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Corrupted Anti-Hero Power
What exactly is the difference between a hero and an anti-hero? Could some anti-heroes be too powerful and too destructive? Heroes are traditionally thought of as flawless and moral upholders of justice, but occasionally heroes can use their new power for actions not as honorable. Sometimes their glorified journey takes a turn into a world of uncertainty immorality. When is a hero’s physical, political, supernatural and social power so great they are now seen as threatening? Do their intentions change once they gain a certain amount of power? Generally these types of heroes are what we consider to be anti-heroes, but what exactly is an anti-hero? As we follow our anti heroes through their ever changing identity we will be looking to see if their actions are based upon moral ambiguity, a focus on human nature and an emphasis on decisions and consequences (Shropshire). These are some of the questions and ideas that we will explore during our discussion.
Our first discussion is on the book
. One of then main questions that our group asked was whether heroes can be influenced and corrupted by (political, social, physical and supernatural) power.
The book Macbeth
is a perfect example of how a person can ultimately be corrupted by political power. At the beginning of the book we learn that Macbeth has just played a very important role in the a battle in which he helped to defeat a traitor named Macdonald. Macbeth and his friend Banquo are then visited by three witches who predict the future. The witches predict that Macbeth will be named the new Thane of Cawdor, that Macbeth will be king one day and that Banquo will have a kid who will one day become king. The witches claim that Banquo will be "lesser than Macbeth, and greater" and that he will be "not so happy, and yet so much happier". Throughout the book Macbeth changes from the hero he was on the battle field to a tyrant who will do anything to keep power. Macbeth eventually becomes king as the witches predicted, but he did not inherit the crown. Macbeth and Lady Macbeth succeeded in killing the King Duncan and even killed many more people in his effort to gain power. Macbeth even kills his best friend Banquo.
The first question that can be asked in this story is whether the witches are actually in control of the future? All of the witches predictions were proved to be correct as the story concluded. When Macbeth went to see the witches a second time, the witches told him that "none of woman born" will be able to harm. At the end of the story he is killed by Macduff and Macduff says that he was was not born from a woman, but rather that has was "ripped from his mothers' womb" (meaning that his mother had to have a C-section to have him removed). What would have happened if Macbeth had not encountered the witches at all? Would Macbeth have been a murderer if he had never heard the predictions of the witches. Up until this point in the story we have reason to believe that Macbeth has never even thought about trying to harm the king. When thinking about whether he should continue with his plan to kill King Duncan, Macbeth mentions that he likes King Duncan and Duncan has always been faithful to him. The next question that is appropriate to ask is whether Macbeth would have killed the king if his wife Lady Macbeth had not encouraged him to do it. Macbeth said that he was not sure that he wanted to kill him and she devised a plan and even called him a coward when he said he was not sure he wanted to finish the job. This story is an example of how political power can lead to corruption.
Goodfellas starts out explaining the life of a young boy, Henry, part Irish and Italian. When he was young he dropped out of school and joined a gang, where he began to see a different life style, a life style were money and violence could get you pretty much anything you could need or want. Henry remains a member of the gang, or mafia, as he grows up. He marries a woman named Karen and has two girls. The revenue for his family depends on the mafia as his only way to obtain money. While at times, Karen feels threatened and worried about the mafia position, they remained married. Henry uses what he has to work different people; he is smooth with women in order to get what he wants. While pursuing the mafia, Henry begins to sell drugs from Pittsburgh, redistributing and making a profit off of them. The movie ends with the death of the mafia, and the Goodfellas begin to fall apart, or what is left of them.
Ever since he was a young child, Henry had always dreamed of being a Goodfella, this had always been his goal. A Goodfella is a man who is a member of this mafia/gang. The group uses violence to get what they want, they are feared yet respected by society. Henry was raised as a normal child, however when presented with the option to work for the gang, he purposefully chooses to support the violent and powerful mafia. Henry represents an antihero, as he knows the difference between right and wrong and deliberately chooses wrong.
This opening clip shows the turning point of when Henry decides to join the mafia. He had always wanted to be a member of the group ever since he was really young. The turning point is when he decides to drop out of school and join the mafia. Once he leaves school as a young boy he never goes back; he begins to use violence as a powerful tool and he never goes back to his old ways. In this clip when he, the narrator is speaking, explains that he always wanted to be a Goodfella and it explains his decision.
V for Vendetta
Click play while you read the following discussion of V for Vendetta.
V for Vendetta’s whole premise is set up around a corrupt government in which the main character, V, finds himself trying to destroy. Our hero V is so named because he is Larkhill’s “Man from room five,” and he does not know his own identity, which is why he wears a Guy Fawkes mask to cover his mutated face and to honor a man who tried to overtake the King. V’s past starts with his detainment in the Larkhill detention center where human experimentation is occurring. The drugs he receives actually heighten his abilities rather than hurt him, and thus he is able to escape the building when it is destroyed in a fire. While there, we get a glimpse of all the people he goes after to kill once he is living in hiding in Britain.
Evey is introduced to us when V saves her on the streets when she is out after curfew. Eventually Evey ends up in what she thinks is prison and interrogation, but turns out that is actually V that does these things to her to put her through things similar to what he experienced so that she would not fear any longer.
