Source: Omarneyramar from Pixabay

Ever since I took my mom to the theatres to watch Avengers: Infinity War, she has been a part of the MCU journey with me. Recently, Marvel fused the MCU with the Netflix Marvel series by introducing Matt Murdock (Daredevil) in Spiderman: No Way Home and Wilson Fisk(Kingpin) in the Hawkeye series. As much hyped as I was watching Charlie Cox and Vincent D’Onofrio return, I wanted to share that same excitement with my mom. I knew she would love the series, so I showed her the first episode, and she was in! We binge-watched all three seasons within a week (skipping some parts when necessary, you know what I mean), and she loved it! However, I had a revelation. She liked Wilson Fisk more than Matt Murdock! Not to mention, she was mildly infuriated by Daredevil’s decision to not kill. Yeah, she was definitely Team Punisher in season 2.

Her reaction was not uncommon. The world is getting more acquainted with the trend of anti-heroes on big screens. When Andrew Garfield’s Spiderman admitted that he stopped pulling his punches after Gwen’s death, people went gaga over the concept of a dark spiderman. Petitions have been launched to produce The Amazing Spiderman 3, giving Andrew Garfield the trilogy he deserves. Another recent example would be Matt Reeve’s The Batman. We’ve had Batman movies for so long, but the level of anticipation for this movie is much more. One of the reasons is the darker tone, mainly because it is set during the early days of Bruce Wayne being the masked vigilante. The period of his life when he stood for vengeance, not justice.

So, who is an Anti-hero, and why is an Anti-hero so likable?

Charlie Cox as Daredevil

Source: Flickr

A hero is someone willing to do good for the people, with a moral code that guides his/her/their actions. An anti-hero, on the other hand, believes that the ‘end justifies the means.’ An anti-hero is not restrained by his moral principles and is more willing to bend the rules.

From a cinematic perspective, movies with anti-heroes as protagonists provide catharsis with gory action scenes. Humans are inherently violent creatures. Being violent was how we survived and are now at the top of the food chain. As we evolved, we have grown to be conscious of our emotions and be responsible and compassionate towards others. However, life gets frustrating. Sometimes it’s the neighbor’s tantrums, boss’s rants, or our own family problems. The hero bashing the skull of his nemesis against thick shards of broken glass gives us the dopamine kick we need, which may not be the case when the antagonist is handed over to the police.

The Punisher(Comics)

Source: Flickr

A hero is a noble person who adheres to his ideals for the greater good. The audience may love the idea of a savior as we do for thousands of years, but it is hard to relate to someone of that stature. The do-gooder attitude of heroes is not feasible in a real-life scenario. The anti-hero is more human and has a clear motivation for his actions. This makes them more relatable and invokes empathy for the character. Yes, they commit crimes punishable by law, but they are justified from the viewer’s perspective.

Dali Masks from Money Heist

Source: AKCreatif from Pixabay

One of the best examples of this phenomenon is Money Heist, a Spanish series on Netflix that took over the entire world. It is a story of thieves in Dali masks, led by a criminal mastermind – The Professor. Their actions are justified when the viewers see corrupt officials desperate to win by any means without upholding the law they swore to protect. They become the underdog of the story, which makes the people cheer for them. Suddenly, the heist has been transformed into a revolution against the corrupt government! This is proof of the impeccable writing and execution of the characters. It usually requires a more nuanced approach, with greater depth to make the story more believable.

Aaron Paul as Jessie Pinkman(Left) and Bryan Cranston as Walter White(Right)


Vince Gilligan’s Breaking Bad is another portrayal of the rise of an underdog. A high school chemistry teacher, who has no financial security for his wife and handicapped son, is diagnosed with Cancer! The story is about how a man with two years to live goes through moral degradation, and at the same time, becomes one of the world’s biggest drug kingpins. Released in 2008, it has been over a decade, and this show is still considered to be one of the best shows ever.

Cillian Murphy as Thomas Shelby

Source: Alex Nicolae from Pixabay

I used to think Breaking Bad was the best series made, then I watched the Peaky Blinders. Can it get any better? I don’t know. But this series is a must-watch for every Anti-hero lover. Thomas Shelby and his family run a gang known as the Peaky Blinders. Discriminated due to their gypsy background, they claw their way out of the streets of Birmingham through various endeavors and strategies. The entire series is about their ascent to becoming one of the most powerful families in the UK. This show reeks so much testosterone that your cat will disown you, “By order of the Peaky Blinders.

Tom Hiddleston as Loki

Source: Commons Wikimedia

Anti-heroes are so popular that production houses are turning comic-book villains into anti-heroes too. Marvel has turned Loki, a villain in 2012 The Avengers: Assemble movie, into an Anti-hero after the Loki series in 2021. A considerable amount of Marvel fans rooted for Thanos, a genocidal maniac. Some still think he is right because his intentions were noble, and they worked, even though his deeds were wrong, if not downright evil. That makes him more of an anti-hero instead of a classic villain. Venom, Ghost Rider, Morbius, and Moon Knight, are all anti-heroes coming soon to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe(MCU).

Joaquin Phoenix as The Joker

Source: Máté Fischer from Pixabay

DC’s Joker in The Dark Knight was so great that they made another movie in 2019 with Todd Phillips as the director and Joaquin Phoenix as the lead actor. Being the origin story of Joker, the movie is deep and twisted, with real messages about mental health issues. Joaquin plays the role so brilliantly, you cannot help but wonder if you should hold him accountable for his misdeeds in the latter half of the movie.

DC released a sequel to Suicide Squad, even after facing criticism for some aspects of the movie. Now, they will release a series in 2022, Peacemaker, converting a character more villainous than Starro into an Anti-hero!

Anti-heroes are going to rule the big screens now, and the credit goes to the writers, the directors, the producers, the actors, and everyone else who comes together to create such beautiful masterpieces. Just admit it, Anti-heroes are way cooler than typical heroes. If you don’t believe me, ask Ryan Reynolds, I mean, Deadpool.

Thank you for reading!