EDITORIAL: Batman's No Killing Policy - A Necessary Ideal or A Self-Serving Abstinence?

While it certainly is admirable for Batman to hold an idealistic sense of justice a midst all the ugliness in the world, does he sacrifice the the needs of others to maintain his biggest principle? Check this editorial to see a compilation of rational arguments for whether Batman should or shouldn't kill.

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By GoodGuy - 3/15/2013



Killing, is perhaps, the greatest and most punishable offense according to many federal, moral, religious, and philosophical systems. As a general rule of thumb, the act of taking one's life is wrong as it marks an expedited and definite end to a life that would have otherwise lived longer had the action been avoided. Yet, there are many exceptions to this moral standard and it has become a heated topic of discussion. In the world of comics, to me, it is Batman who most strongly poses the dilemma of the circumstances where killing (or a lack thereof) does more harm than good and when it is acceptable.

Being the modern day equivalent of morality plays, it is understandable that superhero stories and their associated media often let idealism unfold and justice prevail by letting the hero triumph over the baddie in the most moral manner possible. In the case of Batman, he subdues his enemies without the use of lethal force. However, while we relish in the hero's victory, I think we often neglect the fact that Batman's moral absolutism can be an indirect cause of the loss of many (fictional) lives . For persistent and slippery villains like the Joker, an incarceration merely serves as a temporary solution to the problem, while killing may actually yield a positive result.

Like many people on the website, I acknowledge the fact that the immunity to death of the villains is attributed to the storytelling potential that those characters have to offer. If the writers truly wanted to eliminate the threats to Gotham, then they would've either let Batman kill, or have the villains incarcerated under the watch of the Justice League. However, obviously, writers don't want to eliminate the conflict that the stories oh so heavily depend on. After all, as James Oliver Curwood would say: "The greatest thrill is not to kill, but to let live". For the sake of intelligent and philosophical discussion, I ask that we refrain from using this argument when commenting below on your personal stance on the topic.

Also, please keep in mind that these are only some of the most reasonable arguments that I could come up with or find. By all means, if you think there is something that may be added, please comment below.



Why Batman Should Not Kill



The "Slippery Slope" Mentality

One of the most pervasive arguments for not killing is the "slippery slope" mentality that dictates that a small step subsequently leads to a series of more significant variations of the aforementioned action. To put it into perspective, action "A" is unlawful to begin with and will lead to action "Z" which is twice as bad. Thus, action "A" shouldn't be done in the first place. Despite the fact that the "slippery slope" concept is a logical fallacy, it is still something to be cautious of.

It is very much reasonable to believe that once Batman gets the ball rolling and starts killing, human life becomes slightly less valuable each time the action is repeated. The sad fact of the matter is that there simply isn't one villain that needs to be put down - there are volumes of them. To use killing as a means of bringing peace would require Batman to put an end to the lives of the endless names of psychopaths who plague Gotham City. Arguably, there may come a point in time where one day, Batman just has a blatant disregard for the sacredness of life.

In spite of Batman's numerous years of training and unparalleled discipline, he is still very much a human being, and such vile actions will take a toll on Bruce Wayne in some shape or form. Unfortunately, the effects of the constant act of killing may manifest in Batman being indifferent to taking lives.





Batman Is An Enforcer of The Law Despite His Vigilantism

A beautiful thing about Batman is that he works around the legislation in order to better uphold it. Seeing as the laws are either not effective enough to deter criminals, or aren't being adequately enforced, Bruce Wayne takes it upon himself to administer the justice to felons that the legal system simply fails to deliver. While his dark, intimidating, and aggressive methodology differs from that of Gotham's police department, the goal both parties are trying to achieve is congruous.

It is important to remember that because Batman works closely with the police, and has become somewhat of an unofficial law enforcer of his own, Batman must deliver justice within the boundaries of the system he is bolstering. Though he fights crime, Batman does not involve himself in the due process of the judiciary. What Batman does, is merely suppress acts of crime and allows the authorities to apply the appropriate legal action. Gotham's government didn't legally entitle Batman to the roles of judge, jury, or executioner. Therefore, much like any other person in Gotham city, Batman is expected to refrain from killing. If Batman wants to effectively uphold body of laws, then he must follow these rules in order to effectively set a standard for the citizens (and criminals) to follow. All body of laws apply to everyone without discrimination of race, wealth, or status - Batman will not be an exception.






