The Difference Between an Anti-Hero and an Anti-Villain

There are actually those that don’t like dividing heroes and villains into anti-heroes and anti-villains since to be fair it can get a little confusing and it might cross the line a time or two with some characters. But the very real difference is that an anti-hero is still someone that qualifies as a hero, while anti-villains are those that qualify as villains. That’s it, from a simplified point of view. But digging into it a little more, an anti-hero is someone that will take those extra steps when it comes to fighting the bad guy, meaning that they’ll gladly kill the villain if they get the chance since their sense of morality doesn’t reach its limit when the blade or the bullet is poised to strike. Take Deadpool, the Punisher, or the Red Hood. They’ll resort to killing when they have to but aren’t necessarily going to kill everyone in sight just for the fun of it. There’s a purpose to their kills since they’re typically the type who will fight criminals and super-villains, meaning they fight those that have no compunction about harming or killing others. But as it’s been seen in the comics, these types of characters will pause when it comes to fighting other heroes that are trying to get them to stop and back off, meaning they won’t kill just anyone. The best explanation is that an anti-hero will do what is necessary to eliminate a serious threat. Wolverine has been called an anti-hero in the past, as he’s gone so far as to eliminate various characters as well. A lot of heroes have entered the anti-hero level only to slide back into their comfort zone soon after.

An anti-villain is still going to be a villain at the end of the day, but they’re the type that are typically ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ people since they’ll help for selfish reasons that don’t necessarily align with the goals of the heroes. An anti-villain won’t usually hesitate to help out a hero if they want or need something, but the moment they reach their own goal the alliance is going to disintegrate and they’ll go back to being the villain again. This type of character is usually someone that won’t be so chaotic since they’ll be able to figure out some way to turn the alliance to their advantage, and will play nice with the heroes until that time comes. A lot of times most heroes won’t trust an anti-villain but might find it necessary to work together since a greater enemy is threatening them both. Even Thanos has been seen as an anti-villain a couple of times since he needed help with an enemy that he couldn’t vanquish. As one of the biggest villains in the Marvel universe though he’s not the typical case, where someone like Loki in the MCU has been a good example of an anti-villain since he’s gone back and forth with his brother Thor and yet has always had his own goals and schemes in mind. The Punisher and those like him are perhaps the best examples of anti-heroes since they seek justice and are almost always going to go further than heroes such as Spider-Man or many others who will stop short of killing anyone.

The morality issue in the comics is something that people have been discussing for a while since there are those that believe that the translation from the comics to real-life can be an issue. This could be why a lot of heroes are seen to beat up the bad guys but not kill them, but it wouldn’t explain why others that do go that extra step are allowed to exist. There are also characters such as Galactus, who has consumed entire worlds and destroyed entire civilizations. Of course, when the damage is created on such a scale by a character known to be a villain, a lot of people let this go since they believe that this is the villain’s purpose. When it comes to heroes that take things too far, as some might say, it becomes a bigger issue since the term hero tends to be used in various ways that can describe someone of outstanding moral character or someone that has vanquished many enemies in one way or another. An anti-villain is harder to deal with since many people might find it hard to think that anyone of upstanding moral fiber would work with someone that has a record of wrongdoing. The act is usually one that a lot of heroes have a serious reservation with, but when a bigger threat is imminent and it means to wipe out everyone the likelihood of survival if they work together becomes something that leaves a bad taste in their mouths but at the same is absolutely necessary.

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