But beware of major spoilers for the comic book version of The Boys!
The Boys: Season 2 Gallery
The Boys’ Black Noir: Why He Is and Isn’t Batman
In some ways, Black Noir definitely fills the Batman archetype on The Boys. If the Seven are basically this universe’s Justice League, Homelander is Superman, Queen Maeve is Wonder Woman and Black Noir is Batman. He’s a hero who settles problems by punching them. He’s secretive and antisocial and seemingly oblivious to how uncomfortable his presence can be to everyone around him.
That said, the Batman comparisons only go so far with this character. Even Batman speaks and forms relationships with his fellow heroes, whereas we’ve never heard Black Noir say one word on the series. Batman also has a life completely separate from the League, whether he’s playing the part of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne or defending Gotham City from costumed psychopaths. We’ve been given no reason to believe Black Noir has a life outside The Seven, nor have we ever seen his face.
As it happens, there’s a completely different character in the world of The Boys who’s a more direct analogue to Batman – Tek Knight. Tek Knight has all the faux-Batman characteristics you’d expect. His abilities are derived from technology rather than Compound V (hence why Butcher and his team never targeted him). He’s a rich playboy with a disgruntled ex-butler and a former sidekick with whom he shared a decidedly homoerotic relationship. Tek Knight features prominently in the third story arc in the comic, “Get Some,” where he’s implicated in the murder of a gay man and suffers from a brain tumor that leads to all sorts of NSFW shenanigans.
Black Noir’s Shocking Secret Identity
There’s a very good reason we never hear Black Noir speak, nor see his face. His secret identity is at the heart of one of the biggest plot twists in the comic series. Black Noir is actually a clone of Homelander. If and when we finally see his face, he’ll most likely be played by Antony Starr.
Essentially, Black Noir is designed to be Vought’s contingency plan against Homelander, should their most famous creation ever lose control or pose too great a liability to the company. Though he hides it well in his current guise, Black Noir has all of Homelander’s abilities, and even greater super-strength to boot. His orders are simple – remain close to Homelander at all times, and wait until the day the order to kill his “brother” finally comes. That order finally comes in the climax of the comic, as Homelander attempts a hostile takeover of the U.S. government and comes face-to-face with the one person in the world stronger than himself.
What Vought didn’t account for was that Black Noir’s mission would drive him completely insane. After years of being forced to remain close by his target and never getting the kill order, Black Noir has gone completely mad. He’s like a robot that can’t reconcile its faulty programming. That probably explains some of his more eccentric behavior in the TV series. That and the fact that, like Homelander, he surely never had a normal childhood.
Will the Amazon Series Follow the Comics?
It’s important to keep in mind that just because Black Noir is depicted as a Homelander clone in the comic doesn’t mean the TV series will follow suit. Showrunner Eric Kripke may have an entirely different twist in mind, one that will surprise even the fans who have already read the original story. After all, The Boys TV series has already diverged from the comics on a number of fronts.
There’s already some evidence the show is taking a similarly loose approach on the Black Noir front. The comic eventually reveals that it was Black Noir, not Homelander, who raped Butcher’s wife Becca. Unless there’s some clever subterfuge going on, the TV series seems to implicate Homelander himself in that crime. It’s also worth remembering that Becca dies in the comic, a result of her unborn child manifesting his powers for the first time. The TV series instead reveals Becca is alive, in hiding and raising Homelander’s son.
The Amazon series may still build to the eventual reveal that Black Noir is a Homelander clone. Or it could go in a completely different direction (a Butcher clone? He was actually Mesmer the whole time!?). Either way, it’s at least safe to assume the series has a deeper purpose to keeping this character shrouded in mystery. Whoever’s under that mask, it’s going to involve a big payoff.For more on the new season of The Boys, check out our piece on Stormfront Explained, read our review of The Boys Episode 5, or find out which character Supernatural star Jensen Ackles is playing in Season 3.
Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.