Friday, March 1, 2013

The Anti-Hero

I don't like Superman. He's just so...good. Annoyingly so. I'm more of a Batman fan. He's far more entertaining and far less self-righteous.

In a book I read, the female protagonist's life was being threatened by a group of psychopaths. A male saved her by killing them. She called her savior a barbarian because he killed the guys trying to kill her. I'm like seriously. Seriously?! I was done with her after that.

In a post, Liking the Bad Guy, I mentioned my love of anti-heroes. They're prevalent in Dark Fantasy. Why do we love these characters so much?

Wish Fulfillment/Escapism 
You have your tyrant of a boss screaming at you for something you have no control over. You grin and bear it then curse them out when no one's in earshot. The anti-hero would bash the person's face in, say "screw this job" and leave. 

People on the metro have gotten into the annoying habit of listening to music without headphones and singing along. What do we passengers do? Deal with it. What would the anti-hero do? Grab the phone and throw it across the train or bus.

These characters with a skewed moral compass do things we can't because we like receiving a paycheck and we don't want our faces rearranged by an irate metro passenger. This is why I love characters like these. They aren't restrained by consequences and, as a reader, I'm living that life right along with them.

Entertainment 
Anti-heroes say and do what they want no matter the social norm. Their lines are hilarious and a person's reaction to them is classic. Some of my favorite lines are from characters being douche-bags.

Most anti-heroes are controlled and extremely intelligent so, it's fun watching them solve puzzles. On the other hand, some are "don't think, just do" which is just as fun to read and watch.

You mess with something or someone they care about and they suffer no qualms about bringing down anyone who gets in the way of their plans for rescue or revenge. In most cases, they aren't the villain so it's okay to root for them.

They're Realistic 
Heroes like Superman are perfect and no one is perfect. Anti-heroes are great examples of the flawed character which makes them more relatable and less predictable.

I'm not saying all traditional heroes are vanilla because they aren't. Some are pure awesomeness. But, if I had to choose, I'd pick the anti-hero.

It is easy, though, to create a flawed yet unbelievably cliche character- the bad boy. The only way to prevent this is to read...a lot. Movies and TV shows are great resources as well. My favorite anti-heroes are:

Lucivar : Black Jewels Series
Jorg: Broken Empire Series
Geralt de Revia: The Last Wish
Bones: Night Huntress Series
Vlad: Night Huntress World and Night Prince Series
While writing this post, I realized I kept thinking of anti-heroes as male. There's a feminine version of it- anti-heroine- but I didn't know it existed until today and it's not as catchy. I Googled it. Unless I did something wrong, unlikely, there isn't a lot of information on anti-heroines besides the definition. Something's wrong with this picture.

I can only think of one anti-heroine- Surreal from the Black Jewels Series ...and Catwoman. Maybe I'm no reading the right books. What do you think? Are there a lot of anti-heroines?