Sunday, May 13, 2012

The Great (film) Debates vol. 38

Are you holding out for a hero? That won't help you. Not if you have a dirty job you need done dirt cheap. Then you need an anti-hero!

Who is your favorite film anti-hero?


Panelist: BevfromNYC

Rooster Cogburn in True Grit (the original, not the remake, since I’ve not be able to bring myself to see the remake). He is everything an anti-hero should be. He’s gruff, mean, lazy, but he was relentless when on the trail of bad men. He wasn’t afraid of anything gunfire.

Panelist: T-Rav

I really like Clive Owen as "Mr. Smith" in Shoot 'Em Up, as a violent criminal and a loner who winds up having to protect a baby (with the help of a prostitute), which is an interesting combination, to say the least. He's very good at playing tough bruisers like that.

Panelist: Tennessee Jed

Why Dirty Harry Callahan, natch ;-)

Panelist: ScottDS

Malcolm Reynolds. I haven't sat down to watch Firefly in a while but I'd say he fits the bill: tough as nails with a heart of gold (or silver, at least). And he aims to misbehave. "Love keeps her in the air. . ."

Panelist: AndrewPrice

Bruce Willis in Last Man Standing. I know this is a remake of a remake of a remake, but this film is just cool and Willis is the ultimate anti-hero. He’s in it for the money and he doesn’t care who gets hurt. . . until his conscience kicks in. Then it’s time to usher in a little death with extreme prejudice.

Comments? Thoughts?

129 comments:

Anonymous said...

The man with no name, Clint Eastwood in the Spaghetti Western trilogy.

K said...

Call me Snake.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Old-old school: The Berlin underworld in Fritz Lang's "M".

Old School: Ethan Edwards (John Wayne) in The Searchers.

"Modern": The Dark Knight of course as played by Christian Bale.

tryanmax said...

Most versions of Catwoman. If Batman is the vigilante hero who deftly toes the fine line between good and evil, then Catwoman is the less-deft anti-hero who tramples that line. The literary brilliance of Catwoman is that her presence keeps Batman the discernible hero by being the version of him that goes wrong.

None of this is to argue with Floyd. Batman clearly fits the anti-hero definition, as well.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

tryan... good call... Batman is the legally complex hero skirting the law.

Catwoman is morally complex -- she crosses that line more readily. And she looks good in skintight leather. So there is that. :-) (is that redemptive?)

T-Rav said...

I haven't read up on Catwoman that much, but she's always struck me as out for her own benefit, and not really falling into the hero or villain categories. But tryanmax does have an interesting argument. I guess that's a good way to describe an anti-hero.

Backthrow said...

Clint, as Joe/Manco/Blondie in the 'Dollars Trilogy' of A FISTFUL OF DOLLARS/FOR A FEW DOLLARS MORE/THE GOOD, THE BAD & THE UGLY.

Runner-up: Lee Marvin, Robert Duvall and Mel Gibson as renamed incarnations of Donald E. Westlake's 'Parker' character in POINT BLANK (1967), THE OUTFIT (1973) and PAYBACK (1999). Jim Brown played him, too, in THE SPLIT (1968), but I haven't seen that one yet. A professional thief who the audience roots for as he robs or kills (or at least facilitates the deaths of) worse men than himself, for revenge.

Eric P said...

Christian Slater as Heathers' Jason "JD" Dean.

AndrewPrice said...

Happy Mothers Day, by the way, everyone! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Anon, That's who I think of as the "classic" anti-hero.

AndrewPrice said...

K, I should have thought of that! Awesome!

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, That is old-old-old school! The oldest unless you get all Biblical. :)

The Dark Knight. Good call. I remember when they created the character in the 1980s and everyone was buzzing about it, how this was a real break from the standard heroics of comic books. Well, Bale has done a heck of a job bringing that to life!

Kelly said...

Does Han Solo count?

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I'd never thought of that. But does she really count as heroic? She only seems to do good when Batman makes her do good. Otherwise, she's just a thief.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, The leather catsuit has to count for something right? ;)

LawHawkRFD said...

I'm with the Eastwood crowd and the Dollars trilogy. I didn't see Dirty Harry so much as antihero as antiestablishment, but he was great in that role either way. Besides, in the Dirty Harry movies, there was always a scene where I could say "I can see my house from here!" LOL

Doc Whoa said...

Vin Diesel as Riddick. Totally kicks ass. Total monsters. Absolute hero.

Doc Whoa said...

T-Rav, That is a good question. Maybe she is an anti-hero because she does do some heroic things, it's just that's she's ding them for the wrong reasons and she's still trying to comit crimes at the same time. I also doubt she would save someone if it weren't for her desire to please Mr. Batman.

Doc Whoa said...

sorry, that should be "tryanmax and T-Rav"

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I wonder though if the anti-hero wouldn't need to be willing to be heroic on their own without being prompted by Batman?

