Since it’s Valentine’s Day this week I thought it would be a good idea to make a list of some much loved romantic comedies. Then I remembered I absolutely hate Valentine’s Day and Deadpool comes out this week. As many of you know, Deadpool’s dark sense of humour and the enjoyment he takes from gruesomely killing his opponents is what makes him so loved amongst comic book fans and I pray this will also be true for the film. So as a tribute to the release of one of the most anticipated films of the year, here are my ten favourite bad ass antiheroes who save the day in a slightly different way from the rest.
- Catwoman – (Batman Returns, Catwoman, The Dark Knight Rises)
Right don’t hate me. I know the dedicated 2004 film was an absolute pile of shite. However her portrayals by Michele Phiffer and Anne Hathaway in Batman Returns and The Dark Knight Rises respectively show the characterisation of the unpredictable Selina Kylie perfectly. One quote from the 2012 film that I think accurately illustrates Catwoman’s character is when she replies to the famous ‘no guns, no killing’ line with ‘where’s the fun in that?’
- V – (V for Vendetta)
Unlike many fictional protagonists V’s character was created to be viewed as either a hero or a villain depending on the feelings of the audience themselves. Despite this in the film he can definitely be seen as an anti-hero as he fights the oppression of the pure unethical acts of the Norsfire organisation (who hold similar characteristics to the Nazi whilst at their peak). Despite him killing for a better world, he shows no mercy in the process and kills for fun when the opportunity arises. Plus he’s really fucking cool.
- Betelgeuse – (Beetlejuice)
Without a doubt one of my favourite films of all time, Beetlejuice (it’s easier to remember than Betelgeuse) may be the villain of the film, but due to his crude and hilariously rude features, it’s hard for the audience to hate him. Also he dislikes the main human antagonists of the film so therefore he’s allowed on the list. Despite the original script having a much darker side, Tim Burton transformed the film into a family friendly dark comedy masterpiece. Beetlejuice may be a very selfish character, but in my opinion is just too funny to leave out.
- Jules Winnfield – (Pulp Fiction)
Samuel L Jackson’s character in Tarentino’s momentous Pulp Fiction is probably one of the coolest that will ever appear on screen. He uses his religious beliefs to somehow justify the brutal, immoral acts he’s committing with right hand man Vincent Vega (John Travolta) by his side. He carries out his duties in a professional and self-disciplined manner (unlike Vincent– a heavy cocaine addict). When Jules and Vincent just avoid being shot multiple times his cool reaction really portrays all of his actions throughout the whole film. The mixture of being a hardnosed criminal and having a few comic lines is what makes Jules the perfect antihero.
- Charles Foster Kane – (Citizen Kane)
One of the greatest films of the 20th century, Citizen Kane has been analysed by film lovers and academics alike for over 70 years. The rise and fall of Kane through the film depicts how badly the American dream can go if you let greed get the better of you. Despite becoming extremely powerful and having the love of two beautiful woman, his ego got the better of him as by the end he lost everything, the fame, the power and the affection of friends and family. Orson Welles plays the rise and fall of the character he created nobly.
- Rorschach – (Watchmen)
Absolutely insane? Most certainly! However out of everyone on this list he is probably the least villainous and purely wants to defeat all crime. With his extreme right wing views where there is only right and wrong and no in-between, it could be said that Walter Kovac has the personality of a villain yet fights for good causes. This stems from his troubled childhood where his prostitute mother abused him and wished she had an abortion after he thought she was being abused by a customer. This leads to the masked psychopath becoming protective of any woman subject to violent crime, with the perpetrators suffering vile and deadly consequences.
- Travis Bickle – (Taxi Driver)
There seems to be a re-occurring theme of anti-heroes having slightly psychotic mannerisms in this list and that can be said for the next two additions. First of all, Taxi Driver follows the life of mentally unstable war veteran Travis Bickle, played by Robert De Niro, whilst working as a late-night cab driver. Through his work he meets a 12 year old prostitute who he tries to break free from her cruel life and kills anyone he has to in the process. Despite these heroic qualities, his personality challenges the audience’s empathy at times with his pill popping and porn obsessing antics. Despite his contradictions, he is a protagonist that will be forever remembered in film history.
- R.P. McMurphy – (One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest)
The fact that this film won five Oscars gives the impression that it’s pretty good. When R.P. McMurphy was ordered to a mental institution to carry out the rest of his sentence, he thought he was in for a relaxing holiday where he could just go through each day without having to do any manual labour or deal with attacks from fellow inmates. What he didn’t expect to happen was to become attached to the other patients who are being manipulated by the obsessive Nurse Ratched. Jack Nicholson captivates the audience excellently by showing how the protagonist’s attitude to life changes dramatically as he goes from being a villain to a hero with all slightly wacky and edgy qualities intact.
- Tony Montana – (Scarface)
Say hello to my second place! Just missing out on the first spot is Antonio ‘Tony’ Montana in the gangster cult classic Scarface. Again slightly controversial as many view Al Pacino’s character as an anti-villain instead of an antihero, and more towards the end of the film it’s difficult to see any heroic qualities at all. Conversely, when he starts becoming a wealthy drug dealer he offers $1000 to his poverty stricken mother proving that Tony did have a good cause at heart. Nevertheless after dealing with cocaine for many years it was inevitable that he would become addicted as his personality and business judgement become merciless. Similar to Charles Foster Kane, his mentality was the cause of his downfall.
- Michael Corleone – (The Godfather Trilogy)
Undoubtedly an unforgettable film franchise with unforgettable characters and Michael Corleone suits that description perfectly. Al Pacino makes his second appearance on the list as he plays the ruthless son of Vito Corleone and risks everything to keep the dignity of his father’s business intact. This included taking care of anyone standing in the way of tarnishing his reputation. In the beginning of the trilogy he wants nothing to do with the corrupt business and detaches himself from his family’s proceedings. However events that unfold, as well as wealth and power, eventually get the better of him.
So there you have it! Who’s your favourite antihero? Let us know in the comments below, or send a tweet to @film_swot. Be sure to check out our other top 10s, and keep an eye out for others every Tuesday!
Author: Liam Ross