How did Butcher get powers in ‘The Boys’?

the boys
via Prime Video

Warning: The following article contains spoilers for the first four episodes of the third season of The Boys.

The third season of the hilariously satirical superhero epic The Boys is currently airing on Amazon Prime Video with new episodes dropping every Friday. So far the show has seen a group of misfit mercenaries known as ‘The Boys’ led by William “Billy” Butcher barely get away with murder as they attempt to punish the morally reprehensible superhero community and bring their misdeeds to light.

The series is based on the comic book series of the same name which was written by Garth Ennis, with art by Darick Robertson. One aspect of the comic book series which was sorely missed in the Amazon series was the idea that The Boys were able to gain superpowers for brief periods of time. The third season of the show introduces that premise in a thoroughly entertaining way, so let’s look at how The Boys got their powers. 

How did Butcher get powers in The Boys?

Image via Amazon Studios / The Boys

The origin of Butcher’s powers in the series is quite similar to their comic book origins. In the fourth issue of the comic book series, it was revealed that Butcher took injections of Compound V, the serum used to turn people into Supes, except the version he took was diluted and only gave the user powers for a few days. 

In the Amazon series, Vought, the company behind the creation of all the superheroes in this universe, had created a serum that, once injected, would give the user powers for a period of twenty-four hours. This version of Compound V was dubbed V24 by Stan Edgar, and it was engineered to sell to soldiers in the military.

Queen Maeve approached Butcher in the first episode of season three, “Payback”, to give him vials of the serum to use against the former members of the superhero team Payback. Maeve informed Butcher that the death of the former Payback member Soldier Boy might hold the key to defeating Homelander. So for Butcher to have a chance at interrogating Payback, he takes the serum and after some hesitation, injects himself in episode two of season three, “The Only Man in the Sky”. 

After injecting himself with the serum he becomes stronger and he also has heat vision. Unfortunately, Butcher could not control his powers, and he accidentally killed Gunpowder with his heat vision, slicing him and a car in half. After the serum wore off in the third episode, “Barbary Coast”, Butcher began to experience side effects including frequent vomiting. Which is slightly better than the side effect in the comic books, which was blue poop.

the boys season 3
via Prime Video

Butcher injected the serum once again when The Boys went to Russia to track down the weapon that took down Soldier Boy. But after becoming disenchanted with taking down the Supes the right and legal way after Victoria was revealed as a Supe herself, Hughie injected himself with the serum as well, against Butcher’s advice. 

When the team broke into the facility to find the weapon, they encountered guards which Butcher dispatched. It was only when Mother’s Milk was snuck up on that Hughie showed off his newly acquired abilities, which seemed to be teleportation and super-strength, as he teleported to the enemy and put his fist through him, mirroring a seminal panel from the comics. Although it seems Hughie’s power does not extend to his clothing, as after Hughie teleported he was not in possession of his clothes and was in the nude.

It might be safe to assume that Mother’s Milk will take the serum as well, as the knowledge that Soldier Boy is still alive might convince MM to take the serum so he can kill him, as Soldier Boy killed MM’s family. Whether or not Frenchie will take the serum is unknown, but he might take it to be closer to Kimiko.

Fans of the comic books might be able to figure out what direction the series will take now that more of The Boys have powers, but the series does have a track record of deviating from the source material, so just go along with the ride that is sure to be the rest of season three. The season is slated for eight episodes, so there should be a few more surprises in store, including episode six, “Herogasm“.

Catch The Boys streaming on Amazon Prime Video, with every new episode releasing on Friday.