Why Batman Should Kill




It Brings About a New Level of Fear

Bruce Wayne has familiarized himself in many disciplines that allow him to be an adept combatant and frightening opponent. Oftentimes, he manipulates the skills he's learned to approach crime fighting effectively whilst not relying on a murderous method. Of course, Bruce Wayne's extensive training in various martial arts allows him to suppress evil-doers without the use of lethal force. Additionally, the terrifying and grim "Bat" theme is a useful tactic in intimidating criminals off the street, altogether.

While this is good, how would he effectively deal with mass murderers who do not fear pain or the darkness?

Take the Joker, for instance, who is not only unfazed by Batman's non-lethal force, but actually thrives off of it. Part of Joker's persistence in escaping and killing innocents stems from the fact that he wants to see Batman forgo his no-killing policy. For people like the Joker, and other low-level criminals who are bound to realize that Batman's threat is essentially empty, there is nothing to fear or to deter them from returning to a life of crime. After all, physical injury may only serve as a temporary setback. As harsh as it sounds, killing may actually help Batman's intimidation factor escalate.





Selflessness and the Utilitarianism

Pictured below, is a visual representation of the famous "Trolley Problem" first introduced by philosopher Philippa Foot. This thought experiment makes the person imagine that he/she is the driver of an uncontrollable and unstoppable cable car. At its current course, should it continue it's displacement, the trolley is headed straight to fatally ramming 5 people. However, there is another option where you (the driver) may pull a lever to another set of tracks that sets the trolley on a collision course with only one person.

Another variation of the problem (pictured below on the right) is a bit more morally challenging. This variation makes the person imagine that he/she is standing atop a bridge beside a fat man. Under the bridge, is an unstoppable cable car set to demolish 5 people. In order to prevent the death of the 5 people, you must push the fat man off the train and allow his body mass to (hypothetically) stop the train.





Regardless of the version of the moral paradox, the consequences of both problems follow the same form. To save the 5 people, you must take an action that will result in the death of only one man. The problem being that you will be held morally accountable for the participation in his death. However, if you don't take action, and allow the trolley to run its intended course, you aren't morally at fault in anyone's death as you are not the direct cause but the lives of many are lost.

Batman's situation with his villains (especially Joker) is a close mirror to this moral dilemma. Without fail, Batman continues to spare Joker's life during every confrontation. He will not kill the perpetrator because it contends with his biggest principle. Consequentially, this failure to cause his death often results in the death of many other innocent lives each time Joker escapes his imprisonment.

To make the situation more tangible, let's make the reasonable assumption that every time the Joker escapes, 5 people die at his hands. Joker's frequent escapes from custody, therefore, yields a constant (possibly exponential) increase in his body count. Furthermore, it is also worth noting that Batman does, in fact, hold himself responsible for deaths that he didn't even cause.

From a utilitarianist point of view - where a priority is set on maximizing happiness and minimizing suffering - killing the Joker is actually what you are morally obligated to do. By this way of thinking, the continuation and flourishing of many innocent lives justifies the end to one psychotic mass murderer. In a quantifiable way, Joker's death does actually provides less pain for the world. Whereas Batman grieves the continual loss of thousands of lives that Joker kills by staying alive; Batman will only grieve the loss of Joker and the people he has killed in the past if the Joker dies. Simply put, in this manner, not only do more people live, but less people suffer having to grieve.


As popularized by Christopher Nolan,there is a notion that Batman is whatever Gotham needs him to be - he is purely symbolic and his service is malleable to whatever is required of him. To not follow this would sort of negate this notion and the purpose he is trying to establish. Also, at this point, it could be argued that the refusal to kill an elusive mass murderer like the Joker would be a selfish decision. The indecision to make a hard choice like this means Batman is willing to put the longevity and safety of thousands of lives at stake in order to stay true to his individual and personal principles.

