Antivillains are the opposite of antiheroes. While an antihero works with the good guys but has selfish motives or performs a few villainous/criminal deeds, the antivillain works with the villains but has noble motives and may perform heroic deeds. While these people may have no qualms against most heroes, they will often clash, if a hero opposes them or tries to prevent their noble goal.
But, as can be read from the text below, the definition of antivillainism and motives thereof may sometimes vary.
Saving Loved Ones
This is a very common driving force among antivillains. It usually works in one of the following two ways.
The first is that to save their loved one they must preform evil deeds. An example of an antivillain with this type of motivation is Mr. Freeze. He attempted to save his wife from a disease by stealing ingredients for a cure, becoming one of Batman's enemies in the process.
The second is when someone villainous holds a loved one hostage and makes the antivillain commit evil deeds. This also includes promising to save the loved one (on most occasions the promise is an empty lie).
An example of an antivillain driven by this type of motivation is Anakin Skywalker, who joined the dark side of the Force to save Padme's life. He was promised that the powers of the dark side would allow him to keep her alive. Ironically, Anakin accidentally killed her in his fury. His visions of her dying were true, and his fear of them happening caused it.
Through some twisted idea, the antivillain believes that their horrendous acts will bring about peace. A textbook example of this is the character Ozymandias from Watchmen. This type of antivillain will often cause harm in order to bring about their goal of peace.
Sometimes antivillains have themselves at risk. It might be an illness that can only be cured with the right equipment, but which is so expensive that it has to be stolen. It could be continuous need for energy, which has to be satiated so that the villain can continue to live on. It might be, that someone is forcing the villain do horrific and/or criminal acts, or the villain will be killed, or hurt.
Comic Book Antivillains
Bat-mite is (meaning for sure the post-crisis of Infinite earths-version) a similar to the being Mr. Mxyzptlk. Except that he is Batmans fan, and therefore irritates him. He also doesn`t want to hurt people.
Catwoman is a world famous catburglar, who also saves innocent people. Has battled against crime with various heroes.
Poison Ivy wants nothing more than to save the world's plant life. She is basically an eco-terrorist. She will do anything, even commit murder, to save the planet's natural flora.
Sister Zero is a good woman driven mad by the Black Mask. In her madness she blames her sister for the torture of herself and her husband, Simon Burton; she believes that her sister is now possessed by a cat demon. She is determined to get rid of the cat demon, even if it means killing her sister. Her insanity has confused her; she means well, but is too mad to know any better.
Sinestro used to be, as told by many, the greatest Green Lantern of them all. But because he decided to employ questionable means to spread peace to the universe, he was kicked out of the Corps. Because of this (and because he thought that the GL-corps aren`t doing any good), he decided to destroy the Corps (and/or "improve" it), and now torments those who still wear the Green Ring. He commits countless evil acts, all in the name of universal peace.
Currently, Sinestro is a Green lantern.
Zoom (Hunter Zolomon) wants to make heroes better, by forcing them suffer through tragedies.
Ozymandias used to be a hero. Determined to put an end to the Cold War, he concocted a plan to destroy New York so that the nations of the world might join forces against this mutual threat.
Ra's al Ghul is/was (depending in whether he`s dead or not) the leader of the League of Assassins. He seeks to bring peace to world, by killing those who do evil. Even if countless innocents must be sacrificed as well.
Talia al Ghul follows in her father's footsteps.
Preston Payne was one of the Clayfaces, until he died. He was an insane man, in love with various women. He protected his loved ones, but killed many people in so doing.
Mr. Mxyzptlk is an interdimensional imp, with reality changing powers. He could, of course, rule the universe with these powers, if he so wished. However, instead of that he chooses to have his own brand of fun at Superman's expense.
Man-bat is Kirk Langstrom, who is (much like Lizard) a good man, who may change to a monster.
Two-face suffers of extreme dual identity. Half of him is a decent man, who is ready to do good, while the other is evil. He decides his every important action, by flipping a coin.
Arnold Wesker suffered/suffers (whether he`s dead or not) of a different kind of dual identity. He`s divided to a timid, well meaning and obeying person, and an evil crimelord person. The crime lord is a puppet named Scarface, and it opresses the timid side of Ventriloquist. So, to sum up, Wesker is both good and evil.
Solomon Grundy is a zombie, who is dull witted (usually), and will do what others want him to do, because of his weak will. If they`re not careful, though, he will kill them, due to his unstable, feral nature.
Mr. Freeze always has a motive to be an antivillain. Whether it is because he trys to save his wife, or punish those who have done others wrong, he always has a motive.
Jason Todd use to be the second Robin. Then he died.Then he came back to life, and attempted to control crime so, that there wouldn`t be any innocent victims. He was stopped by Batman, and after those incidents, Jason has continued to be an antivillain over the years. More or less.
