1. EclecticStyles
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    EclecticStyles Member

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    The Anti-Hero?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by EclecticStyles, Jan 20, 2010.

    Hmmmm...

    Is there really such a thing as an `anti-hero`? I mean when you look at the concept, aren't there more characters then not in fiction that could easily take on the title, even though they're supposedly a `hero`.

    It's fairly easy to see in various scenarios where the `hero` wants to make his job easier, decides who they wil trust/distrust, plans how they will solve a problem, backstab others or be up-front, decides whether death is needed or not and so on...

    I just find when a character starts to contemplate and actually think over these ideas in some stories (`classics`, contemporaries, movies, character/story based computer games), that they are no more hero then the guy on the opposite side who's made their own choices about who they will help to win/destroy in the end.

    You've even got the occasional character who takes everyone on or leaves everyone to their fate. What's up with that?:confused:

    I know what I think of the concept. Question is: what do you think of it and does it exist?
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    An antihero is basically a character that does not possess the traditional hero-like characteristics, so yes, the antihero does exist. Snape in the Harry Potter series is an example of an antihero. I like antiheroes because they are much more realistic characters than the typical hero one sees or reads about.
     
  3. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    Umm...The Crow and Batman are the first two to come to mind. Generally for me the "Hero" of a story is generally good. He/she does things more or less by the book, and for the greater good. The anti-hero may in the end be doing something good, but along the way isn't always so good. They'll do what has to be done, and often are doing it under the pretense of revenge. Vigilante style stuff tends to have anti-heros. Look at V for Vendetta, V is a good example of an anti-hero as well. The book I am almost finished reading, Patient Zero, has a good anti-hero style character, Joe Ledger. He'll do what he has to do to get the job done, good or not.

    I personally prefer the anti-heroes to the heroes, it gives you something to play with in the complex morality conflict within the story.
     
  4. DragonGrim
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    DragonGrim Contributing Member

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    Getting technical with the semantics of words is usually a waste of time.

    For example, should I use the word “mountain” or “hill”? At what point does a hill become a mountain?

    The meanings of words rely on general and nebulous interpretations by those who speak them.

    So my answer is yes, there are antiheroes and heroes.
     
  5. Anonym
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    Anonym Contributing Member

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    Do you mean most hero's are anti-hero's..?

    An anti-hero as I understand the concept is a character who becomes a hero reluctantly, or against his will; often out of desperation, revenge or lack of choice. I don't know the exact definition however.

    I love the archtype personally. The perfect, predictable protagonist or analogous villain is an anachronism in our post-modern society IMO. My favorite works are of human, fallible, conflicted characters, b/c that's what's most poignant in real life.

    I think the AH should be as common in art as the hero once was, & ideally all pro/antagonists would ultimately be AH's. But that's just me.
     
  6. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Definitions as I understand them:

    Hero -- the morally upright guy who sticks to his principles no matter what, fights evil because Good is the only right choice. Can be chivalrous, or honest (won't break his word), and sympathetic and kind to others. Would never stab you in the back. Might very well allow the villain the chance to pick up a dropped weapon. Frequently refuses to accept payment for "just doing the right thing."

    Anti-hero -- the guy who knows that life ain't fair and the world is a nasty, rotten place sometimes. Has no problem with sneak attacks, with ambushes, with konking someone out from behind with a sap or a billy-club. He might very well have principles he won't break, but they won't all be "nice" ones. He will frequently be more ruthless or cruel than a hero would be. He might do this for a hobby or he might do it for a living, but he does like payment for his actions, whether that means money, vengeance, respect, fear, or love and admiration.

    Heroes and anti-heroes are really fun to watch when they work together. (Batman and Robin, sometimes. Or Ossack and Berendon. Or the First of the Magi and the swordsman in the First Law Trilogy by Joe Abercrombie.) Nowadays, the hero types seem somewhat shallow, and the anti-heroes are growing in popularity. We don't want Superman as much as we want Batman; we don't want Jaenelle as much as we want Daeman.
     
  7. S-wo
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    S-wo Active Member

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    First time I ever heard Batman being considered as an anti-hero. What are some of your reasons for labeling him as such?
     