After all, isn't the hero expected to make the selfless act of sacrificing personal ideas or benefits for the greater good?





It is a Self-Imposed Responsibility

Though it is admirable to partake in work that is beyond your regular obligations as a citizen, one isn't given a free pass to perform those tasks half-assed. Along with the duty that you thrust upon yourself, comes certain quotas that need to be filled and certain needs that have to be met. Jobs are jobs regardless of the reward (or lack thereof) that you receive from doing it. Non-mandatory work should never be equated with perfunctory work.

Think of the people who performed or continue to perform volunteer work. While those people were never legally obligated to do such a thing, as a result of their decision to start the work, there is a commitment that has to be made - not only to continue the work, but to also do it to best of their ability. By undertaking in an obligation (even though discretionary) means that they are liable for any negligence or failure to perform at a given standard.

Batman's role as a vigilante is the same. To clarify, no one forced him to be Batman or a crime-fighter of any sorts. Duty wasn't thrust upon him. Rather, he forced duty upon himself, and to that, he must remain true to it. As mentioned earlier, as a crime-fighter, it is expected that there will be times where killing will be the most viable option in serving the citizens the best manner possible. The simple fact of the matter is that one should never accept a job if he isn't capable of doing what is required, or if he isn't willing. To refuse to do what is expected from the line of work means that Bruce Wayne either isn't cut out for such a task, or he isn't performing his task well enough.

Moreover, any time his refusal to kill inadvertently leads to the loss of lives, Bruce Wayne must be held accountable for his failure to act. It is negligence on Bruce Wayne's behalf when he continues to ignorantly spare the lives of psychopaths who he knows will go rampant every time they escape captivity. In doing so, Bruce Wayne is liable for any loss of life by the villain as the crime could have been avoided if he had , otherwise, taken the necessary step earlier. By always taking the ineffective half-measure of incarceration,it seems as if Bruce Wayne is intentionally willing to run the risk of the death of innocents as long as he does not fall back on his personal ideals.






So there you have it - a few rational arguments from both viewpoints of the issue. I do not claim for this to be a complete list because there is always another argument to be heard in the wide field of ethics. This is such a great topic to discuss, and I wrote this to create a sensible discussion and to learn more about the community's ethical standpoints. Therefore, please feel free to make a comment and share your thoughts.

If you liked the article, then please give a THUMBS UP as I would greatly appreciate. Any constructive feedback is also very welcome. Thank you for reading and have a wonderful day.





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Sophisticated - 3/15/2013, 7:33 PM
Buck buck ninja
GoodGuy - 3/15/2013, 7:40 PM
@JackHigh

Thanks for the insight! I understand that the moral struggle of killing for the better is always a good story element. It obviously adds another layer to the whole dark and brooding outer surface. It's contradictory dichotomy (i forgot the correct term for this) - Sensitive on the inside with gothic bravado on the outside. Not to nitpick, but as I said, let's refrain from using the "there would be no villains if he killed them all" argument.

Thanks for your insight nonetheless.


@FreakingIntelligentRobertGriffin

Those are exactly my thoughts! I don't want to sound like a psychotic supporter of killing but that's the harsh reality for a bleak city like gotham. The sad truth, for me, is that morals can only take you so far before they start to fail you or your resolve. When a city is overrun by criminals and an important tactic is adapt to survive, then I don't think there's much room for inidividual ideals to be upheld when there are people's lives at stake.
superotherside - 3/15/2013, 7:51 PM
ImTheGoodGuy Fantastic editorial. Summed up the arguments perfectly IMO.

One thing I think that is funny. Batman actually DOES and HAS killed in comics and TV shows. For instance. When aliens attack in the first episode of JL the team uses the sun to 'kill' the aliens. Several other instances I can't think of at the moment are also true. For instance, it wouldn't be out of character for Batman to blow up an alien space ship with aliens inside.

So this comes up with another moral issue. Are the 'aliens' not 'human' thus it is ok to kill them being less than us?