The biggest part of our discussion about V’s power comes through his means of finding and murdering particular people in the government. These figure heads were also involved in the happenings at Larkhill, which is why V knows who they are. He starts with “The Voice of London,” Lewis Prothero, who was a commander at Larkhill. V uses this television opportunity to try to win people over to be on his side. During this murder he also kills many others who work at the television station. He next goes after a priest, who was involved at Larkhill and brutally murders him before Inspector Finch could get to him after figuring out who V might be going after. Next was Delia, a bit different from the rest. After V injects her unknowingly with poison, she confesses that she is sorry for what happened to him. V still feels justified in killing her but allows it to be painless. During all of these events, V never has a problem killing government officials, the fingermen and police. Anyone associated or involved with these targets, in V’s mind, also deserved to die.
We see more of V’s ideologies in the situation where Evey yells at V that she hates him. V likes this because he wants to see her outwardly express her anger, just as he is doing through getting back at people who tortured him by killing them. This scene also allows us to see V’s tender emotion of love, which makes him even angrier that those people were the reason for his disfigurement that keeps him from physically loving Evey. I think this is very important in seeing V’s motivations change. He originally is working for the freedom of oppression for the people of Britain, and now an added motivation of love fuels his fire over the top.
("V for Vendetta")
The audience then finds out that the biological testing was actually the plan of the High Chancellor to take control of the people biologically. V appears to the second-in-command Chancellor Creedy to make a proposition in which V will reveal himself if Creedy will present Chancellor Sutters to him. Then V begins his final master plan of blowing up Parliament. He ships nearly 100,000 Guy Fawkes masks and V outfits to the public to wear during his final demonstration. These outfits will symbolize all the people who feel oppressed and are trying together to do what Guy Fawkes did alone.
Creedy meets V underground with the Chancellor and shoots him in the head. V’s agreement was to take his mask off, but refuses and then kills all the police there and then Creedy. V stumbles back to where Evey is standing beside the train filled with explosives ready to run under parliament and blow up. V dies in her arms while telling her that his motivation changed when he met her because she gave his life meaning. She then sends his dead body with the train to perform the final act.
There is much literature naming V as a terrorist and much defending his actions. Using the definition of terrorism from class: “terrorism is often defined as the systematic use of terror especially as a means of coercion. It often involves violent acts which are intended to create fear (terror), are perpetrated for a religious, political or ideological goal, deliberately target or disregard the safety of non-combatants (civilians), and are committed by non-government agencies. (Wikipedia)” V is definitely a radical and creates terror not only in the government, but also for the populace. He may have never hurt any innocent people but his tactics were scary, and I’m sure made people uneasy and uncomfortable living in their homes. Before V started his rampage, the people knew what to expect even though they were slaves to the government. V saw a need to rattle everyone’s world to create a free one.
His goals were political and just about opposite those of the terrorists who came to the United States on September 11, 2001. The “they hate our freedom” motive is what runs rampant through the United States as reasoning for the terrorists’ actions. V makes a decision for all the people of London that they want freedom just like him (Hassler-Forest). V also chooses to torture Evey against her own choice. V only sees how these goals can be accomplished in one way: by terror. Evey wanted to overcome her fear, so he inflicted so much fear in her that she was forced to overcome it or die. He also chose to be violent and destructive to overthrow the government. There’s never any notion of a thought for trying any other way. V was not quiet about his actions and it seems intentional the way he is big and bold with what he does. He gives warnings and leaves marks as he goes about his business. Everytime he commits an act of aggression or murder, he leaves his mark. This tells us that he is out for his own vices. Even when he explodes the Old Bailey, his V symbol is seen. Overall, we can see that while V’s original intentions were for his good, they became overbearing and corrupt.
In the movie Casablanca, Rick Blaine was a club owner in the hub city that allowed Germans to travel to America for refuge. His once lover, Ilsa comes strolling back into his life with her husband, Victor Laszlo, as the two are trying to head to America. Throughout the film, Rick claims he “sticks his neck out for nobody.” Rick is found in the middle of a corrupt society where anything goes, and clearly Rick has been influenced by this. Police officials do whatever they like depending on how they feel at the time. We see this kind of action when Renault, a German officer, shuts down the casino for “finding out” there was gambling going on at which time someone comes to give Renault his earnings.
Rick changes his mind and his allegiances only to save his own skin or to get what he wants. He is definitely not what we would call a hero in the beginning from what we know. In the end, Rick uses the corrupt system to help Ilsa and Victor get away by forcing Renault at gunpoint to help them escape and by killing Major Stasser as he tries to make a phone call to stop the airplane. People do fear Rick, even Ugante, a man who killed two men for what he wanted, desperately wanted Rick’s approval. Rick also states at the end as he walks off with Renault that he thinks, “this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.” This implies that he will continue his shady and fraudulent ways.
The scene in which Ugarte asks Rick to hold the letters of transit and Rick tells Ugarte he's impressed.
The final scene where Rick helps Victor and Ilsa leave.
Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith
The story begins with the horrifying news that Chancellor Palpatine has been captured by the Separatist. Anakin Skywalker and Obi-wan Kenowbi (who work as a team) are sent to capture Chancellor Palpatine. Anakin manages to save Chancellor Palatine and kills Count Docu though he knows it is not the right thing to do. He beheads the Sith the encouragement of Chancellor Palpatine.
The movie is about how Anakin Skywalker turns changes from being a Jedi hero to becoming a Sith Lord. The main reason that Anakin Skywalker changes and becomes a Sith is because of his wife Padme Amidala.
