Superman and Batman: Paragons of non lethal force... or are they?

Discussion in 'DC Comics' started by BlackOpsTengu, Dec 27, 2007.

  1. BlackOpsTengu Registered

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    Given the furor over Wonder Woman snapping Max Lord's neck like a tooth pick, I found it especially ironic that Batman and Superman were so quick to condemn her, when neither hero in the past has had particularly clean records.

    Look, I get it. I understand why most clean cut, 'good' heroes don't kill. They don't have the permission of the law to pass judgment, it's only a last resort, it's better to redeem than to destroy.

    That being said, there's simply no excuse for men like the Joker to be breathing when so many aren't. There are many clear cut situations in the real world, where people have been forced to defend themselves with lethal force. In a war situation protecting their friends, countrymen, civilians defending themselves from rapists murderers etc. There is a legal distinction, hell even biblically if you wanted to take it that far, between killing and murder. A point that even Batman acceded to when he fought the Red Hood. It's even sillier I think when both Superman and Batman, directed by their artistic creators, killed people. Given how you had Superman tossing human villains miles into the sky, and Batman snapping necks left and right, I'm honestly not even sure why it's such a big deal anyway other than it, "sets a 'bad' example for kids". Brother. Obviously Shuster and Kane weren't concerned about that.

    My point is, even following comic logic, no one was going to condemn Jack Drake for using a gun to try to save his own life. I'm actually really happy with how JLA/Hitman was handled, because it showed heroes who use lethal force as more than just trigger happy maniacs.

    This isn't to say Superman and Batman are wusses for not killing. Not at all. However, both of them are responsible for the deaths of a good number of villains, whether they own up to it or not.

    Numerous JLA stories have Batman and Superman destroying 'sentient' robots, vampires,

    Famously, you have Superman: Exile in which he executes three phantom zone criminals. Not sure on the canon status of this but what can you do?

    He went after Doomsday in Hunter/Prey and put him in a situation where he would have died had he not been rescued.

    Lets not forget the legions of Parademons, or other villain cannon fodder troops that Super Heroes regularly scythe through, blow up, incinerate etc, Supes and Bats included.

    Batman: Son of the Demon has Batman aiding Ra's in his war against Qayin, where quite a few people die from his disabling them (then Ra/Talia shoot them), dodging attacks which causes fatalities etc.

    Simply put, even if most of the time it's not intentional. Superman and Batman are responsible for quite a few deaths that, prosecuted unjustly, could get them in trouble in a 'legal' technical sense. So, any other comments?
     
  2. MaskedManJRK Registered

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    I totally get your point, but I don't really think about it--on the whole, almost none of Infinate Crisis makes sense when you look at the past. It was plainly a move to try to make a more interesting universe out of it. Much like Marvel and Civil War--God, did that event SUCK, but God, what good comics came out of it.
     
  3. BlackOpsTengu Registered

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    I liked Infinite Crisis because it played up the, 'sins' of the big three and their eventual atonement. I just thought that Batman and Superman freaking out over Wonder Woman making a nearly impossible choice (which saved Superman's life), had the impact it did. With Batman, it worked because it was the ending of his ******* phase, culminating in his Batcave repentance.

    I'm sure, if given in wantonly to their killing instincts, many superheroes would become corrupt, lose their way etc. Look at Captain America though. He's pretty much the Superman of Marvel and he had high moral values AND a willingness to kill when he had to. Just pointing out the fact that in the world we live in, many people in lines of civil duty, military service etc, have to take life in order to preserve order for the rest of us. It's not something to gloat about or take lightly, but it does need to be done on occasion.

    Justice League heroes don't have to be The Authority to recognize that in order to make an omelette ya gotta break a few eggs. :p
     
  4. BrianWilly Disciple of Whedon

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    Superman: Exile was still in canon at the time of the OMAC Project, yes. They referred to it in one of the issues, I believe.

    At the time, Superman kinda came off as having the weakest argument amongst the three. WW did what was necessary, and even Batman saw a bigger picture in the details. But poor Supes was just like O NOES WUT HAFF YU DUN:(:(.