I'll let you guys bat around that issue. :P

Yes, the 'bat' was left there on perpose. ;)
GoodGuy - 3/15/2013, 8:16 PM
@JokerFanHahaHa

Thanks, buddy!

That would be a new thing to explore in the comics huh? After about 40 years of Batman not killing, you'd think it was about time, huh?

But yeah it's hard, even for an ethicist to dictate who lives or who doesn't. To do so, would indicate a higher worthiness over the other - which we know isn't true considering how all humans are equal.


I still stand by my point that Batman needs to put down criminals if he's standing by his crimefighting shtick...

Thanks again!
GoodGuy - 3/15/2013, 8:42 PM
@Cipher


Thanks, man! You aint a psycho! You perfectly explained what Batman meant by "going down a hole he cannot come back from" . As you said, he probably meant that murder might one day become the only resort to bringing peace and to protecting himself. That's not too selfish when you put it that way.


Take it easy brutha and lookin forward to your return!
tonytony - 3/15/2013, 8:47 PM
I say batman should kill or permanaently cripple criminals
Rhino4508 - 3/15/2013, 8:48 PM
I think Bats should kill certain villains. i.e. Joker, Zsasz, Dollmaker, and any other villain along the way that is so demented and twisted that they can not be rehabilitated. Keeping them around constantly puts the public in danger.
superotherside - 3/15/2013, 8:49 PM
ImTheGoodGuy I'd like to hear your thoughts on him killing aliens. What did you think of the comment I posted above?
GoodGuy - 3/15/2013, 8:55 PM
superotherside

I actually am at a moral dilemma with this one. Consider this question:

"If a human embryo is not capable of feeling and comprised of 150 cells and flys are composed of more than 100,000, then wouldn't squashing a fly cause more suffering in the world than an abortion?"

To me that intelligent question you posed is a really hard one to tackle when we talk about humans and other beings. I mean to aliens, technically, we are the "aliens". As sentient beings, themselves, they are entitled to some form of humane treatment.

If Batman disregards the aliens (those who are living, breathing, and experiencing) but has a problem killing humans, then there is somewhat an inconsistency to his philosophy, don't you think?
Spideyguy94 - 3/15/2013, 8:56 PM
Fantastic stuff man one of the best editorials I've read. It's a great and thought provoking question. I personally think batman should not kill, because while the argument is older than me it's still true, if batman did kill it puts him on the level of people like the joker and two face and going down that path he couldn't come back and his sense of right and wrong would be lost. I think that batman and spidey have valid reasons for not killing in that they lost loved ones and it defines them as a person. Unlike most superheroes who don't kill just because.
MrDonut - 3/15/2013, 8:59 PM
Batman Begins handled this question best; Batman shouldn't kill, he should just beat you to a pulp and let you die...
Sora - 3/15/2013, 9:10 PM
The Batman isn't at fault for letting all the criminals live and such because hes working with the system rather then against it. If the people really wanted innocents to stop dying then why not just make the death penalty legal instead? That sounds more plausible then expecting one man to do what the collective minds of the city are unwilling to. If Batman is at fault for letting the joker live and letting innocents die in the process, then so are the cops who take the joker to jail as well as the judge who sends him to arhkam. The whole system itself is at fault.
GoodGuy - 3/15/2013, 9:10 PM
@FreakingIntelligentRoberGriffin

You're pulling the words right out of me mouth.

That's why I think Batman's selfish to some degree. Does he feel morally sound when he accidentally kills someone? His whole I don't kill "shtick" is a bit self-serving when he defines his own criteria and sometimes shapes it into whatever's convenient. He apparently feels better when he doesn't kill a criminal that leads to multiple deaths than killing a criminal whose death yields no more deaths in the future.
yingyangpalms - 3/15/2013, 9:19 PM
If Batman were real and faced certain situations created by certain writers then like a soldier killing the enemy Batman killing would be the responsible thing to do especially considering his war caused the mob the better their organizations because he challenged them. So he made them need to get better and become more deadly. He gets them riled up, they come back at him and lots of people get killed while he then backs off with his no kill policy.

