Why Homelander Cared More About Black Noir Than The Other Supes On The Boys

One of the funnier running gags on "The Boys" is how drama-free Black Noir has been compared to the other supes in the Seven. Back in season 1, Homelander (Antony Starr) calls a meeting where he expresses disappointment with how sloppy the rest of the Seven has been lately, with one exception: "Not you, Noir. You've been great." It's a nice little wholesome moment in the middle of an otherwise tense, game-changing scene.

As Homelander's relationships with the other supes had plenty of ups and downs over the show — mostly downs — he and Black Noir have stayed good friends the whole time. That is, until Soldier Boy (Jenson Ackles) shows back up and Noir runs off out of panic. For the first time since Homelander's known him, Black Noir has failed to be there when he needed him. The otherwise unflappable Homelander is shaken to his core when he gets the news. 

Their friendship hits a new low in the season 3 finale, when Homelander's heartbroken to learn Noir knew from the beginning that Soldier Boy was his father, and never mentioned it. Homelander murders Noir, punching through his chest and ripping out his heart, but he isn't happy to do it. Soon afterward we see him scolding the rest of the remaining Seven, saying that Noir was worth more than the Deep (Chase Crawford) and A-Train (Jessie Usher) combined. Even after murdering Noir, he still shows more respect towards the guy than he ever has towards the rest of the Seven. It raises the interesting question: why?

The in-universe backstory

The backstory behind their relationship was fleshed out in the animated series "The Boys Presents: Diabolical." In the eleven-minute episode "One Plus One Equals Two," we see young Homelander going on his first mission as part of the Seven. The mission's a hostage situation in a chemical plant, and Homelander's already on edge going into it because he knows Black Noir is overseeing him. At first, Homelander dislikes Noir because at that point Noir was far more popular than him, and he believes that Noir's out to get him. 

But when Homelander messes up and accidentally blows up the whole chemical plant, Noir doesn't turn him in. Instead, Noir takes control over the situation and helps cover up Homelander's mistakes. So even though his first-ever rescue mission ended up with him killing all the hostages involved, Homelander still came out of it a hero in the public eye, thanks to Noir. 

This provides part of the explanation for their surprisingly wholesome relationship in the original series. Noir was there for Homelander when he needed him, and has never gotten in the way as Homelander's risen up to become the most important member of the Seven. But as we've seen in the past three seasons of the main show, it doesn't take much for Homelander's relationship with other people to fall apart. He seemed to respect Stillwell quite a bit in season 1, but that didn't save her life either. And of course, Noir's years of good standing didn't save him the moment Homelander found out he knew about Soldier Boy the whole time. So, in the many years between the "Diabolical" episode and the season 3 finale, how did their relationship remain so drama-free for so long?

The real reason

The bigger reason why Homelander loves Black Noir so much is that Noir, as we learn in the season's penultimate episode, is somebody with a child-like mind. Suffering severe brain damage after being beaten nearly to death by Soldier Boy in the eighties, Noir can no longer speak, and he seems to have a crew of imaginary cartoon character friends following him along wherever he goes. 

When examining why Homelander likes him so much, it's worth looking back at "The Sopranos," and how Dr. Melfi (Lorraine Bracco) eventually concluded that Tony (James Gandolfini) was a psychopath who couldn't be redeemed. Over the series, Tony showed love towards animals and small children, and Melfi is told from one of her psychologist peers (and later confirms herself) that psychopaths often hide behind compassion towards animals and children to make themselves seem like good people. 

But the reason Tony only ever seems to show pure love for animals and small children is because they don't have any power over him. Animals and babies can be an inconvenience sometimes, sure, but they can't do or say anything that will challenge your worldview in any meaningful way. It's in that penultimate episode, where we learn that beneath Noir's mysterious persona is a childlike person who sees the world through a bunch of cartoon characters, that Homelander's love for him makes total sense. He likes Noir because Noir literally can't talk back to him even if he wanted to, because Noir seems to unconditionally support him regardless of what Homelander does. 

Can Homelander really care for anyone?

The moment Noir's revealed to have known the truth about Soldier Boy is the moment Homelander realizes Noir's an autonomous person. For the first time since the "Diabolical" episode, Homelander realizes that Noir isn't just a thoughtless minion who unquestionably goes along with everything he says. Now all of a sudden, Noir is a person with thoughts and feelings that don't perfectly align with his own, and that's the moment Homelander kills him. 

Homelander may have said he cared about Noir, but as we've seen proven time and time again throughout the show, Homelander isn't actually capable of having real love and respect towards another person. Even his love for his son Ryan is more about loving himself than anything else; when he tells Ryan he's not a monster for accidentally killing his mom, Homelander's saying this because wants to believe that he himself isn't really a monster either. 

In the end, Homelander only cared about the idea of Black Noir. As we've seen with Stillwell and as we'll probably see again with Ryan, Homelander's kindness runs out the instant you contradict his fragile self-image. We don't know where "The Boys" is going with season 4, but this week's finale likely won't be the last time Homelander mentions how much he cared for Noir. It's important to remember that his care was always surface level at best.