Hello interweb, Nate here. So this question has been bugging me for quite some time now: what is an antihero? Now based upon my understanding of the term, an antihero is a character who does villainous things for good intentions. The best example is the Punisher who’s main shtick is to go around and kill bad guys. Killing is obviously a villainous trait and most heroes (such as Spider-man, Batman, and Superman [well, when he’s not being directed by Zack Snyder]) refuse to do it, but since he’s doing it to protect the innocent from murderers and thieves he’s not considered a villain; thus he’s an antihero. Many character easily fit this description such as Deadpool, Deathstroke (yes he’s usually shown as a villain but because he’s a mercenary he’s willing to help the good guys if they pay him enough. Which is rare but it has happened before.), Spawn, Catwoman, etc. but there are a few characters that people have described as an antihero that has confused me in the past and that’s what I’m mostly curious about here.
Some characters that I’ve heard people describe as antiheroes includes Wolverine, Batman, Magneto, Hulk, and Sinestro. These aren’t the only characters, but they’re the ones who caught my attention the most. I mean, Wolverine, Batman, and Hulk are all superheroes, right? And Magneto and Sinestro are both villains, right? Is it possible to be both a hero and an antihero? Or a villain and antihero? How can that really be if an antihero is already kind of a cross between a hero and a villain? What is it about these characters that blur the lines between good and evil?
Let start with the heroes. Like I said, Wolverine, Batman, and Hulk are not the only superheroes that’ve been described by others as “antiheroes” but they’re the ones that caught my attention the most. Wolverine I can kinda see as he kills people on a regular bases (them claws ain’t for show, bub), Batman I honestly have no idea, and Hulk I can see but it’s also kinda a stretch. I mean, Hulk may be a hero but he has been known to attack innocents and even other heroes on occasion such as World War Hulk (another Marvel event where the heroes fight each other rather than the bad guys), but these are when he’s enraged to the point that he has lost all self control so does that even count?
Magneto and Sinestro are the two villains that stood out the most as being antiheroes which I kinda got curious on. Magneto is considered an antihero because he wish to kill all of man kind but it’s so mutant kind can thrive. The thing is while he wishes to save mutant kind, does this really count? There are several villains who has similar goals that I haven’t seen people call an antihero. Like Poison Ivy who has wanted to kill people in the past in the name of plants, or General Zod in Man of Steel as he wanted to replace all of man kind with Kryptonians (there’s probably more characters with similar goals but I can’t think of any off the top of my head). Sinestro being an antihero is because while he may be an enemy of the Green Lantern Corpse, his main motivation is him wanting justice but taking more extreme measures to reach it. In fact that’s why he left the Green Lantern Corpse to form the Sinestro Corpse in the first place!
My biggest confusions with all of these are if these characters are antiheroes, then why do most people still refer to them as villains or heroes? And if we say characters like Magneto and Wolverine ate antiheroes, than why do we see one as the bad guy and the other as a hero? And why is it that several characters fit this mold and I have never heard anyone refer to them as such. Wonder Woman is willing to kill but she’s still a “superhero”, Doctor Doom may want to rule the world but it is for heroic reasons, and most superheroes constantly break the law anyways (vigilantism, child endangerment [sidekicks], breaking and entering, etc.) so is there really any character that is still a “superhero”? Let me know what you guys think in the comments below, I’m curious on your answers!