Batman's not simply a vigilante, he actually started a war against organized crime and in the mythology, many Bat-villains exist partially due to his interference.

In TDKR much of the film was about Batman's one rule. But as a citizen, when the Joker had just killed multiple cops all because he was after Batman, and the Joker was shooting a machine gun into cars killing people, Batman rides past him and does nothing to stop him and crashes his bike into a truck.

Sorry but if I'm in public and someones shooting people and I can I'll kill the guy to stop him. In that situation stopping the killing comes first. Not trying to be a hero to 5 year olds. Not personal rules. And remember everything the Joker did that night was a reaction to Batman.

And besides, he killed the League Of Shadows because he wouldnt kill a criminal. In that situation, HIS LIFE was on the line. Instead of facing them and dying he sat the place on fire and killed dozens.
Then he killed Harvey and later caused injury to Talia killing her as a result.

But he would not kill the Joker or even touch him to save lives.

His decision to fight a war half assed caused hundreds more to die. He started something he didnt have the balls to finish.

People cry:" Batman doesnt kill people!" OK, then he needs to stay the f-ing hell in Wayne Manor and stop stirring up sh!t and causing people to die while hes quite protected with his armor and armored vehicles and gets to return from the dead anyway.
superotherside - 3/15/2013, 9:22 PM
ImTheGoodGuy Brilliant response. I personally believe this way. You should not kill unless a person is intentionally threatening another individuals well being (like fighting someone etc.) Anytime you get in a fight, expect to kill the person. Think about it, one blow gone wrong you could kill that person. So be careful who you get in fights with! That goes for all beings. Even those not born. Which means don't kill baby's who haven't done anything wrong!
LFANCH - 3/15/2013, 9:23 PM
Batman doesn't need to kill anybody, he can just take a weekend off and have the Punisher fill in for him. Batman's villains would be taken care of in a heartbeat.
unknownfacts - 3/15/2013, 9:23 PM
When it's the Joker it's easy to say yeah Bats should kill but what if an 8 year old child with a murder rate of the Joker would it be okay to kill the kid?Me I vote yes in reality but no in the comics.Only because in the comics it design to show his resolve.Albeit maybe a selfish choice but then again so is taking the law into your own hands to begin with.But in a real world well we put down mad dogs because they are unable to live in society without being dangerous to people I don't see why we can't do the same to people who can't be helped and will only be a danger to society.
SwingsetKnight - 3/15/2013, 9:31 PM
One of the best editorials I've seen: cogently argued and from all appearances well-considered.

In the interest of playing devil's advocate, however...

While a willingness to take the lives of criminals may seem practical in terms of inspiring fear -- and likely it is -- it could also have the effect of voiding other impressions Batman might wish to convey. If his singular goal is to terrify criminals and end their crimes with as much certainty as possible -- if his methods are solely destructive rather than constructive -- then killing is the only logical course. If, however, the Batman figure is intended to have a positive influence as well as a negative one, then the issue becomes muddier. Batman's unwillingness to cross the final line may be interpreted by the "ordinary" citizenry, the non-criminals, as a definite statement of moral rectitude. In a city cluttered with mentally unstable men in strange costumes, Batman's restraint could be intended to indicate to the innocent that he stands apart from the others, that he is a man of discipline who is willing to submit final judgement on his enemies to them, the people, instead of taking power upon himself (with the tacit implication that he is the only one worthy of deciding) like any other would-be despot.

Batman's willingness to turn over men that he has bled to bring down -- and unquestionably would rather never see again -- indicates his faith in the people of Gotham. This makes him, symbolically, still one of the people rather than a separate, self-elevated entity, and perhaps a figure of hope for his city. Seen in this light, Batman's capacity to allow the justice system to fail and fail again to take the rational course can be read as a sign of his stubborn faith that one day Gotham will stand proudly on its own. He is in this way a parental figure, helping and instructing but unwilling to simply seize control for expedience because he knows that one day he will no longer be there to help and his city must learn the strength to forebear without him.

