View Poll Results: Should Batman kill?

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  • Yes

    1 1.47%
  • No

    49 72.06%
  • Depends on the circumstances

    14 20.59%
  • Who cares-they won't stay dead anyway

    4 5.88%
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  1. #1
    Fantastic Member
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    Default Should Batman Kill?

    This has been one of the longest-running debates in the history of comic books: Should Batman start killing his enemies? He has one of the largest rogues galleries in comics, and the battles he has with them usually results in them either escaping and/or being sent off to Arkham. Now, he does have a good reason for not killing (he doesn't want to turn into a murderer), but Arkham has lousy security, and Gotham is arguably the most messed-up place in the DC universe because of people like the Joker and his ilk. So, should Batman kill?

  2. #2
    Leftbrownie Alpha's Avatar
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    The real question is, why the hell hasn't Joker received the death sentence?

  3. #3
    Mighty Member
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    Batman shouldn't kill.

    This is a separate issue to "would it be more effective/moral to kill the Joker", because Batman's position isn't a reasoned one. He doesn't not kill because it wouldn't work, or because of the same reason that I, personally, oppose the Death Penalty. He doesn't kill because Batman Doesn't Kill. It's part of the very specific, obsessive structure of rules that he's built for himself and that Being Batman means abiding by.

    It also makes him more interesting - when, in a world full of mass murderers with increasingly implausible body counts, he fights them with one hand tied behind his back.

  4. #4
    Fantastic Member Mark Trail's Avatar
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    In a better written comic book world, he should kill if absolutely necessary to save an innocent life and, occasionally, the writers (Jim Starlin for example) have indicated he would in that limited circumstance. Unfortunately, however, I suspect if we uncorked that particular bottle, he'd turn into the Punisher so fast (only his victims wouldn't stay dead) that not even the Batmobile could keep up.

  5. #5
    Incredible Member Rufio's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Trail View Post
    In a better written comic book world, he should kill if absolutely necessary to save an innocent life and, occasionally, the writers (Jim Starlin for example) have indicated he would in that limited circumstance. Unfortunately, however, I suspect if we uncorked that particular bottle, he'd turn into the Punisher so fast (only his victims wouldn't stay dead) that not even the Batmobile could keep up.
    I agree. I can just see him having “justifiable cause” every new writer.

    Ideally it would be for a very particular limited circumstance, but as you said, that circumstance would chance to circumstances. So I vote “No.” because while one good story has the potential to come from that, it’ll quickly devolve.
    “Fleeing through the labyrinths with the hordes of the living dead fast upon them;
    Once again they found themselves trapped in front of the abyss.”

  6. #6
    Better than YOU! Alan2099's Avatar
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    I don't think he should try to kill, but on occasions, I'm not upset when he does.

    I do hate when they make him a hypocrite about it though. The Nolan movies were especially bad about it. He made a point of telling people he didn't kill. Except for all those ninjas that were asleep when he set fire to the building there were in. Those don't count. Also he's fine standing there and letting somebody else kill, like Catwoman. As long as HE doesn't do it physically with his own too hands.

    What I REALLY hate is how far some writers take his no killing stance. Batman Damned was frankly insulting in this matter. Batman was being tormented because, while he was dying himself, he didn't go out of his way to save the Joker's life.
    Last edited by Alan2099; 01-23-2022 at 04:35 PM.

  7. #7
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
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    It wouldn't really fit the character as they are now and the villains would probably come back anyways.

  8. #8
    Extraordinary Member WebLurker's Avatar
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    I think his deciding that he won't kill people makes for a more interesting character (he can't take the easy way out, more moral dilemmas, and makes sense as result of losing his own family to violence).

    Quote Originally Posted by Alan2099 View Post
    The Nolan movies were especially bad about it. He made a point of telling people he didn't kill. Except fro tall those ninjas that were asleep when he set fire to the building there were in.
    I forget which scene that was (been awhile since I've watched).
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  9. #9
    Ultimate Member SiegePerilous02's Avatar
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    No I don't think he should, but if the writers are adopting that stance, the violence he dishes out should be dialed WAY back as well. And absolutely no torture.

    The Joker should also escape less, and have more imaginative schemes than just constantly killing lots of people.

  10. #10
    Ultimate Member Ascended's Avatar
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    No. Bruce's refusal to take a life under any circumstances is one of the more interesting facets of his psychology. It's not a reasoned stance built on logic and it's not how I'd handle things if I were a costumed vigilante in the worst city in America, but it makes the Bat more interesting.

    Plus I wouldn't trust DC to handle it well.
    "We all know the truth: more connects us than separates us. But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe."

    ~ Black Panther.

  11. #11
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    Batman's the one hero where an absolute ''no-killing rule'' makes sense...because even when it doesn't make sense to avoid using lethal force from a realistic/logical perspective, it makes sense from the perspective of the character's psychology. He believes that by killing he will essentially become Joe Chill. So even if he could save countless lives by killing the Joker, he won't because he doesn't want to become Joe Chill in the process. It's more an emotional reasoning than a purely rational one, but choosing to dress up like a bat to fight crime isn't 100% rational either, so it all fits together.