    It's kinda unfortunate because in my mind, between Superman and Batman, Superman actually has the better reason for his refusal to kill. He's the preeminent role model on the planet, he has to stand for something better and more positive...even if it's completely illogical, even if it's completely idealistic and naive and stupid (which it is), he has to constantly conduct himself in the manner of "There's always another, better way." He's Superman. His utter nightmare would be for some children one day to think "Hey, Superman kills people 'cause he's a good guy, so it's totally okay to kill people!" What kind of world would he be representing if he started accepting that he needs to kill people sometimes? The answer is simple: it would be a world where even Superman needs to kill people sometimes. And that's the kind of world that he physically, literally cannot let himself accept. He needs to stand for something better, or else he's not Superman. The difference between Superman and Jack Drake is that Superman has a better way, and if he didn't use it -- if he didn't believe in it -- then that would be wrong.

    Joe Kelly explained it really well, anyway, in Action Comics #775.

    I have a harder time accepting Batman's actions, sometimes, but even then you can chalk it up to his own personal psychoses against killing for fear of losing control of himself and that thin line he has to tread. It's not necessarily "right," but it is understandable.

    And, really, if the blame lies anywhere for Joker still being alive, it lies with Gotham City itself. You ask why Batman hasn't killed Joker yet, well, why hasn't Gotham? The government is the one that actually has a responsibility to execute criminals like him. Instead we get the revolving door of Arkham, a place that has so many escapees per month that it's a wonder they even bother locking the cells anymore.
     
  5. Kirk Langstrom FRANCINE!!!!

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    Neither robots nor vampires are alive though. Sentient, perhaps, but not alive in the traditional sense.
     
  6. BlackOpsTengu Registered

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    I call prejudice against non-carbon based lifeforms! You try explaining that to all those baby robots and baby Vampires who's papas aren't coming home! And what about all those poor Parademons who won't be coming home to their Granny? :cmad: :p

    It's just an interesting topic I find. Some well thought out statements here all around. :woot: Yeah, Superman is a role model and Batman is unhinged slightly to begin with (hence his reluctance to 'cross the line'). But I'd like to see more examples of heroes getting tough on villains rather than the revolving door of Arkham or Strykers. I loved for example, Batman threating to put this one thug in perpetual agony and NOT letting him die if he hurt a hostage. THAT I'd buy as a reason for Batman not killing. Or more stuff of Superman, I don't know, heat visioning a villain's hand off or crushing/ripping it off in extreme cases to make sure some of these murdering maniacs NEVER hurt an innocent person again.

    I'm actually interested in when they made the switch from lethal to non lethal heroes, and the reasons behind it. Afterall, killing was never 'retconned' out of Captain America's backstory for example, so why do so with original, golden age Superman/Batman?
     
  7. Kurosawa Registered

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    Realistically speaking, sure the public outcry for a mass murder like Joker to die would become powerful that it might happen (not that Batman himself would ever do it), but you just can't apply real-world logic to comics; at least not to that degree.
     
  8. Kurosawa Registered

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    The modern versions of Superman and Batman aren't the same characters as the Golden Age versions. They did retain that history for the Earth-Two versions. A big part of it too was because unlike Cap who was off the scene for a good while, Batman and Superman were published continually through the 50's.

    Although Marvel did retcon away or change a good bit of the Golden Age Cap stuff too, especially the post-WWII stuff.
     
  9. Fledermaus Registered

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    I don't think Batman and Superman should kill. But I'm really getting tired of Batman going out of his way not to kill, if you get my point. Nobody wants Batman to be the Punisher, just offing bad-guys left and right, but some of the extremes Bats goes to in order to save a criminal is just stupid.
     
  10. BlackOpsTengu Registered

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    Understood, but there has to be a better way for dealing with Joker type enemies. I actually like the idea of Salvation Run, strand the worst villains on a distant planet and let them have it out with each other if that's what they want so badly. But of course, that violates their 'rights' so now the Justice League is going to SAVE their sorry behinds. :whatever:
     
  11. BlackOpsTengu Registered

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    I thought it was handled nicely in Batman Begins, he let Ra's die as a result of his own plotting and felt no compulsion at all to save him from his own karma.

