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Love & Thunder’s Biggest Twist Earlier AND Better

The Boys season 2 saw Butcher becoming a father to his nemesis Homelander’s son Ryan. Thor: Love and Thunder repeats this twist with Thor and Love.

Content Warning: the following article contains discussions of sexual violence

Amazon’s The Boys already pulled off Thor 4’s Love twist back during the show’s second season. As a parody of the entire superhero genre, The Boys borrows heavily from both DC and Marvel. In this particular instance, however, The Boys did it first.

After Thor and Jane defeated Gorr in Thor: Love and Thunder, Gorr was inspired by Thor and Jane’s love, so he wished for his daughter back instead of the genocide of all gods. After Gorr died, Thor committed to taking care of his foe’s daughter, Love, who’d been granted godly powers by Eternity itself. This heavily mirrors what happened in The Boys back in 2020. In The Boys season 2, episode 8 “What I Know,” when Stormfront attacked Becca, Ryan Butcher fired back with eye lasers which permanently injured Stormfront but also killed his mother, Becca. This was the beginning of the on-and-off father-son relationship between Butcher and Ryan in The Boys season 3, as Ryan then chose to be with Butcher instead of his biological father, Homelander.


Related: The Boys Season 4 Cast Update Supports Worrying Ryan Villain Theory

The Boys not only did this two years earlier than Thor 4, the series also did it in a better way. To be fair, this underscores the inherent advantages of the series format over interconnected movies in terms of long-form storytelling. While the MCU now includes TV shows, the main plot still takes place across multiple movies and even Phases – just to achieve the same amount of character development that The Boys can accomplish in a single season. Apart from showing where series can be stronger than movies, this is also an example of how well-executed satire can result in much more compelling stories than the “real thing.”

Why The Boys’ Ryan Butcher Is Better Than Thor 4’s Love

Compared to Butcher and Ryan’s relationship in The Boys, Thor’s journey to become Love’s dad is two-dimensional. Thor committing to raising Gorr’s daughter Love – whose father nearly succeeded in killing Thor and whatever remained of his family – is one of the single, most heartwarming moments in MCU history. Indeed, Thor allowed Gorr to resurrect his daughter and redeem himself not only at the expense of saving Jane, but also despite Gorr already killing countless people. The twist shows just how much the God of Thunder has matured over the years, and that he has not forgotten his primary duty as an Avenger. However, this is not enough to outdo the way that The Boys pulled the same twist first.

While there are many parallels between Thor and Butcher’s sacrifices, Billy Butcher’s backstory is actually more comparable to Gorr the God Butcher’s nuanced origin than Thor’s straightforward character arc. Butcher’s role as an antihero and Thor’s evolution as a traditional superhero are essentially what determine the respective potential of both Love and Ryan. Love is a product of Gorr’s redemption and Thor’s heroism, and is also clearly being set-up as a new hero. Meanwhile, as products of Homelander’s violence against Becca, both Butcher and Ryan have equal potential to become either heroes or villains. Although both Butcher and Thor adopting their respective villains’ offspring are both commendable acts of kindness, Butcher did it despite his disdain for anyone with superpowers, which is highly similar to Gorr’s hatred of all gods. Moreover, while Thor had to sacrifice Jane and look past Love’s origin in the Thor: Love and Thunder ending, Butcher had to look past not just Ryan’s nature, but also how Ryan accidentally killed Becca.

Apart from doing it first, The Boys‘ Ryan twist was much more surprising and involved much higher stakes. Even if the Love twist didn’t happen in the Thor: Love and Thunder ending, Thor was never at risk of becoming a villain or even just a lesser Avenger. Meanwhile, Butcher adopted Ryan not just to keep Becca’s memory alive, but also to prevent Ryan (and himself) from turning into another Homelander. In the end, this is why Love’s future in the MCU is much less compelling compared to the unpredictable future of Ryan Butcher in The Boys.

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