  8. HeinleinFan
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    HeinleinFan Banned

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    Here are my reasons:

    1. Compared to his peers, Batman's a pretty dirty fighter. His "peers" include heroes like Superman, Wonder Woman, and Captain America, who were deliberately created as "good guys" who readers could cheer for. But Batman's a lot more vicious than they ever were, and is willing to do more damage to his target as well as to the surrounding area. Note: This was also deliberate; Batman's writers, over the years, have used him intentionally to explore the gritty side of heroism, the "double-edged sword" that comes as part of leading a violent double-life.

    2. Batman breaks the law. Most superheroes are supposed to be working with police to keep petty criminals and criminal masterminds in check, and Batman does... kinda. But he's brutal, and willing to hurt people, attack from stealth, and use any advantage he can to fight his enemy. I thought it was very true to the spirit of Batman when, in the Dark Knight, he ends up beating the crud out of regular cops and SWAT team members in order to save hostages. Superman, your classic lantern-jawed hero, would find some way to negotiate himself out of the situation.

    3. Batman is willing to kill the bad guy, or take risks which might hurt the bad guy or drive the bad guy insane.

    4. Batman is supposed to have some serious issues as a result of his double-life. The "superhero" mask is tough for him to wear, and some of what he does haunts him. Heroes frequently are cast as confident, good people because of what they do. Anti-heroes are cast as good-ish people in spite of what they do, and this seems true for Batman. He is allowed to hurt and to angst about what he's done, even as he keeps going out and doing more of it, because he isn't the classic hero and the writers can allow him to feel bad in ways a classic hero couldn't.

    5. Even within his own little world - not including all of Comic-Dom, but looking at Gotham City alone - Batman is pretty vicious. His butler Alfred, his sometime-love interests, and Commissioner Gordon are all less violent and more law-abiding than he is. I don't know anything about Batgirl, but Robin is supposed to be a lot more optimistic and inclined to be merciful than Batman.
     
  9. EclecticStyles
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    EclecticStyles Member

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    I would agree much with you on this one, Hein.

    With the many crimes he has `solved` or at least put an end to, I find that there are many times where he should have killed someone (at least, by accident). Too many times (and especially in the latest video game iterration of him) has he delivered a blow or set off a trap that would kill most Humans, yet they do not die.

    It would mark his character; possibly destroy the goals he was once fighting for by doing the same thing to a `bad guy` that was done to his own parents. It would certainly set a powerful message that even in the most faithful of goals to protect and fight for the people, you can still end up bringing them to their death swiftly.

    It would make for an intriguing character development, but they've been doing the whole series/franchise for so long without him killing anyone, they probably won't script for him to kill someone anytime soon...
     
  10. The-Joker
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    The-Joker Contributing Member Contributor

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    I wouldn't agree that batman is an anti-hero. If we get pedantic and somehow technically he is, then he's a very soft example of one.

    Heres Dictionary.com's definition.

    an⋅ti⋅he⋅ro  /ˈæntiˌhɪəroʊ, ˈæntaɪ-/ Show Spelled Pronunciation [an-tee-heer-oh, an-tahy-]
    –noun, plural -roes. a protagonist who lacks the attributes that make a heroic figure, as nobility of mind and spirit, a life or attitude marked by action or purpose, and the like.

    The movies portray Batman's personality pretty strongly. He embodies nobility. It's always been his environment which has forced him to bend the laws. In Batman Begins he destroys roads and squad cars because he's racing against time to save Rachel's life. He beats up the crooked cops and mob bosses because thats the only way to get information out of them. In the Dark Knight he had numerous opportunities to defeat his nemesis simply by killing him. But he's too noble to kill the Joker.

    I don't think the writer's created Batman as an antihero. They created a true hero in an "imperfect world." The method's he's forced to employ in the harsh world of Gotham doesn't make him an antihero. In fact his duel with the Joker proves his nobility beyond a doubt. He fought the swat team to save the civilians because that was the only way. He didn't care if it incriminated himself in the process. Does a hero get more pure than that?

    The latest example of an antihero that I can think of is the new Sherlock Holmes. He's rude, arrogant and self centered. His drive to solve a case appears to be more a symptom of his pride. He's the hero in the movie, but he's not really a heroic person.

    See the difference.
     