The first reason that he feels as though he must join the Dark Side is because of the dream that he had of his wife. He had a dream that his wife died during child birth and is so stressed that he cannot even sleep at times. He is so concerned because his dreams always come true. When he confides in his wife she says that it is ok and that he should not worry about it. The second reason that Anakin Skywalker feels that he must join the Dark Side is because he feels as though the Jedi and not giving him any advice. He finally asks if he can speak with Yoda (the greatest master at this time) and Yoda aggresses. When he is granted an audience he confides in Yoda about his dream and says that it is about "someone close" to him since Jedi are not allowed to marry. Yoda listens and tells him that he should not worry about this dream because everyone dies eventually and this dream might not even come true. Anakin is upset because he feels that he must do something and Master Yoda did not give him any options at all. The third reason that Anakin Skywalker turns is because he is upset at the Jedi Council. The Council constantly tells him how talented he is, and yet they do not grant him the rank of mastery because they are afraid of him. He is unique because he is the only Jedi who was not raised in the temple as a kid, he was raised with his mother. Anakin is the youngest Jedi to defeat a Sith Lord and yet they still deny him the title of a Master. One of the reasons that they deny him the title of a maser if because they cannot control him like they do not the other Jedi. In the movie Obi-wan mentions to Yoda that if killing him would make the war end earlier he would kill him as any of the other Jedi's would do, expect Anakin. Anakin has put entire planets in jeopardy because he did not want people to die. When Anakin learns that the emperor, who is the Sith Lord can save people from death he feels that he has no choice but to join the Dark Side.
This movie is a example of how political, social, supernatural and physical power all lead to the downfall or corruption of a hero. Anakin wanted to be given the rank of a Master which is an example of political power. When he found that he was unable to obtain this the emperor named him as him "personal representative", but even this did not gain him access to the title of mastery. He then was affected by the social power because he was a hero that everyone looked up to. In the movie his wife mentions numerous times about how popular about he is and how his actions affect the public. His ego gets the best of him and feels that he is the greatest Jedi who ever lives. During a council meeting he even says how is the greatest Jedi that ever lived and that he can defeat any other Jedi in the room. Anakin has super natural power because he is extremely strong in the force. He has over 20,000 midi-chlorians which is the highest known account of any Jedi. Anakin was believed to have been the Chosen One -meaning that he was predicted to bring balance to the force. Many were skeptical because they were not positive of what "bringing balance to the force" actually meant. Anakin also physical strength because he is one of the strongest Jedi that ever existed. The movie mentions how he is intellectually smart as well as an amazing pilot. Therefore this is a story about a hero who is corrupted by political, social, supernatural and physical power.
(Star Wars: Epsiode III- Revenge of the Sith)
I decided to post this video because of the last minute and 22 seconds. If you watch from 1:00-2:00 in the video you will hear Obi-wan talk about how important Anakin was. This video may be kind of gruesome but it is important because it will emphasis my point that Anakin was a great hero and he was predicted to rid the world of the dark side. The trailer that I will post right below this might do a better job of showing how he transforms from a hero into a villain.
(Star Wars: Episode III- Revenge of the Sith)
The song Handle Bars is a perfect example of a song about the political aspect of the corruption of power. The song was released in 2005. The songs focuses on an individual whose future is unknown. The song is comprised into three parts. Part A consist of the normal person in society who can accomplish anything, Part B consist of the trumpet solo which suggest a shift to the dictator. Part C consist of the evil dictator that can rule by means of fear. The title Handle Bars is symbolic by stating that the individual can ride to the left or to the right. The chorus is: I can ride my bike with no handle bars/ no handle bars/ no handle bars x2" suggest that the individual can choose anyway to live his life and your choices how you want to live your life are not restricted in anyway. Here is a link to the
Part A represents by an individual in today's society who eventually becomes a leader. At the start of the first verse the writer mentions doing ordinary things such as music, T.V., and even comic books. The author mentions:
I can show you how to do-si-do
I can show you how to scratch a record
I can take apart the remote control
And I can almost put it back together
These lyrics help to represent that he is a normal individual in society. The artist begins to then elaborate even further on everything that he can by stating all of the different things he can accomplish. He says:
I can make new antibiotics
I can make computers survive aquatic conditions
I know how to run a business
I can make you wanna buy a product
These lyrics help to show the way in which the individual can do anything he wants that range from running a business to making new antibiotics. The song writer then transitions into mentioning about becoming a leader as he says:
I can lead a nation with a microphone
Part B is represented by the trumpet solo in which the trumpet plays a solo ending with the chorus. During this solo a number of different things suggest the transition to part C. The tempo at the start of the solo is the same tempo at the beginning of the song, part as the solo continues the tempo increases faster and faster. The increase in tempo is also accompanied by an increase in volume or a crescendo that increases towards the end of the solo. This solo represents the shift between the normal person/leader into the evil dictator.
Part C represents the evil dictator in this song. This part of the song is indicated by a key change from the original key and a faster tempo that was established during the trumpet solo. During part C the majority of the lyrics speak about an leader who can do anything he would like. The writer no longer talks about being an individual in society, but rather solely an dictator. All of the writers lyrics focus on words that involve force. This next excerpt below helps to establish that the individual is getting caught up in society. He says that:
Driving and I won't stop
And it feels so good to be
Alive and on top
My reach is global
My tower secure
My cause is noble
My power is pure
I also think it is very interesting that the writer uses the words "my" in this part of the song, where previously he had used the word "I". I think that this helps to further enforce the change from the society to the individual.
