Sometimes, it’s good to be bad. Or at the very least, it feels good to root for someone who’s not Tom Hanks squeaky-clean perfect. That’s why everyone always loves a good antihero: a character who has several (sometimes serious) human flaws, yet there’s still redeeming qualities shining through that make us want to see them succeed.
Here are 6 of my favorite antiheroes.
Lisbeth Salander – In both The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Girl in the Spider’s Web, Salander — a punk hacker with a violent past, played by Rooney Mara in Tattoo and Claire Foy in Web — is the kind of character that makes you want to scream at the screen in support. (Those moments typically happen when she is physically kicking some horrible man’s butt.) She’s not cocky, she’s not a show-off, and she honestly just wants to be left alone, but she never fails to rise to any challenge she faces. (But clearly you would still never want her to be anywhere near your laptop because she would be able to break through all your passwords in about 5 seconds flat.)
Mr. Glass – In both 2000’s Unbreakable and this year’s Glass, it’s clear that Samuel L. Jackson’s Elijah Price, aka Mr. Glass, is a villain. A genius-level mastermind who’s also a mass murderer. Yet, we still love him. Because he is smarter than everyone else, and he does make some pretty good points when trying to justify his actions. The more I start thinking about this, I’m not sure there’s ever been a character Jackson has played who I haven’t loved — right or wrong.
The Joker – 2008’s The Dark Knight ushered in a new era of superhero films, and remains the only superhero movie that earned a member of its cast an Oscar. That honor was given posthumously to the late Heath Ledger for Best Supporting Actor after he stunned audiences with his take on The Joker. The Joker has always been a character comic fans have a love-hate relationship with, and Ledger set the bar incredibly high for anyone else who attempts to fill his shoes — which is what Jack Nicholson had previously accomplished as The Joker in Tim Burton’s Batman. But now Joaquin Phoenix is throwing his hat into the ring, and if the hype for recently released trailer for The Joker is to be believed, we will have even more reason to not-so-secretly love this classic antihero in October.
Killmonger – Watching Black Panther caused all the conflicting feels for me, because of course I loved T’Challa/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) — how could anyone not? — but darnit if there isn’t also a solid case to be made for fangirling over Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), the supposed villain who wants to challenge (and kill!) T’Challa for the Wakandan throne. Is it really his fault that he was screwed over as a child and left to fend for himself in Oakland, California?
The Bride – So … yeah. Of all the antiheroes on this list, in real life I would be most afraid of Uma Thurman’s The Bride from Kill Bill Vols. I and II. Because she’s mad as hell and not going to take it anymore, and if you’re in her way, She. Will. Kill. You. Dead. But when she’s out for revenge on her enemies, you have no choice but to root for her, because they are awful, awful people.
Snape – I saved my favorite antihero for the end, because I just loved Severus Snape in both the Harry Potter novels and all 8 films. Portrayed by the late Alan Rickman (sob!), Snape is infinitely complex. At first we believe he just straight-up despises golden boy Harry (Daniel Radcliffe), but as Snape’s backstory is revealed over the course of the series, we come to understand what was really driving his actions and how — in the end — he wasn’t the villain everyone thought he was after all.
Who are some of your favorite antiheroes?