**Warning: Suicide Squad spoilers ahead. You have been warned!
The anti-hero is the world's greatest obsession at the moment. We, who thrive on the beauty of storytelling in so many different ways, are flocking to the cinemas in droves to live out the tales of Deadpool, Guardians of the Galaxy and Suicide Squad. These films, with their decidedly anti-stance on the most heroic of heroes, have made a mockery of what it is to be a saviour.
And I love it.
Why? Because perhaps entertainment is reflecting the universal truth we are all discovering, deep within ourselves. That superheroes don't exist. Humans do. And more than that, normal every-day humans are the heroes we've been looking for all along.
We have slipped into the age of the non-hero, of the normal man, woman or child who stands up for change. Interestingly, it seems to coincide with our redefinition of evil—that evil no longer comes in grand gestures.
It only takes one person and one person alone to commit an evil act that will change our world forever.
Evil isn't always a grand gesture
Our world is no amateur when it comes to evil deeds. Our history books are littered with them, and we see more and more on our television screens and Facebook feeds every day. But understanding evil comes with understanding that evil is not necessarily a grand gesture. Evil is not only a bomb in a marketplace or a mass shooting spree during an innocent movie viewing. Evil is not a wave that crashes around you, imploding your world.
It comes upon us in baby steps.
Recently I saw Suicide Squad, the new DC film that throws together our classic super-villains into a haphazard team of renegades fighting against one of their own. They never truly bond (they are villains after all) and the film is littered with fear that they are all going to abandon each other when the bullets let fly (something you would never find in an Avengers script)—and yet, we as the audience find ourselves on their team. Celebrating them, batting for them, and most of all, feeling defeated with them despite the fact that for years, we've been toasting to their downfall instead.
Harley Quinn wasn't born Harley Quinn. Diablo never meant to kill his family. Baby steps, missteps, broken boundaries that seemed like little more than a tiny hurdle, are where their evil began.
And yet, here they are. Saving the world from an evil that wishes to break us for not bowing down to it.
In studying international relations, I read too much about war and conflict to believe that people are only good or only bad. Instead, I grew to believe that it's difficult for us to recognise which of our small actions may tumble down a steep hill and pick up other ideas along the way that send it careening out of control.
Evil doesn't wear a black cape and mask. It is no longer easy to recognise what is evil and what isn't because the small beginnings of the type of evil we see at the moment are making it too difficult.
Our hero is being redefined because our understanding of evil is being redefined.
A new Hero for a new Evil
Perhaps this is the true power of this slew of anti-heroes on our big screens. It is helping us to understand this new age of evil, and that the unlikeliest of heroes, is still a hero we desperately need.
Jesus is the best example of this. He was a revolutionary type of hero that we desperately needed but didn't understand. A sacrificial lamb who willingly lay his life down was a far cry from the ancient Greek and Roman gods and gladiators that had been the heroes of the people for generations.
Much evil is done in the name of good. Much good is done under the umbrella of evil. We are searching for answers to conquer the new evil we are battling in both entertainment and reality.
Celebrate the anti-hero. Because we could conceivably find the answer to defeating a new evil in the very evil itself.
Talisa Pariss is the co-ordinator of the school-based Louder Theatre Company, teaching drama, communication skills and confidence to kids. When she's not pretending for a living, she can be found indulging in any kind of creativity she can get her hands on.
Talisa Pariss'sprevious articles may be viewed at http://www.pressserviceinternational.org/talisa-pariss.html