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Cinema’s new love for the anti-hero?

Have we seen enough of do-gooders such as Iron Man and Captain America, or are we just going through a bad boy phase? Are we beginning to love characters containing fatal flaws opposed to the perfect heroic archetype? Well its certainly seems to be going that way.

With the excessive amount of comic movies released so far this year, it’s come to my attention that there is an influx of anti-hero films/characters out there, which is starting to gain a huge amount of popularity from the viewers. Since Deadpool blew away the box office, the anti-hero is now being put on a glorified pedestal; a fact which is now gaining the interest from a number of different production companies. Look at Captain America: Civil War and Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice. Characters who were once regarded as these perfect, idealistic heroes are now being perceived more and more as anti-heroes; fighting for themselves or their respective cause. So why the fuss about a hero who doesn’t stick by the norm? Is it that we have a twisted interest watching the underbelly of society living out our own desires? Or is it just simply that we are now getting bored of these ‘goody-two-shoes,’ and we want a new dynamic that catches our excitement?

To answer these questions, we must first consider the anti-hero. The anti-hero is a common character archetype for the antagonist that has been around since the comedies and tragedies of Greek theatre and has been commonly seen in a number of superhero movies. However, unlike your traditional hero, who is morally upright and steadfast, the anti-hero usually has a flawed moral character. The moral compromises can often be seen as the unpleasant means to an appropriately desired end—such as breaking a finger to get answers. Key examples of this portrayal would be Deadpool or Punisher. Other times, however, the moral flaws are simply that. Moral flaws like alcoholism, infidelity, or an uncontrollable and violent temper, could possibly be explored in an R-rated Iron Man film.

With the anti-hero explained, Hollywood may now be seeing the cracks in your traditional protagonist, characters who shine as morally pure and upright don’t ring true to an older audience any-more which is why the anti-hero has so much more to offer on screen. All things considered, throughout our lives we are faced with brokenness – a trait we all encounter in humanity – which gives reason why it’s easier to relate to the choices that these anti-heroes make. So when watching these characters spiral down their own destructive pit, we therefore are gifted with a sense of realism and a more truthful narrative despite still having this ‘superhero’ theme. After all, a believable character is a key element in the process of making an enjoyable story.

Moreover, from an audience’s point of view, these anti-heroes create a new sense of enjoyment on screen, as there is a sense of  seeing certain aspects of ourselves in these troubled heroes. This makes these otherwise fictional heroes more human, rather than a god-like figure. So anti-heroes such as Deadpool, Punisher and Lobo do what a normal hero does, but in ways we may find ‘similar.’ They break the rules and do things in a way we may find typically taboo in regards to superheroes; what this opens up, is an alternative view of redemption when defeating the antagonist. Furthermore, with all this happening on screen, we gain a new form of enjoyment that differs from previous traditional superhero instalments as we are seeing a character that seems closer to the truth.

In addition to this, traditional good guys are often scorned, so when we see a character who is conflicted with sexual sin (such as Deadpool & Jessica Jones) or political corruption (which is a theme we’re going to be seeing in Captain America: Civil War), it opens up a new perspective when viewing the movie for the first time. At the end of the day, when you have a superhero who has no flaws and is seen as perfection, it simply becomes dull; whether you’re a superhero or not, life is a bitch. At some point you’ll be faced with tough decisions.

So are we seeing the start of a Hollywood/anti-hero relationship? The answer to that is yes.

Modern writers and production companies are giving us these new anti-heroes movies with a more mature rating, which will hit closer to home, purely because no one in this world is perfect. When you see these characters with simpler issues, or being seen more vulnerable, lends the opportunity to produce a more successful and compelling production. Look at the new films coming out: Suicide Squad, X-Apocalypse .  Even on the smaller screen, you’ve got the likes of Jessica JonesDaredevil and the soon to be released Preacher. Though they have superhero entities that we will never see in the real world, their issues are something that can be seen as more comparable. This being done makes a lot more enjoyable of a viewing then it does when you see the all perfect superhero.

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