    That said, I'm okay with there being grey areas around some of his actions and the potential lethality of them. I'm okay with something like ''I won't kill you, but I don't have to save you'', especially if it's an early Batman or a Batman who's really pushed to the brink. If Batman's on a Justice League mission where he literally has to fight off an alien invasion and he blows up some Parademons, or at least doesn't care too much about whether they'll survive his attacks or not, I'm fine. If Gotham is under siege, and he has to unleash some serious firepower from the Batmobile or Batwing that could potentially kill some mooks as collateral damage, I can see him not losing too much sleep over that. And I'm okay with an interpretation of his crusade wherein some of the criminals Batman beats to an inch of their lives could succumb to their injuries eventually...which is what Montoya believes in ''The Other History of the DC Universe''.

    But Batman doesn't go out into the field with the explicit intent of executing criminals and whenever possible he does his best to ensure there are no casualties in his crusade.

  12. #12
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    No. It's one of the main character traits, otherwise he just wouldn't work the way he works.

  13. #13
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    That's a resounding no. It's the moral struggle that makes the character interesting. It's why the Burton and Snyder movies are so problematic. It's also the factor that makes him a true hero and not just some vigilante mook who needs to be brought down. But it's not 100% across all media.

    When you get into wartime scenarios things get a little more complicated. Even the DCAU had Batman killing scores of aliens in the Justice League pilot. But that was about saving the human race, not stopping crime. In more realistic movies I'm fine with some of his actions indirectly causing a villain's death. In Batman Begins his blowing up the League of Shadows layer is fine because he gave all of them the same chance he had. He was in the building, had time for a swordfight and to rescue Ducard before it exploded. Yes, some of them died, but in this case no one was put at any more risk than he was and everyone could have gotten out if they had valued their lives more than their mission, plus their entire goal was to murder millions of people. At the end of the Dark Knight he's more directly responsible for killing Harvey Dent, and that's also ok. It was an accidental death in the course of saving Gordon's kid. In the comics those sorts of things are not ok, but in the context of the movies they work. In the Burton or Snyder movies where he goes around deliberately murdering people left and right he's no longer Batman. At least Snyder's version grows as a character and realizes how messed up his actions were. The Burton version is a full-on sociopath and as bad as the villains he fights.

    So in terms of the comics, he should never kill a human under any circumstances, no matter how indirect. The only time any form of killing is theoretically acceptable is an alien invasion which threatens to wipe out humanity. The same applies to cartoons. In live actions shows and movies he should have a general no-killing rule, though sometimes indirect killing is ok. Throwing someone off a building, setting them on fire, running them over with the Batmobile, knocking them into a wall so that their head leaves a large bloodstain, dropping a bomb in their faces while he stands safe far away, strapping bombs to their belts, or basically anything he does in the Burton movies and BvS, is not acceptable.

  14. #14
    I'm at least a C-Lister! exile001's Avatar
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    Why does this keep coming up? Batman doesn't kill. It's a huge part of his thing and that hard rule makes him more interesting.

    I swear, this isn't a recurring topic on the Superman or Spider-man boards. Heck, I can't remember that last time it was asked about Daredevil or Flash or Vixen or Archie.

    I get that US movie audiences need the closure of killing the bad guy to end a story and so comic book movies routinely kill off the villains, but that doesn't work in comic books. The genre requires recurring villains to function. Seriously, who of note has Punisher ever killed? He has a recurring arch nemesis in jigsaw!
    Theorising that it could travel within its own timeline, DC stepped into the Crisis accelerator and vanished. DC awoke to find itself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not its own, and driven by editorial to change history *for the better* *to be more cohesive* *Silver Age nostalgia* *for the sake of it*. And so DC finds itself leaping from Crisis to Crisis, striving to put right what once went wrong, and hoping each time that the next leap will be to a perfect DC Universe…

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by exile001 View Post
    Why does this keep coming up? Batman doesn't kill. It's a huge part of his thing and that hard rule makes him more interesting.

    I swear, this isn't a recurring topic on the Superman or Spider-man boards. Heck, I can't remember that last time it was asked about Daredevil or Flash or Vixen or Archie.

    I get that US movie audiences need the closure of killing the bad guy to end a story and so comic book movies routinely kill off the villains, but that doesn't work in comic books. The genre requires recurring villains to function. Seriously, who of note has Punisher ever killed? He has a recurring arch nemesis in jigsaw!
    If I had to guess, it's partly because the 'no-kill rule' is more firmly established for Batman than for other heroes. It's accepted that there are certain threats Superman and Wonder Woman will have to resort to deadly force to stop given the nature of the characters. Them killing willy-nilly is one thing, but killing Zod or Doomsday or Ares is just fine. Even Spider-Man, who never technically kills anyone, doesn't have it lampshaded so much. The issue is brought up in 2 of the movies, Spider-Man 3 and No Way Home, but it's nowhere near as much as it is with Batman. Marvel in general just abandoned the no-killing rule at some point and it's hard to find an X-Man or Avenger who hasn't killed. With Batman, it's at the heart of most of his biggest stories. Year 1, Dark Knight Returns, Knightfall, Mask of the Phantasm, Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. And when the movies violate the rule, the fans get far more furious than for other characters, drawing further attention to the issue. Superman killing Zod and his followers in Superman 2 even after they were helpless was something nobody cared about for decades. Him killing Zod in Man of Steel was controversial, but secondary to the sheer destruction the battle caused to the city and nowhere near as controversial as Batman killing in the sequel.

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