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The Black Noir Moment In The Boys That Changes Everything

Contains spoilers for The Boys season 2.

As those meaningful episode titles reveal, Amazon Prime's The Boys is one wild ride. The black comedy-infused superhero drama focuses on the titular team of vigilantes who aren't afraid of going to bizarre extremes. Billy Butcher's (Karl Urban) team of misfits is out to bring down both Vought International and its Compound V-powered superheroes — such as the Seven and their leader, the deranged Homelander (Antony Starr). While Homelander is clearly a major threat, every single member of the Seven is capable of giving the Boys some serious trouble: Queen Maeve (Dominique McElligott) and Starlight (Erin Moriarty) are significantly less antagonistic than their colleagues, but there's still Aya Cash's dangerous Stormfront to worry about, as well as A-Train (Jessie T. Usher) and The Deep (Chace Crawford). 

And then, there is Black Noir. 

Fans who are familiar with Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson's The Boys comic book know that there's a lot more to this black-clad, masked figure than meets the eye. In fact, his hidden nature makes him one of the most important characters in the whole comic series, and there's a fan theory that Black Noir's real identity might play out in much the same way in the show. However, the penultimate episode of season 2, called "Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker," unexpectedly reveals that this particular storyline is no longer on the table. Here's why.

Black Noir's partially uncovered face reveals that he's not who fans thought he was

"Butcher, Baker, Candlestick Maker" is a pretty hectic episode, in which many things happen and several people come to an unsavory end. Starlight is very nearly one of these people, as Black Noir ambushes her in Vought Tower and the two fight it out in the Seven's headquarters. As one might assume, Starlight's light powers are no match for Black Noir's unrelenting attack. After a beatdown for the ages, he soon has his hands on her throat, and is just about to finish his deadly job when Queen Maeve interrupts the scene — and handily dispatches the black-clad assassin by force-feeding him an Almond Joy. 

It's extremely on-brand for The Boys to have one of its most fearsome supes unceremoniously fall victim to a severe tree-nut allergy. Still, perhaps the most shocking thing in the scene is the fact that Black Noir is partially unmasked, and it turns out that this version of the character is a Black man, played by Nathan Mitchell.

On its face, there's nothing strange about this. However, what it does mean is that his origin story is considerably different than it was in the comics — wherein he was eventually revealed to be a clone of Homelander.

Black Noir's identity was the biggest surprise of the comics

The comic book version of The Boys is full of twists and turns, and the biggest one comes near the end of its run. Homelander spends the majority of the series slowly sinking into homicidal villainy, largely thanks to a series of pictures that show him doing all sorts of bloody and perverted things. He's also supposedly responsible for causing the grisly death of Billy Butcher's wife. 

There's just one problem: Homelander has no recollection of actually committing these crimes. Yet, in his effort to act like the monster these images show him to be, he eventually embraces his homicidal nature.

Except it isn't really him in the photos. The silent, unassuming Black Noir is actually an identical clone of Homelander, created by Vought to take the hero down in case he ever breaks bad: Instead, Noir goes insane, and starts doing horrifying things dressed as Homelander, then leaks the photos in order to eventually get the green light to fulfill his mission. Upon realizing that Noir has essentially turned him into a villain, the understandably furious Homelander attacks the clone. Only Black Noir survives the ensuing fight, and is promptly finished off by Butcher. 

It's strange that the show would so casually throw away what was arguably the single biggest wham moment in the comics. Then again, The Boys isn't afraid of tweaking its source material, often with interesting results. Besides, it appears that the show's take on the Homelander is perfectly capable of going insane on his own, so who knows? If Black Noir survived Queen Maeve's Almond Joy assault, he might still have a role to play — and that role might be something even weirder and scarier than anyone expects. It's The Boys, after all.