Hero vs. Anti-Hero

Batman and Superman are very different characters but they’re both iconic and elemental. Finding the right story for them both is the key.

Christopher Nolan
So a few weeks ago we talked a little about villains. Now let’s talk about heroes.
What is a hero?
• the chief male character in a book, play, or movie, who is typically identified with good qualities, and with whom the reader is expected to sympathize.
• (in mythology and folklore) a person of superhuman qualities and often semidivine origin, in particular one of those whose exploits and dealings with the gods were the subject of ancient Greek myths and legends.
(Taken from Apple’s dictionary)
And antihero?
a central character in a story, movie, or drama who lacks conventional heroic attributes. (Taken from Apple’s dictionary)
So which one is going to be in your story?
I love the Superman/Batman dynamic. Batman is shady, and often does things that Superman finds detestable. Like having contingency plans for all of his Justice League teammates. He wears black and grey.
Superman on the other hand is labeled a ‘boy scout’. He always does the ‘right thing’ and stands for being righteous. He wears bright colors.
So which one is your hero?
Obviously Superman sometimes does shady things, and Batman can find himself operating in the daytime. Our heroes will cross stereotypical boundaries as well. But I think what I’m really asking is ‘what does your story require’?
If your story is about a post apocalyptic world where people kill each other all the time, I’m thinking antihero.
If your story is about a cybernetic future where everything is run by an evil public figure, I’m thinking hero.
Of course it could go either way.
But what is your story calling for?
1. Know your story
I recently finished writing a novel, and my protagonist is very much a hero. He’s a boy scout, he always does what’s right, he calculates every move to be a good one. I felt my story called for that. He’s up against an evil dictator who wants to take over the world. What does your story need? Does it need a good guy who will fight to the end and be true blue? Or does it need someone who’s not afraid to get rid of the enemy for the greater good? If you know your story well enough, you will know who your protagonist needs to be.
2. Supporting cast
Supporting cast is vital to who your protagonist is. If he’s an antihero, he needs the constant voice of reason from someone who would never do what he does. On the other hand, a hero often needs the situation put into perspective to do something he wouldn’t normally do. Back to my novel, I know you’re sick of hearing about it already, my hero has a brother who is a little more maverick than he is. This leads to confrontations about certain situations and helps to drive the story along. But without that conflict, my hero would just be another cookie cutter hero saying, “Just doing my job citizen.”
3. Villain
How bad is your bad guy? Is he maliciously evil? Somewhat evil? Maybe he really isn’t that evil? Figuring out who your villain is will certainly inform who your hero needs to be. It could even lead to a twist ending, like a hero turning into an antihero…
Just some food for thought. These are things I think about. I hope they help you in your writing.


3 thoughts on “Hero vs. Anti-Hero

  1. Pingback: Comic Relief « Silly Robots

  2. Pingback: A Silly Robot’s Guide to Writing Sci-Fi: Part 2 – Planning

  3. Pingback: A Silly Robot’s Guide to Writing Sci Fi: Part 2 – Planning | Silly Robots

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