If Batman were to begin killing, if he were to take full responsibility onto himself, this would constitute a rejection of his previous faith, a sign that he had at long last given up on justice of the people and thus given up on Gotham. Having known so potent a symbol of belief in them, might not the citizens of Gotham completely despair following their champion's rejection?
ScabbyJ - 3/15/2013, 9:31 PM
Wow, what a great article! Getting people talking. I'm going to share this!
gmoney0505 - 3/15/2013, 9:32 PM
There is no point in killing them when all they do is probably be resurrected by a miracle like they Ra's AL Ghul.
Tainted87 - 3/15/2013, 9:52 PM
This, my friend, was a fantastic read. Well done.

I see it like cancer. Batman could operate on Gotham, cut out the tumor (Joker) while it's benign, but he'd rather run tests to determine how weak its immune system already is, as he is planning to utilize radiation therapy. Because he chose to prioritize the immune system's strength first, the tumor has grown into a larger malignant mass. He removes what he can (kills the Joker), but now three more cysts have popped up in the surrounding area, and malignant cells have manifested towards a soon-to-be inoperable position.

Chemotherapy has begun, the cancer seems to have gone into remission (bad guys are now terrified of Batman), but at the cost of nuking Gotham's immune system (cops are now disenfranchised, and don't believe in upholding the law because it's been proven not to work).

Now Gotham has contracted Hep A because they haven't been sanitizing their hands before they cook, haven't been purifying their water supply, been eating uncleaned sushi... and now jaundice has pretty much destroyed the liver. All Batman can do now is give Gotham a liver transplant and hope it survives the surgery.

In short: Batman should have killed Joker LONG ago. It's too late in his "career" as Gotham's protector to become a Battōsai... because he'd develop a taste for it.

@Rob2814
If you give a mouse a cookie, he's going to ask for a glass of milk. When Batman decides to kill the Joker, who else will he decide to kill? What mass murderer will replace Mr. J?
batfan08 - 3/15/2013, 10:00 PM
I think that an important thing to remember, however, is that the situation is not, simply, whether Batman has to kill the Joker or let five people die by his hand, but, rather, that, even though some lives may be lost, Batman has saved countless lives by stopping The Joker every time he escapes. Utilitarianism, for me, is a bit of a tough sell, as the whole pain to pleasure thing can become somewhat muddled. By the logic of utilitarianism, The Joker would never have been created if Batman had done the "right" thing. Utilitarianism states that, as you so aptly put it, you should maximize happiness and minimize suffering.

Now, to put it in perspective, let's assume that Axis chemicals was insured for whatever amount was taken by the Red Hood and his cohorts; assuming that the Killing Joke was true, this money could've helped the Red Hood, the struggling comic, live a better life, and the suffering caused to the chemical company would have been lesser than the pleasure derived from the money that was stolen. By stopping this act, is Batman not, in effect, violating the moral theory of utilitarianism? He's inflicting pain where there could've been pleasure, and, by stopping the robbery, is he, in essence, allowing countless people to die? A lot of people would say, "well, if Batman can't stop thieves, what purpose does he serve? There are only so many murderers and rapists in Gotham."

The same could also be said for drug dealers. By utilitarian logic, they are, simply, spreading pleasure to those who want it, so long as the actions of those affected by the drugs are not inflicting pain on others, and, even if it is inflicting pain, so long as the amount of pleasure derived is greater than the amount of pain, who is Batman, or, even, the Gotham Police Department, to try to stop that? The idea of utilitarianism can be applied to a lot of things, but, even though it may sound good on paper, there are a lot of holes in the theory.

Now, let's apply your slippery slope argument to that idea of maximizing pleasure and minimizing pain. Let's say that Batman did, in effect, start killing, but his bloodlust was no longer limited to the murderers and the hardcore psychos; it was now open season on the drug dealers, the thieves, and, even, the corrupt officials and police. By enforcing that idea that he is maximizing pleasure by killing those who inflict the most pain, would he not, in effect, be setting himself up to violate that idea of utilitarianism in the event that he starts killing those who are not inflicting pain but that he simply finds to be "evildoers?"

