Dissecting Anti-Heroes vs Heroes: What’s The Difference

We all have to admit that throughout our childhood and even our adult life, we have all been exposed to great stories of superheroes such as Superman and Captain America. These super heroes embody the very best traits and virtues that we all possess as human beings. There is a deep desire to aspire to be more like them and hence the reason why we find anything associated with super heroes extremely appealing, whether that may be playing the popular Super Heroes game or one of the many Lego DC Comic titles to checking out the latest movie release.

We look up to these icons as examples to follow, however, as we grow older, we eventually realize that there are grey areas that often complicate the notion of good and evil. In fact, it is quite rare for a character to be purely heroic, which then opens up the concept of an anti-hero. So, what exactly is the difference between a hero and an anti-hero?

Superman

DC & Warner Bros.

Anti-heroes Dissected

There is no doubt that we all wish there were more heroes in the world. This is because a hero sees every life as worth saving, and good deeds are done out of a deep rooted sense of doing right by mankind. There are no incentives, no strings attached and no asking for payment. Superman saves lives because it is the right thing to do, and people can rest assured that come hell or high water, he will be making sure every life is safe from evil acts.

An anti-hero, if performing good deeds, is not doing so out of the goodness of his/her heart. If an anti-hero is going out of the way to make a positive difference it will probably be for selfish reasons. These characters will mostly always have an agenda, and if it suits them will help out in saving the day. Anti-heroes will also be struggling on what course of action to take – should they take the money and run or stick around to help fight the bad guys? There is always a sense of unpredictability with an anti-hero, so there is also a lack of trust, which you will never have with a hero. Basically, the conflicted personality of an anti-hero makes them unreliable, whereas a hero is rock solid if you had to stake your life on them.

Deadpool

The Anti-Heroes in All of Us

There are, of course, different levels of anti-heroes. Not all are of the Disney class, but then again not all are boy scouts. A light example of an anti-hero would be Hancock, the superhero portrayed by Will Smith in the movie Hancock. He fights crime and attempts to keep streets safe because he has superpowers. These strengths are channeled in helping others. However, his borderline alcoholism and cynical attitude make him far removed from what a traditional superhero would be. So much so that, if you had to meet this person in real life you would probably dislike him.

Another example of a character with flaws that fights and may the most popular among the bunch is Deadpool. A foul mouth funny man that is extremely violent when he needs to be to fight for the greater good and right the wrongs that have been done to him. Reluctant to join the X-Men and go full on good guy he would rather ride solo than team up and form the X-Force.

Furthermore, there are the anti-heroes who like to keep us guessing which side of the fight they are on. Loki from the Thor franchise and Harley Quinn from the Suicide Squad are both characters that come to the aid of the traditional heroes because they regularly show signs of a conscience, but then they have no issues with crossing over to the dark side and fulfilling their own mischievous schedules. With a hero we always know that the fight is for good, without any hidden agendas.

Lastly there are the darker anti-heroes, who have very little reason to have our support, but as they are central characters to a story we follow them and for the most part support them. A good example of this would be Walter White from Breaking Bad, or Robert Redford and Paul Newman in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. These characters are people who in every day life we would prefer not to have in our societies, but in their stories we often see them come up against a greater evil; which if taken care of, will benefit those around them. An example is, Dexter Morgan from the TV series Dexter. The character is a serial killer who only kills violent criminals, and although his acts are atrocious they are in fact serving the greater good. On any given day at any given point we all have a little Dexter in us.

So which do you strive to be? The hero or the anti-hero? Maybe the villain? Who are some of your favorites? Shout at us in the comments below.