This whole gimmick of heroes not killing is some crap. Saying that killing a villain makes the hero as bad as the villain is straight wrong. Batman killing joker would have saved so many lives. I would argue that keep letting joker live to kill again is what makes batman as bad as joker. Were we wrong to hang the nazis after the Nuremberg trials? Should we have let them flee to another country and establish a 4th reichstag? The insanity of modern thought just has me fed up.
I absolutely agree that the no kill rule is stupid.
Butttttt… I disagree about Batman. He is the only character in comics that should have an absolute no kill rule.
Not because he is better than anyone but the opposite. If Bruce ever crossed that line, he wouldn’t be able to stop. He would kill the joker, then Bane, then Ivy, then a crime boss, then a random henchman, then a street thug, then a Jay walker. His oath is what holds him together.
But it’s a stupid rule for anyone else.
I agree i was disappointed when they had arrow stop killing i was like wow seriously i get why they do it but its getting real old real fast they should allow heros to kill like whats wrong with arrow killing bad guys
I disagree. The reason the heroes have a no killing rule is because they believe in the idea of redemption. They want to see their enemies redeem themselves. Now is it ridiculous for someone like Lex Luthor to keep escaping and breaking the law? Of course, but the moment they cross that line, what stops them from killing every criminal in their path from that point on?
Our world is dark and depressing enough, it’s nice to have a place where the good guys go out of their way not to kill.
Operative word after Nuremberg is “trials”
The one big reason our DC heroes don’t kill is because you cannot kill these excellent rogues like Batman’s super villain’s. What are they going to do kill the Joker and never see him again in an ongoing publication.
only a Sith deals in absolutes
The best argument in favor of the no-kill rule is that it creates a clear distinction between superheroes and vigilantes. Their behavior is tolerated by the police precisely because they do not assume for themselves the power to use lethal force. Because they hide their identities, they can’t get the sort of leeway that might be granted to a private eye or a bounty hunter.
Granted, that never stopped the Shadow…but the Shadow isn’t typically considered a superhero. (He’s not the Punisher, either, and that’s why I’m less convinced by the “no better than the villains” argument than other fans are.)
The reason superheroes are super is because they find ways to defeat evil without killing. If you want to see somebody just killing bad guys, watch or read literally anything besides superhero stories. This is like complaining that baseball is about hitting a ball with a stick.
Anybody wearing a mask pummeling bad guys outside of comic books would be seen by the public as nefarious. And the police would shoot and kill them.
As for the more abstract ethical question, killing someone who is under your control - a prisoner - is evil. That’s a fundamental belief of mine, arrived at through my experience as a survivor of violence. And the Joker’s a fictional character. In real life criminals can be safely imprisoned.
Superheroes and their respective villains are typically more representative of ideologies than realistic people in a realistic situation. Battles between superheroes and villains tend to depict a battle between ideologies: good vs. evil. The real world is obviously more complex than that, so other solutions are sometimes necessary.
I’m fine with heroes killing in stories if it’s to explore the complexity of the real world. If they’re doing it just because (coughDCEUcough) then it serves no purpose than to make the teenagers and insecure adults feel more grown up.
Also no kill rules make characters and battles more interesting and allows comic book companies to hold onto their precious villain without having to think of a contrived way to bring them back.
So in the end, I’m fine with heroes killing so long as the writer has a d*mn good reason for doing it. One exception: Batman. Batman should never kill; the no-kill rule has become so ingrained in who the character is that he’s no longer the same character if that part is removed.
I can remember when I first saw Batman Begins. The movie was done so well I thought jeez this Bruce Wayne is so crazy he’s wearing a mask dressed as a bat driving his car over rooftops.
Also worth noting: I’m not here to debate the ethics of capital punishment. I’m just saying that since superheroes are more of a reflection of an ideology than a reflection of the real world, there is no reason for them to kill unless the writer wishes to write a story that IS a reflection of the real world.
First of all, I would hesitate to call the no killing rule modern. With a few exceptions, heroes have had this ideal since the 40’s. Batman used to kill, sure, but that was just a sliver of his overall history. Even in some of his darker stories like the Dark Knight Returns, the rule remains intact.
