Nathan Mitchell as Black Noir in The Boys
(Prime Video)

‘The Boys’ Take on Black Noir Makes Him Even More Fascinating Than in the Comics

"You want to know how I got these scars?"

The Black Noir we know in Eric Kripke’s The Boys series has a different arc from the one in the comics. But the change does make him one of the more fascinating supes on the show. 

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A strong appeal of The Boys is that it delves deep into the complex psyche of superheroes and isn’t afraid of exploring the dark sides of both its supe and human characters. Black Noir (Nathan Mitchell), with his mask on at all times and never speaking, has been a silent mystery during the earlier seasons of the show, barring a few scenes, such as when he feels sad for the whale dying, or when he beheads the supe-terrorist Naqib but stops to engage with Naqib’s little son by picking up the kid’s teddy and playing with it.

What we do know is this is a ruthless killer when given a command to do so by Vought, and that he shares a different rapport with Homelander (Antony Starr) compared to the other supes on the Seven. He isn’t afraid of him and Homelander actually likes Noir, unlike, say, The Deep (Chace Crawford).

However, The Boys season 3 finally answers a lot of questions about Black Noir, why he doesn’t speak, and why we never see him without that mask of his. 

Black Noir’s past with Payback and Soldier Boy

The Payback from 'The Boys'
(Prime Video)

In The Boys season 3 episode 6, “Herogasm,” after finding out that Soldier Boy (Jensen Ackles) has returned and killed Crimson Countess (Laurie Holden), Black Noir cuts out his tracking chip and disappears, much to the shock of Homelander. In the same episode, when Soldier Boy goes after the TNT Twins, they reveal to him that it was Black Noir who sold him out to the Russians. It becomes clear that Noir is afraid of what Soldier Boy might do to him.

Later, in episode 7, “Here Comes A Candle To Light You To Bed,” we discover why Noir betrayed Soldier Boy in Nicaragua. While Noir is hiding out at an abandoned Buster Beaver’s pizza restaurant, he starts seeing Buster Beaver and his other imaginary friends who talk to him and help him confront his repressed feelings about Soldier Boy. 

Through a cartoon reenactment by Noir’s imaginary friends, we find out that Black Noir wasn’t always nonverbal, and that his condition is selective. When he was young, Earving a.k.a. Noir (Fritzy-Klevans Destine) was actually interested in not wearing his mask at all, and wanted to take it off. He even told this to a young Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), who believed the people wouldn’t accept a black man in Payback. Noir wanted to be an actor and even auditioned for a role in Beverly Hills Cop, but Soldier Boy sabotaged his chances and he lost out on the film.

When he confronted Soldier Boy (without wearing his mask), the latter verbally abused Noir, told him he was nothing, and beat him to a pulp in front of the other supes. It was evident that Soldier Boy was this abusive and sabotaging with the other members of Payback too. So, in Nicaragua, when Stan Edgar offered Black Noir the chance to betray Soldier Boy to the Russians since Vogelbaum (John Doman) was already readying a replacement (Homelander), Noir was willing and told Stan that he had the support of the rest of Payback too, except Soldier Boy’s sidekick Gunpowder (Gattlin Griffith). 

What Happened in Nicaragua during Operation Charly

In season 3 episode 3 “Barbary Coast,” when Butcher (Karl Urban), MM (Laz Alonso), and Hughie (Jack Quaid) visit Grace Mallory (Laila Robins), she tells them about Operation Charly during the Cold War when the Russians took off with Soldier Boy. It was 1984, Colonel Grace Mallory (Sarah Swire) was leading a mission for the CIA against communists in Nicaragua. And Vought had gotten Payback, the superhero team that was led by Soldier Boy and included Crimson Countess, Gunpowder, Mindstorm (Ryan Blakely), TNT Twins (Jack Doolan and Kristin Booth), Swatto (Joel Labelle), and Black Noir, drafted in to aid the U.S. government, as a trial to induct supes into the military.

According to Mallory, Swatto, whose superpower was wing manifestation and allowed him to fly, “just had to stretch his wings.” He flew high enough that the enemy was able to spot him. The camp was attacked, and the supes began killing soldiers left, right, and center, without even realizing they had killed Mallory’s men. Gunpowder went trigger-happy with a big gun, a blast from which knocked Mallory off.

When she woke up, she found Black Noir badly hurt and making gurgling sounds, his face half burnt, his one eye popped out, and a chunk of his brain missing. Crimson Countess then told her that the Russians killed Soldier Boy and took off with his body.

However, later in the season, we find out that this wasn’t exactly how things went down that day, and it wasn’t some fancy Russian weapon that damaged Black Noir’s face.

What really happened to Black Noir’s face?

From the reenactment by Noir’s imaginary friends, it is revealed that it was Soldier Boy who hurt Black Noir and burnt half his face.

When their camp is attacked in Nicaragua, Black Noir and the other supes from Playback (except Gunpowder), attack Soldier Boy as per the plan. However, before Crimson Countess and Mindstorm cold put him down, Soldier Boy attacks Noir and pushes his face against the hood of a burning Jeep that badly melts the left side of his face. 

While Noir burnt, Soldier Boy also bashed the back of his head with his shield, taking a huge chunk out of his skull and brain. While Noir was eventually given medical help by Vought and got healthy again, this attack left him with permanent brain damage and scars (physical and emotional).

Black Noir II

While The Boys season 3 solved the mystery of Black Noir, it also ended rather badly for him. When Homelander found out that Noir knew Soldier Boy was Homelander’s father, he felt betrayed and brutally murdered Noir. But Noir isn’t exactly dead in the public eye. In season 4, we find out that Vought has hired an actor (also voiced by Nathan Mitchell) in Black Noir’s suit to keep up pretenses that he’s still alive and in the Seven.

In the comics, Black Noir is the overarching antagonist who has an epic showdown with Homelander. But clearly that’s not happening in the show. So it’s going to be interesting to see what The Boys plans to do with this character!

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Jinal Bhatt
Jinal Bhatt (She/Her) is a staff writer for The Mary Sue. An editor, writer, film and culture critic with 7+ years of experience, she writes primarily about entertainment, pop culture trends, and women in film, but she’s got range. Jinal is the former Associate Editor for Hauterrfly, and Senior Features Writer for Mashable India. When not working, she’s fangirling over her favourite films and shows, gushing over fictional men, cruising through her neverending watchlist, trying to finish that book on her bedside, and fighting relentless urges to rewatch Supernatural.