10 Best Antiheroes From 2010s Movies

From Travis Bickle to Michael Corleone to Snake Plissken to Jeff “The Dude” Lebowski, some of Hollywood’s most compelling protagonists have been antiheroes. A character doesn’t need the traditional mythical attributes of a hero for audiences to connect with them and invest in their story.

RELATED: 10 Best Antiheroes From 2000s Movies

The films of the 2010s brought a wide variety of antiheroes. Some of them were gun-toting badasses like dog-avenging ex-hitman John Wick, while others were just teenagers who didn’t appreciate all that their mother did for them, like Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson.

10 Lou Bloom (Nightcrawler)

Jake Gyllenhaal gave the performance of a lifetime as budding photojournalist Lou Bloom in Dan Gilroy’s haunting directorial debut Nightcrawler. Bloom films gruesome crimes and accidents so he can sell the footage to the press.

The character slowly loses a grip on his humanity as he becomes more interested in getting a good scoop than making sure horrifically injured people are okay.

9 Hit-Girl (Kick-Ass)

Matthew Vaughn’s movie adaptation of the Kick-Ass comics delightfully retained the pitch-black humor and ultraviolent edge of Mark Millar’s source material. Chloë Grace Moretz may have generated widespread controversy by dropping a C-bomb, but her take on Hit-Girl is spot-on.

Primed for her own spin-off, Hit-Girl is every bit the badass masked vigilante that Kick-Ass himself isn’t. She jumps into action to save him when he’s about to get killed.


8 Jordan Belfort (The Wolf Of Wall Street)

Martin Scorsese’s darkly comedic biopic of Jordan Belfort, The Wolf of Wall Street, divided critics with some complaining that its pitch-black humor and stylized visuals glorified Belfort’s criminal lifestyle. But, like Scorsese’s other biopics, The Wolf of Wall Street leaves the audience with the leeway to make up their own mind about the subject’s morality. Played by Leonardo DiCaprio, Belfort got rich by conning regular hard-working people out of their money.

RELATED: 5 Reasons The Wolf Of Wall Street Is A Great Satire (& 5 Why It Glorifies Jordan Belfort’s Lifestyle)

He comes off as a darker, more depraved version of Frank Abagnale, Jr., the con artist that DiCaprio played in Catch Me If You Can. At least Abagnale conned banks and airlines that could afford to lose capital; Belfort used scams to bankrupt people, not businesses – all to increase his own vast wealth, insisting he could spend their money better.

7 Riggan Thomson (Birdman)

Birdman talking to Riggan as he walks down the street

Michael Keaton received a much-deserved Oscar nomination (but, sadly, not a much-deserved Oscar win) for his turn as washed-up movie star Riggan Thomson in Alejandro G. Iñárritu’s incisive Best Picture-winning Hollywood satire Birdman.

On top of the self-aware edge of casting Keaton as an actor who’s known as a winged superhero, Keaton rounds out Riggan as a deeply flawed but ultimately vulnerable human being.

6 Erik Killmonger (Black Panther)

Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther was the first (and, so far, only) MCU film to be nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Among many things, the movie was praised for its complex, three-dimensional villain, Erik Killmonger – played brilliantly by Michael B. Jordan – who’s more of an antihero than a traditional baddie.

Killmonger is a classic example of a villain who sees themselves as the hero. His logic and motivations are sound – he wants to flip the script on colonizers – but his methods are questionable. The character has been compared to Heath Ledger’s Joker: a violent sadist who surprisingly makes a lot of sense.

5 The Driver (Drive)

Ryan Gosling in Nicolas Winding Refn's Drive

Nicolas Winding Refn’s slick neo-noir gem Drive was criticized for not living up to the “new Fast & Furious” promise of its trailers, but it was praised for just about everything else.

Ryan Gosling gives a captivating turn as “The Driver” – a Hollywood stunt driver by day, an underground getaway driver by night, and a full-time loner. Gosling has very little dialogue to work with, so his performance is mostly driven by body language. The hammer-wielding antihero softens up when he falls in love with his neighbor and becomes a father figure to her son.

4 Christine “Lady Bird” McPherson (Lady Bird)

The titular high schooler in Greta Gerwig’s stellar solo debut feature Lady Bird – played spectacularly by Saoirse Ronan – isn’t a gun-toting antihero like Snake Plissken or Tequila Yuen. But she lacks traditional heroic qualities because she’s one of the most painfully realistic and relatable portrayals of a teenager in movie history.

RELATED: Lady Bird’s Best Moment With Each Supporting Character

Lady Bird isn’t a bad person, but like everybody, she’s flawed. The movie is anchored by Lady Bird’s tumultuous yet beautifully human relationship with her mother, Marion, played by a perfectly matched Laurie Metcalf.

3 Howard Ratner (Uncut Gems)

Adam Sandler shows off jewelry in Uncut Gems

While Paul Thomas Anderson’s Punch-Drunk Love had previously revealed Adam Sandler’s dramatic abilities, the Safdie brothers’ Uncut Gems still managed to show audiences a side of the Sandman that they’d never seen before. The Safdies’ taut, suspenseful crime thriller plays like a two-hour anxiety attack.

Sandler’s quintessential antihero, gem dealer and habitual gambler Howard Ratner, keeps making terrible decisions. But the audience follows him every step of the way because there’s a slim chance he’ll pull it off and, at the same time, it’s extremely likely it’ll all blow up in his face instead. It’s like a feature-length version of Hitchcock’s bomb-under-the-table trope.

2 Django Freeman (Django Unchained)

Jamie Foxx as Django in Django Unchained

After boldly killing off Adolf Hitler at the hands of Jewish soldiers in Inglourious Basterds, Quentin Tarantino took his brutal historical revisionism a step further in his next film. Django Unchained uses the framework of a blood-soaked Leone or Corbucci-style spaghetti western to dole out uncompromising retribution against white slavers across the antebellum South.

Jamie Foxx gives a phenomenal performance in the title role. He brought the perfect combination of Oscar-caliber dramatic nuance and spot-on comedic timing to the now-iconic gunslinger.

1 John Wick (John Wick)

Beagle puppy Daisy in John Wick

With his game-changing John Wick script, Derek Kolstad penned a hitman thriller with Marvel-sized worldbuilding. That worldbuilding has spawned from an unlikely but undeniably awesome blockbuster franchise that gave Keanu Reeves the platform to reinvigorate his career with an eye-popping turn as the titular “Baba Yaga.”

He slaughters dozens of people throughout the film, but the audience can get behind the violence because it’s all in the name of avenging an adorable puppy. The genius of John Wick is that audiences are more compelled by revenge for the murder of a dog than they would be if John’s entire human family had been killed.

NEXT: 10 Ways The First John Wick Movie Set A High Bar

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