  11. deltaquid
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    deltaquid Member

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    Personally, I've always seen Luke Skywalker and Han Solo as two very good cases of hero and anti-hero. Luke is a young boy who is forced to follow a training to free the galaxy. Han is a smuggler who is at the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up helping Luke. Plus Han doesn't oppose to killing people mercilessly.

    However, I've read another definition once: an anti-hero is a person who is forced into the adventure, not somebody who willingly started it, and because he never actually wanted to be where he is, he doesn't behave like a true hero would. I'm not sure if it's 100% correct, but it seems a fairly good explanation.
     
  12. HorusEye
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    HorusEye Contributing Member Contributor

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    Stories are basically a tool for building community and understanding culture. A tool for bringing people together and pass wisdom from one generation to the next. It was to this end that stories were told around the fires in the caves of our remote ancestors, and why the tradition still exists today. The classic hero is the pro-community ideal -- a paragon who values the preservation of his tribe, his culture and humanity, and one who often puts the well-being and survival of the society before himself, because what matters is the tribe, not the individual. The classic hero is pro-community and preserves the status quo (status quo = safety). The most classic of classic heroes is the young hunter who learns the value of his duty -- that he must hunt to feed his family.

    I consider an anti-hero simply to be one who doesn't value these things (as "anti-" implies). What methods a hero or anti-hero apply are close to irrelevant. The line between hero and anti-hero is not drawn by how many pieces of furniture he breaks during a fight. The line is drawn by values and ideals.

    I would consider Batman a classic hero. While he's "oh so dark and brooding", his motivations are clear -- he fights crime to maintain the status quo and protect his community. The color of his suit doesn't matter.

    Ever seen The Good, The Bad And The Ugly? Probably. I'd say that Blondie is a classic anti-hero. His values are fairly anti-social and self-centered and would make a bad example in a story to be told around a tribal camp fire. Blondie just looks good, compared to the two other guys.
     
  13. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    I generally don't like to label characters that way. They are individuals first before they are labels.
     
  14. Cosmos
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    Cosmos Contributing Member

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    Agreed, Batman is no anti-hero. An anti-hero generally thinks about himself first and foremost and only does good to serve some purpose of his. He might help people but generally that's so he can get some other reward or advantage. He does good not because he believes it's right, but to see what he can gain as a result. Batman cares for people and helps them for that reason, not to get something out of it. If anything he keeps losing stuff because of it, and especially since he sacrificed his own reputation in order to give the city some hope. That's pretty damn noble if you ask me.
     
  15. bluebell80
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    bluebell80 Contributing Member

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    I take back the Batman comment and agree that he is not an anti-hero. After conferring with my husband on this matter, he explained to me the world of comic book stuff. Honestly, I'm daft when it comes to them and only have the movies as points of reference.

    I still maintain The Crow would be classified as an anti-hero. Also add to this list, The Punisher, and Wolverine. Although Wolverine does have some good qualities so he is less anti-hero than The Punisher. We also have characters like Max Pain who would be considered anti-hero type.

    For me I was comparing Batman to Spiderman...and well, Spiderman compared to all other superheros is just a super good-two-shoes. And apparently in that comparison I broke some sort of comic book code by comparing two characters from two totally different universes. lol I've learned my lesson now.

    Edit: I hadn't read the comment about Luke and Han. I have to say, in the first movie, yes, Han might be considered anti-hero, however in the second and third movie he proves himself to be a hero beyond his own prideful glory. Though at the end of A New Hope, Han redeems himself by coming back to help Luke at the end, out of friendship and caring. Han gets involved for selfish motives, but in the end stays for the right reasons.

    Edit2: I was reading the wikipedia entry on Anti-heros and they do list Batman as a type of anti-hero, so maybe I wasn't totally wrong in seeing his dark-brooding not so hero like qualities as such, and even they compare him to Spiderman. lol http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antihero

    Maybe the problem is we need to redefine what it means to be a hero so that we can further define what it means to be an anti-hero.
     
  16. JTheGreat
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    JTheGreat Contributing Member

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    An anti-hero is basically a character that plays a part in the story, but isn't inclined to either side. Snape is considered a minor antagonist because he dislikes Harry and hinders his journey multiple times, but when we consider that he also helps Harry (reluctantly) and was a triple-spy for Dumbledore, he actually is an anti-her of sorts.
     

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