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The Anti-Hero Complexity

Discussion in 'Pop Culture Board' started by Juice, May 19, 2011.

  1. Juice

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    Heroes and villains are easy to distinguish, everyone including little kids can recognize these roles almost immediately. But why about an anti-hero? When does the role of an anti-hero lean more towards a hero or a villain? What's the fine line that's walked for this type of character?

    My favorite one is Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver. I've seen this movie countless times and I still don't know where he falls. I suppose it would depend if you interpret the climax as imagined or not, but either way he's an incredibly complex character.

    Focus: Whos your favorite anti-hero? What makes a good one?
     
  2. FreeCorps

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    My favorite would have to be Roland Deschain from The Dark Tower series. He sacrifices everything in his quest for the Dark Tower,
    and in the end for what? He has to do it all over again, although it seems that he might learn something new with every cycle (since he now has the horn he lost at Jericho Hill)
     
  3. Obviously5Believer

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    I don't think Travis can be called a hero except in a very general sense given his role as the protagonist. Otherwise, he's just a fucked up Army vet who is disgusted with the world around him and slowly forms increasingly violent means in response. Throughout the film he says he's always known he was destined for something great and noble, then spends his time popping pills, going to porno theaters, and eating whiskey soaked bread.

    His homicidal rage is focused mostly on the people who stole the attention of the few women he interacts with. He goes from an enthusiastic Pallantine supporter to attempting his assassination when the campaign girl rejects him. His plan to save a 14 year old prostitute involves brutally murdering her pimp and others while she watches in horror. And oh yeah, blacks. I don't know what the menacing stares and extended shots of black people are exactly about but I think it's strongly suggested that he's racist and sees blacks as inhabiting the seedy underworld in which he descends every night.

    So yeah. If I knew someone like Travis I would say he desperately needed psychological help and that his actions were motivated by his own fears, hatred, and feelings of inadequacy and impotence; even his good actions stem from his twisted vision of himself as a nighttime crusader, a man deserving of great praise and respect. He's a great character though, and De Niro is so good that he makes Travis almost feel like someone you should root for.

    Jake LaMotta from Raging Bull is my choice for greatest anti-hero. Like Travis he deals with his insecurity and jealously by lashing out at the people who support him the most, but he tries to lead a normal life despite his job of hammering people with his fists. He truly loves his brother and wife. He tries to establish a household with himself as a benefactor and father and succeeds far more than Travis could have hoped for. Yet his own mental demons are behind the unravelling of it all. At the end of the film, he has paid for his actions. You can tell that he's accepted losing his family and his fame and is now quoting Brando in a dingy nightclub. He knows that he was the one who brought himself there, and that there was no making up for it. The fact that he seems so resigned to what has become of his life and his one chance at living it is one of the most haunting aspects of the movie.
     
    #3 Obviously5Believer, May 19, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2015
  4. Rob4Broncos

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    OMAR COMIN', YO!

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    Everyone else is playing for second place. While you may not agree with what Omar does, I can respect him for having a very hard-and-fast moral code.
     
  5. lostalldoubt86

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    Heathcliff. I think it stems from the fact that I'm a bit of a masochist, but there is something about Heathcliff that gets me going. I'm sure in real life a guy who treated me like he treats Catherine would be kicked to the curb in a second, but on paper I'm in love.
     
  6. Dmix3

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    James "Sawyer" Ford. Shocker, I picked two Lost characters, I know. But it doesn't change the fact that Sawyer was one mean fucker starting out. Hoarded supplies, ran cons, gave nicknames no-one liked, endured torture just to get a kiss from Kate....ok maybe that one isn't such a good example. The fact is you were almost never sure which side this guy was playing on, and personally his character arc is in my opinion the best one of the show.

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    One downright manipulative evil mother fucker. Perhaps the most diabolical character that was on TV in recent memory. He lied, conned, cajoled, and murdered for the better part of 4 & 1/2 seasons of Lost and every time he claimed he was one of the "good guys" you'd wonder what he was smoking, but over the course of time we found out he was actually on the right side of things and you found yourself cheering for him.
     
  7. Gargamelon

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  8. The Dread Pirate

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  9. StayFrosty

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    Really? No mention for this guy?

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  10. roy jones

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    I believe the greatest anti-hero I've ever encountered in cinema is William Foster from Falling Down. His actions would have the audience longing to act out the same way, yet were monstrous enough for the audience to hate him simultaneously.



    The movie American Beauty was filled with an entire cast of anti-heroes.
     
    #10 roy jones, May 23, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Mar 27, 2015
  11. Danger Boy

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    Are you afraid of the dark?

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  12. lust4life

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    So I got a thing for QT movies...

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  13. Gravitas

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    Al Swearengen is a good pick.

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    Another good pick might be the entire Sons of Anarchy cast. They are doing what they do on at least some level to protect their town from drugs, etc. But of course they do that by enabling violence elsewhere.

    Still the best one out of SOA is Jax Teller.

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    And that's because he is struggling to be a hero, but can't. At least not yet anyway.
     
  14. StayFrosty

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    Whoa, what the hell? Maybe I'm wrong, but I remember Landa being much more of an opportunistic villain than any sort of antihero. What's your reasoning on including him?
     
  15. toejam

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    Yeah, not sure what definition of anti-hero you're working with, but a criminal psychopath (Blond) and a shameless Nazi aren't anti-heroes. They're villains - interesting and quirky enough that you kinda like them - but not anti-heroes.

    Al Swearengen, mentioned above, is an awesome anti-hero. He's the ruthless owner of a brothel, and will kill people that get in his way, but also has a sense of honor and tends to do right by good people.

    Westerns in general seem like a common setting for anti-heroes, because it's easy to set up a Western plot for someone to be a generally bad mother fucker but have principles. Clint Eastwood in Unforgiven is probably my favorite anti-hero. You watch Unforgiven and root for Eastwood, a bad man out to kill other men for a crime that doesn't compare to his, against a Sheriff who runs his town based on a strict (albeit heavy-handed) moral code of law.

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  16. Stealth

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    Tuco played by Eli Wallach in The Good the Bad and the Ugly.

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  17. Crown Royal

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    No emotion, no quarter, no cares. The ultimate garbage man. You almost want to remove "Anti-" from the title for this character:

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  18. Juice

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    Other honorable mentions:

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    Eric Draven from the Crow. He probably falls more in line as a "hero," but I guess by the way he seeks revenge it can be argued either way.

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    Peter Gibbons from Office Space. If you think of about his actions, hes actually a massive douchebag but you cant seem to help but to root for him the entire movie.
     
  19. RCGT

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    A bunch of characters from Battlestar Galactica could have this apply to them, but especially Saul Tigh:

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    He's introduced to us as a hard-ass veteran who gets into constant altercations with the young hotshot, Starbuck, and vents a bunch of crewmen out an airlock to stop a fire from spreading. He ends up gaining a huge amount of character depth, to the point that even though you'd think he was a huge douchebag if you ever met him, you admire his moral code and willingness to make the tough choices. And the way he deals with adversity, goddamn. Huge spoiler:
    After finding out he's a Cylon, the same robo-bastards who tore his eye out: "My name is Saul Tigh. I'm an officer in the Colonial Fleet. Whatever else I am, whatever else it means, that's the man I want to be. And if I die today, that's the man I'll be."

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