Based on the sheer volume of Deadpools every year, it can be assumed that Dragon Con attendees love their antiheroes. But what makes an effective antihero? Authors David B. Coe, R.E. Carr, A.J. Hartley, Michael Williams, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro discussed the key characteristics with moderator John Hartness Saturday at 2PM on the Fan Tracks channel.
One resounding trait is moral ambiguity. To Coe, Faith and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer personify the antihero. They start off as villains, but as their characters are revealed more, the audience sees that they both have a need to do the right thing. The reader is never quite sure if the antihero will make the moral and proper decisions throughout the story.
Yarbro agreed that moral ambiguity is extremely important. To many, Captain Ahab is a hero, but she sees him more as a crazy man.
Humor, intelligence, and self-awareness are another three important attributes, according to Hartley. That combination, especially when the humor is self-deprecating, is the root of antihero sexiness.
Characters with emotional detachment, or who lie to themselves and think they are emotionally detached, are a hallmark of antiheroes, according to Williams. Often, the antihero has a bug out bag and an emergency escape plan for when everything goes wrong. While the antihero is often wondering why the heck they haven’t killed everyone and left, he or she ultimately does what’s right in the end.
Carr added that antiheroes are often looking for love in all the wrong places and that leaves its mark.
With many more character favorites like Captain Malcolm Reynolds, Professor Snape, Magneto, and Han Solo, it’s unlikely that antiheroes are going away anytime soon.