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, Excellent choices! I always find it fascinating when the audience is made to root for a bad guy either because the people he's going after are worse or become we come to like them. That was the neat thing about Pulp Fiction, you rooted for each bad guy at one time or another only to find them put against each other later. Fascinating film!

AndrewPrice said...

P.S. Backthrow, I wonder what the instinct is which makes us root for a bad guy? In other words, what makes us decide to like them even though in real life we would probably be pretty angry at the things they've done?

AndrewPrice said...

Eric, LOL! I hadn't thought of that. Heathers really is a movie that creeps me out that they get away with this stuff for so long. "I love my dead gay son," just makes me cringe.

AndrewPrice said...

Kelly, Absolutely! He's got all the traits, right down to being a jerk about not wanting to help out.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, LOL! "I can see my house from here!"

I'm not sure I would count Dirty Harry as an anti-hero either. He's more like a classic hero stuck in a lousy system.

The Dollar trilogy, however, is classic anti-hero.

AndrewPrice said...

Doc, Riddick! I wish I'd thought of that one too! Great choice! :)

ellenB said...

Andrew, That is a question why we like the anti-hero? I think there's something very American about someone who just wants to be left alone, but does what needs to be done when forced. That doesn't explain out love of outright criminals, but it does fit with an American sense of practicality.

ellenB said...

"that is a good question"

AndrewPrice said...

Ellen, I think that too. I firmly believe that the anti-hero fits well with American culture. The idea of the straight up hero is actually rather liberal, if you think about it. It tends to be interpreted as a superior human who comes along to save the helpless people who typically do little more to help themselves than ask for help from higher authority. That could easily be interpreted as a statement that average people are helpless and need protection. And since there are no genuine superheroes, that would mean the government.

But the anti-hero is very American. The anti-hero is a guy who is going about his life as a rugged individual until someone comes along typically trying to invade his privacy ot take his property or impose a quasi-government upon him (e.g. a crime empire taking control). That's when he decides he's had enough and he takes them down so everyone can go about their own business.

And whereas the hero typically praises the people who are helpless and call for help, the anti-hero actually disdains their unwillingness to defend themselves.

It's fascinating if you think about it.

Backthrow said...

Andrew,

I think we root for the (anti-hero type) bad guy because, in most cases, the films that feature them are designed as a stacked deck.

Think of most of the films we've listed, as well as the 'heist' flick (and its inverted cousin, the 'prison-escape' film)... they exist in their own world, where we usually don't see many (or any) regular people, children and/or innocent victims, unless the 'bad' bad-guys are the ones giving them trouble. Though gritty, it's far from the Real World, so things become abstracted, and there's little-to-no fallout from the anti-hero's (or 'good' bad-guy's) amoral actions.

The anti-hero will have a deeply-buried heart of gold, or will have been framed, or seeks revenge after being done a devastating dirty to his loved one(s), or has done almost misdemeanor-level crimes (opposed to the remorseless/gleeful felonies committed by his opposition), or has been put into a bleak situation where he's had to do nearly anything (often regrettable) just to survive, or a combination of these things.

Under these conditions, our bad-guy anti-hero saves the day, sometimes despite himself, unencumbered by laws and niceties. Since we know enough about him --his background, his motives and his way of thinking-- and we're privvy to 'what really happened' (rather than his version of same), we can cheer him on in his abstracted world of ne'er-do-well allies, bystanders, and pitch-black foes.

This is cathartic for us, who run into countless instances of red tape and other obstacles in Real Life. We know that *we* have the best aims in mind, if we could somehow maneuver freely around (or steamroll over) such roadblocks, but we also know that the Real Life versions of the anti-heros we enjoy in fiction likely have *none* of the attributes that make us cheer them on in Fantasyland.

In the case of the heist and prison-break movies, this allows us to not worry so much about what the reprecussions to society may be, and just focus on the theft or escape as an interesting plot puzzle to be solved by our on-screen surrogates.

Another top anti-hero: Mad Max (though he's pretty much modelled on Eastwood's 'Man with No Name' (plus Hondo), transplanted to post-apocalyptic Australia).

Joel Farnham said...

Andrew,

I think this is a misnomer. Anti means the exact opposite.

Anti-villain = hero.

Anti-hero = villain.

A hero you think can do the job, but will do it dirty or dark.

Malcom Reynolds, Han Solo,all of Kelly's Heroes, John McClane, Korben Dallas, are all versions of heroes, but are dark or very dark.

Sean Connery in The Great Train Robbery. In this one, Sean plays the dark hero. He is the thief who master-minds a train robbery. We shouldn't root for him because he is a thief.

I just checked with Wikipedia and sure enough there is an anti-hero, but the definition is more along the lines of Hannibal Lector or MacBeth.

I think I am having a problem with just the word hero. That is why I think people have come up with the word protagonist. I think that is why some have a problem with Kill Bill. A hero, to me, is the good guy. No, matter what any one says Beatrix Kiddo is not that sympathetic.

