What it Means to Be an Anti-Hero

Many films have approached the concept of an anti-hero and have failed.  Films like Bad Santa relied on crafting their protagonist in a way that makes you hate to love them and vice versa, but failed when it comes to fully developing the characters as a whole.  Though a Santa Claus costume-wearing Billy Bob Thornton is kind of charming, he still doesn’t achieve what Joon-ho did in his film.  The beauty and achievement of Snowpiercer is that it takes on this heavy burden and knocks it out of the park.

Curtis, played by Chris Evans, is a perfect example of a successful anti-hero.  Throughout the film, the audience empathizes, roots for, and inevitably judges him and more and more as aspects of his character are revealed.  We initially root for him as he leads the rebellion of the tail-end of the train, but as the group progresses and travels farther forward we learn things about our hero that doesn’t make him seem very heroic after all.  Especially when he reveals that he used to participate in and enforce cannibalism, we are instantly turned off from liking and trusting him.  However, through Evans’ raw delivery of this tragic monologue we can’t help but to still feel for this character.  Things that he did in the past almost seem less horrific due to his genuine delivery and now-changed lifestyle.

The real credit for this achievement goes to the director Joon-ho, as he wrote this character so carefully.  Because of how he layered the intensity and rise and falls of the film, the audience became putty in his hands as we tried to grasp on to someone to relate to and root for.  It takes a masterful director to control an audience so precisely, and because of this mastery Curtis has become a true model of what it means to be an anti-hero.

In which scenes do you find yourself most connected to or repulsed by the character of Curtis?


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