In both the comic and Amazon series, Billy Butcher, leader of The Boys, is a man with a singular focus. He hates “supes” (superheroes) and the company they work for, Vought. And he never misses a chance to describe them with colorful language.
Translating The Boys directly from page to small screen would result in a series that would make an R rating blush. There are also aspects of the story that, frankly, haven’t aged well over the decade between publication and adaptation. Developer/producer Eric Kripke and his staff took a lot of those rough edges off of the story without changing much about the underlying themes.
There’s a very big change, though, revealed in the series’ cliffhanger ending. Before we continue, this post will discuss story elements from The Boys, including sexual assault and suicide.
[Ed. note: This post contains spoilers for The Boys comic and the Amazon series.]
William “Billy” Butcher is the (reasonably) charming, foul-mouthed, and terrifyingly violent leader of the titular Boys. His violence and visceral hatred of all things supe has a foundation, though.
In the comics, Butcher is set on his path of hatred and destruction by the death of his wife. As she lay in bed next to Billy one night, her premature child disemboweled her as it was born, and then proceeded to attack Butcher with lasers from its eyes. Butcher handled the situation how he handles all situations — with extreme violence. He later learns that his wife had been raped by a superhero and that the superpowered baby was fathered by, he believes, the Homelander. Butcher comes to blame all superheroes and, by extension, the Vought-American corporation, for the death of his wife.
In the Amazon series, Butcher’s wife, Becca, is thought to be dead. She disappeared — either abandoned her life out of shame and killed herself or was permanently silenced by Vought — after she was raped by Homelander. Over the last few episodes of the series, however, both Butcher and Homelander learn the truth (well, the truth as we understand it so far). Becca’s encounter with the Homelander was a consensual affair. And in this version, she survived her pregnancy and raised the superpowered child in hiding — or, more accurately, in a kind of corporate witness protection.
The series ends with Butcher and the Homelander, still in the midst of their season-ending climactic showdown, finding Becca and the child alive. Vought had hidden them away from both Butcher and Homelander. As they arrive at her suburban home, Homelander meets his eight-year-old (superpowered) son, and Butcher sees his wife for the first time in nearly a decade.
It’s a major change — an interesting twist on Butcher’s Women in Refrigerators origin that doesn’t paint Becca in the best light. Butcher’s entire life — in both the comics and the series — are driven by her death having been the direct result of a superhero’s actions. Learning that she is alive, but left him without a word, will certainly be explored during the series’ second season.