T-Rav said...

Andrew and Doc, I kinda think of the anti-hero as someone who desires good ends but isn't very scrupulous about the intermediary means: to a point, of course, because pushing that too far would make one a villain. Or, someone who's kind of ruthless but only in order to protect the things they care about. It's such a gray category I'm not really sure how to define it, but, from what I know of Catwoman, I wouldn't call her an anti-hero. I've always interpreted her as a loner and out for her own enrichment first; she doesn't want to harm anyone unless they cross her, but she's also not out to do good. I'm hardly an expert in comic-book stories, though, so I could be wrong.

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I guess by your definition to Ellen, a kind of obscure anti-hero would be Matthew McConaughey's character in Reign of Fire. (Plot: Dragons are real, they scourge the earth present-day, McConaughey leads some Americans in Britain trying to take them out.) He's good at killing but short on compassion, has no problem beating people up if they get out of line, etc. At one point, he tells the terrorized English people he just saved from a dragon, "God bless the country that still has heroes, huh? Well I say, God help the country that needs 'em." So I suppose that would be your classic anti-hero.

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, Excellent analysis! I think that's right. To a large degree, the deck is very much stacked. The anti-hero is sold to us a "bad but not really," the bad guys are sold to us as "pure evil" and we are told that no innocent people are ever hurt by anything the anti-hero does.

In the real world, none of this is true. Bad guys still have mothers who love them, i.e. few people are pure evil and those that are tend to be serial killers or child molesters -- not the type of people who would get into a fight with you over property. Anti-hero types often have truly heinous criminal records and are callous to the harm they cause other people -- this is something many women discover about "the rebel" they find so appealing from a distance... up close, they are sh*ts. And real people always get hurt.

I would say there are exceptions, especially in Westerns where the anti-hero is often just someone passing through who simply didn't want to be involved. But anti-heroes like Snake Pliskin or Lee Marvin would more likely hurt you than help you. And it's only with careful writing that these people are made to seem like "good guys."

AndrewPrice said...

Joel, "Anti-hero" has been a term long used to describe heroes who aren't pure -- it divides the hero world in half. It defines guys like Eastwood's character in the Dollar trilogy because he doesn't care about the law and he kills in cold blood. That makes him a villain. But he is considered a hero because the people he kills are bad guys and he has a heart of gold and will protect innocent people from the other villains. In effect, he can use evil means to achieve good. By comparison, a plain old hero is forbidden from using evil means, except with tremendous anguish.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I agree with you about Catwoman. My understanding is that her good deeds tend to be forced upon her by Batman and that she's basically a loner and a thief with a few scruples.

I think the definition of anti-hero that generally gets used is: a hero who uses evil means to affect good. Thus, the anti-hero can kill and steal and be quite brutal so long as the good deed outweighs the harm done in achieving it. By comparison, a modern hero is limited to only using good means to achieve good deeds. Thus, Superman would never knock out an innocent bystander just to get past them, but an anti-hero wouldn't think twice about it. And when the hero-hero slips up and does do something evil (like kill a bad guy) it's a matter of horror/anguish for them, whereas the anti-hero typically just considers it the price of solving the problem.

I think a lot of the rest of the trapping just flow from that. And I think the definition I gave Ellen is a reflection of how they've come to be defined by Hollywood over time.

ellenB said...

Andrew, That is an excellent definition! I like it. I wonder if Hollywood has figure out yet that the antihero is more American than the hero? If they did, I'll bet they would change the way they portray it.

ScyFyterry said...

Just popping in for a quick look before taking mom out for Mother's Day!

My favorite anti-hero is the Dark Knight. Bale has done a fantastic job of bringing him to life.

My least favorite is actually Robin Hood in any form. I just don't like the story because it's too much of a set up for me.

ScyFyterry said...

Count me on the Catwoman as not a hero list.

ScyFyterry said...

Backthrow, That's my complaint with the Robin Hood story. It's such a set up. He's made out as too perfect of a good guy despite his illegal deeds. And he never keeps any of what he steals? Even for expenses? No way. It feels like propaganda to me.

tryanmax said...

Floyd, Andrew, T-Rav, et al. The comics, shows, and films do all make it clear that Catwoman is ultimately a villain, but she is usually portrayed as having more complex motives than her counterparts. While most of the Batman villains are aware and accepting of their criminality or are simply deranged, Catwoman stands apart as one of the few who rationalizes her self-serving goals as meeting some greater, general good.

Of course, that alone doesn't make her an anti-hero. As we've routinely discussed, all the best villains think they are morally justified, like Ras al Ghul. Catwoman, however, is in most versions inspired by Batman but believes she can do what he does better.

In the case of Batman's already dubious hero status, her presence is genius. She does what Batman does, is uncomfortably close to what Batman is. He walks so close to the line between hero and anti-hero, we need an example of what it would look like if he crossed it in order to gauge it. Catwoman is the essential counterpoint that reveals the difference and reassures us that Batman is the good guy.

