So That's Why Batman Doesn't Kill The Joker!

So That's Why Batman Doesn't Kill The Joker!

There's been a few times when Philosophy has coincided with comics. Now there could be some academic substance behind it?

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By Imran - 8/24/2010


When I was studying Philosophy, I always tried to relate it back to comic books. Especially Nietzsche's idea of the Übermensch (Superman?). I did a whole project on the idea that Superman might have been influenced by Nietzsche. Anyhow, I was surfing the web and I stumbled upon an article that you may or may not have seen.

Here's an extract:

"For years, fans of the Batman comics have puzzled over a mystery at the heart of the series: why doesn't Batman just kill his arch-nemesis, the murderous Joker?

The two have engaged in a prolonged game of cat-and-mouse. The Joker commits a crime, Batman catches him, the Joker is locked up, and then invariably escapes.

Wouldn't all this be much simpler if Batman just killed the Joker? What's stopping him?

Enter philosopher Immanuel Kant and the deontological theory of ethics.

At least, that's how the discussion progresses in a growing number of philosophy classes in the US."


I wish I was taught like! Teaching in terms that you are familiar with and that you can relate too is an awesome tool for knowledge. I think this definitely would get students a lot more interested in Philosophy!

Click on the source link to read the rest (if you can be bothered). It's really cool and interesting at the same time. Enjoy.
Source: BBC
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33 Comments
Imran - 8/24/2010, 8:01 AM
Apologies if I've broken any House Rules! Just let me know and I'll clear it up. =D
Denn1s - 8/24/2010, 8:27 AM
he doesn't kill him because it is unethical. the batman doesn't kill as other superheroes do not too. but why hasn't the joker ever got a death sentence? that is the question. the court can't give him a death sentence?
WaylonJones - 8/24/2010, 9:06 AM
I agree with Denn1s I think the reason he has never gotten the death sentence is because he pleads insanity.
Denn1s - 8/24/2010, 9:13 AM
just because he pleads insanity doesn't mean he will be treated as insane. can't they see that he is not insane? they have to examine him. the last time a psychiatrist examined him, she fell in love with him! he made her fall in love with him. the man is a genius, not crazy. just who the [frick] is his lawyer? or at least have better security in the prison guys !
jbak368 - 8/24/2010, 9:23 AM
I think a big part of the reason is that he's afraid of what he could become if he was willing to cross that line. The whole point is that if Batman killed The Joker, that would make Batman like The Joker. It's like, as long as he doesn't kill he can still call himself a "good guy."
airbeyonder18 - 8/24/2010, 9:36 AM
Think back to Batman Begins, Bruce has just became a member of the League of Shadows and all he has to do is kill a farmer who killed his neighbor. Bruce replied "No. I'm no executioner." Ducard(Secretly Ras) says "Your compassion is a weakness your enimies will not share." Bruce replies "That's why it's so important, it seperates US from THEM."

Nuff said.
OdinsBeard - 8/24/2010, 9:39 AM
airbeyonder@ nice call

philosophers: over thinking common sense.

also something that's been plainly stated throughout all of batman's history in comics, t.v. and movies. this article is for non-comic fans. its true, and it's good. but it's nothing new.
CorndogBurglar - 8/24/2010, 9:48 AM
batman doesn't kill the Joker because batman doesn't kill, period.

it doesn't have anything to do with it being the Joker, he wouldn't kill ANYONE.

Not killing is the one thing that actually keeps batman from becoming exactly like his enemies.

BIGBMH - 8/24/2010, 10:03 AM
Several reasons. What airbeyonder18 said is right and kind of goes with the ethics thing Denn!s said. There's also an interesting idea brought up in Under the Red Hood (movie, I haven't read the original) SPOILERS Batman tells Jason that he doesn't kill the Joker that it would be to easy to cross that line, but once he crossed it, he feared he could never come back.
6of13 - 8/24/2010, 1:22 PM
Batman straddles a very thin line and unlike Jocker he knows when not to cross it.
Imran - 8/24/2010, 1:53 PM
lol I was trying to get at how cool it is to use Superheroes to teach Philosophy but I'll join in the convo!

