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With his black suit, brooding aura, and intimate knowledge of hand-to-hand combat, The Boys' Black Noir is a dead ringer for Gotham City's Caped Crusader. After all, the Amazon show is notorious for taking established superhero archetypes and warping them into grotesque shadows of their former selves.
So, is Noir really the Batman of The Boys universe? Well, yes and no.
**The following contains spoilers for the first three episodes of The Boys Season 2.**
"The interesting thing about The Seven is we’re clearly archetypes of the Justice League," Nathan Mitchell, who plays the taciturn character, said during SYFY WIRE's visit to the Toronto set last fall. "But one of the things that’s so powerful is the way we all approach it is very specific to characters in the script and how they exist in that world. So, when you look at Homelander, I think one of the most interesting questions is: ‘What would happen if Superman was a sociopath?’ And the show just sets it up, that’s kind of Homelander’s thing. But Antony [Starr] goes at it from his own point of view. He’s not trying to be this anti-Superman; he’s just looking at this character and trying to bring all the depth and humanity and complexity to it that he can. And in that same way, I think we all relate to it from the truth of the character."
According to Mitchell, Black Noir is indeed the Dark Knight of The Seven "in shape and form and in style and appearance," but that's only the baseline for the Supe, who also creates "his own archetype," the actor added. "I think that is something really cool as we go on with the show, what we’ll discover about Noir. Is he his own being? And I think you can say that for all The Seven members. We’re creating new archetypes of superheroes. That’s one of the most powerful things where we have our traditional Batman, Superman, Aquaman, Flash. But here you have these new characters with new complexes and drives and desires that resonate collectively and can be the new additions to this pantheon of archetypes."
Noir's definitely got the intimidation thing down, but his detective skills leave something to be desired. If he wants to really go toe to toe with Bruce Wayne, he'll need to up his sleuthing abilities a little — leaning on the Vought surveillance team to find targets ain't gonna cut it.
After decapitating a Supe "terrorist" in the Season 2 premiere, Noir got some time to shine in the most recent episode of Season 2, where he tracks down Billy Butcher (Karl Urban) to Butcher's aunt's house. Noir nearly strangles Butcher to death, but he is called off by Vought CEO Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito) when Billy threatens to expose Homelander's bastard child. This, coupled with the season opener, paints Black Noir as Vought's vicious attack dog (sorry, Terror). And speaking of pop culture paradigms, Noir's suit and reticence are extremely evocative of G.I. Joe's resident ninja, Snake Eyes. Once again, it's a mark of the show's penchant for taking an iconic "good guy" and turning them into an unrecognizable monster.
"One of the first things that I discussed with [showrunner Eric Kripke] is how the mask was even more menacing to begin with. He looked angry and evil. I spoke to Eric and was like, ‘Hey, this is a pretty strong facial expression and image of the mask. It’s gonna be really easy to project a bad guy onto this,'" Mitchell explained. "We talked about it and we ended up coming to the conclusion that yeah, a more neutral look was better. He does look pretty scary and intimidating, but to me, I see a neutrality because it is more neutral. It doesn’t look as angry anymore, but there are moments where maybe he’s feeling awkward or maybe he’s feeling, in his own world, regal or what have you. It’s really in the body language and the posture, how you hold yourself and letting that just resonate through the suit."
Fans of the original comics by Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson (spoiler warning) will know that Black Noir is actually a secret clone of Homelander, an insurance policy on the part of Vought to kill the crazed Superman if he ever slips out of their control. While the TV iteration has yet to confirm or deny whether it will follow the same path, Mitchell admitted that the first season "gives you a clear glimpse of the character and where we’re going with the character." He continued: "I think there’s a dimension to which we have a lot of stuff coming in Season 2, and to directly answer that would be a spoiler. Either way, I might be spoiling something, so I’ll let whatever direction we go in be a surprise."
In the world of the show, Black Noir is about the only other Supe that Homelander genuinely respects. That's evidenced by the now-famous (and hilarious) scene in Season 1 where Homelander accuses his teammates of sloppiness before adding: "Not you, Noir. You've been great."
"Noir sees Homelander as this big brother-boss figure. You kind of look up to him, you like him, you also don’t want to cross him because he will f*** you up," Mitchell said. "Whereas as everybody else, it’s kind of like they have their distractions, they have their things — Noir’s like this one-minded person, and I personally like to let my dynamics, to some extent with the people I’m working with, affect what I bring to the character a bit. There’s a lot of love between me and Antony, and he does feel like my big brother in a lot of ways, so I think a little bit of that bleeds into the scenes. It’s a lot of fun. I personally want more Homelander-Noir dynamic."
The first five episodes of The Boys Season 2 are now streaming on Prime Video. The remaining installments (only three are left now) are being released on a weekly basis every Friday. Aisha Tyler (Archer) is hosting a special aftershow for all eight episodes. A third season has already been ordered, with Jensen Ackles (Supernatural) set to appear as the Captain America-esque Soldier Boy, who, according to Stan Edgar (Giancarlo Esposito), was the result of sadistic Nazi experimentation.
For more of SYFY WIRE's set coverage of the second season, check out the stories below:
- The Boys' cast had a bloody good time shooting an exceptionally biting Season 2
- Where do The Boys go from here? Laz Alonso and Karen Fukuhara talk growth and 'soulmates' in Season 2
- Erin Moriarty explains Starlight's 'little acts of defiance' in The Boys Season 2