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  1. #1
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    Default Anti-Heroes like the Punisher or Dexter being as bad as the scum they kill

    It's long been said by some people that characters who kill scum are no better than said scum. That they're hypocrites and all.

    It's something I never really got. To me, the likes of the Punisher and Dexter Morgan are clearly better than the criminals they habitually kill. Like I'm going to believe that there's no difference between them and a sexual predator who preys on children then kill them. Like killing a rapist is exactly the same as killing an helpless innocent.

    Hell, sometimes I wonder if some people don't actually think these anti-heroes are worse than the villains they kill. Like, they're thinking "Leave them alone, you big meanie you!". Those criminals might have families to feed, so who cares about the families of innocent people they kill? Or they had a terrible childhood, yet funnily those anti-heroes probably didn't suffer a tragedy themselves. Like criminals are always kind of poor and down on their luck, while murderous anti-heroes are elitist fascists.

    At least that's how it come off to me, sometimes. Though, as funny as it might sound, I'm not exactly fond of the death penalty. It kills too many innocents, because most of the people in charge are idiots, or corrupt, or both. Still, people who can be proven to be scum without a shadow of a doubt, should be dealt with harshly.

  2. #2
    Veteran Member CSTowle's Avatar
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    Unfortunately concepts like "bad" and "evil" can't be measured objectively, like "a child rapist is an 87 on the evil scale and Dexter's a 63". Life would be a heck of a lot easier if we did have such measurements, but since we can't the focus is instead on "is this bad/evil and what should we do about it?". Hard enough to get on that page, and then when we do we're all pretty much in agreement that we'd rather have a consensus view on what to do about it and a system in place with checks and balances rather than random vigilantes outside of the system.
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  3. #3
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    The problem comes from thinking about these anti-heroes in a realistic setting. In the real world, vigilantes frequently kill innocents, or use it as an excuse for bigotry. But Frank Castle and his ilk never make mistakes, and their victims are monsters one and all.

    In the real world, vigilantes are dangerous because they are fallible. In fantasy they are heroes because they are not.

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    Veteran Member CSTowle's Avatar
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    Except they're really not. Watch any season of Dexter past the first, look at Punisher's attempts at personal relationships with characters like Microchip or any of the Ennis era types, or even Punisher joining the mob.

    I'll agree you can't look at these guys too realistically, even Superman punching the bad guys would be frowned upon (and rightfully so) if he existed in real life.
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  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Arvandor View Post
    The problem comes from thinking about these anti-heroes in a realistic setting. In the real world, vigilantes frequently kill innocents, or use it as an excuse for bigotry. But Frank Castle and his ilk never make mistakes, and their victims are monsters one and all.

    In the real world, vigilantes are dangerous because they are fallible. In fantasy they are heroes because they are not.
    I actually agree with you, as far as vigilantes in the real world go. Dexter's methods however, seem a lot safer than the Punisher's, since he (Dexter) investigated his victim before taking them out. Now, I'm not saying his methods, if applied in the real world, would be flawless, but they come with far lesser chances of the wrong person being killed than the Punisher's methods.

    The thing is though, that the disagreements with such drastic methods, don't seem to just come with legitimate concerns of innocents getting killed, but that it's morally wrong to kill even someone proven to be scum. Is there any doubt now that Charles Manson is responsible for the deaths of innocent people? Yet some people would act like killing him in cold blood is exactly the same as killing his innocent victims. That's what bothers me. Though, I do realize that sometimes, death is too kind a fate. But did Manson's lifelong imprisonment prove punishing enough for him? Because if he's been treated rather kindly, then is jail much of a punishment at all?

  6. #6
    "do what bert says" bert's Avatar
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    you can look at it two ways:

    1) killing is killing -- they are equally bad
    2) some killing is justified -- they are killing "bad" folks

    (and I would say you left "Wolverine" off your list, he frequently killed people in his early days).

    it comes down to your personal morality on if you view them as #1 or #2.

