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This Character on ‘The Boys’ Deserved Better

Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) stands out among the Seven's loud and outgoing members due to his dark outfit and enigmatic vibe. Ironically, though, it's his silence that grabs the most attention. The persona of Black Noir has always been one of mystery and intrigue, shrouded in secrecy. His quiet frequently makes those around him uncomfortable. Even though we never hear him talk, there is a threatening weight to him that only becomes more apparent when we see how capable he is of using deadly violence. Black Noir was an intriguing character in The Boys because of his cryptic existence, and when his heartbreaking past was ultimately disclosed with a torrent of overwhelming information, he quickly became a fan favorite because of the sympathy and even relatability he garnered for the traumas he went through. As a result, the decision to take off the character just as the audience was coming to care about him was a cruel letdown.


We Must Address 'The Boys's' Supersized Plot Gap

The harrowing past of Black Noir was revealed in "The Boys" season three.
Image from The Boys, Season 3, Episode 6 of Jenson Ackles as Soldier Boy
In Season 3, Black Noir descends into terror after learning of Soldier Boy's (Jensen Ackles) reappearance. Although the events in their past are unknown to us, it is clear from Noir's distress that a terrible catastrophe had happened. Noir escapes to an abandoned Buster Beaver's Pizza, which is intended to be his safe haven, in Season 3, Episode 7. He pulls out the tracker that Vought had put in his forearm. He is greeted by fictitious cartoon figures who emerge from the restaurant's wall there. Black Noir has reportedly been exposed to these anthropomorphic cartoon creatures since he was nine years old, and probably even earlier. Ever since, he has relied on them for solace when he is feeling down. Noir is initially hesitant to share his feelings, but Buster the cartoon squirrel argues that he must face his shortcomings and shame because he can't run from Soldier Boy forever. So, his friends stage a cartoon presentation for him that doubles as an enlightening flashback to Noir's traumatized past.

Through Noir's eyes, we see his experiences reinterpreted in an animated style with anthropomorphic animals — Noir as a black sheep, symbolizing his sense of worthlessness and dislocation, and Soldier Boy as an eagle, representing the façade of courage, honesty, and honor communicated to the American people. It comes out that Soldier Boy was a big terrible bully who was insecure about his status in the organization. So, by informing Black Noir that he is nothing, he ruined his chance to appear in a police drama. Black Noir tried to object, but Soldier Boy beat him down severely. Soldier Boy didn't stop striking Black Noir with his fists even after he was badly injured. Black Noir made an attempt to flee while leaving a blood trail, but Soldier Boy hauled him back. Everything is so violent and unrestrained that an animated sequence is the only way to accurately portray it. Real-time, horrified and humiliated by his inability to stop himself, Black Noir recoils and bows his head. In addition to the physical harm, the tragedy leaves Black Noir with mental wounds that will never heal. He will always see himself as a powerless victim of bullying, which will destroy his self-esteem.

It's Simple to Support Black Noir in 'The Boys' Black Noir in The Boys Season 3Image through Amazon Prime Video
Therefore, Black Noir is eager to become involved and make amends when Stan Edgar, the future CEO of Vought, (Giancarlo Esposito), suggests his idea to eliminate Soldier Boy in order to make way for a new hero. Black Noir tries to ambush Soldier Boy with the aid of his Payback buddies, but he is too strong. And as Soldier Boy seeks retribution, Black Noir suffers yet more tragedy when he is struck in the head and face by the weapon. Black Noir hasn't been able to talk since that time. Black Noir was forced to find a means to distance himself from the horror by keeping the memory in a cartoonish 2D format because the truth of what happened was so intense and terrible.

Similar to how a child would hide from his bully by avoiding school hallways or taking the long way home, Black Noir is avoiding Soldier Boy by ripping off his tracking device and isolating himself in an abandoned restaurant. Black Noir is afraid of Soldier Boy in the same way that a middle-schooler is afraid of his school bully. Buster informs him that he cannot spend the rest of his life eluding Soldier Boy and hiding from him. Additionally, he provides Noir the exact words he needs to encourage him: "Bravery isn't having no fear. Being brave is being afraid but nevertheless doing bravely. Black Noir feels prepared to atone for his sins after finally confronting his traumas and finding the drive he required. He walks with assurance and the blazing vigor of a young person ready to confront his tormentor. Black Noir's violent persona is now evaporating, making way for his sweet, innocent side. You can't help but feel for Noir once you understand about what he's been through and how oddly innocent and cute he finds those cartoon animals.

The Boys' portrayal of Black Noir's death left me utterly unsatisfied
The Boys Image through Prime Video shows Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell) glaring at Homelander (Antony Starr).
The audience typically anticipates a big payoff when a character is presented as mysterious as Black Noir. The comics followed through on this premise by revealing that Black Noir is actually an exact replica of Homelander (Antony Starr), intended to make sure that there will always be someone strong enough to stop him if he ever lost control. Black Noir's primary assignment was to assassinate Homelander at some point, but because Vought kept delaying it, he was unable to finish it and eventually went insane. Soon after, Black Noir begins acting like Homelander in order to discredit Billy Butcher (Karl Urban), and it is revealed that Black Noir was the one who killed Becca (Shantel Yvonne VanSanten).

The character, however, is handled quite differently in the show, who gives his backstory a level of depth and complexity that surpasses that of the original. And just when the audience was beginning to empathize with Black Noir, learning about his backstory, and cheering for his future, Homelander brutally murders him. After making us care about Black Noir's saga, it hurt to believe that he would never find atonement. His past was finally disclosed after years of seclusion, and the suddenness and weight of it all left the viewers speechless. And then, just as abruptly, his story came to a disappointing end. It was a rather unsatisfying way to wrap up his story, one that raised more questions than it did answers, such as: Does Black Noir always see the fictitious characters? Why is he the way he is? When Vought isn't tying him up, what does he think and feel? And a whole lot more. There are many characters on The Boys that met tragic ends and we wish we had seen more of them, but Black Noir stands out above the others. He deserves so much better, and so do we viewers.


Daniel Jack

For Daniel, journalism is a way of life. He lives and breathes art and anything even remotely related to it. Politics, Cinema, books, music, fashion are a part of his lifestyle.