Overall, though, I've always liked the idea present in Kingdom Come (though, in that book, it's applied, mainly, to Superman). Society follows their heroes. Look at what society devolved into after Magog killed the Joker; the new heroes were ruthless, and the lines of "right" became so blurred that they didn't even realize it when they'd slipped into the darkness. That new generation of heroes reflected what society had become in the absence of heroes with codes; they were no longer concerned with "protecting what was good," so much as "punishing what was bad.
unknownfacts - 3/15/2013, 10:07 PM
While Batman is the most notorious hero with a no kill rule he is hardly the only one.Should Superman kill Lex,should Captain Marvel/Shazam kill Black Adam,should Spider-man kill Green Goblin?They'er all killers what make Joker and Batman's rouge gallery so speacial that Bats should kill them?

On a side note this would make for a great out of canon story arc where the super heroes choose to kill rather then to incarcerate.Also watch the Justice League season 2 episode title A Better World, it shows what happens when heroes cross that line.
Ramiel - 3/15/2013, 10:10 PM
Is Gotham run by liberals? Do they not uphold capital punishment there?
VictorMadsen - 3/15/2013, 10:18 PM
One of Batman's main reasons for not killing has always been that he doesn't want to sink to the level of the criminals he fights.
I've personally never really agreed with that particular philosophy, but as it turns out, I am not Batman (sadly).

Batman - on some level, perhaps many levels - feels/believes/knows that purposefully and directly taking a life will irrevocably alter how he is seen by the people he is protecting.
I think it's less that he's worried about becoming a true vigilante and obliterating his entire rogues gallery and more that he doesn't want the honest citizens and law enforcement of Gotham to see him tarnished.

Batman is a beacon, an ideal... a pillar of trust, compassion, and conscience. He sees himself this way, and he surely thinks his fellow Gothamites see him that way as well.
Taking a life for any reason - especially after not doing so for so long - would do far more than simply sully his name and character, it would destroy everything he's built in terms of the opinions of those he most cares for.

Is this selfish? You betcha. Is it helping to propogate an epidemic that could very easily be eradicated? Yep.
But that's what pride does. And Batman has enough pride to fill a plethora of Batcaves.

Should he kill? That's a very oblique question and my answer is a resounding 'maybe'. I could list Batman's entire catalog of enemies and say 'yes' or 'no' to each one simply because I don't think they all deserve death, but I'll reshape the question: Should Batman be prepared to kill? Yes. Absolutely.
AlSimmons - 3/15/2013, 10:26 PM
First of all, Batman is a just as much as a criminal as those he puts away. He trespasses, does illegal surveillance, was apart of Project OMAC, ignores due process, has committed multiple countless acts of battery and assault, and should be held accountable for AT LEAST negligence on the contingencies he's created that have at least TWICE led to mass destruction. And on top of that he takes in CHILDREN to indoctrinate them to his methods.
HE. IS. AN. ASS-HOLE.

Batman shouldn't kill. He should be in jail.
GuardianDevil - 3/15/2013, 10:57 PM
Nice read, I think it's an admirable trait that Batman doesent kill, same way with Superman, Spider-Man, Daredevil (although he brutally tortures), Shazam and others althoug it does put them a disadvantage when facing others who don't hold back as much as they do. But it fits those characters perfectly, now if suddenly Wolverine, Rorschach or Venom has a code against killing than I'd be mad because that goes against everything the characters are and have always been.

But I like that Batman, Spidey, Superman, etc. don't kill because that fits the characters well.

Great article, one of the best I'd say!
GuardianDevil - 3/15/2013, 11:00 PM
@AlSimmons
I'm sure 99% of all heroes in comics have broken the law at one point or another.

"HE SHOULD BE IN JAIL!"

May I ask? Where should Spawn be?
TheSoulEater - 3/15/2013, 11:25 PM
Should he kill? No i don't think he SHOULD....as in as a rule of thumb like Jason or Daredevil or Scarlet Spider.

I think he should kill JOKER specifically. He is someone batman needs to kill.

And/or most certainly, let others who are trying to, do it themselves.