    (personally?. . . . I have no issue with it, so I see it as #2).
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  7. #7
    Teenage Exorcist just another user's Avatar
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    The Punisher is the biggest serial killer in the Marvel Universe. And I'm sure I remember reding stories about 20 years ago when he was executing criminals for some pretty petty crimes that would be unlikely to result in them getting much jail time if convicted. Can't remember any specifics, sorry, but it really put me off the character.

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    Quote Originally Posted by just another user View Post
    The Punisher is the biggest serial killer in the Marvel Universe. And I'm sure I remember reding stories about 20 years ago when he was executing criminals for some pretty petty crimes that would be unlikely to result in them getting much jail time if convicted. Can't remember any specifics, sorry, but it really put me off the character.
    I'm aware of an old Spiderman story where Punisher goes insane and starts shooting people over minor infractions. But I think it was rectonned in the first Punisher mini as being an imitator.

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    Nostalgia Fanwanker Pharozonk's Avatar
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    Meh, I've never cared for anti-heroes. The only one I can think of that I like would be the Spectre, but even he's a force of God and not really bound by human moral standards.
    Last edited by Pharozonk; 08-02-2014 at 12:47 PM.
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  10. #10
    Teenage Exorcist just another user's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ed2962 View Post
    I'm aware of an old Spiderman story where Punisher goes insane and starts shooting people over minor infractions. But I think it was rectonned in the first Punisher mini as being an imitator.
    I think that could have been the one. Was he killing people for dropping litter?

    Even if it was retconned as an imitator, surely he is still responsible for inspiring the imitator?

  11. #11
    Better than YOU! Alan2099's Avatar
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    Even if it was retconned as an imitator, surely he is still responsible for inspiring the imitator?
    Why would he be responsible for that? He didn't tell the imitator to go shoot people. If that guy hadn't imitated Punisher, he probably would have ended up imitating somebody else just as bad.

  12. #12
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    It's all about context.

    In the context of Dexter, his need to kill is treated as a disease, and not one he is happy to live with. However, the people he kills are all thoroughly investigated, almost never leaving doubt that they are guilty and he's most likely saving more lives. He's also often portrayed heroically. The difference between Dexter and am executioner is the same difference in formality between Batman and a police officer.

    In context Dexter takes far more care with the people he kills than Wolverine. But Wolverine is also a fast paced action character sort of like Rambo, who would in no way be considered a villain or even bad.

    Killing is a manufactured fake comic book thing to avoid taking villains with long term potential off the table. Virtually everytime it's tested the story becomes a straw man

  13. #13
    Veteran Member CSTowle's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pharozonk View Post
    Meh, I've never cared for anti-heroes. The only one I can think of that I like would be the Spectre, but even he's a force of God and not really bound my human moral standards.
    Just because he's supernatural doesn't mean the moral standard should change. If anything sending them to eternal torture is far more evil than anything the Punisher or Dexter could do.
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  14. #14
    Nostalgia Fanwanker Pharozonk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by CSTowle View Post
    Just because he's supernatural doesn't mean the moral standard should change. If anything sending them to eternal torture is far more evil than anything the Punisher or Dexter could do.
    The Punisher killing people doesn't make sense because he's just an average human being killing other people. He's just a petty murderer who justifies his killings as vengeance for his family.
    "In any time, there will always be a need for heroes." - the Time Trapper, Legion of Superheroes #61(1994)

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  15. #15
    Fun-Eating Devil The Beast Of Yucca Flats's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pharozonk View Post
    The Punisher killing people doesn't make sense because he's just an average human being killing other people. He's just a petty murderer who justifies his killings as vengeance for his family.
    Essentially, yes. That was the whole premise of Ennis's run on Punisher MAX: that he does this really just because wants to, the deaths of his family being not so much the cause so much as a last straw or excuse. Whatever moral superiority he might have against his victims is really just down to a fairly empty technicality (ie, he doesn't enslave/rape/kill children/etc.). He's the ultimate case of 'guy who went off to 'Nam-- or wherever-- and didn't know what to do with himself whe he got home.'

    And honestly, I doubt there's any other halfway viable/interesting/honest way to write him.

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