    "I won't kill you, but I don't have to save you."
     
  12. GoldenAgeHero Registered

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    isn't that the same thing tho?

    he let him die. you can't stand there and let someone die,especially if its well into your abilty to save that person.
     
  13. BlackOpsTengu Registered

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    I'd argue it's not really the same thing, but many would probably disagree. It depends on if you define justice as the letter of the law, or the intent of the law. It's a better solution overall though than letting the same maniac out again and again to wreck havoc on the world.
     
  14. Kitsune Fox of Ages

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    Not all states have the death penalty people.
     
  15. sto_vo_kor_2000 Registered

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    Your forgetting how Batman killed Qayin.

    No not every state does but I'm willing to bet good money that out of all the states of the DC Universe that Gotham would.
     
  16. Kitsune Fox of Ages

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    Then you would be wrong... because Gotham is not a state... it's a City.


    edit: On further research, I find that New Jersey was the first state to abolish the death penalty. So by extension Gotham City, New Jersey does not have the death penalty
     
  17. BrianWilly Disciple of Whedon

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    Legally, letting someone die if you have the power to save them is the exact same thing as killing them yourself. There's no gray area here.
     
  18. Kitsune Fox of Ages

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    Well it is harder to prove that you have the power to save them.
     
  19. BrianWilly Disciple of Whedon

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    Depends on who you are. No one's going to try a child for not being able to save a gunshot victim, but if a licensed doctor just stood there and did nothing? It would almost certainly count as murder.

    Of course no one's ever going to be able to put Batman in front of a jury, much less get him to actually tell the truth about the incident -- which is a whole other question of questionable morality on his part -- but I'm just refuting the notion that there is any ambiguity whatsoever on the part of the law when it comes to a situation like this. There isn't. If you have the power to prevent a death and don't, then it's a murder. There's no "Well, it depends on how you define so and so" about it.
     
  20. Kirk Langstrom FRANCINE!!!!

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    Not true. I've heard of several instances where doctors chose not to get invoved at accident scenes and whatnot, for fear of Malpractice suits...none were charged.

    Many years ago, a doctor tried to help an accident victim and was later sued by his family which is what many believe prompted doctors distain for such involvement.

    Hell, how many storys have you heard about people dying in hospital waiting rooms after they were denied service for lack of medical insurance? There was one right in my area about a year ago.
     
  21. GoldenAgeHero Registered

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    lots of times and in the end the hospitals get sued and they lose.(or the doctors lose thier license or get suspended)


    and i qwuestion the creditbility of the stories you've heard.

    if theres a doctor near by and everyone knows that person is a doctor and he fails to perform his duty as one when a victim is lying wounded or whatever near him..he's in trouble.

    but if you're at a restaurant where no one knows you're a doctor and someone is dying...you're not liable..although i would question your morality and the profession you chose to pursue.


    it really depends on the situation.
     
  22. Fledermaus Registered

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    Gotham City does have a death penalty. Batman saved the Joker from death row in The Joker: Devil's Advocate graphic novel. Know why? Because the Joker was innocent of the crime he was sentenced to die for.
     
  23. GoldenAgeHero Registered

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    i wonder if batman hated himself for doing that.
     
  24. BrianWilly Disciple of Whedon

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    I'm going to have to see the stories about these instances. I don't doubt that they exist, but the circumstances would explain a lot. In the US, there are pretty specific laws protecting those who attempt to give aid to others. Hell, even an untrained individual is required by law to try and get help by calling 911 or whatever. Whatever malpractice suits could be brought against a doctor for malpractice...there's no way it could be worse than the kind of hell that could be brought on him for not doing anything at all.

    But sometimes the system does work in funny ways.
     
  25. Harlekin Business

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    In other words, the Good Samaritan law.
     

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