This is long so bear with me.
I was playing DA2 and noticed he said something after blowing up the chantry that changes my entire perception of him. “I took a spirit into my soul to achieve this.” Up until this point we had assumed that Justice had changed Anders based off what we knew of him in Awakenings but that line implies that Anders came up with his plan to blow up the chantry and start a war BEFORE he ever fused with Justice, and that brings a lot of what we know about Anders into question.
So I went back and looked at Anders whole character arc and have come up with a theory. Awakenings Anders was a persona he put on and he was never that guy to begin with.
When we first recruit Anders, Templar Rylock tries to arrest and execute him calling him a murderer. What was she referring to? We’re led to believe she was talking about the guards that were transporting him but how did she know they were dead, they could have been in one of the medical bays for all she knew, and Anders didn’t try to defend himself, all he says is “You wouldn’t believe me anyway.” Considering that the keep was just overrun by darkspawn saying “darkspawn killed them” would have been very believable. I believe they were talking about something entirely different. Also do we know that his Templar guards were killed by darkspawn, we never saw them die and Anders makes it very clear that he’s pleased their dead and even found it funny, it’s entirely possible that Anders did kill them using the confusion of the darkspawn attack to escape and create an explanation. We’re meant to think that Rylok was just overzealous or cruel but maybe she wasn’t. She’s the only character we meet that knew what Anders was like in the circle. My theory is that she wanted to arrest Anders because she knew what he was really like.
Everything we know about what Anders was like in the circle implies that he was as miserable as he is in DA2 so why was he always so cheerful in Awakenings? I believe that Anders acted the fool because it made him more likable, would the warden have stuck their neck out to protect Anders right after they first met if he was the brooding hate-filled man from DA2, probably not. He was using the grey wardens as a shield to hide behind, and as soon he no longer needed them he left. In DA2 Anders never explains why or how he left the wardens, the only explanation he gives is that they made him get rid of his cat, that’s not a reasonable explanation.
Also why would he follow Hawke into the deep roads? He made it very clear when they first met that he never wanted to even think about the deep roads again, yet Hawke helps him once and suddenly he follows him in with no complaints. He followed Hawke because like the wardens Hawke was a shield he could hide behind while he planned what he really wanted. Evidence of this is the fact that Hawke seems to get most of the blame for the war, throughout Inquisition Anders is barely mentioned everyone seems to blame Hawke for what happened when Anders was the one responsible. Hawke’s even the reason Anders is never taken to the Kirkwall circle by Meredith even though she knows he’s an apostate.
We’ve been led to believe that Anders was a cheerful funny guy who helped out a spirit friend and was changed negatively because of it but it was the other way around, Anders changed Justice, he himself said his hatred turned Justice into Vengeance, he also said that in a “please pity me” voice in an attempt to gain sympathy. If you have full rivalry with Anders he claims the chantry explosion was because he lost control of Vengeance which is clearly a lie, not only is there his statement about planning this before fusing but he set up the chantry explosion (and used Hawke to do it) long before it actually took place, this wasn’t losing control it was pre-meditated and carefully planned out for years.
I know that was long but I’ll give my closing statement. Anders is cunning and manipulative and always has been, even in awakenings. He hides behind people with more power or a larger profile so that nobody notices what he’s doing or who he really is, he plays the fool to gain support and plays the victim to gain sympathy and he’s always ready to blame others for his actions, the Templars, Justice etc. Even when he claims responsibility for things he does it in such a way as to try and make people pity him, "oh woe is me I’m so tortured". And that in total is why I believe that Anders is not only a villain but the best villain of the Dragon Age series.
Anders does hide behind Hawke in order to achieve his goals (and keep from being imprisoned) in DA 2, but I'm not sure the Awakenings Anders was a front. I think when he says "I took a spirit into my soul to achieve this" he wasn't taking about the bombing of the Chantry in particular, he simply meant that he wanted to start a movement that would change the way mages were treated. Justice and Anders both changed each other - Anders's anger combined with Justice's idealism created Vengeance. Separately the two characters were good people, but together they became an abomination, in both the literal and figurative sense.
The reason Anders left the wardens was because he was already becoming Vengeance by then. Justice (separate from Anders) could never have been a grey warden for long - they perform too many morally questionable actions for him to tolerate. When Justice became part of Anders, he found a new purpose by sensing the most wounded part of Anders's psyche. Ironically, his perception of what is just was corrupted by the memories of the greatest injustices Anders suffered.
Justice gave Anders a purpose as well. The spirit granted him an intense degree of focus that gradually chipped away at Anders's humanity. Justice was too pure and idealistic to survive outside of the fade - he might have become a rage demon if Anders hadn't come along. And Anders was too hurt and angry to be given such an intense degree of focus and purpose - there are some things even spirit healers can't mend. Without Justice Anders might have become a wandering drunk, or stayed with the wardens and become a human version of Oghren with a better sense of humor. Or maybe he would have died. And he would have been better off. Sometimes dead is better.
The Vengeance character is a metaphor of codependent relationships. Each of them is poisoned by the weaknesses of the other, and together they from something monstrous. It's also commentary on the (de)evolution of idealism into terrorism, though the two concepts are somewhat interrelated. Silver Warden (talk) 22:25, June 8, 2017 (UTC)
I suppose that could be another way of looking at his statement. I've just never been able to fully reconcile who Anders is and how much of himself he is throughout DA2 and that statement has always stuck out to me as being strange. It was just a theory anyway and thanks for giving me your thoughts on it.
I've been thinking about what the Justice/Vengeance is as a character. I think he is a Vengeance Demon and hasn't been a spirit of Justice for a long time. Anders usually calls him Justice because he doesn't want to fully admit to himself that he turned his friend into a demon because he was trying to help him. And Justice himself doesn't see that he's a demon because justice and vengeance are too close to one another, people who seek Vengeance easily mistake it for Justice, he still believes he is Justice.
Maybe a Vengeance spirit is somewhere between a demon (Rage) and spirit (Justice) a state brought about by being fused with a human. The feeling of Vengeance is a mixture of 2 different attributes which could not come about naturally for a spirit. Spirits are always clear on their purpose they are black and white and embody their attribute fully and don't usually represent complex emotions. Humans are obviously not we tend to sit in a very grey area where complex emotions like Vengeance can exist, so maybe fusing with Anders is what allowed a Spirit/Demon of Vengeance to come into being. He possibly created a new type of spirit one that could not exist naturally.
Of course I'm referring to them as separate people and using the term spirit and demon differently but the games have always been a little ambiguous about whether or not possessed people are still 2 beings or one, or how interchangeable the words demon and spirit are. The lore seems to change a little case by case and between games. --LoriasGS (talk) 23:05, June 8, 2017 (UTC)
"In DA2 Anders never explains why or how he left the wardens" In the DLC Legacy, Anders mentions that after he merged with Justice the wardens will probably kill him, because even the "Taint Brigade" hates abominations. Confirmed with that: http://dragonage.wikia.com/wiki/Anders_(short_story). --Virrac (talk) 05:58, June 9, 2017 (UTC)
- Oh yeah I totally forgot about that. Makes sense, considering that Anders/Vengeance is a slightly insane, murdering terrorist.
- Anyway, I think it's clear that Vengeance was a demon whereas Justice was a spirit. What's not clear is if he became a vengeance demon, or a demon named Vengeance. There are demons who have names that are synonyms for their demon type: Torpor (sloth demon) Hybris (pride demon), Allure (desire demon) etc. So he could have been a rage demon named Vengeance, or a new kind of demon. We haven't necessarily encountered every kind of demon, after all. Maybe they're just rare, like envy demons.