I can hand out a million vaccinations
Or let'em all die in exasperation
Have'em all healed of their lacerations
Have'em all killed by assassination
I can make anybody go to prison
Just because I don't like'em and
I can do anything with no permission
I have it all under my command
This excerpt above helps to establish his power as a dictator. It is clear that he could be a dictator because of the language that he is using. He uses words such as assassination, prison and even missiles that can guided by satellite in the next line. Even further in the song the writer even mentions that he can "end the planet in a holocaust". I think this how the song has shifted from a normal individual to a leader who can do ruthless things if he chooses to. In my opinion the whole point of the song is to say that anyone can choose any path they would like and are not limited in their choices at all.
Lord Of The Flies
Lord of the Flies. Photograph. Web.
The Lord of the Flies is another piece of literature that explores the points of good and evil and how too much power can corrupt. The story starts off with a group of English boys whose plane is shot down over an uninhabited island. The boys try and take control of the situation in order to survive the days to come until they are rescued. The boys elect Ralph, the protagonist and hero of this book, to become their leader while Ralph, the antagonist, falls as second in command. After the boys initially enjoy their freedom from parents and the laws of society, they start to become afraid that they might not ever be saved. The book gradually moves into the relationship of good and evil or more specifically order and barbarism. Jack who is charge of the hunting aspect struggles at first but then becomes overly obsessed after he becomes more skilled. More and more people stray away from the order and structure that Ralph represents and over towards the barbaric attitude that Jack has now taken. Jack’s change from order to chaos displays how the gain of power that he receives from the change and others following him corrupts him. We see Ralph struggle with staying positive after he takes part in the ceremony that kills Simon. He realizes and understands how easy it is to turn the chaotic behavior. Whereas Jack lets the power consume him, Ralph remains true to his beliefs and fights for “good.” The boys at the end of the book realize what they have done after the officer has found them in the route to kill Ralph. Ralph is considered a hero because of ideals and structure he stood for; he was not moved by the barbaric attitude that swept everyone else. The book showed how strong and easy it is to cross the line and how hard it is to come back, and Ralph symbolized that the forces of good can win over evil.
I believe that the turning point is where they forget to keep the fire lit and they miss their chance being saved. After this point, people have the mind set that they will never be saved. They are put into a situation that shows the characters true colors. Ralph and Jack answer the question of where a hero can cross over and be corrupt. These boys were both respectable citizens in England; Jack was even head of the choir. The situation of the boys being stranded on the island demonstrates the action of crossing the line.
This book in a way emulates what the Stanford Prison experiment was about. Stanford Prison experiment was a study done on the psychological behavior of prisoner and prison guard. The movie the “Experiment” is based of the Stanford Prison experiment and shows the nasty relationship that forms. Even though the movie has a few false references to the actual experiment, it gives a visual reenactment to think about. The 26 people who are involved in the experiment are there just to get through the experiment and get the sum of money that they were guaranteed. Forest Whitaker and Adrien Brody, the antagonist and protagonist respectfully, start off as friends in the opening scenes of the movie, but when their roles are assigned and they find themselves on the opposite team things change dramatically for the worsr. After a few days, the guards become engrossed with the power they have received; as a result, they begin to torture and torment the prisoners in order to keep the status quo which total command and complete submission. This directly relates to The Lord of the Flies and the aspect of where too much power corrupts even the best of people.
("The Dark Knight")
Refer to previous clip
The Dark Knight, which is the sequel to Batman Begins, touches upon all the questions regarding the relationship of a hero and power. The movie revolves and focuses on three characters Batman, the Joker, and Harvey Dent. Harvey Dent is seen as the “White Knight” and the symbol of hope, order, and light for the town of Gotham. He unfortunately falls for the power of evil when the love of his life dies in the process of eradicating evil. He gives up all hope and decides that good cannot win over evil. Whereas Dark Knight battles with staying on the side of laws and order, Harvey Dent, who was Gotham visual symbol of hope for change, fails the challenge. Jim Gordon, the head off the police department, and Batman decided that with the death of Harvey that they must keep his image intact. They must keep Harvey Dent seen as the hero that died in the line of duty. The previous clip alludes to the quote Harvey Dent spoke of which is “
You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain (Dark Knight)
.” Ironically Harvey Dent becomes that hero that lives long enough to see himself become the villain. Batman who is seen as the vigilante and anti-hero decides that the city of Gotham does not need to know Harvey Dent’s failures. When a hero dies for the cause he is fighting for, it inspires others to follow in his footsteps. Because of Batman’s vigilante status, he takes on the blame of Harvey Dent’s actions. During the film, Batman also struggles with staying on the right side of the line. Even though he is vigilante working outside of the law, he remains lawful and true to a moral code. He has several chances to kill the Joker and end the movie but he cannot do that to himself.
In this same scene, Harvey Dent answers the question of how Batman acts within the laws of society. The question of whether he has crossed the line and taken the laws into his own hand must be answered. Harvey Dent replies that “we appointed the Batman, all of us who stood by and let scum take over Gotham.” Batman knows the line of evil and knows that crossing it means no return.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
The book, and the film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey is told from the point of view of one of the patients of the hospital ward, Chief Bromden. The story takes place in a hospital run by the not-so-well educated Nurse Ratched who is somewhat of a dictator in story line. Nurse Ratched has complete power over what happens to each of the patients, and she occasionally abuses this power.
The story line is about Randle Patrick McMurphy (referred to as McMurphy) who is essentially an antihero. McMurphy was sentenced to six months in prison. Instead of spending his time in the prison as he was originally supposed to, McMurphy decided to fake a mental illness so he could serve his time in the hospital ward. McMurphy is always a trouble maker and constantly creating a disturbance. At first, the audience seems to find it difficult for him to fit in at the hospital ward; however, he quickly takes a leadership, hero like, role.