I think I've got to agree with airbeyonder18. It's why he's a hero and The Joker is a villain!
Angelus - 8/24/2010, 2:48 PM
Its not right to kill somebody for what they might or might not do, of course we are certain that Joker will escape and continue his crazy land tour, but its still wrong to kill, no matter how evil or insane the villain. Though the world might be better from it, it will be a greater and terrible defeat in justice and righteousness on the highest level.

BMP!
Brashlight - 8/24/2010, 4:01 PM
You have been Biel Bombed!!!!

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ROMACK - 8/24/2010, 4:24 PM
What the Biel? I was gonna say sumthin', but I ferget....
Denn1s - 8/24/2010, 5:14 PM
timberlake you [frick]ing bastard. lucky sob
OmegaBlack13 - 8/24/2010, 8:41 PM
I think theres another main reason Batman, and all superheroes for that matter don't just kill the villains. Cuz then the people would fear them. I mean if they killed, then they would no longer have rules. They could walk the earth as gods. Look at the Justice League episode "ABetter World".
MassExecutions - 8/25/2010, 9:19 AM
The only good reason for Batman not to kill the Joker is the one about Batman becoming some kind of even worse villain if he crosses that line, and that one is pretty week.

Its a disservice to society that Batman didn't kill the Joker long ago. But then, its a disservice to society that the justice system didn't sentence him to death long ago.
ROMACK - 8/25/2010, 3:41 PM
....oh yeah! I remember now. The reason Batman doesn't kill the Joker is because.....JOKER SELLS LOTS OF COMICS!
adamcawa - 8/25/2010, 6:52 PM
that's why DC Comics suck... they're heroes have unrealistic morals

how many people has joker killed? how many lives has he ruined? it's rediculously selfish of batman to NOT kill him merely because he's afraid that he'd become the bad guy... newsflash... if you let people die that you could've saved by doing what is necessary, then you're just as guilty!

not to mention the whole idea of batman is a slap in the face to every soldier out there who has to fight for their country, even if that means taking a life

wanna see heroes do "what is necessary" for the common good? check out Uncanny X-Force coming out soon! IT'S GONNA BE AWESOME!
TheDarqueOne - 8/25/2010, 7:29 PM
@adamcawa I have to agree with you this time.

Like most of the major elements of Comics there is a mix of the practical and the traditional. But I think in this case the former is mostly responsible. If your Heros kill their Villains then you just have to keep making them up. That has always been a bit of a problem for the Comics since they come out so often.

I think it is really, really hard to justify a Code against Killing when you are talking modern movies though. Batman Begins got around directly confronting the problem with the whole 'I don't have to save you' but honestly that was just a cop out. In the old days the Villains did not actually kill that many people. They menaced and blustered but actual deaths were pretty rare. Back then the Code made sense. But today when you have the Ultimate Magneto killing millions I don't think the Code applies.
fire59019 - 8/26/2010, 9:03 AM
A code of honor always applies, it doesn't go out of style because the media pushes blood and gore!

A hero is a hero for a reason! They stand apart from the villains, Batman never kills the Joker because if he were to then he would be no better. The Joker may deserve to die, but it is not Batman's call.

In today's entertainment industry (especially in movies) blood and violence abound, heroes in movies are shown to have very few or no morals at all.

