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After The Boys season 2 fueled speculation that Ryan Butcher would take over for Black Noir in a major comic narrative, season 3 The Boys almost confirms it.
Warning: Season 3 The Boys spoilers ahead! (Cameron Crovetti as Ryan Butcher and Nathan Mitchell as Black Noir in Season 3 The Boys)
The initial episodes of season 3 The Boys give a big boost to an intriguing Ryan Butcher theory. Ryan Butcher, the kid of Becca and Homelander, made his entrance at the final moments of The Boys season 1 in a major departure from the original comics. The scary tyke was subsequently cast as a young Cameron Crovetti, and Ryan Butcher was revealed to be a compassionate, gentle youngster who hadn't yet grasped the great power coursing through his veins in The Boys season 2. Regardless, Ryan Butcher is extremely powerful and possesses several of his father's abilities, including super-strength, invulnerability, and heat vision. Ryan's potential is so vast that he sliced Stormfront like a fascist salami.
Defeating Stormfront (although inadvertently) generated speculation regarding Ryan Butcher's future with The Boys. Homelander's Nazi mistress begged him to seductively laser her skin when they initially hooked up. When Homelander objected because he was afraid for his girlfriend's intestines, she assured him that her body was strong enough to handle it, and she did. Ryan Butcher's heat vision, which cuts right through Stormfront, clearly suggests that he has more superhero potential than his father. Black Noir is a Homelander clone in Garth Ennis' The Boys comic novels, built as a fail-safe if the Seven leader ever loses control. Ryan Butcher's power, according to a post-The Boys season 2 idea, would allow him to someday adopt the Black Noir comic mantle of an anti-Homelander safeguard.
Season 3 The Boys leans uncomfortably in that direction. Ryan Butcher confesses to having nightmares about Homelander when Karl Urban's Billy Butcher visits him in "Payback." "One day, you'll be tough enough... then he can't hurt you," Butcher assures his adopted kid over a game of Connect 4. Despite the fact that Butcher is referring to Ryan defending himself in this line, it is clear that Billy and Mallory are banking on Ryan Butcher to become their Homelander fail-safe... their Black Noir.
In The Boys, Homelander looks proudly at his son Ryan Butcher.
Their entire setup suddenly makes a lot more sense. The millions paid to keep Ryan Butcher away from Vought, the military protection, Mallory's personal adoption of Ryan... The youngster may be sweet and innocent, but his future relevance in the struggle against Homelander is an unstated aspect in Ryan's safety. Billy Butcher expects Ryan Butcher will one day surpass his father's power, despite the fact that they aren't really training him for battle. Is it realistic to believe that if Homelander went on a global rampage, Mallory and Butcher would not call on Ryan Butcher to intervene?
Ryan Butcher's comic book role as Black Noir in The Boys could connect into the Soldier Boy narrative from season 3 The Boys. Butcher is on the quest for a famous weapon that allegedly killed Soldier Boy in 1984, thanks to a tip from Queen Maeve, and at the end of episode 3, the Boys are on their way to Russia in search of this mystery magic bullet to use against Homelander. Whatever Butcher and the crew discover there won't be as straightforward as a super-killing pistol or an Excalibur-style magic sword, and their search could be unsuccessful. Would Butcher put all his faith in Ryan Butcher as the sole way to finally murder Homelander if the trail went cold?
Vought's decision to install Black Noir as an anti-Homelander "in case of crises" panic button backfired spectacularly. The clone became unstable and obsessed with annihilating his target at all means. Using Ryan Butcher as a weapon against Homelander, on the other hand, could backfire horribly for entirely other reasons. Homelander is still Ryan Butcher's father, and in The Boys season 2, the Seven's biggest psychopath displayed true love towards his child, despite the boy's fear of his old man. The burden of killing his own father could unwittingly transform Ryan into The Boys' next Homelander if Butcher and Mallory want to one day let Ryan Butcher loose on their number one target.
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