Currently Jason is a member of The outlaws. Which makes him more of an antihero.
Nekron wanted to bring piece to the universe by killing everyone.
Scourge of worlds wants to make Earth and its inhabitants stronger, by attacking it in a cruel fashion. The way Zoom does, but in a grander scale.
Galactus is a cosmic being who has to eat planets so that he can live on. He doesn`t do it because he´s evil (though, he often acts like a real a-hole, but that`s probably because alot of demigods often do), but simply because, well, he doesn`t wanna starve to death.
Deadpool is both an antihero and an antivillain, because he`s an assasin. Which means that if he`s being payed for the kill, he`ll kill anyone. No matter if the intented victim is good or evil. Also, because he`s insane/comic book crazy, he might kill someone because...well, for some stupid reason. All this makes him an antivillain.
Usually he acts as a hero, though.
Lizard is actually a man who wouldn`t want to do evil (Curt Connors), but when stressed out, turns to a lizard like monster who wants to destroy humankind.
Currently, Curt Connors is dead, but Lizard still lives...
Magneto is the most known evil mutant, who does evil to humans (and his enemy mutants), so that mutants could reign over humans, who have always wronged them. So, basically he trys to do good, but his means and purpose are evil.
Psychoman is a man from Microverse. He wants to conquer planet Earth, to get more living space for his race. But he totally acts like a jerk while doing so.
Stranger is a space scientist, who does experiments all over the universe. They`re mostly NOT the kind of experiments, that would be safe for the test subjects. But, that usually is the case with tests done by scientists.
He also wants all of universe to be safe. Unfortunately, he thinks that it can only be kept safe by destroying all the races that cause troubles. Luckily, he`s also a just being, so there`s always a possibility of him changing his mind about destroying something.
He has also done favors to the universe on various occasions.
Morbius was a vampire. That`s why he had to drink blood to stay alive. Which is why he had to kill.
Currently, he`s healed of his curse.
Will-o-The-wisp is a kind man. But he always had a reason to act destructively, because his life has been threatened in various occasions.
Juggernaut has been one of the greatest threats, that many of the street-level heroes ( for example: X-men, Spiderman ) of Marvel have faced. He has also killed many people, and attempted to kill many people.
But, he was a hero for a while, and also may do things he doesn`t usually do. Like not to kill someone he doesn`t like, save the world or quit in middle of a fight he didn`t start.
John Jameson is an on again/off again werewolf. He wouldn`t want to be, but when you are one, it`s difficult to not be one.
Kraven the hunter is one of the greatest hunters in the world (of Marvel universe 616 Earths). He hunts animal themed superheroes and sometimes villains, too. What makes him an antivillain then? If he promises something, he`ll keep his promise. If he does, it leads to his downfall.
Korvac tried to bring peace to the universe, even if it didn`t seem that way.
Mole man is a man who was despised by the surface worlds people. He escaped their loathing underground, and soon became a leader of an army of monsters. He has often used these monsters when trying to destroy the surface humans, but will usually leave them alone. He has also helped to save Earth at least once.
Werewolf by night has the same problem as John Jameson, as can also be judged by his name. He may be, anyhow, more of an antihero, because he has killed many evil persons.
Symbiotes are creatures that do hideous things, because they were all traumatized because of an attack by Galactus. Some of them have, anyway, actually been helpful (see Hybrid and Venom).
J. Jonah Jameson ( junior ) has been a newspaper publisher most of his life. He has an obsession of bringing Spider-man to justice (which is quite uncalled for), and has used numerous plots against him. He is still, anyhow, a decent (even if obnoxious) man, who shows his humane spirit once in a while...when also trying to humiliate Spider-man.
Impossible man is much like DCs Mr. Mxyzptlk, except that his powers and home are different, and he`s not malicious, like Mxyzptlk.
Harry Osborn has been the second Green goblin, numerous times. But due to many reasons (like for example, him being a good man inside), he has always stopped being a villain. He also has never killed anybody, severely injured nobody or destroyed anyones life.
Jean Grey is a good woman, and a hero. But she is also Dark Phoenix.
Sentry is a hero, but he is also a villain...
Typhoid Mary was a loved one of Daredevil. A sweet girl, actually. Well, her good persona is. She suffers of extremely divided personality. She has a good, and an evil persona. The evil persona has been, for example, an assassin of Kingpin. No matter what is done, Mary seemingly can`t get rid of Typhoid.
Dragon man is a cyborg. It/he is mostly a naive (currently he isn`t though, due to Valeria re-jiggering with his brain), destructive and good person. But the reason he`s an antivillain, is that he can be manipulated easily, to do evil things. Yet, he can also be a force of goodness, if treated friendly.
General Thunderbolt Ross use to be the leader of an army, which battled numerous times, against the Hulk. He wanted to destroy the Hulk, because he has a personal vendetta against him, but also because Hulk causes massive destruction, almost everywhere where he goes. Even if the Hulk has also saed millions of lifes, and will continue to do so.