That's the complex journey I've taken to arrive at Catwoman as anti-hero.

AndrewPrice said...

Thanks Ellen! I'm not sure if Hollywood gets that or not. Probably not or they would likely change it because right now most films include anti-heroes and their message is overwhelmingly self-help.

AndrewPrice said...

Terry, In truth, I'm not a fan of Robin Hood either for the same reason -- the story is too simplistic. Idealized hero stealing from melodramatic villain and giving all of his ill-gotten gains to the noble, suffering public, followed by a return of the noble King to save the day right at the critical moment and inflict an ironic punishment on the villain. It reeks of fairy tale or (as you put it) propaganda.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, That's a fascinating point, that she's an example of what Batman would look like if he was a couple inches over the line instead.

I see your point that she thinks she can do what he does only better. I just wonder though if she actually has heroism in her. It seems to me (and I'm no expert) that every time I've seen her, she's been indifferent to the harm done to people unless she's trying to impress Batman. In effect, for her, being heroic is just a part of foreplay and isn't anything she takes seriously when she's not trying to flirt with him.

Backthrow said...

ScyFyterry,

Robin Hood doesn't bother me too much (although I only really like THE ADVENTURES OF ROBIN HOOD (1938) with Errol Flynn), mainly because he's stealing money already stolen from the people via ridiculously-high taxes from a non-representative monarchy and giving it back to the people that earned it.

The Flynn version works for me because it's all presented in a rather fanciful way (he keeps none for himself, and the money goes directly back to the people it had been confiscated from, there's no actual medieval squalor to be seen, etc.); when Hollywood tries to make a more 'realistic' version of the story, then doubt creeps (or rather, stampedes) in that he wouldn't keep most/all of the loot for himself, making him no better than the King and his court (and probably worse, since the King's main duty is to protect his subjects from outside marauders... people like Robin Hood).

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, That's the one version I like too because it's pure fairy tale. It doesn't even pretend to be real so you don't have to think about all the realities of the situation.

And you're right, once they try to make the character more real, suddenly you start wondering how he would support himself unless he kept some of the money, what he pays his men with, how everyone who works for the King could be so evil, etc. etc. And if he is stealing tax money in a time of war, you have to wonder what that does to the people.

I am all for the evil-tyrant must be brought down aspect, but this just doesn't work for me, not the way it's set up.

Outlaw13 said...

The guy is more of an Ass than an Anti-Hero, but Ash from "Army of Darkness". I still relish the feeling of discovery the first time I saw this movie.

"This is my boomstick!"

T-Rav said...

Andrew, I guess some of what Robin Hood "did" could be justified because the individuals he's stealing from are corrupt, not just greedy, but yeah, it does smack of populism and all that. Not a huge fan of the stories.

As for your point about the "noble King" swooping in and setting everything right, yeah, not so much. Google "Richard I Third Crusade" for information on how that worked out in reality. Basically, the only difference between Richard and John was that John was incompetent.

AndrewPrice said...

Great choice Outlaw! He's a total ass, but he still manages to be heroic.

T-Rav said...

I'm honestly very curious to see how Catwoman comes across in the new movie this summer. We could just be reading current events into it, but the little bit of dialogue from the trailers makes it seem like she's an OWSer or something, and not necessarily in a good way. Talk about your anti-heroes (or non-heroes, whatever).

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, Don't get me wrong, I'm all for overthrowing evil governments. But the whole story just sound so one-sided that it strikes me as entirely fake -- like propaganda. If this story were passed off to me as real and I knew nothing about it, I would actually assume that King John is an usurper and a bad guy and Robin Hood was made up and the whole story was meant to re-write history to make John look like he was the rightful king. That would have been my guess based on how over-the-top the whole things is.

You are right about Richard v. John. John was no angel either.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, I'm curious too, though I'm not hopeful. I think Hathaway is a horrible actress -- wooden, vacant, childlike and yet arrogant. And I doubt anything Hollywood produces that touches upon OWS will be done in the right way. But we'll see.

Backthrow said...

There's also subset of the anti-hero film, where the main character you sort-of root for is a full-fledged villain. They steal, kidnap, murder, but are either presented as either tragic, or engaged in decadent fun. They don't go after people worse than themselves; instead, they mainly tangle with The Law (which is presented as largely inept). These are usually classified as Horror films, 'True Crime' films or are comic book type villains who don't have a superhero around to keep them in check.

