5 Greatest Antiheroes
By Darth Jackinson and Seth Skywanker
An antihero is someone who lacks conventional heroic qualities, and does the right thing for the wrong reasons, or the wrong thing with a good outcome. In the stories they occupy, they take the place of a hero, but they do very unheroic things to achieve their ends. These are characters who are amusing for their brutality and violence, attitude and disposition, and while we disapprove of their methods, we admire their results.
So here’s a list of the top 5 (more-or-less) antiheroes in no particular order.
Judge Dredd started out in British comic-book-magazine 2000 AD. He was a satirical character, poking fun at the inherent fascism and general unpleasantness in Western society—generally imported from outside for reasons of destroying it from within. It was meant to point an accusing finger at the encroaching shadow of socialist-slavery, while also amusing us by having a main character who blew people up for dropping litter.
The character took the idea of the police state and ramped everything up to comic-book degrees of ridiculousness. His emblems, clothing and equipment make as much sense as the American political system (also ruthlessly mocked in the comic). Armed with a gun that fired multiple different projectiles that could remove people from their ability to be alive in an array of hilarious ways, he then removed people from their lives in an array of hilarious ways.
Such was his popularity that he made it to the cinema screen twice. The first 90s outing with Sylvester Stallone failed for the most ironic of reasons. It was hobbled by corporate bullshit, a thing savagely ridiculed by the comic. The end result was a sanitised mess that did a great job of getting the set and background look great, while ruining everything everything else.
The second one was a more earnest attempt at honouring the character, but didn’t quite have the budget to bring the scope of the story to life. It was close but, sadly, it didn’t get a second chance.
Frank Castle was Marvel’s attempt to try to make a believable superhero who wasn’t bitten by a radioactive anything. His superpower is violence, and he brutally punishes criminals by hurting and killing them, providing an excellent role-model for our children and overweight middle-aged men who were bullied at school and now can’t get a girlfriend.
Because it was Marvel, the Punisher dressed in a black T-shirt with a white skull on it, which is not the perfect disguise at all unless he’s going undercover on a pirate’s ship. He suffers from the usual comic-book trope of being essentially a police officer. That makes the comic writers feel that there’s no need to explain his training and background, even though he can effectively beat anything that isn’t super-powered.
He’s been on the screen several times but none of them have really hit the mark.
The most recent Netflix series felt like a soap-opera that spent most of its runtime discussing his feelings, while reestablishing his back-story that had already been firmly reestablished in a previous crossover.
How do you screw it up when all the audience wants is to see a big, angry guy hurting people?
Netflix found a way!
Rorschach is awesome and anyone who doesn’t think so is wrong.
This shocking addition to the list should really be fairly obvious. A man dresses up as a bat every night and goes out to brutally beat criminals until all their blood is on the wrong side of their skin. He does this because witnessing his parents’ murder caused his cheese to slide right off his cracker. Most people would have done the decent thing and drowned their misery in cheap vodka in the company of accommodating women—but not Bruce Wayne. His billions of dollars couldn’t fill that gaping chasm in his blackened soul, so the only resort is beating the shit out of people while wearing spandex.
Armed with an array of brutal arse-kicking tools and trained to the highest standard, he does what the police can’t do—because they’re restrained by the rule of law and all that.
Batman is undeniably cool—who wouldn’t love a superhero with no super powers who scares the crap out of alien gods while fighting murderous clowns who slice off their own faces and wear them as masks? But the reason he does what he does isn’t altruistic, and what he does is illegal (and morally questionable), putting him firmly in the category of antihero.
Batman has never really taken the heady mix of eccentric billionaire, violent schizophrenic and angry denier of contemporary fashion to the big screen successfully. Every version has interpreted his style differently and none has quite been perfect.
Tim Burton’s effort was a dark fantasy that got the insanity right with some clever casting but made Batman look like he belonged in a sex-dungeon. Joel Shoemaker just kind of threw-up a stomach full of bright crayons onto dark paper and called it a movie. Christopher Nolan delivered a frenzied appreciation of his own ego that forgot to be fun—and have Batman in it.
William Dozier’s TV series Batman is not mentioned here because he was “fully deputised” putting him firmly in the actual hero category. But now I went and mentioned it anyway, his take was a camp, garish comedy, straight off the pages of an old school comic book, and one of the most iconic shows of the 1960s that regular folk still make casual reference to today—you probably have the theme tune in your head right now.
Venom is a puddle of black vomit from space that has teeth in it. If you actually sit down and think about it, the whole concept sounds like it can only have been pitched by someone with a severe addiction to lead paint, to someone whose hobby is diving into swimming pools that don’t have water in them.
He bites off people’s heads but lives inside a host so where that’s digested is anyone’s guess. He has teeth, but also doesn’t, and often comes out in stringy strands that seem to be stretching from Eddie’s anal-orifice. Wholesome stuff!
You know you’re in trouble when you’ve got a character who makes Spiderman seem plausible.
He’s had two on-screen outings (I think, because I didn’t do any research) and both were rubbish. His own movie was heavily criticised by the people who made it due to being heavily cut. The sequel was heavily criticised by everyone else for not being cut enough.
Previously he was in Spiderman 3, where he appeared as someone’s clothes.
I know nothing about Lobo. He looks stupid.
Nothing looks more heroic than an old man in his pyjamas and dressing-gown, swinging his magic stick around while postulating vague theories about how the universe works. But, when the Jedi are taking time off from stealing people’s babies and telling people what to do, they exist as the oppressive arm of a faltering Republic that’s slowly collapsing into fascism.
In the prequels, they’re used as Ambassadors sent to negotiate legal documents with the encouragement aid of a brutal device whose only function is flaming dismemberment. They’re effectively the sci-fi equivalent of posting a severed horse’s head.
So, while not believing in personal ownership of property, their sole function appears to be the protection of the government’s stuff. They eventually go to war, at first fighting for the right to keep the tax money flowing, and then just to kill anyone who wants to get away from the oppression of a corrupt government. Assisting them in this venture is an army of cheap, disposable, fully sentient people who had their brains modified as babies to make them not say no, something the Jedi evidently had no problem with.
They don’t look quite so heroic anymore, do they?
Of course the movies only showed us one side of the debate, sparing us the many campaigns to ‘Defund the Jedi’ and the ‘Clankers’ Lives Matter’ protests.
Also they have mullets.
In closing, antiheroes are fun to watch, and are usually more interesting than the bland and hollow actions of the ‘real’ heroes. The unabashed heroism of Superman saving the city from aliens by demolishing it was inspiring stuff in ‘The Man of Steel’. So, while these characters might have questionable motives and rules of conduct, they do get shit done, and that’s more than you can say for some people…
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