When I was working on XIII a few days ago, I started thinking about heroes versus antiheroes (or protagonists versus antagonists) and what the difference is.
An antihero is someone who might have some characteristics you could consider as being antagonistic. Instead of having courage and loyalty and mental fortitude, your antihero could be lazy and scared and mentally weak. However, he must have some trait that sets him apart from the main antagonist of the story. He cannot stoop as low as the antagonist in his quest to reach the story’s goal. Or he has to have some endearing traits that make up for his laziness and weakness. Perhaps he will develop these traits during the story, even if he is reluctant to.
On the other hand, the hero is someone who is the typical “knight in shining armor” type. He’s brave and strong and willing to work hard and make sacrifices. He doesn’t wait for things to happen to him; he goes out and does what he has to do. He’s an idealistic character, but he must have some kind of tragic flaw so he isn’t perfect and therefore annoying to read about. I personally hate reading about perfect characters (Mary Sues, as they are commonly known).
Do you like reading (or watching movies about) antiheroes? Or do you prefer the typical hero?