Examples:

Vincent Price as Dr. Phibes (in THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES (1971) and DR. PHIBES RISES AGAIN (1972, where he has a rival, but he's no worse than Phibes)) and as hammy Shakespearean actor Edward Lionheart in THEATRE OF BLOOD (1973)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sxnr9xycVLo

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ytb23pMWEjU

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iM6n4PYFFVM

John Phillip Law as a James Bond-ish superthief/hedonist in DANGER: DIABOLIK (1968, although he does contend with gangsters in part of the movie, but he's no better than they are)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QTcGTEK0Q2g

Faye Dunaway & Warren Beatty as BONNIE & CLYDE (1967)

Sissy Spacek as CARRIE (1976) and teamed with Martin Sheen in BADLANDS (1973, clearly influenced directly by Bonnie & Clyde)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcFx06cBmbk

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, Good point. And in that regard, we should add Ray Liota as Henry in Goodfellas. He's a villain, quite an evil one in fact, and yet you end up rooting for him even though he's actually probably worse than the people he's struggling against.

Kelly said...

I thought he might! So I choose Han Solo. I love the AC/DC reference too.

Backthrow said...

Andrew, definitely Liotta in GOODFELLAS!

Also, though I don't like the series (and I don't think you really 'root' for him so much), there's 'Jigsaw' in the SAW films... however, unlike the Vincent Price flicks I mentioned, SAW is more about the diabolical death-traps, whereas the Price films are more (intentionally) comical, show (relatively) more restraint, and are as much about Phibes and Lionheart as characters as they are about the gimmicky deaths, whereas 'Jigsaw' is little more than a recorded message that passes sentence, with some backstory added later.

In-between this type and the main type of anti-hero we've been discussing, there's DEXTER on TV. He's definitely trying to do good through his vigilantism, but he's also a monster who just as well might be killing innocents if not for his strongly-held personal code of ethics and the fact that he truly (and ever-increasingly) wants to be a good person with a normal life and family.

AndrewPrice said...

Kelly, Glad you liked it! :)

AndrewPrice said...

Backthrow, I don't care for SAW or Jigsaw. I feel like his motive was tacked on to make this seem like it wasn't just torture porn, but that's how I see it.

Dexter, on the other hand, is a fascinating show and a fascinating character. I have no idea how to classify him. He's almost more of a villain with selective tastes of who he wants to kill. Either way though, I'm glad I finally started watching those.

T-Rav said...

Yeah, I don't know about the OWS comparison. But I read somewhere that Bane was also going the social-revolutionary route, if only as a pretext; if true, maybe that means OWS=villains? Probably not, but I'm hopeful.

I think Will Smith's "Hancock" is another possible anti-hero. He starts out as a drunk loser with superpowers who causes as much damage as he prevents, but gradually turns his life around and becomes a genuine hero by the end. It's an underrated gem of a superhero film, in my opinion.

AndrewPrice said...

T-Rav, You know, I've never seen that one. The reviews were harsh and the trailer just didn't appeal to me. So I skipped it. I'll see if I can catch it at some point.

ScottDS said...

Andrew -

With respect to T-Rav, I thought Hancock was a colossal waste of time with too many cooks in the kitchen. A cursory glance at the IMDb reveals it was originally intended to be much darker but when Will Smith came aboard, they lightened it up.

Every now and then, I read that Smith and Co. want to make a sequel and I can't think of a film that deserves one less! :-)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Great choices you guys!

Eastwood in Pale Rider and The Outlaw Josey Wales (although Wales leaned more towards a hero than anti-hero).

Nic Cage in Con Air but again, he was more of a hero who just wanted to do the right thing and get home to his family.
He still technically broke some laws to take down the villains but it was the only way he could do it.

IRT Catwoman: In the comics she's a thief but she will be a hero if the opportunity presents itself (stop a man from hurting a woman, save a kid caught in crossfire, etc.).
She will even forgo getting what she comes to steal to save lives, albeit reluctantly.
And she does heroic acts when Batman ain't around.

The films never have portrayed her accurately except for the 60's version which fit the 60's comic version.

But the modern version is quite different than the 60's/70's version because she does go out of her way to save people, whether Batman is present or not.

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, I haven't seen it, so I can't comment. I'm willing to give it a shot if there's the possibility it's pretty decent. It just never made me want to watch it itself.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

One of my favorite anti-heroes is Toshiro Mifune in Yojimbo.

Eastwood said he got inspiration for his spaghetti films from Mifune's outstanding performance.

T-Rav said...

Scott: Pppbbbbbttt.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

The problem I had with Hancock is that it was hit n' miss too much. There was some good scenes but there was probly more bad scenes.
Not a horrible film but definitely didn't reach it's potential.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Thanks! You bitter seagull clinger you!

I'm not well versed in the latest Catwoman stories as I don't read the comic books. I just know what I've seen in the cartoons. From that, she seems like a mix who wouldn't go out of her way to save someone, but would do it if Batman is around.

The 60's version was very different, especially if you're talking about the half hour television show!

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, That's the basis for Fistful of Dollars.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Oh, and Chloe Grace Moretz gave an outstanding performance in Kickass and Nicholas Cage was good too.

More like a very funny Batman than actual anti-heroes however.
But there was some excellent dark scenes in the film and very human moments.

ScottDS said...

