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The Anti-hero: The worst hero is loved the most?

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The antihero is a character that lacks perfection, internally conflicted… a big flaw? Perhaps. This antihero character is usually interesting and refreshing to introduce, develops over the course of the story, becomes influenced by other characters, and advances the plot or develops a theme. Is the antihero the best choice for your main character? Well… Is it important to have a likeable main character? Someone the audience can relate to? Write something you know? Can you dance with the dark side?

The audience needs to love to hate… a passion for hating an antihero seems key… at least for most of a story. To really be a hero, the redemption must occur. Some savory bits of… audience relating to and liking the antihero character, thus replacing the hatred with affection.

Charlie Brown is the Peanuts’ antihero. He’s a blockhead. He’s easily disappointed. He’s the scapegoat. He brings flaws, neuroses and issues to the story.

Lara Croft could be considered a hero or a villain… thus earning the title antihero. She is a thief and tomb raider, she pursues selfish agenda (the opposite of Indian Jones for example), and she claims to only murder people in self defense. She admits to killing endangered species, and should be incarcerated for all of her many crimes.

Tony Stark could be easily considered a villain… he creates and distributes weapons of mass destruction. He’s a cocky, ego driven jerk and a pompous upper class twit. But, he saves the day and endears his audience to his vulnerabilities and turns out to be a normal guy (without a heart) with a false caricature exterior. Every single bad event/conflict that happens in Iron Man 2 is a direct result of Tony Stark being a jackass. He is this movie’s villain. All the other villains in this movie were inspired and created by Stark’s showing off and egomania, thus making him the super-villain. Not sharing his “super suit” invention with the “good guys” and being selfish about his “Iron Man” technology directly causes lots of civilian deaths.

If you google “antihero” you will find a character treading the thin line between good and evil. There must be a flaw and there must be redemption. It’s an archetype. It’s a trope. It’s an idiom. If you try to explain it to someone, it’s like a broken record.

My advice to writers: The antihero is a tricky character to master. This could go either way, depending on who you are. On one hand, the hard part about writing an “antihero” character is the last part of the word: “hero.” An antihero should still be a “hero” at some point of a story to qualify while all that “anti” stuff is fun and makes for an interesting or unconventional character. On the other hand, maybe you can write heroes all day long, but the anti-position and living on the dark side thick with flaws is difficult for you.

It’s the hero that the audience loves to love. It’s the anti that the audience loves to hate. The antihero should swing your audience from one extreme to the other.

References:

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/AntiHero

http://io9.com/5532136/the-villain-of-iron-man-2-is-tony-stark

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One Response to “The Anti-hero: The worst hero is loved the most?”

  1. Catherine Michele says:

    Words of wisdom. I like this. Had never thought about the antihero before, but your characterization of Iron Man/Tony Stark is dead-on.

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