In celebration of Daniel Radcliffe’s recent devilish turn in Alexandre Aja’s Horns, Keanu Reeves’ taciturn assassin in John Wick, and a whole host of other recent cinematic rogues, we look at 10 other on-screen anti-heroes.
10) Severus Snape (Harry Potter series)
Snape is the anti-hero of the Harry Potter series. Alan Rickman portrays the scornful teacher perfectly, later revealing a greatly pained individual behind the face of a villain. Toward the end of the saga, Snape reveals the lengths he has gone to protect Harry from Voldemort. We love Snape for his curt attitude and disdain toward Harry, which is maintained despite his good intentions. Without Snape, young Mr. Potter would surely be putty in hands of Lord Voldemort.
9) Sherlock Holmes (Sherlock Holmes)
Robert Downey Jr. plays a Sherlock Holmes without charade. From when we first see him, his nonchalant, almost blasé outlook on life (along with his bad drinking habits) make him reckless and contemptible, were it not for his high levels of intelligence and razor sharp wit. A long surviving antihero, Sherlock Holmes is a character we love to see get in all sorts of trouble.
8) Patrick Bateman (American Psycho)
Taking into account that Patrick Bateman is a high-earning, clearly successful businessman, he still has time to revel in his much-loved hobby of hacking people to bits. We see a overworked, over-stimulated yuppie (played compelling by Christian Bale) who has a lot of frustration, and taking an axe to a man’s head is how he feels at ease. Although usually considered acts of violence, Bateman’s sheer enjoyment (and ultimately hysteria) during his attacks make him an unexpected, underrated anti-hero.
7) Tyler Durden (Fight Club)
Durden is the notorious anarchist of David Fincher’s Fight Club. Brad Pitt refines the character into a shady, but charming and brutally honest antihero. Whilst boasting “I am free in all the ways that you are not” –Tyler remains utterly loathsome whilst being the single most enviable individual in our narrator Jack’s life. Jack loves to hate Tyler, and this rubs off on the audience. After a long and fraught battle with Tyler, Jack realises his inner demons and frees himself of the leeching grasp of Durden. Despite being shot and killed, Tyler Durden’s words, and to an extent his wisdom, remain a memorable and significant part of Fincher’s brilliant satire.
6) John McClane (Die Hard)
McClane is the protagonist of the Die Hard film series, portrayed by Bruce Willis. McClane starts out as an unhappy detective lieutenant who has come to visit his wife for Christmas. However we soon see his bad-ass side as he fights to save a group of hostages. Not shy of using his bullets or disposing of pretty much the whole group of terrorists, McClane is one trigger happy son-of-a-gun that we love to see beat the bad guys. Yippee-ki-yay, motherf***er, indeed.
5) Captain Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean series)
Liar, lover, drunk; we love Captain Jack Sparrow for all his misdoings. Pirates of the Caribbean just wouldn’t be the same without Jack – in fact, he becomes the main character as he manages to simultaneously correct and upset the balance of the pirate world throughout the series. Whether he’s doing good or bad, Johnny Depp’s performance as Captain Jack always adds an endearing drunken stagger. We know he’s a cheat, liar and a crook, but Jack’s wit and charm make him the gem of the whole Pirates of the Caribbean franchise – no matter how long they insist on dragging it out.
4) Bruce Wayne (The Dark Knight trilogy)
Batman is the darkest of superheroes. Riddled with regret, isolation and intense loneliness, the man behind the mask is a troubled one. Bruce Wayne makes ‘tortured soul’ look cool, transforming into Batman when he’s had enough of being himself. Batman is an anti-hero who enjoys the violence in fighting for justice, sometimes perhaps a little too much. We loved Bale in the role – as did everyone – but can’t wait to see what Ben Affleck will do from beneath that iconic cowl.
3) Hannibal Lecter (Silence of the Lambs)
Hannibal is smart and well-spoken; he provokes and lures his victims with charismatic quips. But this villain quickly becomes the anti-hero once we recognise his genius; escaping confinement by chewing off and wearing the face of a guard. Anthony Hopkins may be the definitive film incarnation, but Mad Mikkelsen is giving him a run for his money on the small screen. Cannibal cook-off, anyone?
2) Jordan Belfort (The Wolf of Wall Street)
An American motivational speaker and former stockbroker, the real Jordan Belfort was convicted of fraud crimes related to stock market scams and spent 22 months in prison. He talks about his life in his memoir, The Wolf of Wall Street. The film adaptation of this was released in 2013, starring Leonardo DiCaprio as the infamous Belfort. From raucous office parties to intense drug sessions, the fact that the outrageous narrative is based on a true story makes the events of the movie even sweeter to witness. Although it seems Jordan is getting away with every one of his crimes, we can’t help but egg him on – just as Jordan himself can’t get enough of the good life, the audience want more and more of the ensuing drama and hilarity.
1) V (V For Vendetta)
V is the ultimate anti-hero and title character of the film, V for Vendetta. Based on a comic book character, V was created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. A prominent anarchist and vigilante, he is recognisable by his iconic outfit- Guy Fawkes mask, long hair and dark clothing. His morals are ambiguous, so we are never sure whether he’s fighting for a cause or is simply insane, as does tend to go to the extreme to prove a point. Whether posing as a freedom fighter or not, V gets the crowd going and becomes an icon for the people, causing civil uproar whilst remaining elegantly mysterious and a true gentleman. Hugo Weaving vanishes beneath the mask and the film benefits immeasurably from his commanding presence.