Sorry, T-Rav. :-)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

LOL! Yeah, I really don't know what I was thinking when I wrote that line.
Which is a good thing I reckon. :^)

AndrewPrice said...

It was a funny line Ben.


Scott and T-Rav, Might I suggest a duel? ;)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Sean Connery in The Rock.

Kurt Russel in Big Trouble In Little China, ha ha!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Van Damme in Desert Heat. IMO his best performance!
Great flick if you get a chance to see it.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Adrienne Brody in Predators was a quintensential anti-hero. If memory serves his only truly heroic act was at the end of the film.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, My favorite of his is Time Cop. That's the one time I think he actually had to be an actor. Although, I do enjoy Bloodsport very much as a guilty pleasure.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, I'm a big fan of Brody in Predators. I think he does a great job as a believable tough guy. And yeah, his only truly heroic act is the ending. The rest is all self-interest and some of it makes him quite the jerk.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Aye, Time Cop was good too. Unlike Seagal Van Damme can act in at least some of his films.

Love Bloodsport! Guilty pleasure indeed. Superb fighting sequences and I liked the characters.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

It would be a travesty if I didn't mention Charles Bronson in Death Wish.

AndrewPrice said...

Yep, I feel the same about Bloodsport.

I don't like Segal at all... or Seagull. ;)

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

T-Rav and Scott in a duel? I'm there!

The battle of the On The Other Hancocks!

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Andrew, LOL! Good one!
The only two films I liked him in was Under Siege and Executive decision...wehere he died.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, Same here. Under Siege was the one I liked him in. But that wore off very quickly. And then in Executive Decision he gets killed, which is a good thing.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Even Chuck Norris acts better than See-gall.

AndrewPrice said...

Yep. Chuck I like on charisma alone. See-gall has neither charisma, acting skill or even serviceable fighting skills.

ScottDS said...

I hate to admit it, especially here, but with the exception of Sidekicks (with Jonathan Brandis and a scenery-chewing Joe Piscopo), I've never seen a Chuck Norris movie. Invasion U.S.A., the Delta Force movies, etc. I know they exist but I haven't gotten to them just yet. :-)

I am, however, looking forward to seeing him in The Expendables 2.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

How about Michael Pare in Streets Of Fire?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Lone Wolf McQuade and Silent Rage were my favorite Norris flicks.
Excellent supporting cast in both films.

Most definitely looking forward to seeing him in The Expendables 2!
I do hope they forgo the shaky cam in that one but I'll still watch it, regardless.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Patrick Swayze in Steel Dawn is another good one.

Does Cary Elwes in Robin Hood: Men In Tights Count? :^)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That cracking sounds you hear is a billion Chuck Norris fans turning their anger toward your house. ;)

Actually, I think you're going to find them strange. On the one hand, they are rather primitive, like the military guys carrying rifles and no other equipment. And they often have little action until the ending.

But what the do have is a surprisingly interesting story as they go. I can't tell you why, but they are just interesting to watch.

AndrewPrice said...

Ben, My favorite is actually Breaker Breaker, but I'm a sucker for trucker flicks. :)


And no, Cary Elwes doesn't count.

obiwan2009 said...

My favorite is Han Solo from Star Wars, and I am certain to argue as to why Han Solo should be considered an anti-hero as well, so come on, someone who watched New Hope, and I do prefer the unedited version on VHS, should know, Han Solo was a drug trafficker, a dropout from the Empire's armed forces, and a self-declared mercernary, sure, this is Star Wars, and it is mild in it's anti-heroes, but Han Solo did that final surprise attack that knocked Vader out of the fight, and said, "You're all clear kid, now let's blow this thing and go home. After New Hope, you have to credit him for bringing his fellow antihero and gambler Lando into the Rebellion as well.

Ben,

I am not so sure that Cage in Con Air was an anti-hero as opposed to an actual hero. He was involved in demonstrating that he reformed from his violent ways, befriended a sickly inmate, and showed that he still had his old style as an Army Ranger in him, when the prison transfer plane got hijacked. I tend to think of anti-heroes, as being protagonist, yet having the bad%#$ attitude like Han Solo being unashamed of the fact that he's a mercernary, cardshark, and drug smuggler, yet he still, when push came to shove, came around to help Luke. He didn't come off as heroic, but he came around to it.

There's also John McLane, played by Bruce Willis, who yes, drinks, smokes and gives his classic yippee-kay-yay line to his enemies before giving them a devastating blow or finishing touch, but his one noble side is trying to save his wife, and doing what some father should rightfully do in dishing out some serious a#$-kicking to terrorists who took her hostage.

obiwan2009 said...

And oh yeah, I totally forgot to mention that Han Solo took being called a "scoundrel" as a compliment. Well, at least Harrison Ford made a decent antihero as Captain Solo

obiwan2009 said...

T-Rav, I agree about Hancock, loved the film, especially when he comes back and starts a new life in NYC, well, pretty much...

tryanmax said...

