#2 Learning from the experts – Antihero at his best

Alright, so let’s get this straight. You have Al Pacino on one end, and De Niro on the other and you have to choose sides. Damn, that’s a tough call!

I had read a lot about the film Heat (1995) on various online forums. Usually when I anticipate too much from a movie, or anything for that matter, it disappoints me. Frankly speaking, I wasn’t even close to disappointment in this one. From a completely subjective point of view, I can say that Heat is a blend of intriguing script and brilliant performances, both on-screen and behind the cameras.

Imagine how complicated it is to make your audience cheer for your anti-hero with all his idiosyncrasies and imperfections. The following are few of my personal notes on how to make your audiences empathize with your bad guy:

Note:  Most of the references are from popular/ comic based films for better understanding

  1. Everything has a reason: I don’t know if every other successful anti-hero follows this principle, but most of them do. Let them follow their path, commit sins en route. But back it up with such an amazing credible reason that it momentarily overshadows all their vices. Nothing happens in a vacuum, everything has a reason! (Magneto, the X-Men franchise)
  2. Circumstances: Not all of us believe that we are the sole creators of our destiny. Circumstances put is in some situations where we have to do what we seem right then, even though it is the easy way out. (Sandman, Spiderman 3)
  3. It is almost funny: In recent years we’ve seen so many films with characters so self occupied after a point, it is hilarious. You expect your multi-layered characters to do certain things, otherwise unacceptable in the society. And you admire them for that! (Jack Sparrow, the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise)
  4. Brute force: Don’t you love a good action film with your bad guy so strong that you would never want him to get defeated? Syd Field says that your film is as powerful as your antagonist. And how true is that? (Bane, The Dark Knight Rises)
  5. Taking it to another level: Some villains are simply masterminds. Making the world dance to their tunes by remote control. Puppeteers! Their purpose is not to get any material benefit. No, no, no. They have higher agendas in their minds. They are simply ‘agents of chaos’. (Joker, The Dark Knight)
  6. Change: On a very positive note, everybody has the potential to change. All of us have made mistakes. We are weary of the turbulence by the things we are not proud of. And all of us have the potential to change. (Doctor Octopus, Spiderman 2)

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