I noticed that I probably misuse this term in classic sense. The true meaning of it appears to be something to the effect of a heroic character who generally lacks the expected “Paladin” qualities of morality, courage, and iron idealism. They are generally the kind of real-world human beings who are pushed into a situation in which they exhibit heroism.
I feel like in recent decades that with our collector’s completism with comic book heroes that we’ve wholly become consumers of a brand of righteousness that goes entirely unquestioned by the fan base. I won’t beat up on Wakandia here (being basically the 1%), and wonder why we need to be so in awe of rich people equipping themselves to be invincible warriors looking for a place to unleash their powers (more 1%), but you know what I’m talking about. Superheroes just feel like superfluous rot in a world where we’re so utterly divided politically that the most popular conspiracy racket literally, and seriously pits the current president (well known to be not above a flat out con and incapable of keeping his own feet out of his mouth) against a secret cabal of “liberal” child molesters! A more ludicrously hateful, and weak-minded evil plot to invest in wouldn’t even be concocted by comic books, but it bleeds with the desire for clear enemies to shake our fists at, and a wholehearted, pining love-affair with the “misunderstood” bad-boy president (think of the teenage daughter trying to make mom and dad understand the love for a disapproved of new felon boyfriend).
This kind of excusing of racism, sexism, (in favor of his secret heroism) and the general banality and unconcern of anything worldly or state (such depth requires study left to others) reflects so well the general blue-collar outlook (disinterested in environmentalism, globalism or anything progressive) that easily sucks up a “what-if” superhero movie plot. What-if it’s all a big sham and evil is being crushed in secret by our beloved? Putting aside all the easy objections to this conspiracy hypothesizing (where are the loads of parents missing their kids? Pizzagate?) the obvious wishful, and childlike desire for the big cheese to turn out to be a hero is so glaring and hilarious that it’s worse than that teenage daughter hoping for a scene in which her disapproved of boyfriend rescues her from a mustachioed villain tying her to railroad tracks. If only such a villain would appear!
So anti-hero isn’t quite the same. My use of it intends that we’re not talking about a current hunky Captain America, roided up and thrown at thinly veiled WWII era horrors that the most brain dead viewer could easily identify as “evil”. Nor a story in which the mustachioed villain must be completed by his superior opposite.
Zatoichi isn’t without morality, but he’s neither a poseur nor entirely without vice. He lacks beauty until his sword flashes, and he isn’t interested in the reward of cash or babes. Perhaps I need a term like Post-anti-hero. I’ll think about it.
What do you think?