Protecting Joker or murderers disgusts me, and i wish batman would stop if they're going to just go into Arkham's revolving door
LinkHall - 3/15/2013, 11:38 PM
Batman shouldn't kill many of his villains, however, some of them like Joker, Zsasz and a few of the truly sadistic ones need to be taken down. Now in the world of the comic these guys are caught by Batman who put his life on the line to catch them only to be put in arkham asylum and escape and kill dozens more until Batman can put his life on the line long enough to catch them again.

Now I know the anti-hero is popular nowadays (more interesting too) but even putting that aside, how many people have to die before Joker is killed. Obviously the justice system isn't going to do it.

Now ivy, mr. freeze and some of those guys shouldn't be killed, but the truly sadistic ones need to be taken care of.
GuardianDevil - 3/15/2013, 11:40 PM
@SoulEater
True, it probably would be a good thing for Batman to kill Joker specifically. Just like Daredevil (who also has a code against killing) killed Bullseye because he caused too much trouble and it was much better to just get rid of him permanently.
gr33nhawk - 3/15/2013, 11:50 PM
There is something of a third path to take. Cripple instead of kill. Its awfully hard to terrorize innocents when you are breathing through a tube the rest of your life. Batman keeps his personal integrity, and the bad guys are out of the game for good.
AmazingFantasy - 3/16/2013, 12:50 AM
Brillaint article.
I can't be bothered to make a paragraph, so i'll say, no and yes.
Go figure
KidGoku - 3/16/2013, 1:06 AM
Amazing article. One of the best I've seen on this site. Makes me wonder the same about other heroes being conflicted when their life is on the line if the right thing to do is kill (Spider-Man especially). Do you think you could do another article touching on the same topic regarding other heroes?
molee - 3/16/2013, 2:41 AM
Honestly.. Batman used to kill criminals very frequently in the earlier comics by Bob Kane.
They brought in the no kill rule to preserve the villains and to make the comic available for a wider audience(kids basically).
I feel it's a cheap trick to cloud their lack of creativity when ii comes to villains.

The biggest fear DC has is that if they let Batman kill the Joker then maybe their comics will not run as good as it is running now.
In a one liner.. DC is more dependent on the Joker than Batman.

It's about time that they re-introduce a darker Batman the way Bob Kane wanted him to be.. and seriously!
I expect some new villains..
Though I am a big fan of the Joker my-self.. it's kinda annoying to see that there isn't much that batman can do to him.

unknownfacts - 3/16/2013, 2:55 AM
It funny when Green Arrow killed people in the first episode of Arrow people were like Green Arrow doesn't kill but someit people think Batman should kill or just kill certain characters like Joker and Zassa.I guess what I'm getting at is if you look at it logically those guys that Arrow killed were hitmen probably killed alot of people yet people cared that he killed them.While people say Batman should kill.It just funny when other heroes kill 80-90% will say they shouldn't or don't but when it comes to Batman it like 50% on the should kill side.
minusman - 3/16/2013, 4:20 AM
Swingsetknight put it quite eloquently and I have to agree with his point-
The Batman, as a symbol of justice and hope, has to hold himself to a higher moral standard than the rest of us.

@Imthegoodguy- great editorial. One of the better ones here. It's kinda sad that an article like this cant get more comments and discussion than a Marvel vs DC flame war.
Hellsing - 3/16/2013, 4:23 AM
Batman has killed, he blew up a temple with secret cult ninjas and then he killed Ra's, Nolan made him in to a killer (I'm joking nolanites don't cry.)

Batman should't kill because thats the Punishers job and he's better at it so leave it to the professional.
SuperiorSpiderGoblin - 3/16/2013, 4:24 AM
Amazing Editorial, but Bruce shouldn't murder to achieve his aim. Despite how hard it may make his mission and war on crime, if he kills he becomes "one of them" and is constantly reminded of his parents deaths.
Hellsing - 3/16/2013, 4:27 AM
I'll make a serious comment before one of the uptight ass holes here say's something about it. No he shouldn't kill and its very simple he kills then the Joker wins. Slightly worried by how many people actually want him to kill.
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