The idea of the antihero has existed for a long time, and I find my interest in characters gravitates towards this archetype. Let’s face it, villians are fun, and there are times when I desire the villian to win. Yet, it must be the human in me who will always turn to the heartfelt stories where evil is vanquished by a stalwart hero, pulling at my heartstrings– those pesky emotions. But I crave a hero who is more complicated than the iconic Superman, a hero who has more fun, and so enters the Anti-Hero!
Don’t get me wrong. I love heroes. Noble people who place their own lives on an altar of sacrifice to help all of mankind, strangers. But when writing a hero, they tend to be more black and white. People are not so transparent. The most compelling characters in literature are those of mysterious, contradicting nature, who keep us guessing at their true intentions.
So, what is an antihero? A simple definition is, a protagonist who lacks heroic virtues and qualities. Well, that sounds fine, but what is the character of a hero? Being morally good, idealistic, courageous, selfless, and noble. My personal definition is as such: A person who seeks to do the right thing, consciously or subconsciously, but always makes choices leading to undesired outcomes. For more details and a list of antiheroes, visit wikipedia’s page:
I would like to present my top ten favorite antiheroes of all time. I have chosen to stick to movies and television only, since it is a more easily recognized medium. On a side note, you will not find Batman (of the Nolan/Bale series) on this list, and it was a hard choice, for he is such a superb character. In the end, I decided Batman is not a true antihero, as he has a strict moral boundary he does not cross, ie, he doesn’t kill his enemies. Some will argue this, cus he does tend to fuck shit up, but hey, that’s why they call it opinion. So, here it is:
Top Ten Antiheroes (May contain spoilers)
10. Peyton Westlake: If you know who this is without further description, you are a true fanboy, and I applaud you. Mr. Westlake was a man in love, and on the verge of a major medical breakthrough when some thugs altered his life forever by burning him to hell. He wakes from a coma a manical beast, who exacts terrible revenge on those responsible, and he becomes Darkman.
9. Eli, from Book of Eli: I loved this movie, from start to end, just a superb example of film. And Eli walked the charred ruins of the country to find a place for his book. A noble quest to be sure, but he kills without pause any who stand in his way, even letting the innocent perish to avoid conflict. What makes him so great, is in the end, even he recognizes his failure to live by what the book teaches, and he evolves.
8. Mad Max: Starting off as a hero, albeit, he does things hardcore with a bit of scary, but when his wife and child are run down, he takes the path of antihero dealing destruction and mayhem to his foes. And having the last of the V8 Interceptors, well, ’nuff said.
7. Severus Snape: Who can argue that Alan Rickman’s portrayal of the potions master wasn’t spot on? This is a prime example of an antihero, for we never know until the end for whom he stands. And sweet lord, when we find out, I cried like a little girl skinning her knee.
6. Captain Jack Sparrow: Not much is known about Jack since he showed up in, ah, so that explains all the, reason has nothing to do with it. How can you not love this character? Always moving towards his own goals, but doing so with just enough detail to make you think he possesses a lofty purpose, but in the back of your mind: you know something’s amiss.
5. Coach Morris Buttermaker: Some of you may be scracthing your head, but those of an older generation, or younger with fine taste, will probably be laughing. Who can not appreciate Walter Matthau’s performance of the drunken baseball coach doing a job for money, not giving a fuss about the kids in his care, even asking them to cheat, but in the end, he comes through with the right action. Classic.
4. Han Solo/Indiana Jones: I know, some of you will probably kill me for putting two of the greatest antiheroes of all time so far down on the list, and I have kicked myself in the arse for you, but they’re just not my top. And I put them as one, cus I just couldn’t decide, and face it, they’re kinda the same guy. First, any self respecting Star Wars fan knows, Han shot first, ’nuff said. Second, a hero would fight the large, scimatar wielding maniac, but not an antihero, he would just… well, you know what he does.
3. Spartacus: One of the main reasons this character is so high on the list, Andy Whitfield played him well. I could feel the man’s charisma through the tele, and he just brought this character to life. I was truly saddened by the loss of this fine man, because I could tell, just by looking at him, he had a passion for life, a sincerity, and if you met him I’m sure he would have been the nicest person to be with.
2. Richard B. Riddick: escaped convict, murderer. I just love the movies, love the character, love the book, and I cannot wait for the next two movies. Everything about Vin’s performance of this character is awesome sauce. Yes, I am nerd, here me roar.
And here we are, the number one, and to those who know me, it will be no surprise.
1. Elim Garak: Again, Andrew J. Robinson is absolutely amazing, his character performance is in the top of best ever, and this character is alive because of his perforance. If someone like, well, anyone but Mr. Robinson, played this character it would have sucked. For more on this, read my prior post.
So, there it is. My favorite antiheroes. There are many more, and my only problem with the list is no females appeared. I love strong female characters, but unfortunately, we still live in a time with an ass-backwards view of women. Yet, I feel we are awakening as a society and this is changing. Maybe this will be my next top ten, Best Female Characters, or, as my brother pointed out: Did the Dude make the antihero list, and he should, but he’s not really an antihero, or a hero, or a villain, he’s just, well– He’s the dude, so that’s what you call him!
However, the mother of all antiheroes, crossing all genres and mediums: Edmond Dantes. A man who loses everything he holds dear, love, father, position, and is forgotten in the depths of torment. When he arises, he gets his sweet, everlasting revenge, but does so with the power of god, using the sins of his enemies to bring them down.