McMurphy is constantly trying to upset Nurse Ratched because he disagrees with the way she runs the hospital ward. He knows his actions irritate her and her annoyed reactions do nothing but provoke McMurphy to continue. While the audience may not see McMurphy as an antihero, he can still be considered one. Many of his deliberate actions go against the “government” and leader of the hospital ward, Nurse Ratched, as he consistently attempts to annoy her. Technically, the right thing for McMurphy to do is to let Nurse Ratched run the hospital ward; however, he purposefully chooses the other option, to stir things up and change what happens in the hospital ward despite knowing right from wrong.
To the other patients McMurphy is a breath of fresh air. He is bold and brave as he is willing to do almost anything. He is not intimated by the hospital ward or Nurse Ratched. To the other patients, he is a strong person who will try anything. Even after electroshock therapy treatment he is still alive and befriending the other patients. McMurphy has the courage to do what the other patients won’t or can’t do. He speaks his mind and is confident. McMurphy possesses many of the characteristics of a hero that were discussed on the first day of class.
World Series Clip
While McMurphy is constantly attempting to stir things up at the hospital ward, his turning point where he crossing the line of using too much power is when he encourages the vote among the patients to watch the World Series game on television. At first it appears, to the audience and the patients, that McMurphy is trying to help the patients speak up and actually, for once, have a say in their lives at the hospital ward, when, in actual fact, the only reason he wanted them all to vote for watching the World Series game was because he desperately wanted to watch it. McMurphy knew the only way that he would be able to watch the game was if he got the rest of the patients to rebel.
The climax of the book is when McMurphy attempts to have a good time, once again thinking for himself, by sneaking two girls and alcohol into the hospital ward. McMurphy convinces one of the other patients to sleep with the other girl, possibly to make McMurphy feel better about the decision to bring girls to the hospital. The other patient gets caught with the girl in bed and is threatened to be punished. After hearing the threat the patient commits suicide. The death is blamed on McMurphy, once again McMurphy uses his power to go a step too far.
While McMurphy is a respected and confident character, who rarely gives up, and is trusted, by most of the patients, he is still an antihero. He goes against what the leader of the hospital asks in order to get what he wants. He manipulates the patients so that they agree with him on different issues, and therefore, make his life easier than it would be in jail or even here at the hospital ward. While to some McMurphy is seen as a hero, as he his reasons for being heroic are selfish he is classified as an antihero.
Hancock like any other superhero has superpowers. These include superhuman physical strength, invulnerability, flight at supersonic speeds, regeneration of wounds, and immortality. Hancock does not remember any part of his life prior to waking up in a hospital with amnesia from a concussion 80 years ago. In fact he derived his name when the nurse in the hospital asked him for his “John Hancock” he thought it was his name and went with it. He thinks he is the only one of his kind and he doesn’t understand anything about himself or his purpose. At one point in the movie he says, “you gotta wonder what kind of bastard must I have been that nobody ever claimed me.” Here we finally have insight behind his cynical exterior and we see someone with superhuman powers yes, but with human emotions. The way in which Hancock chooses to deal with his emotions is to be in a constant state of drunkenness.
The movie opens with a scene where the Los Angeles Police Department is on a high speed car chase for robbers with machine guns, and their attempt to catch the men in the car is a failing one. Then there is a flash to John Hancock who, meanwhile is passed out drunk on a bench. A little boy comes up to the bench and wakes him up to tell him to go after the robbers, in which Hancock tells the little boy to get out of his face, that it is not his problem. Before turning to walk away, the little boy calls him a “jackass” over his shoulder. With this, Hancock shoots up into the air, completely destroying the bench on his way up, after slapping a woman on her behind first.
This is when we first see Hancock in action, and we immediately label him as a reluctant hero. Although Hancock’s powers stop criminals and rescue people, the way in which he goes about doing it with his constant intoxication and cynical attitude, causes the city of Los Angeles millions of dollars in property damage. The amount of money in damage he caused in stopping the men cost nearly as much as what the robbers stole.
We meet a public relations spokesperson named Ray Embrey who is trying to save the world “one heart at a time.” On his way home from work one day Ray gets trapped on train tracks and there is a freight train rushing towards him. Out of nowhere Hancock swoops down and saves Ray’s life, and in the process destroys a couple of cars and derails the entire freight train. This is just another example of how Hancock saved the day, yet created more problems economically in the process. He is hackled and yelled at by the angry drivers, and Ray steps in and says he would not be alive right now if it weren’t for Hancock and thanks him. Ray offers to improve Hancock’s public image and he convinces Hancock to turn himself in for his outstanding subpoenas so Los Angeles will be able to see how much they really do need Hancock. After the crime rate has risen 32% the chief of police calls on Hancock for his help in a violent bank robbery in which an officer is trapped and wounded, and the hostages are strapped to an explosive. Hancock saves the day and as a result is applauded by the people because of the courteous and polite way in which he handled the situation.
One day we find out that Ray’s wife, Mary, has superpowers similar to Hancock’s. She explains that they lived for 3,000 years with their powers and were called gods and angels during their time. We find out that Hancock is technically Mary’s husband and they are the last of their kind because they were meant to be paired, so that they could live normal human lives. They were created in twos, and are drawn to each other over great distances and time, due to physics. Therefore when they are physically close to each other, they lose their powers and become mortal. After Hancock and Mary are shot by criminals who escaped from prison, Hancock uses the last of his strength to flee from Los Angeles, allowing both him and Mary to heal from the wounds. Hancock moves to New York City where he continues to be a superhero.
