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The Boys Season 3 Makes It Clear That Butcher Is Worse Than Homelander

Contains spoilers for the ending of "The Boys" Season 3 and "The Boys" comics

"The Boys" Season 3 confirms that Homelander (Antony Starr) can now do pretty much anything. Apart from being the leader of Vought in all but name only, he earns the trust of Ryan (Cameron Crovetti), and his all-too-devoted followers outright cheer him when he highly publicly laser-blasts an attacker. He's already established to be a powerful presence among the religious part of the population, and with his newfound political and corporate might, he's not just the world's most powerful Supe — he's well on his way to become the world's most powerful person, period. 

What's more, his discussions with the mirror have teased that as his powers build up, he's losing whatever shreds of his humanity remain. In fact, showrunner Eric Kripke recently told the Writer's Guild of America West that Homelander will absolutely be a complete sociopath before the show is over. "You could track the meta-mythology of the series essentially as the slow unraveling of Homelander," Kripke said.

Still, "The Boys" wouldn't be "The Boys" if it wasn't willing to exceed expectations. As such, don't expect the fact that the show revolves around the strongest superhero in the world slowly breaking bad to mean that said superhero is the worst guy out there. In fact, after "The Boys" Season 3, it's clear that Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) is much, much worse than Homelander — because he now has a mission, a schedule, and absolutely nothing to lose. 

Butcher now has a deadline

The ending of "The Boys" Season 3 reveals that Butcher's rampant use of the temporary Compound V has wrecked his health to the point that he may only have a few months left. Over the course of the season, viewers have also found that he's possibly even more devious and manipulative than anyone could have guessed, since he's willing to team up with Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) and withhold important information about the temporary V from Hughie (Jack Quaid). Oh, and because he basically drove Ryan away from him, he now has absolutely nothing and no one to lose. 

This is a bad mindset, because Butcher has a massive grudge against any and all Supes, and now that he has a clear deadline, he's likely prepared to throw away whatever scruples he still had. Not that he had too many left, though. Bad as he may be, Homelander largely stumbles upon his victories. The public eats up his egoistic and violent gaffes, and allies like Victoria Neuman (Claudia Doumit) provide unexpected opportunities. Meanwhile, Butcher's all about proper preparation and planning, and has already demonstrated that he has roughly the same amount of morality as his superpowered nemesis. Homelander might be a bomb, but he lacks a proper steering system and doesn't always explode. Butcher, on the other hand, is a sniper rifle that's aimed at the heart of his enemies at all times ... and now that he knows that the clock is ticking, he's likely to start blasting. 

There's an upper limit to Homelander's awfulness

As powerful and terrifying as Homelander is, there's a limit to what horrors he can do — and we've already seen what it is. Time and time again, the show has revealed what Homelander is in the dark. From the way he deals with the plane rescue in Season 1 to how he imagines mowing down crowds with his eye beams in Season 2, it's been clear for quite a while that the Supe is one bad day away from becoming a virtually unstoppable mass murderer. Season 3 simply gives him the public support and confidence to start acting out his worse impulses in broad daylight. 

However, occasional threats notwithstanding, the canon maximum of his villainy is still at a "might start killing lots of people with his eye beams" level. As such, it's his one-on-one evil deeds that often stand out the most. While the scene at the rooftop with the girl he's supposed to rescue in "The Only Man in the Sky" and his various verbal putdowns are standout villain moments in their awfulness, they're something a nasty enough person with a vastly smaller power level could also pull off.

Homelander is still an excellent villain, and Antony Starr's dead-eyed, twitchy portrayal is consistent MVP material. However, the character has a pretty tragic side, and while he's certainly smart enough to be a serious threat, his egoism and constant emotional turmoil undermine his aspirations. Because Kripke has indicated that the show plans to escalate Homelander's road to darkness, it's very possible that future seasons will upgrade Homelander's villain game by introducing some of the unspeakably deviant behaviors of his comic book counterpart. Right now, though, he still needs to up his game if he wants to hang with Butcher ... much like in the source material. 

Butcher is the final villain in the comics

The comic book version of Homelander is a different guy from the show's incarnation of the strongest Supe. They both have the exact kind of tragic backstory you imagine an ultra-powerful, lab-created corporate superhero to have. Yet, while the comics one is far from a nice person, his start of darkness is an odd one. He's slowly and steadily manipulated into a murderous supervillain by Black Noir (played by Nathan Mitchell in the show), whose print incarnation is Homelander's crazed clone that was created as a failsafe mechanism. Convinced that he did Noir's various atrocities without actually remembering any of them, Homelander eventually starts doing unimaginable things himself. 

Meanwhile, Billy Butcher spends his entire comics run on a self-stated mission to get rid of all the Supes he possibly can. Once Homelander and Black Noir are out of the way, he allows himself a brief moment of reflection before embarking on a mission to kill everyone who's ever come in contact with Compound V. Incidentally, this would affect an untold number of people ... including all of his teammates, almost all of whom he kills personally. Even if you exclude the many, many atrocities and duplicious deeds the comics Butcher does, this final mission of mass murder confirms him as the true final villain of the series. 

The show's Homelander seems to be walking the path to full psycho supervillainy by his lonesome, courtesy of his fragile ego and numerous issues. He also kills Black Noir and Stillwell (Elizabeth Shue), his greatest opposing forces from the comics — apart from Butcher. As such, it's entirely possible that he'll eventually become the kind of villain who puts the comics Butcher's actions to shame. 

Of course, there's still one problem about that theory. From what we've seen so far, the show's Butcher is even worse than his comics counterpart.

Butcher's redeeming features are largely gone in the show

The most terrifying thing about the show's Billy Butcher isn't his willingness to do anything to get the job done. Apart from the very occasional pang of guilt, or an even rarer genuine attempt to connect with someone, he seems to have even less redeeming features than his comic book counterpart. There's virtually no one he's not willing to betray or use, and now that he's on a tight schedule, this will likely get even worse.

The comics Butcher is a violent man who sometimes enters a state of tranquil fury where his darkest instincts take the driver seat. "It's not me," he states to a very unfortunate Supe during a moment of extreme violence. "I'm somewhere else watchin' it happen." He's also a highly intelligent and manipulative man who's able to play everyone from his team members to multiple directors of the CIA like a violin. 

Despite all this, he has certain positive traits. He genuinely cares about Hughie, whom he views as a little brother. He has a genial, though extremely profane sense of humor, and he seems to genuinely enjoy having a laugh with his teammates. He's also surprisingly willing to help the other Boys in their personal matters, as well as anyone who's hurt by Supes in any way — even if his help tends to be of the black ops variety, and he isn't above holding it over people's heads when the time is right.

The show's Butcher is none of that, save the intelligence, violence and manipulation. Even during moments of apparent levity, Urban's performance makes it clear that this Butcher is basically "somewhere else watchin' it happen" all the time. If his worst part wasn't in control before, it very much is by the end of "The Boys" Season 3. Supes, watch out.