I am very curious how Catwoman gets treated in the next film. I have to admit, I am selectively choosing my sources to define her as an anti-hero, because some versions are a flat-out villain. I think I lean most heavily on The Animated Series because she is more fleshed-out there than in other versions. But even the 1960s Batman treated her more like a misguided soul verses the other villains who were typically regarded as "vile fiends." LOL

If I were to make a less debatable pick, I'd probably go with Van Wilder for reasons that don't entirely make sense to even me.

AndrewPrice said...

tryanmax, I am curious too. I only know Catwoman really from the 1960s show, the animated cartoons in the 1970s and the new animated Batman, where she's really pretty darn cool. I like her a lot. I think the voice is done by Gina Gershon too, which is even better.

AndrewPrice said...

obiwan, I would think Han Solo would qualify.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Military ones:

The Dirty Dozen, Kelly's Heroes, The Three Kings

though The Dirty Dozen may be more of a redemption story than an "anti-hero" movie

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, All excellent movies. I even like Three Kings a lot despite it's politics. And who couldn't like Kelly's Heroes?

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Bonnie and Clyde are probably the pure anti-heroes because we're clearly manipulated to sympathize with these sociopathic killers who are about as evil as humans can get.

That whole movie makes my stomach turn -- it's (or the worldview behind it) a cultural cancer in my book.

Floyd R. Turbo said...

Spy/political genre...

Clint Eastwood as the burglar who witnesses the POTUS commit murder in Absolute Power.

Kevin Costner in No Way Out.

Kevin Costner (teamed with Eastwood) in the criminally under known A Perfect World.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, I have the same feeling about Bonnie and Clyde, they've basically spun vicious murders into heroes for no other reason than to make the actors look good.

No Way Out is fantastic!

Floyd R. Turbo said...

The Defiant Ones

Cool Hand Luke

O Brother Where Art Thou?

Are redemption flicks anti-heroes in your opinion... like The Dirty Dozen, American History X

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, That's a good question. I personally wouldn't count them as such because the purpose isn't to see a non-hero become a hero, it's to see a villain become a better human being. But that's a really fine line.

What do you think?

Floyd R. Turbo said...

That's probably right. Andy Dufresne isn't an anti-hero in Shawshank Redepmtion and neither is Edward Norton in American History X since he learns the error of his ways.

The Dirty Dozen has mixed. They all have mixed motives -- most likely avoiding prison/death penalty -- which would keep them as anti-heroes I think.

In No Way Out I'm not sure because we don't really know until the twist at the coda.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, I think Dirty Dozen is mixed. For some it's redemption. Some are genuine heroes who have just been wrongfully accused. And a couple strike me as anti-heroes. I would think Lee Marvin is actually an anti-hero in that one.

No Way Out is all around fascinating. He's a bad guy, but then he exposed guys who are worse than he is and he ends up betraying the bad guys he works for (or at least walking away). It ends up kind of morally confused, which makes it all pretty fascinating.

ScottDS said...

Speaking of Chuck Norris, I wonder if they still make these. :-)

AndrewPrice said...

Scott, That's awesome! LOL!

I'm still wondering how Chuck Norris became an internet meme?

ScottDS said...

I have no idea but this page might help answer the question. But then again, who knows how these things get started?

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Obiwan: you are right. Cage does the right thing within the peramaters of the circumstances he is in, so he's a hero not an anti-hero.

To me, an anti-hero (in the non-literary sense) falls under two types:
1. The reluctant hero who grudgedly becomes a hero.

2. And the villain, or lesser villain that follows his or her own self interest and may actually grow to do a heroic act (usually at the end of the film).
I reckon there would be a third option (okay, I lied):

3. the relatively gooder bad guy compared to everyone else who doesn't necessarily do anything heroic but who, nevertheless take out the worst (than himself) bad guys.

I'll also mention Eastwood again in Gran Torino.
He goes from a genuine hero to a semi anti-hero and then becomes the ultimate hero (giving his life for his friends, the highest love a man or woman can give).

It's obvious this is a struggle for him (as it must be), because his instincts are to wipe out the gang vigilanty style.
But he sees a better way in the end (truly a gut wrenching scene but he accomplishes what he cannot if he were to go full metal jacket on the gang).

Han Solo does qualify as an anti-hero but I wonder if he would've came back if Leia wasn't there? Maybe. Maybe not. Hard to say.
Regardless, he grows into the role of hero at the end and Harrison does a good job pulling it off.

USS Ben USN (Ret) said...

Um...perimeters. Sorry. I keep forgetting to use preview. Then again, I'm the anti-preview guy flyin' by the seat of my pants.
A rebel with a cause (and a clause, if you read between the lines). :^)

Floyd R. Turbo said...

So if we make movies of heroes before they become heroes are they ante-heroes?

Thank you very much. Please tip the waitresses on your way out.

rlaWTX said...

Frank Martin - Transporter movies ;)

XMen's Wolverine

The first IronMan is the story of Stark's transformation from playboy [null on the hero-villain scale] to anti-hero to hero.