Before Hancock cleaned up, sobered up, and became courteous, the citizens of Los Angles would quiver when he came around. Mainly because his efforts to help seemed to cause them more harm than good. Although Hancock has superhero abilities, at the beginning of the movie he a threat and his power is seen by the people of Los Angeles as corrupt. He would walk around and take whatever he wanted, without paying for it simply because he could and nobody could stop him. The District Attorney charged Hancock with 600 subpoenas. It sounds insanely funny, but if you think about it they have no way of holding Hancock accountable for the millions of dollars in damage he’s caused. The only way they could imprison him for his actions was when he turned himself in. And even when he was imprisoned for that short period of time, he would easily fly out to grab his basketball, and come back. This shows that there really is no way to detain or control Hancock. He knows the difference between right and wrong however, he doesn’t have to answer to anyone but himself, so he basically does what he wants. This is when a hero becomes too much to handle.
"Power" by Kanye West
I’m livin’ in the 21st century
Doin’ something mean to it
Do it better than anybody you ever seen do it
Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it
I guess every superhero need his theme music
No one man should have all that power
The clock’s tickin’, I just count the hours
Stop trippin’, I’m trippin’ off the power
(21st century schizoid man)
So would Kanye West be considered an anti-hero? Kanye West is a rapper, singer, and record producer. He has taken the music world by storm after surviving a near fatal car crash in 2002. He is well known around the world for his musical talent, and has an abundance of “power” in the entertainment industry. Kanye West has developed somewhat of an arrogant personality, rightfully so as he has many successful accomplishments, and this song “Power” is an example of that. In the exert chosen below, West refers to himself as a superhero and admits that “no one man should have all that power.”
“Who Watches the Watchmen?”
Based on the late 1980’s graphic novel written by Alan Moore, Zack Snyder’s 2009 epic film Watchmen is the tale of several flawed superheroes in 1985. With a few twists in regards to historical accuracy, the story is set in a deeply paranoid nuclear Cold War-era America, with Richard Nixon leading the country in his fifth term as president. The opening credits give a brief introduction to the superheroes better known as the Watchmen, suggesting the formation of this crime-fighting group circa WWII. The credits show a Forrest Gump-esque montage of all major historical events in the second half of the 20th century, with hints to the setting of the country. The Watchmen are shown to have been at first a popular group within the country, but were eventually forced into retirement facing outside pressure. The final group of Watchmen, consisting of Edward Blake as “The Comedian”, Daniel Dreiberg as “The Niteowl”, Adrian Veidt as “Ozymandias”, Walter Kovacs as “Rorschach”, Laurie Juspeczyk as “The Silk Spectre”, and Dr. Jon Osterman as “Dr. Manhattan”, are incredibly complex characters, each having trouble acclimating to civilian life.
“Tonight A Comedian Died in New York”
The story begins with the mysterious and quite brutal murder of Eddy Blake, as he is tossed from his top story apartment window to the dirty streets. Rorschach begins an investigation as to see who would be hunting down retired and outlawed superheroes, and better yet, to determine why. Piece by piece, the audience is introduced to remainder of the Watchmen, and even some of their now older predecessors. On the seeming eve of nuclear holocaust, the group somewhat reforms and looks into The Comedians death, only to find that one of their own has been behind it all. Adrian Veidt, better known as “Ozymandias”, had put in motion a plan to destroy several major cities across the globe, including ones in the USA and the USSR. His thinking behind the destruction was the rebirth of society, done so out of necessity. Without ruining the whole story to those who have not watched it, some of his former colleagues in the Watchmen catch wind of his plan and attempt to stop it. The story has many different themes woven together, including different social commentary from Moore. The discussion ranges from energy independence to the darkness of human nature. Each of the characters personifies a different part of the theme, often in ways that are not typical of your “normal” superhero.
The Comedian and Rorschach are perfect examples of individuals that can be classified as anti heroes. After watching the film/ reading the graphic novel, the viewer/ reader may have trouble liking either of the characters due to their intensity. The Comedian’s brash actions and Rorschach’s absolutist views are challenging to relate to, and are very unusual examples of “superheroes”. Moore creates these characters to have their flaws on purpose. The Comedian answers to seemingly no one but himself, and like Dr. Manhattan is employed to work for the President. He is cold and hardened, and has some serious issues as a person. There is a select scene in a Vietnamese bar post-war, and a Vietnamese lady approaches the Comedian asking him to talk about what will happen in the future between them and their unborn child. The Comedian will have no part of the discussion, and ends up shooting the pregnant lady point blank in the womb. There are several other scenes in the story, including his attempted rape of Miss Jupiter, that make it clear to the viewer that The Comedian has a skewed set of morals. At the same time, however, Blake arguably accomplishes good that betters society. His involvement in major American historical events shows that although he had a difficult side, he was seen as an invaluable asset to the government. He was a war hero in both WWII and Vietnam, and in the graphic novel, most likely killed Bob Woodward and Leonard Bernstein before they ever could have released the Pentagon Papers. Blake also was responsible for ending the Iran-Contra Hostage situation in 1980. The combination of these actions from the Comedian would suggest that he was a good guy and was committed to helping the world for good. His personal character absolutely detracts from his actions, leaving him a lonely old man at the end of his life. Ozymandias ends up being the one who kills Blake, as he knew that if there were anyone that could stop him from his plan to cleanse society. Abuse of power is definitely a theme that arises when talking about The Comedian. Given a higher level of trust and responsibility than most, The Comedian has more than a few instances where he took advantage of his power.
