What is an anti-hero? Is it someone who teeters back and forth between hero and villain? Do they just straddle the gray area? Or are they a good guy, who’s just a bad-ass? Well, Marvel has plenty of all of the above.
We decided to give what we thought were the top 10:
9. Ghost Rider
In a previous article, I spoke of Wolfsbane, whose foster father believed she was taken over by a demonic entity. Johnny Blaze really was possessed by a demon. But he uses those powers to battle other demons and protect the innocent.
8. Black Widow
To trust, or not to trust. And what exactly happened in Budapest? Black Widow is known for being the double-agent. But who’s she playing, and who’s she working for? Most generally, she teeters between Hydra and SHIELD. But she’s also found herself working for the mother country, which is what led her to bed with the next anti-hero on this list.
7. Winter Soldier
For years, Marvel did a pretty good job at keeping three particular characters dead: Bucky Barnes, Gwen Stacey, and Uncle Ben. Recently, Gwen had been resurrected, or rather thrived in an alternate universe, as Spider-Gwen. And even more recently, she’s become Gwenpool. Uncle Ben has stayed dead. For, if he was resurrected, Spidey’s whole existence would be negated.
Though, after Cap and Bucky fell to their presumed deaths, we know what happened with Cap, but the Russians were the ones who found Bucky. Known to legends as a ghost, Bucky was only thawed out for special missions over the decades. Eventually, he shook the brainwash, and used his Winter Soldier persona for good. He even took over the mantle of Captain America for a while.
Interviews with the actors prove unlikely that he’ll do so in the movies. But we will see him fight alongside Cap in Captain America: Civil War.
I know what you’re going to say: Magneto’s a villain. But how many times has he teamed up with Prof against greater villains, such as Sauron? As a protector for mutants, he created an island as a safe haven for his kind. And in the “Age of Apocalypse” time line, he led the X-Men, in honor of his fallen friend.
Created in 1939, when Marvel was called Timely, Prince Namor fought alongside Captain America, Bucky, the original Human Torch, and his sidekick, Toro.
Then, in Fantastic Four #4, Johnny Storm found a homeless man who happened to be the Sub-Mariner of legend. Evidently the prince of Atlantis had been missing from his homeland about as long as he was from comics. Finding his home in ruins, he pitted war against all landlubbers, and teamed up with Doctor Doom in the very next issue. Sub-Mariner is one of those who straddle the line between hero and villain.
Either he’s fighting the Fantastic Four, or alongside the Avengers or X-Men.
I’m not talking about when Flash Thompson joined the military program, where they attached the symbiote suit and called him Agent Venom. I’m talking about when Spider-Man couldn’t shake the mind-sharing alien goo, so he went to a bell tower, and spilled it on Eddie Brock.
When he’s not fighting Spider-Man or Carnage, he’s protecting the homeless. Known for his other anti-hero, Spawn, Todd McFarlane created this tongue-wagging baddie, who’s been able to hold his own series almost as long as his Image Comics counter-part. Its a shame we keep getting so close to seeing his own movie.
3. The Punisher
Frank Castle was once a lawman. But when his family was murdered by the mafia, he said, screw the law. Revenge and justice go hand-in-hand, as he serves what’s necessary to those who wronged him. In the Civil War comic, Captain America refused to let a murderer on his team. But who wouldn’t want him on their team?
By next year, his story will have been told four times on screen. Folks can’t get enough of the leather jacket, skull shirt wearing, human machine gun. He’s even found himself alongside hip-hop’s anti-hero: Eminem.
He’s a merc, and he has a mouth. Those are really the only two things you need to know about this guy. He doesn’t care who pays, as long as they pay. But after five minutes with him, you won’t care who paid him either.
He may annoy the crap out of anyone within bullet-range inside the pages, but on the other side of the fourth wall, he the bee’s knees; the perfect mix of grit and camp. Who better than Ryan Reynolds to play him? No one- that’s who (except maybe Will Friedle). The Wade Wilson in his upcoming movie may be a different version of the character we saw in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but why change the actor?
“I’m the best at what I do. And what I do is not very nice.” Wolverine is genuinely a good guy. But did you know that, in Ultimate X-Men, the kick-off to the modernized retelling of the Marvel universe, he started off as a bad guy? Magneto recruited him as part of the Brotherhood.
But even as a good guy, he’s not always good. Like Punisher, he does whatever is necessary to get the job done, constantly chastised by Cyclops or the professor.
My introduction to Morbius, “the living vampire,” was from the Spider-Man cartoon of the Nineties. He was a classmate of Peter’s, who turned himself into a vampire through a lab accident. He became a villain of Spidey’s, and also found himself in the cross-hairs of the Punisher. Later, he teamed up with Blade, as they went to fight the undead abroad.
Like Magneto, Dr. Doom is better known as a villain. But like Magneto, he is also misunderstood, and fights passionately for what he believes in. There have been occasions where Doom has fought on the side of good. And in 2099, where he still thrives, though with minor memory loss, he’s the protagonist of his own series.
In his more primitive forms, the Incredible Hulk smashed whoever made him angry. He didn’t care, much less knew, who was on what side. In Avengers#3, Hulk turned on his teammates, and joined Sub-Mariner. He’s also been known to clash with Wolverine; ’twas the pages of Incredible Hulk that the Canadian agent was introduced to take out the jade giant.
Moon Knight – just because.
What did you think of the list? Agree or disagree? Be sure to sound off in the comment section below!