Antihero or Villain? Which Do You Prefer?

Looking through back issues has really shown me how often characters switch sides. I’m thinking specifically about Catwoman, she hasn’t’ been a straight up villain in decades. And she’s not the only one. I’m curious as to which characters are more compelling to you as a villain versus antihero. The reverse too!

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Well, I don’t know if I like Catwoman as too much of either. I like her as a sort of flirty, otherwise low-rent (as in; no powers and doesn’t pose a huge threat to Gotham’s safety) thief, but I don’t want her to do anything heroic. In a sort of weird case, I like The Omega Men as anti-heroes more than pure heroes, in other words, the Tom King take. But, otherwise? I prefer that villains stay villains and fight heroes. After almost two decades of nothing but hero vs hero, villain vs villain, and “he does the right thing, but does he?” stories, I’d like to see some more rudimentary “good vs bad” stuff again.

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Some anti-hero transitions have been all right, but I usually just find them annoying. A lot of characters who they try to sell as villain-turned-anti-hero have already done things that are basically unforgivable. For an extreme example: Deathstroke. His solo series from the '90s is actually surprisingly good, but… um. Hello? The name “Terra” ringing any bells.

Catwoman is a character who gets a lot less interesting when she’s straightforwardly (anti-)heroic. What makes her fun is that she wants to be completely selfish but can never quite get away from her conscience. It’s an inverse of Batman being committed to doing the right thing and having to battle his darker urges. So I would like to see Selina in a more straightforwardly antagonistic role every now and then.

Or the Red Hood. I don’t think even his fans would deny that he’s a violent jerk, and often outright homicidal. Why on Earth does the rest of the Bat-Family put up with him? He’s a villain, and a really cool villain who nobody ever uses as a villain because… because he has his own title, I guess.

In general, it’s sort of a waste. Superhero writers can always find a use for a villain, but there’s only room in the lineup of titles for so many heroes. I’d rather see the villains I like have intermittent antagonistic appearances than languish on the sidelines because they turned good but nobody’s interested enough to write a story about them.


Honestly, I like villains who are villains that you understand. You get their reasoning but they are villains. For anti-heros, why cant we just have those guys start off that way and just continue to play the field? The flip flop on some characters can give you whiplash sometimes. It would be interesting to see a new line up of antiheroes who were created that way and stay that way.
Catwoman I never saw as a hero, antihero, or villain really. She is a theif. She does try to protect those she cares about (when she allows herself to care) but honestly I see her more of the grey area of not having a box to fit into.

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I like a good villain more. I find it more compelling personally but I think antiheroes are great too


I’m really enjoying Harley Quinn right now. I know she’s a villain, but i see her as more of a chaotic antihero. Shes crazy af, but she’s quick to deal out justice to people who do something wrong in her eyes.

I guess ultimately she’s just crazy chaos lol


Thanks for the reply! I don’t feel Harley is much of a villain these days. She’s seems firmly in the anti-hero to hero camp in most modern incarnations. Which is a bit of bummer for me, I prefer villainous Harley.


I like this interpretation of Selina being more grey. It’s fascinating!


I have not read the Omega Men. I’m intrigued!


For me it’s so interesting to see Harley Quinn with the joker and then without. In my opinion, she’s an antiheroine while the joker is a villain. Also my fav example of an antihero is poison ivy!!

Villains are easy to categorize or an easy pill to swallow. They are bad and evil and that is the Kool-aid that most of the world is swallowing today concerning everyone else. So villains are preferable to the human psyche.

Cat woman is an antihero in the fact that she has written her own morality code which doesn’t align completely but aligns itself enough with common morality. She is the cool anti-establishment character that many people wish they were.

I personally like a good antihero, but so often they are written poorly. The antihero is more relatable because I mean, be honest, what heroes do you know today? We are in a world without heroes. And if one pop star or celebrity or sports player popped in your mind, well at least the Koolaid is on tap.

I like the inner struggle, the wins and failures, and that model should show in stark contrast to the gloss of superheroes and villains. I like the occasional lower tier “villain” seeking to mend their ways. It is what they should do, right? Makes us question things.

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I like a character that would just as soon get stoned and couch surf. I really liked Etrigan in the last JLD movie. That’s my kinda antihero.

Not really out to harm, but not really there to do any good either. If good happens then yay!

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I am firmly in the villain camp. I’m also the leader of the Psychology of Supervillains Club. So my preference shouldn’t be a surprise.

Villains are more psychologically complex, when you peel back the “I’m a villain. (Mustache twirl)”

Is Vandal Savage really a villain or is he doing what is best for the planet and humanity, because he has tens of thousands of years of experience and observations on humanity and can see the big picture. The long game for humanity’s survival and the “heroes” just can’t see it because they have such limited life experience.

Sinestro was a mouthpiece for the Soviet Block during the Cold War. Then in the post Cold War era, he is the embodiment of the Nietzschean will to power, or is he just a renegade. The answer Is surprising complex and an interesting debate.

Is the Riddler just an OCD person who has to be “the smartest person in the room? Or is afraid of success and deliberately undermines his potential for success? The more gleeful he is in his machinations the more truly menacing he is. Is he actually a better foil to Batman than The Joker? An argument can be made that he is.

And what of Ra’s Al Ghul? We shall see this month.

Interested in joining the discussion? Join the Psychology of Supervillains Club and give us your take on what Ra’s psychology is and why. You can find us in the “Join a Club” section of Community Events. How To Join A Club

IMO, Villains are much more interesting than anti-heroes because they don’t change their morality. They are committed to their beliefs and actions and don’t back down. That is psychology much more interesting than a person who is wishy-washy on what they want out of life. The are often changed by the views of other people. They are morally and psychologically mailable. Unwilling to stand by their principles, even if society doesn’t like those principles. Villains are far more interesting when you peel them back.


Some villains I like to be just villains, some villains I like to be kinda good guys, some villains I like to be likable, some villains I like to be understandable, some villains I like to be utter monsters.

Luthor I prefer as a quasi heroic figure who will someday be reformed and become friends with Superman. Harley Quinn I prefer as a sociopathic and self-centered figure, with a real soft spot for her friends, and who is really likable and fun to watch. She’ll never be a hero, but she’ll never be a monster either. You root for her crimes. Deathstroke is monstrous but really badass, Joker is monstrous but occasionally very charming…

Oh, and Captain Nazi has absolutely no redeeming qualities. He’s the worst person imaginable. Who else would willingly name themself “Captain Nazi”?

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Here is an interesting troupe talk about anti-heroes. Enjoy.

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Ooh awesome! I’ll check it out, have to join the club too!