This city is afraid of me. I have seen its’ true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!”… And I’ll whisper back, “no”.
Rorschach is an absolutist character that sees the world in black and white. To him, there is a very definite line between good and evil, and he has made it his personal responsibility to bring justice to those that don’t choose the good side. Born Walter Kovacs, he grew up a tumultuous life, to say the least, with his mother being a prostitute and never having a father figure around. He chose his path to be a vigilante that showed no mercy to those that chose not live by societies rules, and was absolutely brutal in his methods. There is irony with Rorschach as is he is committed to accomplishing right yet he does wrong, at least to societies standards. The complexity of his character makes it difficult for the audience to relate to him, as many people have not spent their years ruthlessly murdering criminals.
Arian Veidt, or Ozymandias, may be one of the biggest anti heroes within the entirety of Watchmen. Veidt literally kills millions of innocent people (through an alien monster or Dr. Manhattan’s blue power, depending on book/ movie) to achieve his utopian society. Veidt sees all the corruption and negativity in the world that the Comedian and Rorschach did, yet he saw the only solution was to essentially wipe the slate clean and start anew. Rorschach and Daniel have similar reactions as most people would upon hearing his plan, and even Dr. Manhattan struggles with the concept. Manhattan is able to see why, however, Adrian had to do what he did. He saw the need for a brutal change to society, and was willing to sacrifice millions of lives to accomplish the final goal.
directed by Wolfgang Peterson is an epic that details the Greeks attempt to sack the land of Troy. Early in the film the Trojans are in Sparta and the viewer sees young Prince Paris convince the beautiful Helen of Sparta to return with him. The decision to bring Helen back is ultimately a fateful one, as Paris' brother Hector knows that war will be an immediate response from both Sparta and the Greek Empire. Upon returning home from Sparta, Hector notifies his father, King Priam, and they prepare for war. Back in Greece, the king of Sparta, Menelaus confers with his brother, Agamemnon, and convinces him to wage war against the Trojans. The Trojans of course had never been conquered due to their famed Trojan wall. Achilles, the son of the Greek goddess Thesis, was the greatest warrior in the world and was convinced to fight against the Trojans. The war wages on and eventually the Greeks are able to breach the wall of Troy and enter the city in the dead of night. Achilles eventually is killed by Paris by being shot in the ankle, his only weak spot, and the film ends. A personal favorite,
looks at more than just the story of a war over a woman, and does a solid job of representing Greek mythology.
Achilles is one of the main characters in
and, in a larger picture, Greek mythology. The son of gods, Achilles was crafted into the finest warrior in the world. The only point of weakness that Achilles possessed was found on the small of his ankle. According to mythology, Achilles was dipped into the river Styx, a source of invincibility, except he was held by his ankle, hence keeping a portion of him mortal. As a character, Achilles' ego is what best defines him. Obsessed with is own personal glory and legacy, Achilles lives his life only for himself. The kings in Greece absolutely despise Achilles, especially Agamemnon, due to the fact that he is so self consumed. Achilles is a difficult hero to relate with mostly because of his self absorbance. Most people choose their heroes upon admirable traits such as selflessness and commitment to others. Both of these traits are not even in Achilles vernacular. He is aggressive when he fights, and he fights for nothing other than glory. When we discussed epic war heroes in class, many of them all fought for causes bigger than themselves. William Wallace is a likable character because of his dedication to his cause for his country and his dead wife. The soldiers in Saving Private Ryan are seen as heroes because of their admirable mission. Achilles, however, only chooses to go to Troy to fight because he knows it will be a war forever remembered in history. There is a particular scene in the movie, where after defeating Hector in front of all of Troy, Achilles drags his dead carcass across the beach behind a chariot. This literally may be the oldest and greatest insult in history, and absolutely shows his true character. Similar to all the other characters and individuals discussed throughout this page, Achilles exemplifies the definition of a hero who can abuse their own power.
All heroes are considered to be powerful, however, there is a certain point in time when heroes might exceed his or her role as a hero and abuse their power. Movies seen in class, such as V for Vendetta and Casablanca, as well as other film productions, like The Dark Knight and Hancock, as well as literature, such as Watchmen and One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, provide clear examples of the point in a hero’s monomyth when he or she cross the line and abuses their given power. In each of the above examples of film and literature, there clear instances in which the characters questionably use their powers, suggesting that they indeed may be antiheroes. These individuals in the selected works each have their own battles to fight, yet it is the methods they employ that can raise concern from the audience. Whether it be Batman and his vigilante activities or Henry Hill and his Goodfellas, each of the characters intend to do well, but their actions can be seen as an abusive use of their power outside of the laws of society.
Casablanca - Abigail Baumann
The Dark Knight - Brian Chinn
Goodfellas - Frances Hamilton
Hancock - Amanda Bodenarain
Handle Bars - Jordan Thomas
Lord of the Flies - Brian Chinn
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Frances Hamilton
Power - Amanda Bodenarain
Macbeth - Jordan Thomas
Star Wars: Episode III - Jordan Thomas
Troy - John Pratson
V for Vendetta - Abigail Baumann
Watchmen - John Pratson
Barbara, Paul, and William Shakespeare. The Tragedy of Macbeth. New York: Pocket Books, 1992. Print.
