What Makes Anti-Heroes so Appealing?

Hey, humans, aliens, and robots! I’m back, and this time with something a little different. As you can tell by the title, today I’m here to talk about anti-heroes and what makes them so appealing.

Let’s get started, but first:

Saracasm Warning

You’ve been warned.

Now, I know what you’re a thinking, “An anti-hero, so the opposite of a hero. That must be the villain.”

No. Just no.

An anti-hero is the opposite of a hero, but they are not the antagonist. An anti-hero is the protagonist, they just don’t have traits that are generally considered heroic. Like, maybe they’re a no-good criminal. Or an arrogant smuggler who only looks out for Number One. Or maybe an ex-assassin.

Can you guess who I’m talking about? Yep, Captain Jack Sparrow, Han Solo, and Natasha Romanoff. They each represent a different level of the anti-hero trope.

So, what does everyone like about these characters?

I mean, I don’t know. I only act like I know everything, Rogers.


Oh, were you expecting me to tell you why I assume people like them? Okay, fine.

We’ll start with Captain Jack , who is the highest level of an anti-hero. He is no good. He’s a drunkard. He’s a crook. He’s a pirate. He is absolutely not a good man, so, what on earth do we like so much about him? Simple answer, he’s funny. A scene doesn’t go by where he doesn’t say or do something that is just plain and simply hilarious.

Case and Point:


Tell the truthWave at them

If he wasn’t funny, no one would like him, and he wouldn’t be a well written character. That’s the thing about anti-heroes. They can be completely and utterly detestable in every way, except one. They have to have one quality that will make people like them. Now they don’t have to be completely and utterly detestable in every way, like Jack, but they can be.

Moving on, let’s talk about Han Solo. He isn’t quite as much of an anti-hero as Jack, but he’s still an excellent–and probably the most well-known–example of one. Han Solo is a criminal. He’s a smuggler. He’s dishonest. He’s arrogant. He primarily looks out for Number One, and you know, you could also say Han Solo does not face his problems. He runs from them. (*points* Hey, guys look! It’s authors when we’re supposed to be editing our manuscripts!) But that’s beside my point. My point is, that’s not really an admirable trait either. Yes, we all do it, but it’s not heroic. When Han’s son turns to the dark side, what does he do? He leaves Leia, and reverts back to being a criminal. Was that heroic? No. Did he do it? Yes. But, he gets partially redeemed. He still pretty much looks out for Number One, and he’s still pretty arrogant. And I know what you’re thinking, how can someone who looks out for Number One still be loyal? Well, in A New Hope even though he takes his reward and leaves, he knows deep down, that the Alliance needs his help, so he comes back. It turns out, the battle is won because of him. In The Empire Strikes Back you find out that he had stayed with the Alliance for a while before he says he’s leaving. (Even though he doesn’t actually end up doing it.) Also, in The Empire Strikes Back he goes out after Luke, despite being advised against it, because he knows Luke is in danger. As it turns out, that saves Luke’s life. So yeah, he redeems himself a little, but he’s still pretty arrogant and kinda mean. Granted, his arrogance is generally about things that he is very good at–his pilot skills for example. Arrogance is still not a particularly heroic trait.

All right, enough about Han Solo, and on to talking about my favorite character at the moment, Natasha Romanoff! Seriously, I’m obsessed with all things Marvel right now, especially Natasha. So, on the surface, Natasha Romanoff might not seem like an anti-hero. I mean she’s fighting to save the world, right? Can’t get much more heroic than that. Well, yeah, but if you look close (or sometimes not so close) you can tell how much of an anti-hero she really is.

Natasha has no problem shooting people who get in her way. Yes, she usually just knocks people out and tazes them with her Widow’s Bite, but she is willing to just shoot them. She also lies as part of her job, so much so that, “I thought I knew whose lies I was telling, but…I guess I can’t tell the difference anymore.” She admits that she lies so much, she can’t tell what the truth is anymore. It also doesn’t bother her, “The truth is a matter of circumstances, it’s not all things to all people all the time. And neither am I.” Not to mention, she’s also kind of manipulative.  In Age of Ultron, she kisses Bruce Banner to distract him so she can shove him over a ledge, which in turn causes him to turn into The Hulk. She is able to do that, because he trusts her. I’ll be very interested to see what their reunion is like in Infinity War, since he was stuck as Hulk for three years because she made him turn in the first place.

So yeah, I hope I have made my point. I’d love to hear y’all’s opinions about anti-heroes, so drop ’em in the comments! That’s all for now guys, and since I could talk about Natasha Romanoff’s character development for hours, I’ll see you next week for a character analysis.


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