As I said before heroes are heroes for a reason, they give us all something, someone rather, to look up to and to reach for. Sure on a primal level all of us yearn for the Frank Castle type hero who just ruthlessly gets ride of the villains. However, anarchy would abound if heroes like that were allowed to run wild. There has to be a code of honor. Again that is what sets the heroes apart from the villains.
adamcawa - 8/26/2010, 9:37 AM
@fire59019 I understand the "code", but real heroes are soldiers and police officers, etc. To say that there's some code of honor that seperates heroes from villains totally undermines them and I have never agreed with that about Batman, which is never why I really enjoyed his comics.
Whiteharted - 8/26/2010, 10:03 AM
DUH is so obvious why Batman doesn't kill him: he doesn't WANT to DUHRRRRRRRRRR!
fire59019 - 8/26/2010, 10:21 AM
@adamcawa - I have no argument about "real heroes" in fact I could not agree more with you about the military and law enforcement. I do not believe that the "code" undermines them at all.

In fact in a recent issue of The Brave and the Bold, Barry Allen faced a dilemma similar to our discussion. He was sent back in time to WWII. He teamed up with the Blackhawks. In the comic he helps fight off the Nazis and he killed, however, he did not do so wearing his Flash costume, he wore a normal solider uniform. He said that as the Flash he could not kill, but as Barry Allen in a war situation he could.

What I believe is that made up heroes, i.e. the Flash and Batman etc., don't kill because of what the hero stands for. These heroes are, as I mentioned before, something for us to aim for, a sort of goal for us as people, to become someone better than we are.

Unfortunately in the world we live in a military is a necessity as is law enforcement, and they are required to use lethal force from time to time. This does not detract from them or their jobs at all. They deserve our respect, for they are true life heroes.
MassExecutions - 8/26/2010, 12:13 PM
@fire59019 - "Batman never kills the Joker because if he were to then he would be no better."

THAT is one of the most ridiculous statements I have ever heard. Killing one unrepentant incurable psychopath that has killed hundreds (thousands?) of innocent people and intends to continue doing so makes you the EQUIVALENT of said psychopath?

I think not.
adamcawa - 8/26/2010, 2:23 PM
@fire59019 if what you means is that as "heroes" they represent "good" of the population, in the sense that if they started crossing the line, then what's to keep the average joe who looks up to them from doing the same thing, then I would agree with you. That's the real only legitimate excuse I've heard for a "hero" not killing anyone. Since they operate outside of the law and military (generally) it's irresponsible to kill.

However, in Batman's case, since he's already a social periah, it makes no sense for him not to have killed the Joker by now.

If that's not what you meant, then I'm sorry.
fire59019 - 8/26/2010, 2:51 PM
@adamcawa Yes that is exactly what I meant.
Ted494 - 8/27/2010, 9:54 AM
@anil Ricky Bruce doesn't kill darkseid he wounds him and the flash finish him off with the black racer and even then he returns and superman has to use the mircle machine to get rid of him
fire59019 - 8/27/2010, 1:24 PM
@massexecutions - read the HUSH tpb. Jim Gordon explains it very eloquently.
TheBatman938865 - 8/29/2010, 3:00 AM
he doesn't need to kill because he finds another way to stop the criminal. he doesn't give up. and if he ever were to kill Joker, well in the long run Joker would win. he would have proved that Batman could be just like him. Batman is better then that. the reason he became Batman is to give the city hope not to give the city another [frick]ing killer. and sure you could kill, it would be easy but sticking to your morals your rules now thats hard but it is important. it is what separates us from them. it shouldn't be easy to be the hero. and to all you Batman haters, why are you even here?! if you hate Batman then don't even bother reading the article!
TesDaGreat - 9/1/2010, 11:04 AM
Burns2k - 9/15/2010, 3:06 PM
batman doesn't kill full stop!!! fans generally dont ask this because they know why batman doesn't kill! this as bad an article as robin rumour which is the worst and most fake rumour i've ever heard.
Thejoker231 - 6/14/2013, 2:42 PM
Batman doesnt kill the joker because its against his code as stated clearly in batman begins its separates those who believe in justice from the criminals and he doesnt believe its his right to punish these people he made that clear when ras al ghul wanted him to kill a murderer.

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