These Ain’t Your Auntie’s Heroes
Alfred: “Vengeance blackens the soul, Bruce. I’ve always feared that you would become that which you fought against. You walk the edge of that abyss every night, but you haven’t fallen in, and I thank heaven for that.” – Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Superhero stories used to be simple. A dastardly supervillain would commit crimes. A daring do-gooder would stop the crooks and send them to jail. Rinse and repeat. But the stories have grown darker as time passed and new heroes have risen. These heroes have no qualms breaking bones, cracking skulls, or even killing the scum of the Earth.
These are not superheroes. They take the law into their own hands to dish out their truth, their justice, and enforce their way. They are antiheroes.
And these are the five ant-heroes who matter the most.
Played by Brad Garrett and John DiMaggio
Lobo: [angry about Superman kicking him out of the Justice League] “Next time you lollipops need help, don’t bother asking the Main Man!” (flies away)
Martian Manhunter: “… We didn’t ask you this time!” – Justice League, “Hereafter” (Season 2, Episode 10)
The planet Czarnia was a peaceful world dedicated to science and enlightenment. Then Lobo was born and f-ed everything up. He was a hard drinking brawler, a space biker, and altogether a dumpster fire of a person. Lobo destroyed Czarnia as a science experiment, becoming the Last Czarnian.
Lobo became an intergalactic bounty hunter, whose jobs ranged from beating up homeless people to hunting gods. He’s been known to work with Earth’s superheroes if the price is right, but is so annoying that they only hire him as a last resort. Lobo works pro bono if he finds people that have crossed him and always make time to kill Space Dolphin poachers. People who poach Space Dolphins, not Space Dolphins that poach things.
Lobo has Superman-level strength, a powerful healing factor, and a genius intellect. He caused enough havoc that Heaven and Hell made him immortal when he died so that they never had to deal with him again.
Fun Fact: Lobo is Stan Lee’s favorite DC character.
#4. The Punisher
Played by Dolph Lundgren, Thomas Jane, and Ray Stevinson
[Daredevil is interrogating the survivor of a massacred gang]
Daredevil: “Tell me! Tell me who they are!“
Cartel Survivor: “No “they.” Him. It’s one man.” – Daredevil, “Bang” (Season 2, Episode 1)
The Punisher is Marvel’s archetypal antihero.
Frank Castle was a heavily decorated soldier who returned from war a broken man. He brought his family to a picnic, unaware that a gang war was starting nearby. Frank’s family was killed in the crossfire and he snapped. He used his training to wage war on criminals, eventually being nicknamed “The Punisher”.
Check out our exclusive Punisher backstory to learn more about this divisive character.
#3. Red Hood
Played by Jensen Ackles and Yuri Lowenthal
Red Hood: “Is that what you think this is about? You letting me die? I don’t know what clouds your judgement worse, your guilt or your antiquated sense of morality. Bruce, I forgive you for not saving me. But why… why on God’s Earth… [smashes closet door open to reveal the Joker, bloodied and tied to a chair] …is he still alive?!” – Batman: Under the Red Hood
Before he became the Red Hood, Jason Todd was the second Robin. Jason met Batman when Batman caught him stealing the Batmobile’s tires. Because nothing says trustworthy sidekick like trying to steal a superhero’s tires, Batman offered to make Jason his sidekick.
Jason was a much more violent Robin, rarely hesitating to break bones. This clashed with Batman’s morals and eventually caused a rift between them. The rift grew worse when Joker kidnapped Robin, tortured him, and trapped him in an explosives-filled room. Bats arrived just as the bombs detonated and killed Jason.
Writers retconned the story decades later so that Joker had been working for an immortal villain named Ra’s al Ghul. Ra’s was horrified at Robin’s unnecessary death and stole the body. He resurrected Jason using the mystical Lazarus Pit. A vengeful Jason took the name Red Hood because it was one of Joker’s old aliases and returned to Gotham to kill him. Good guy gone bad.
Played by Ryan Reynolds and Will Friedle
Ryan Reynolds: [holding the Green Lantern script] “Welcome to the big leagues, kid.”
[Future Deadpool shoots him in the head.]
Deadpool: “You’re welcome, Canada.” – Deadpool 2
Wade Wilson was a fun-loving mercenary who learned he had cancer. He joined a secret project that promised a cure and was injected with Wolverine’s healing factor. Instead of curing Wade, the serum only healed the damage as fast as the cancer killed him. He went nuts and turned into the fourth-wall shattering antihero, Deadpool.
There’s way more to this regenerating degenerates story, so check out our Deadpool Backstory.
Played by Ian Mckellen and Michael Fassbender
[Magneto stops Navy missiles from hitting The X-Men and redirects them at the naval ships]
Charles Xavier: “Erik, you said yourself, we’re the better men. This is the time to prove it. There are thousands of men on those ships – good, honest, innocent men! They’re just following orders… [realizes what he just said]”
Erik Lehnsherr: “I’ve been at the mercy of men “just following orders”. Never again.” [he sends the missiles shooting off towards the naval ships]. – X-Men: First Class
Magneto is the comic’s greatest Anti-Hero.
Erik Leshner was a child who was sent to Auschwitz during the Holocaust. The trauma activated his magnetic mutation, which he used to escape the concentration camp. He investigated the mutant phenomenon and found others like himself. He realized that if humans could not accept each other because of race or creed, they would never accept mutants. He took the name Magneto and began preparing for an inevitable war between humans and mutants.
While training, he met a powerful psychic named Charles Xavier. They debated the problem of humans and mutants, with Charles opting for peaceful coexistence. When Magento revealed himself to the world, Charles assembled a team of heroic mutants called The X-Men. They clashed countless times, and eventually Magneto agreed to work with them. He joined the team and abandoned his Nazi-esque plans. Despite joining a heroic team, Magneto is not tame. Anyone who harms a mutant is likely to die at Magneto’s hands.
If you want to know more about the antihero Magneto, check out our backstory. And let us know who you like best. Should someone else be on our list? Leave a comment.
Jared Bounacos has written for Movie Rewind since 2017.