a mini-Homelander who killed the woman he loves. And yet, instead of bashing Ryan's head in, Butcher comforts the kid and makes sure he ends up in safe hands.
"I think Billy realizes that even Ryan is fighting an internal war between the half of him that's like Homelander and the half that represents everything Becca fought and lived for,” VanSanten says. "Now the question becomes, will Billy help Ryan turn out to be more nurtured and loved, and carry out what Becca wanted, which is to heal what happened to her and to superheroes and have it turn out differently?"
The Boys Season 2 does end on a big question mark when it comes to Butcher and Ryan. While Butcher does honor Becca's dying wish, comforting Ryan and telling him it wasn't his fault that his mom died, he still leaves the kid off with the government, which could easily turn him into another Homelander.
In Season 3, Ryan’s future will likely depend on whether Butcher decides to honor his dead wife’s wishes and help raise her son — or let the government, Vought, and Homelander do what they do best.
"I know Billy is going to be a bit of a fuck-up along the way, but I hope he's able to love Ryan and carry on Becca's work, making sure Ryan grows up with the compassion, love, and morals Becca instilled in him," VanSanten says. "That may be a tall order for the tortured Billy, but I hope he's able to love the good sides of Ryan, the sides that were Becca."
The Boys is available to stream on Amazon Prime.