I think it’s fair to say that anti-heroes are well entrenched in cinema’s history. Taken, Dirty Harry, Mad Max, Taxi Driver, and more seem to always be brought up in discussions among cinephiles and general moviegoers alike. These classic movies all have iconic main characters who aren’t afraid to get their hands dirty, or in this case bloody, to fight for what they believe in.
So, what makes a character an anti-hero then? Well, according to the ever-trusty internet cheat sheet Wikipedia, an anti-hero is a main character who lacks conventional heroic qualities and attributes – such as idealism, courage and morality.
Because I’ve been binging a bunch of movies full of anti-heroes for main characters and have been thinking of doing something like this for a while, we’re going to do a good old face-off with some iconic anti-heroes from cinema history (although none from Face Off because otherwise I would be filling it with gifs of Nicholas Cage as a reflex-
Damn it, it’s started already! Better keep going with the article before it gets any worse.
Ground rules for this are deceptively simple. You’re being hunted for some unknown crime by the law agents of… let’s say Iceland because maybe you preferred Alanis Morissette over Björk. You’ve managed to “magically acquire” a special device that gives you the ability to select any anti-hero from cinematic history to act as your bodyguard.
Their ability to bodyguard is what we’re judging here not the character’s clout in cinematic history. Although this shouldn’t go without saying, this is just my personal opinion internet and not everyone’s going to like it.
Let’s get this party started and get a real common candidate out of the way early.
Deadpool – Deadpool franchise
Deadpool of Deadpool 1 & 2 fame and X-Men Origins: Wolverine derision and scorn would probably be one of the first characters that spring to mind.
He’s got all these cool weapons and can heal from pretty much anything so the police’s small arms wouldn’t bother him, he’s a perfect choice, right?
Well, he may be able to handle the occasional lead-based colonoscopy but you on the other hand won’t or at least you’ll never be the same after. The Deadpool we see in the movies seems to have a habit of stumbling ass backwards into success (maybe he’s got a shamrock up his ass or maybe it’s just the power of Ryan Reynolds).
I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have someone watching my back who has some skills that aren’t just wisecracking first, shooting second and failing upwards essentially. It makes me feel like he’d have at least five different jokes for how my grey matter looks plastering someone’s wall as he admired the shooter’s handiwork. For me to pick someone as a bodyguard they’d have to have a particular set of skills…
Brian Mills – Taken franchise
Yes, Brian Mills from the Taken franchise has a very particular set of skills and by God, he sure knows how to use them. Now, this is someone who won’t bother with jokes, or anything not delivered in a tone of voice that sounds like a blender and a handful of gravel making love.
There’s not an ounce of humour to him just stoic determination and ruthlessness.
No, he’d just get down to the business of using his particular set of ex-CIA skills to outsmart his opponents, eliminate any obstacles in his way and make sure his client kept breathing.
The thing is, despite him being a retired CIA agent and being intimidating as all hell, I don’t think I’ve seen him ever protect someone from being kidnapped and held hostage on the big screen. He’s always rescuing people not protecting them.
We’ve never seen him taking care of someone on the run, just the aftermath after the bad guys that made the fatal mistake of not listening to Liam Neeson when he gave them a chance to walk away. If he had a partner at any of these movies, then maybe we’d be able to tell how good he is watching someone else’s back. Someone like…
Detective Harry Callaghan – Dirty Harry series
Detective Harry Callaghan. He’s a typical 1970s cop, thinks like a cop and has the tendency to bend the rules and regulations to fit his personal views. All of these make him a perfect person to have watching your back.
He’d be running circles around the cops and their adherence to the law and all this red tape about limiting collateral damage and not straight up icing people instead of arresting them.
Just me, Harry and his friends Smith and Wesson, just like in the movies with him and his partners… Oh yeah, there’s the sticking point.
You see, Harry doesn’t have the best track record with partners. Let’s see there was Earlington Smith in 1973, Kate Moore and Frank DiGiorgio in 1976 but Chico Gonzales in 1971 ended up being a teacher after he… after he was shot in the chest while working a case with Harry.
I don’t like jail, but you know what I like even less? Being dead. I don’t want to be added to Harry’s extensive list of bodies so I guess he’s out.
Maybe we’re going about this the wrong way. Maybe we need to think outside the box and throw caution to the wind. Maybe we just go with a true mad man that’s survived in a place of pure anarchy. Doing some digging, I think I’ve got just the man for the job.
Mad Max – Mad Max Series
Max Rockatansky. Mad Max. The Road Warrior. Whatever name he uses, Max epitomises the loner anti-hero trope. Before he was the fearsome wanderer, he was a police officer in future Australia during a time of societal collapse and upheaval.
Wars raged, resources were savaged and as people fought for scraps, Max was one of the last semblances of the law.
Of course, in that new world, there was no place for the law. Max’s family was murdered, pushing him right into the wasteland to the barbarity he once railed against. As Australia is pushed farther and farther into barbarity, Max always finds it within himself to help the small guy which you’ve got to appreciate.
So, in the pro’s column, he’s a former cop. He’s taken down a bunch of super nasty people so he should be able to handle the local fuzz. Now the cons side. Well, he’s got to have some serious psychological damage from the death of his family as well as just surviving in the world of the Mad Max series.
He also tends to lose stuff constantly- like his car… and his weapons and his sanity. I don’t want to be another thing he loses along his wanderer’s journey or have him just snap on me right in the middle of a stressful situation so better scratch him off the list. Okay, scraping the bottom of the barrel here let’s throw those dice one last time.
Max Payne – Max Payne
This last one is a little bit of a cheat because he’s mainly known from the video game series but seeing as the character was portrayed by Mark Wahlberg in the self-titled 2008 movie, I’m going to count him as eligible.
Straight off the bat, he’s got a huge leg up on every single other character on this list. Do you know why? He’s actually got some experience as a bodyguard in Max Payne 3.
He’s proficient in all sorts of firearms from shotguns to dual Uzis and the classic dual pistols. He’s a former police officer from New York so he’s had dealings with much tougher customers than you’ll be coming up against.
That’s not even the best part. Due to some mystical dark arts that would have gotten him burnt at the stake in the Dark Ages, he seems incapable of death. Yeah, it’s weird the world seems to go into slow motion and go black and white for a bit then it’s like we’re back in time. He also seems to be able to slow time as well which is more than handy in a gunfight.
I mean I can’t think of one reason why anyone wouldn’t have this guy as their bodyguard, I mean it just seems too good to be true…
I did forget that there is the tiny little, massive problem where everyone he bodyguards in Max Payne 3 ends up dead. It’s not all simple gunshots to the back of the head. Some guy gets set on fire while trapped in a stack of tires. Fuck. That.
Iceland can send giant nuclear-powered cyborg killer whales to crush me to death and I’d prefer that to some of the fates of Max’s clients.
Well, this has been a bit of a non-event, hasn’t it? None of these anti-heroes stands out as the clear choice to bodyguard anyone of notable value. Maybe it’s got something to do with the type of people that develop into anti-heroes probably aren’t the best people to idolise?
Probably something like that but now I’ve got to focus on keeping my head down and out of Iceland (the WA border certainly helps with that one).
Let me know down below whether you think there is a clear choice of bodyguard and if so who are they? Take care and I’ll see you all next time.
Goddamn it Nic!
Have I missed any candidates out? Who would you pick to act as your bodyguard? Let me know down below.
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