Second of all, as msgtv said, the Nuremberg trials were in fact trials. One person did not just decide to kill all of the captured Nazi soldiers, they were put in front of a judge and jury after being captured. This is the way that our justice system works. And it should be remembered that most superheroes are not in fact agents of the law, and would just be murderers if they killed. They don’t have the same authority that cops and soldiers do, and even they ideally leave killing as their last choice. If heroes like Batman killed, then they would be spitting in the face of the justice system they’re trying to prove works. Batman is trying to weed out the corruption of Gotham, so to completely ignore the rules of law that are put in place would go against his mission entirely.
Now there are instances where a hero killing makes sense. Wonder Woman and Captain America were trained as soldiers and prepared for war. Even still, they are meant to be symbols of peace and hope, so it only makes sense if killing is their last resort. The same can be said for Green Lantern, who is an intergalactic cop and technically has the authority to do so. But unless there is no other option, then this does not fall in line with the basic principals of the law (it’s also worth noting that the Book of Oa is pretty restrictive on allowing Green Lanterns to kill, but that’s not really all that apropos to the situation, since it could be easily changed and isn’t routed in real world laws.)
Killing falls outside of the jurisdiction of characters like the Flash, though, who’s just trying to use his powers to better the lives of others. The ultimate fate of the criminals he catches is up to the Central City legal system. Sure, it would be easier to just kill them, but that wouldn’t be the moral or legal thing to do. And then there are characters like Batman, Green Arrow and Daredevil. These are broken men, with an anger, a brutality inside of them that could very easily give way to insanity if pushed too far. Their roles are to make their cities better, and they know that if they kill, if they take things too far, then they may push the beasts inside of them, and they’ll never be able to come back.
And then there’s Superman. There’s no superhero that I feel more strongly about in this regard than Superman. He’s an alien. He knows it. Everyday he walks through the crowds of Metropolis, feeling alone, knowing that with a simple flick of his wrist, he could kill any one of the people he sees. He’s afraid of himself, he’s afraid of what he can do. And killing, taking a life, would only separate him further, only make him less human. He would be pushed farther and farther away until he would ultimately succumb to his own power. Look no farther than the Injustice universe for proof of that. He kills the Joker, thinking that he’s saving thousands, and ends up enslaving billions because he was finally corrupted by his power. Clark desperately needs to feel human, needs to feel that connection, and killing would only sever those ties that are already fragile enough.
So yes, I do think there are times when heroes should kill, but those times are few and far between. These heroes are not judge, jury and executioner. Maybe that’s how it would work with superheroes in the real world. It’s possible. But I find it disturbing that the “realistic” approach is to have heroes have little regard for human life. Obviously there are times when the hard call has to be made, just like with police officers and soldiers, but to put all that power into the hands of people with already enhanced abilities would surely bring on more problems than they would solve. Taking a life isn’t an easy thing to do. It can damage a person. And I don’t think we want superheroes that are actively making their mental states worse. That can only lead to another Heroes in Crisis, and I don’t think any of us want that.
Others have made most of my points, but I do want to talk about Batman in particular. What I think makes the character so fascinating (and appealing to me personally) is his sense of individualist ethics. He seems to me to be someone who believes that no one deserves to be killed and that people are responsible for their own actions. Thus, the Joker is blameworthy for taking lives, but killing him is not an acceptable solution, or at least not without a trial.
Now, as a committed individualist myself, my deontological analysis of the character’s philosophy is somewhat biased, but I think it’s more that that’s what draws me to Batman stories in the first place. Either way, this kind of wrestling with moral/philosophical dilemmas and the concept of justice is what makes Batman more interesting than most other action heroes.
And to be clear: I don’t necessarily think Batman is right never to kill, but I think Batman stories are more interesting for that wrinkle than they would be otherwise.
Please disregard my second reply! I’d delete it if I could. I’m too passionate about the subject and going away.
I am in favor of Batman not killing. It’s what defines him, but I would like Alfred to go finish the job behind his back.