There has always been a major fundamental difference between how DC characters are written in comparison to Marvel characters. Firstly, DC Comics is considered to be the originator of American superhero comics, with characters like Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman. Those three characters in particular have been able to transcend the medium and became larger than life. Superman is the quintessential superhero and is practically a God - but so are Wonder Woman, Aquaman, The Flash and Green Lantern. This is just one very big distinction between how DC and Marvel write their characters - DC characters have been written to be God-like beings who are born with their gifts, while Marvel consists of a bunch of scientists and freak accidents.
This, of course, allows the storytelling to take on a different tone as well. Marvel can have some dark stories and characters, but stories within the DC universe are particularly grim and adult. Frank Miller came in and completely changed the medium when he wrote The Dark Knight Returns, and really made Batman the ultimate anti-hero. But some of this can be reflected in the smaller, lesser-known anti-heroes of the universe, not just the big heroes. Everyone knows the Punisher and Deadpool being great anti-heroes over at Marvel, but DC has plenty of anti-heroes who are just as cool, if not cooler. Don't believe us? You will by the end of this list.
Luckily, because of the big superhero movie craze we're currently living in, a lot of these characters could be put up on the big screen pretty soon. Mercenaries, cat burglars, corrupt politicians, occult detectives and bounty hunters make up just some of the anti-heroes living within the DC universe.
Floyd Lawton, aka Deadshot, started out as a simple vigilante in Gotham City, who later decided to turn to the assassin/mercenary life - and was getting handsomely paid to do so. He has a gun mounted on each wrist and he is considered the deadliest marksmen in the DC Universe. Much like Bullseye in the Marvel Universe, Deadshot is said to "never miss," and to help prove it, he once shot an apple off of the head of Captain Boomerang while his eyes were closed. With all of that being said, strictly classifying him as a supervillain would be categorically false.
14 Amanda Waller
13 Captain Cold
12 Roy Harper
This is another character who has been brought to the small screen of the CW universe. Green Arrow's first sidekick, Roy Harper followed in his footsteps and worshiped him as a hero, almost like the relationship between Batman and Robin. Roy became Oliver's foster child and benefactor and was trained to be a crime-fighter. He use to be known as Speedy but later became Red Arrow. One thing is for sure, Roy Harper has grown to become one of the most accomplished marksmen in the DC Universe.
A terrific character and creation from the legendary Alan Moore. V is a revolutionary and an anarchist, dressed in a Guy Fawkes mask - the mask of a man who attempted to blow up the House of Parliament in London on November 5, 1605. V has a plan to systematically murder those who were his former captures and who are now leaders of a fascist dictatorship. V is most definitely performing morally questionable actions throughout the novel, but even then, his ultimate goal is to liberate and free the people and let them rule themselves, without a government.
10 Jonah Hex
Jonah Hex is a classic anti-hero living in the 19th Century on the American western frontier. Hex decided to become a bounty hunter after he gunned down his first criminal, "Mad Dog" Lucas McGill, while Lucas was beating his own wife. Hex's cynicism, the brutal scar on his face and his overall reputation paint him as a pretty bad individual, but he does hold a code of honor, protecting those who are innocent. That really is the definition of an anti-hero. Josh Brolin kind of ruined the character for mainstream audiences, though, when he starred in that Jonah Hex movie in 2010, which was terrible.
Some may describe Deathstroke, aka Slade Wilson, as an anti-hero while others may classify him as an anti-villain. While the definition of an anti-hero seems to be a hero who is just deeply flawed, an anti-villain is a character isn't completely evil or villainous. He isn't a murderous psychopath who wants to destroy the world, he simply kills with a very specific purpose. Deathstroke has gone back and forth throughout his publication history, being a straight up villain in certain stories and being of an anti-hero in others. Slade is a mercenary and pretty much kills for money - but the New 52 Deathstroke has him straddling that anti-hero line.
8 John Constantine
This cynical, working class occult detective is another creation from Alan Moore, who apparently modeled the character after the singer Sting. He's got a foul-mouth and seems to be pretty addicted to danger in his life of pursuing sorcery and dark magic, while also being quite reckless and hanging around the lowest scum of humanity. The character always ends up hurting those around him, particularly his friends who end up paying the price for his mistakes quite often.
7 The Comedian
Edward Blake, aka The Comedian, is another character created by Alan Moore, appearing in the legendary graphic novel Watchmen. In the 1940s, Blake started out as a hero and vigilante and one scene in particular demonstrated just how deranged and violent he can actually be - even against those who are on his team. This violent rage would continue when, in the 1970s, he killed a Vietnamese woman who was carrying his unborn child, in reaction to her scarring the left side of his face. Needless to say, the man has his flaws but he still manages to have moments of being a human being.
6 Jason Todd/Red Hood
Jason Todd is a very recognizable name to many comic book fans. Young Jason found Bruce Wayne/Batman as a mentor once Richard "Dick" Grayson had grown up, making Todd the second Robin. But Jason was caught tampering with Batman's Batmobile (after the events of Crisis on Infinite Earths) - and it became clear that Jason wasn't going to be like Grayson. Jason was rougher around the edges and had much more of a mean streak in him - but that ended once the Joker beat him to death with a crowbar. Or did it?
Selina Kyle is another classic example of the anti-hero archetype. Someone who dabbles in villainous behavior and may be willing to cross a line or two, but isn't an outright monster and still holds somewhat of a code. At least when Batman is keeping her in check. Catwoman has her own personal moral code and represents a gray area in Batman's otherwise black and white life, blurring the line between right and wrong. No matter how hard Bruce may try to pull her to the side of good, Selina ultimately always ends up pulling away for one reason or another.
Bounty hunters, for the most part, always tend to be morally neutral and Lobo is no different. His name literally means "one who devours your entrails and thoroughly enjoys it," which is pretty telling. It's also worth noting that he is the last of his kind (a Czarinan) due to the fact that he killed every last one of them. At one point, Lobo took a different direction in his life and was no longer a violent man instead becoming an archbishop in the First Celestial Church of the Triple Fish-God, although, he eventually renounced his vow against violence.
Yes, Batman is on the list because the character has certainly displayed some very anti-hero-like actions in the comics, or even certain animated features. Bruce Wayne becomes Batman to stop criminals and deliver justice in Gotham and this is a trait of the usual "good guys." However, with so many writers adding their own take on the character, Batman has developed some very dark and questionable behavior at times. The character is often described as a vigilante which usually isn't considered to be "good." While the argument will continue over whether or not the character truly is an anti-hero, for the sake of this argument, let's say that he is.
Bane started out as a villain in the comics, one who stalked Batman and systematically broke him down and finished by literally breaking his back and tossing him off the roof of a building. There's no better way to introduce your villainy than to do that. But Bane did go through somewhat of a transformation in the comics, particularly in Secret Six volume 3 written by Gail Simone.
1 Black Adam
Black Adam has primarily been a villain, and an evil counterpart to the character Shazam, but he sometimes is written to be an anti-hero or even an anti-villain. Born an ancient Egyptian, he was a slave and his family was killed by evil dictators in Kahndaq. He stumbles onto his incredible powers through his nephew, Aman - after Black Adam killed him and took Anan's powerful for himself, for what he thought was the greater good. Throughout his history in the comics, he would go on to partner with the Justice Society, but he would also happen to have a violent and destructive rampage across the globe.
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