How Shantel VanSanten emerged as the real hero of The Boys season 2

The Boys Season 2 -- Courtesy of Panagiotis Pantazidis/Amazon Prime Video
The Boys Season 2 -- Courtesy of Panagiotis Pantazidis/Amazon Prime Video /

The Boys’ Shantel VanSanten offered her insight about Becca’s brave storyline in Season 2, transforming a character seen mostly in flashbacks last season.

As we get set for the season finale of Amazon’s superhero series The Boys, one storyline that has proven particularly impactful is Becca Butcher’s (Shantel VanSanten) fight to keep her son, torn between her love for 8-year-old Ryan and her feelings for her husband Billy (Karl Urban).

VanSanten only appeared during season 1 of the show in flashbacks until an end-of-season surprise twist revealed that she was not only alive but sequestered away by Vought International, raising the superhero child she gave birth to after Homelander (Antony Starr) raped her.

One of the highlights has been her rapid entry into The Boys’ pulsating world this season. Culturess spoke with her about her transition into the crazy atmosphere of Amazon’s The Boys.

But VanSanten joked about how awkward her entry was on The Boys in a #girlsgetitdone press day that featured the women’s stories. This is not an easy show to just show up on. VanSanten quickly made a mark on the show and fit right into the insane atmosphere.

“I mean from day one on this show I stepped on set and had to do a sex scene with Carl Urban,” VanSanten said. “And then I went from doing a sex scene to giving birth to a superhero where I had a giant tube that ran from my neck down my spine out my butt crack, underneath the sheet that just spewed blood on everybody.

And I hadn’t read all of the episodes. I didn’t get to read the graphic novel yet, and I looked at Eric Kripke ‘what in kind of show am I doing? Like this is so messed up.’ And he’s like, ‘exactly.’”

VanSanten brings all those layers of pain, love, survival, and fearless devotion to the role that truly resonated with me. There’s a raw quality of fierceness as she fights to protect her son from Homelander while dealing with the duality of loving Butcher while coping with his torn feelings about her son. Homelander scares most people (he’s a psycho!), but I really admired Becca’s resolve in facing him throughout season 2, although it’s a personal nightmare.

The Boys Season 2 — Courtesy of Panagiotis Pantazidis/Amazon Studios
The Boys Season 2 — Courtesy of Panagiotis Pantazidis/Amazon Studios /

“Becca doesn’t lean into the easy choice, she gets uncomfortable, she faces her rapist, she calls it out she’s not going to live in the gray,” added VanSanten.

Conflict and turmoil abound for Becca. It’s not just the choice of raising and loving Ryan, but also how she chooses to do that. How does she raise him so that he doesn’t end up like another Homelander? How much of his superhero ability will come into play as he matures? She’s not just raising anybody.

“I remember, Aaron Kripke explaining it to me as though I was raising the second coming of Christ, or the next Homelander, which would be a Homelander Jr, which would also be the devil,” explained VanSanten. ”

‘So don’t f**k it up. Good luck, you have all the responsibility of saving humanity.’ And I remember being like, ‘holy sh*t I never thought of it that way.’”

This brings up a great point about Ryan, and a possible thread of what we can expect in the next season, perhaps? Will he become the first non-manufactured superhero in this universe? Surely there are others?

Will he be groomed as a new version of The Seven, where heroes can be actual heroes (like Starlight)? There’s so much to ponder after this answer. Becca’s nurturing methods may make all the difference for Ryan and his journey to becoming that possibly true hero.

“I was thinking, from Becca’s standpoint, of this being the most redemptive unselfish thing that she could do,” VanSanten said.

“But I didn’t realize in the bigger picture of being a pawn for Vought, that I was the experimental test to see if being a mother and teaching a child out of nurturing how to have empathy, compassion, feelings, love, respect of women, how we could possibly change humanity, by having a hero to actually look up to,”

From the outset of The Boys season 2, VanSanten displays an undertone of tragedy in her performance that seems to conflict at an almost by-the-minutes basis with her strong resolve to protect herself, her son, and her relationship with Butcher. Becca has been through so much. But really how realistic is it that she will be able to achieve a happy future that includes the two boys in her life that she loves, free from a menacing Homelander and stepmom-from-hell Stormfront, and a meddling Vought?

In every scene this season, VanSanten’s tenacity in the face of it all has been admiring to watch. Confronting her rapist and dealing with him was a big discussion point between her and showrunner Kripke.

“I feel fiercely protective of her. I mean I could tell you guys a story of when I called Eric [Kripke], I said, ‘listen, season one, we left what happened to her in a gray area, and I have dealt with fans who are horrifically nasty, and I’m sorry but for people who are survivors there’s no gray area, and we will not leave it in this area,” VanSanten. said emphatically.

“I want Becca to say what happened to her. I want Becca to look at Billy with power and say I was raped, because that’s the fact of the matter, that’s what she has been underneath everything, dealing with on a day-to-day basis, alone, and trying to redeem through this child, through everything, through sacrifice, and that is in of itself, the fight to survive and to thrive, is heroic in its own nature as human beings.”

Becca really never seems to get a break. You look at the scenes where the boys are racing a speedboat followed up by spearing a giant whale or blowing people up, but Becca’s struggle just seems so much more strained.

The Boys Season 2 — Courtesy of Panagiotis Pantazidis/Amazon Prime Video
The Boys Season 2 — Courtesy of Panagiotis Pantazidis/Amazon Prime Video /

“Sometimes I felt as though and even when I watch the show I’m like, ‘Am I am I on the same show as these people?’ VanSanten laughed “Like when do I get to laugh? When do I get to like, I don’t know, sit in the guts of a whale? When do I get to have like some moment that isn’t just fight and struggle?

“But then I remember she’s the metaphor for the human condition. She does have moments of lightness and happiness, but those aren’t interesting to watch. And ultimately, it’s what she is, she’s a fighter and a survivor, and won’t be a victim to her circumstances.”

If there’s one thing I’m grateful for this season on The Boys, it’s that they gave us Becca Butcher’s heart-rending story. She’s a real-life hero on the series, and no superhero or any of the boys comes close to Becca’s resolve and spirit. Shantel VanSanten has been a marvel as Becca and I love the bravery she brought to the series.

Next. The Boys season 2 is insane, in-your-face, and glorious. dark

The season two finale of The Boys drops on Amazon on October 9. Are you ready for a crazy finale? What do you think will happen?