. Dir. Michael Curtiz. Perf. Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman. Warner Bros., 1942.
. Dir. Chirstopher Nolan. Perf. Christian Bale and Aaron Eckhart. 2008. Film.
Flobots. Handle Bars. Universal Republic Records, 2008. MP3
“Goodfellas Synopsis.” IMDB . N.p., 1 Mar. 2010. Web. 22 Jan. 2011. <
. Dir. Martin Scorsese. Perf. Robert De Niro, Ray Liotta and Joe Pesci. Warner Bros. Presents, 1990. Youtube.com.
. Dir. Peter Berg. Perf. Will Smith, Charlize Theron, Jason Bateman. Columbia Pictures, 2008. Film.
"Hancock (film)." Wikipedia. 2008. Web. 24 Jan. 2011. <
“Handle Bars by Flobots.” Lyricsmania.com. Lyricsmania, 2010. Web. 23 Jan. 2011.
Hassler-Forest, Dan A. "From Trauma Victim to Terrorist: Redefining Superheroes in Post 9/11 Hollywood." Comics as a Nexus of Cultures. Jefferson, NC: McFarland and, 2010. 33-44. Print.
Kesey, Ken. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest . New York: Penguin Books, 1976. Print.
Lord of the Flies. Photograph. Web. <
Moore, Alan, Dave Gibbons and John Higgins.
. New York: DC Comics. 2008. Print.
One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest
. Dir. Milos Forman. Perf. Jack Nicholson, Louise Fletcher and Danny DeVito. Fantasy FIlm, 1975. Youtube.com.
“One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: Synopsis.” IMDB. N.p., 20 Oct. 2010. Web. 23 Jan. 2011. <
Shropshire, Victoria. "Anti-Heroes." Class Notes, 12 January 2011. North Carolina, Elon. 24 Jan. 2011. Lecture.
"Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith". IMDB. N.p., 2005. Web. 22 Jan. 2011. <
Star Wars: Episode III-Revenge of the Sith
. Dir. George Lucas. Perf. Ewan McGregor, Nathalie Portman, Hayden Christensen. Twentieth Century Fox, 2005.
Dir. Wolfgang Petersen. Perf. Brad Pitt, Eric Bana, Orlando Bloom. Warner Bros. Pictures Presents, 2004. DVD.
V for Vendetta
. Dir. James McTeigue. Perf. Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving. Warner Bros., 2006. Film.
"V for Vendetta (2006) - IMDb." The Internet Movie Database (IMDb). 17 Mar. 2006. Web. 23 Jan. 2011. <
. Dir. Zack Snyder. Perf. Jackie Earle Haley, Patrick Wilson and Carla Gugino. 2009. Film.
West, Kanye. Power. Kanye West. Rec. 22 Nov. 2010. Roc-A-Fella Records, 2010. Direct Lyrics. Web.
Group 3 FEEDBACK : Anti-Heroes and the Corruption of Power
nice introduction to both group members and their topic – clear division of the group’s themes.
Hancock opening – do I look like I care what people think?
Reluctant hero label – very cynical and self-serving @ start of film
Do Superheroes have to live by a separate moral and ethical code? Idea that people can hate a hero
Ray Embry- convinces him to go to jail to show the citizens that he’s needed – paradigm shift
Embry’s wife – provides cultural context for Hancock (his past) and gives purpose to his future
A little too much summary of the film – focus more on the connection to
anti-hero – knows right versus wrong, but since no one can hold him accountable for his actions, there is no need to maintain a high morality
Nice but too much summary on the film – more connections
Good conclusion (6 minutes – too much time for other members?)
V for Vendetta - Good analysis of the motivations behind his action -
Good slide-show embedded in PPT
Handle Bars – Flobots (Jordan) very nice connection of additional text into the analysis of the THEME
Video excerpts – used judiciously
Watchmen – summary excellent and application to the theme (no notecards)
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest – McMurphy as anti-hero
Missed the idea (?) that Ratched is a symbol of the government – those in power who control the population through manipulation and fear
We love McMurphy because he bucks the system – corruption of power in this book/film is a great addition to your theme
Dark Knight – (last segment starts at 20 minutes into the prez - yikes)
“You die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain”
how can we love a vigilante? The thin line between anti-hero and savior (dark versus white knights)
The hero can easily (when an anti-hero) become the villain because they can abuse their power – cross the lines of society
Visual Aides – on the whole used well – time constraints an issue
PPT – some of the text difficult to read (dark letters in first slide, yellow words on the grey background)
Body language – very nice overall – nervous but that’s OK
pressed on time, but there was a concerted effort to keep things brief
Total run time 26 min.
Some Class Notes:
not everyone in the gropu seems to be listening – but were really good when they were presenting their section
liked Rorschach video clip
Watchman presenter was best – very poised, presented well X8
Dark Knight presenter was good X4
DK was perfect for their topic – very cool
Flobots/Handlebars – very cool transition, very well presented X12
“way to go Jordan for speaking and handling the computer both!”
Everyone seemed organized
V for Vendetta was the best part/liked the slideshow x5
best part was the visual and music
Hancock was very effective x3
You did a good job using diverse subjects/literature
Some fidgeting – some looked uninterested
Hancock part was interesting, but way too long
engaging and knowledgeable x2
very thorough, good use of videos x2
everyone seemed comfortable
everyone was obviously prepared x3
theme was anti-hero, but Hancock is also reluctant hero (?)
help on how to format text
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