Villain era, but with a twist.
'The Boys' season 3 finale has prompted many fans to think that Ryan Butcher is definitely on his way to becoming a villain next season. With his final smile channeling strong Joffrey Baratheon vibes, it's only a question of time when we see how badly Homelander's genes affected the boy, fans have argued.
However, his villainous path could take different turns. Comic book fans have pointed out that now that Black Noir is dead, Ryan might as well take on the role that the gloomy superhero had in the comics.
The emotionless and speechless member of the Seven was far more sinister in the comics than he turned out to be in the show. Comic books had Black Noir being the true mastermind behind pretty much every evil thing that happened to the protagonists: he was the one behind Becca Butcher's rape and sexual assault on Starlight.
In the comics, Black Noir is even more unstable than Homelander, and he eventually was the one to kill the narcissist superhuman. With the show killing him off, fans argue, it might be Ryan Butcher, Homelander's biological son, who can do all of the above.
"This is exactly what I thought too when I saw the smile, lol. Looked straight out of the comics when Noir smiled at Homelander. I just question how they'd do it w/o a time jump somewhere. ALSO if they did do this, that would also mean in this version, HL actually raped Becca." – @PapaAwiz.
…Or, things might go in a completely opposite direction.
"I think the writers might switch up, they knew fans thought BN would fight Soldier Boy but they did a full 180 & did what nobody thought would happen. I think they might make Ryan evil with no coming back cause we expect him to become good & kill HL." – @TakeshiDan18.
Given how freely the showrunners are treating the source material, we might expect pretty much anything from the show. But it seems almost certain that Ryan will find himself under the heavy influence of Homelander, who at the end of season 3 took him to his supporters' rally – only to laser someone's head off and receive cheers from the crowd. Ryan appeared to not only be okay with that, but also kind of enjoyed it, judging from the devious little smile he gave as the crowd applauded his father.
'The Boys' season 4 is due to start filming soon, with the exact release date to be announced later.