At his present state, general is the Red Hulk, and is acting as a hero, who doesn`t waste time trying to kill him. Anymore. For now, that is.
Dr. Kavita Rao created a "cure" for mutants, with her employees. She sought to destroy the mutagen with this cure, which would´ve made mutants ordinary humans. She didn`t want to hurt anyone, but unfortunately ended up teaming up with a violent alien, and hiring violent thugs. So, she meant well, but used too drastic methods.
Ezekiel pretended to help Spider-man, and actually did so, a little. He did it all to get his powers, and become a hero himself. In the end, he realized that spider-man would always be better hero than him, and sacrificed himself for him. All of this, made him an antivillain.
Morlun has almost the same problem as Galactus, in a lot smaller scale. He has to eat animalistic beings, or he will die.
What makes him less of an antivillain, is that he acts like a real jerk.
Normie Osborn was a Green Goblin in the MC2-universe. He was a Goblin only because he thought that it was his duty to keep the Goblin legacy going. He later gave up being villainous. So, he was a villain, but not for long, and his heart wasn`t in it.
Puppet master is a man with terrifying plans. He does horrible things, but is kind to her step daughter Alicia. He has done numerous horrible or mischievous things to make her happy. That`s why he is (at least sometimes) an antivillain.
Jimmy-6 is/was(?) a mobster who didn`t wanna be one, and a few times even teamed up with Ben Reilly to do heroic things.
Gibbon use to be an unsucessful villain who couldn`t catch a break (not even as a hero), and after numerous series of events, he gave up being part of the super-community. But, who knows, maybe he will resurface again. For his sake though, it`s best if he doesn`t.
Namor use to be an antivillain in the silver age. He was angry towards human race, that had wronged against his people (accidentally). He wanted to punish them, and attacked the human race, numerously. Nobody died during the attacks, because of the competence of all the heroes who fought against him, and the fact that he still had a good soul.
Naturally, he became a hero again, gradually. These days acts as both a super(anti)hero and a monarch. Who does violent things
Council of Reeds was a team of Reed Richards`s from alternate universes, who abandoned their families, in order to save the multiverse more effectively. In the process, they became more ruthless. If dreadful things needed to be done, they would be done, by them. As long as everything would solved. After a while, though, the whole council got killed by Celestials and Kree.
Zorlgub is an enemy of Spirou and Fantasio, who wants to rule the world. What makes him an antivillain, is that he`s just too nice be a regular villain. He has never killed and he doesn`t want to harm his enemies.
Darth Vader was an evil sith, who spread terror all over the galaxy.
But, he was once a good man who had been manipulated for years, by someone even more evil.
Sorceress of Zoom was a woman who ruled the magic city of zoom, and was pretty evil. She tried to be as evil as she acted, but always wound up battling against evil villains and saving the innocents. Now, that`s an antivillain!
Iron lady was a criminal, who fought against more evil criminals. Is there a pattern here...?
Villains Who Have A More Humane Side
They differ from antivillains. These villains may have had many traumas, that pushed them to the dark side. They may be friendly to those closest to them. But they aren`t antivillains, because they don`t do things that benefit a large amount of people, but instead cause suffering to a large amount of people. Examples of humane villains are Rogues and Kingpin*.
*Even if Kingpin has a few times, stopped being a criminal overlord, he has always returned to life of crime.
If a villain does very evil things or has very evil goals, but also may save the world, if he/she wants to, she/he is conflicted.
Dr. Doom. He wants to destroy the Fantastic four, and rule the world (and if he gets the chance, the universe). He uses destructive plans, and evil means, and plain acts evil, to achieve his goals. But, if the world (or universe) is in danger that he doesn`t cause, he may give a helping hand. Or he may try to save the universe himself. Naturally, he will go back to being a menace, after the conflict.
Chameleon. He`s a criminal who mimiques people to carry out his evil schemes. What makes him conflicted, anyway, is that he trys to make his victims closed ones lives better (disguised as the victim), once he has killed them.
This was revealed in Amazing Spiderman # 603. It isn`t known how long he has done this generosity.
Mystique. She`s usually in the side of the devils, but for a high enough cause, can switch to the heroes side, for an arc or a few.
Prowler use to be an antivillain, but these days (when he is actually seen) he is a hero.
When a villain acts humanely
Sometimes, even the most evil villain seems to do the right thing, or seem humane, even if he/she/it may be as evil as normally. For example, Norman Osborn use to have a weakness, which made him revert back from his Green goblin persona, to his good man persona. That weakness was his love for his son Harry. These days, his son doesn`t seem to matter to him all that much.
Thanos has often, after destroying something massive (like the universe), ended up changing everything back to normal.
There are also many more examples, besides these ones.