I think Bale's pre-Batman BWayne is more "anti-hero" in feel, but the Dark Knight is a hero. His creation of Batman includes some 'impressing the girl' elements, but he moves far past that in his development.

For non-action hero movies - C.K. Dexter Haven: He has a past that he has overcome, and he saves the girl from herself, but that's because he wants her for himself.
Same as Gregory Peck's character in Roman Holiday (does the right thing by the princess in the end despite having tried to use her til that point) OR Rosalind Russell's character in His Girl Friday (Cray Grant's is just a hair off villain!)

rlaWTX said...

Floyd, will you be here all week? ;)

obiwan2009 said...

Andrew, I think the big aspect of Lee Marvin in the Dirty Dozen wasn't so much the fact that he was an anti-hero so much as it was simply neccessary for him to deliver the discipline to these guys who were going to go off on a dangerous, special ops mission, and yes, there's little doubt in my mind that he does hope that at least some of these dozen make it back alive, so he has to be harsh in this aspect. I will agree that you don't always think of a hero as a shouting drill instructor, but Marvin from the get-go was a tough person who wanted success, and who hoped at least some of these people would make it back. But on the side note, I do find it rediculous that political correctness sometimes gets a little overboard in what they regard as excessive discipline.

No Way Out, I do agree, there is that ambiguity there about who's really all that great, or who at least is less evil in their intent and actions.

AndrewPrice said...

Floyd, LOL! Well played! Well played!

AndrewPrice said...

rlaWTX, I'm a big fan of Rosalind Russell. She's one of my favorite actresses!

And I like Statham too. LOL!

AndrewPrice said...

obiwan, I was thinking more of Marvin's relationship with his command, which was deeply insubordinate.

No Way Out is fascinatingly ambiguous. Obviously, a spy is a bad guy, but then he does expose some really bad people. Tough call.

Kit said...

With Catwoman, I think its one of those "depends on who is writing her".

Kit said...

sorry I couldn't get here earlier, hope I didn't miss all the fun.

Anyway, TVTropes has "The Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes" to help.
LINK

Here it is, it might help in defining and placing anti-heroes.

------------

Type I: The original anti-hero, this exists somewhat outside of the scale and thus does not have a set morality, but still tends to be good or neutral, with a few exceptions.

Type II: These are more unambiguously morally good, and some would even laud examples as grumpier versions of Incorruptible Pure Pureness Pillars of Moral Character.

Type III: These are iffier, but no worse than neutral. Some stay in the "good" category throughout. This type is willing to Shoot the Dog or otherwise do what they must do.

Type IV: These are the darkest possible while having fundamentally good intentions, but can also frequently be seen as neutral at best. Pay Evil unto Evil is the defining Trope here.

Type V: These are a Darker and Edgier neutral at best, and recurrently A Lighter Shade of Black aimed against greater evils. See Black and Gray Morality, He Who Fights Monsters.


------------------

tryanmax said...

Kit, With Catwoman, I think its one of those "depends on who is writing her"

Well said.

Kit said...

In the ARKHAM CITY game she is definitely in the anti-hero cast, though she is largely acting out of her own self-interest except when she, SPOILERS!!!!, saves Batman.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, TV Tropes is an interesting site and you can waste a lot of time there. I think they're right that there are different types of anti-heroes.

On Catwoman, I am not an expert, so I will defer to the experts. I just know she's a great character -- especially in the "new" animated series. :)

Kit said...

By "new" do you mean early 90s?

Or something that is on now?


"TV Tropes is an interesting site and you can waste a lot of time there."

You have no idea.

No. Idea.

AndrewPrice said...

Kit, Yeah, the 1990s one. I'm not aware of anything truly new.

I've spent a lot of time at TV Tropes myself. :)

Reidur said...

Wow, where to start?

Gru from "Despicable Me", Megamind, Mel Gibson's Porter from "Payback", plus his new character from "Get the Gringo." Ash.

The Punisher (guilty pleasure as the movies ain't all that). I wish they'd do the Punisher using a Garth Ennis storyline.

But the ultimate anti-hero: Tuco! Blondie is a soft anti-hero, Tuco is hard core. Loved him in the movie but would hate to meet him for real...

AndrewPrice said...

Reidur, Welcome. Excellent choices. I haven't seen Get the Gringo yet, but I am definitely curious.

Ash is awesome! I love how he never learns from his mistakes.

Kit said...

What about video games' John Marston from RED DEAD REDEMPTION.

He is definitely an anti-hero figure in Mexico.

In the US . . . it depends on how you play him.

Kit said...

Batman is Type I to Type 3, depending on the writer. (DARK KNIGHT is Type 2).

The Corleones might be Type 5. (Only seen the first movie)

Malcolm Reynolds is usually Type 1 or Type 3 but in the movie becomes a Type 2, possibly a hero. (I aim to misbehave)

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