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Danger: Diabolik

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Danger: Diabolik

The term anti-hero gets tossed around quite a bit without much attention paid. The definition has become so muddled over time that there is no clear cut example, except for someone whose goals and methods do not make them a hero, but the story in which they are the protagonist makes them out to be one, anyway. Of course there are many interpretations, but every time I try to think of a character who personifies the anti-hero, one name always comes up: Diabolik.

Diabolik (John Phillip Law) is a rich playboy with a batcave-esque hideout full of black and white Jaguars, who steals things for seemingly no reason at all. Clearly he is exceedingly wealthy, (as evidenced by the fact that he has a giant rotating bed covered in money), has a hot woman by his side (Marisa Mell), and really could not have a care in the world. So, to kill the boredom, he takes it upon himself to make every other rich person’s life miserable by stealing vast sums of money from the police, the mob, and anyone else who may have “vast sums” of anything that Diabolik might want.

He steals from the rich to give to himself. That’s my kind of anti-hero.

Based on the Italian comic character of the 1960s, Danger: Diabolik was revered in its time as one of the most faithful comic adaptations ever made. Not too hard to see why, though. Comics and films in post-WW2 America were very pro-country, pro-patriotism with good role models, Truth, justice, the American way, and all that. In Italy, the good people having had their asses handed to them and wiping the taste of Mussolini’s fascism out of their mouths, the idea of an anti-hero, someone who would steal from the government just for the hell of it, seemed gleefully rebellious and all too welcome to the counter-cultural movement at the time.

It could be argued that Diabolik does indeed commit his crimes as some form of social satire (ie. blowing up the treasury and banks to eliminate the country’s personal debts). Since he feels the police and the government are too incompetent to stop him, he has the right to do what he does and get away with it. Perhaps there really is a method and some morals behind his actions. Or, maybe he just likes to blow things up. It could go either way, really.

It is difficult to justify a character like Diabolik. He steals things because stealing things its fun. He gets into danger because danger is more exciting than doing things the safe way. He steals things that are seemingly impossible to steal just because everyone tells him they are impossible to steal. In any other movie, Diabolik would be the bad guy. He is still the bad guy in this movie, too. Only this time, he has the coolest car, the sweetest costume, and hottest girlfriend.

And in the end, no matter what their actions or intentions, the person who has those things is always somebody’s hero.

J.D. Renaud

J.D. Renaud has no formal education in film, but that is more than evident upon meeting and/or seeing him. A purveyor of all things eccentric, he prides himself on being a guinea pig test subject for any new form of media he is given. He currently lives in Winnipeg Manitoba with his go-go dancer roommate.


Written by thesilentmajoritysays

February 23, 2009 at 12:00 PM

Posted in crime, superhero

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