Comics Creators

Should heroes kill?


There has been much discussion of late concerning the use of lethal force by “superheroes” in comics, TV and movies.

It’s one thing when “antiheroes” such as Deadpool and the Punisher kill. They are far more morally dark characters so it is not unusual to see them kill.

But there are characters who we associate with not killing like Superman, Spider-Man and Batman though in their long histories in print and on screen, they are responsible for deaths. It may not be murder in some cases, but manslaughter still ends with the same result: a dead body. In some cases, it could be considered self-defense but the result is still the same.

I look at Marvel’s Secret Invasion event from a few years back. Heroes were killing Skrulls left and right without a second thought. The Skrulls were sentient beings, not mindless robots.

Should it be considered acceptable that heroes kill or at least let someone die? Or should the hero always make every effort to see no one dies? When they are dealing with and invading force like Secret Invasion, should it become “rules of war” and all bets are off?

The times and attitudes have changed over the course of many characters’ existence. Are we at a point where it is okay for any character to kill, regardless of the medium they are appearing in?


Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice discussion - SPOILERS

It can be argued that it’s not heroic to let certain villains continue to live only to escape imprisonment and kill again.

Batman: No more! All the people I’ve murdered…

[uppercuts Joker]

Batman: … by letting you live.

Joker: [Spits blood] I never kept count.

Batman: I did!

Joker: I know. And I love you for it.

And if not kill, incapacitate them in a way that innocent lives won’t be further threatened.


Maybe the question should be: “Should Superheros Kill,” because "heroes’ kill all the time across all media.

The first comic superhero series I became obsessed with had no problems with killing, or gore really: Comico’s “Elementals.”

That was back in 1984.

I was fine with it then, I’m fine with it now. How killing is applied is character dependent, but in terms of wide genre application, I don’t think it should be off the table.


No. But they also shouldn’t preach about it. Then fall 20 feet onto the spine of a poor old grunt.


Indeed, I mean I’ve been reading this guy for years but here’s one of his biggest kill-counts:

Thing is, if we’re trying to put those two in the real world, then why has the Joker not been executed? The US, on a general basis, has no hesitation in using the death penalty so why doesn’t Gotham just fry him?


No, I don’t think so.


I did like that Deadpool pointed out his killing is “technically” murder.

Out of the vast majority of new material for “kids,” a surprising number of the heroes outright kill people - HUNGER GAMES, TWILIGHT, DIVERGENT… and, of course, even Buffy in the 90’s was a “Slayer”, not an “incapacitater.”

However, at the same time, killing has consequences and, usually, killing itself doesn’t solve any problems in the best of these stories.


Buffy’s a good example. Where killing of monsters is OK. But people not so much.

When Faith accidentally kills the Mayor’s human aid. That’s pretty much her own decent Into Monsterdom!


I just want to say this bodes well for my all ages creator owned project “Captain Murderer and the Superrapist”.


The death sentence varies from state to state, with 32 out of 50 having it, so we’d have to presume Gotham and Metropolis are in the group that don’t.


As long as Superrapist is a woman and molestation survivor, you should be fine.


Superrapist is a bear.


Heroes should be allowed to kill but not as a standard. The hero’s priority is to bring the evildoer to face justice. Failing that, the hero should incapacitate the evildoer from being able to continue visiting evil on the innocent. At this point, if it becomes necessary to kill because every other option is proving futile, then killing it must be.

Besides, you know how difficult it gets to create new villains if your hero is killing them left, right and centre?

The Joker should have been killed off ages ago; if not by the Bat then by the law - although he is insane and therefore cannot be held responsible for his actions, which is how he escapes the chair.
In terms of the law, a person whose act or omission constitutes an offence, and who suffers at the time from a mental illness or defect which makes him incapable of appreciating the wrongfulness of his act or omission; or of acting in accordance with that appreciation, will not be criminally responsible for that act or omission.

The difference between lies between the cognitive and the conative respectively:
The cognitive refers to insight, or appreciation of the wrongfulness of an act.
The conative refers to self-control, or acting in accordance with an appreciation of that wrongfulness.

So it may be argued that as much as the Joker knows he’s acting illegally (and this is not always true), he lacks the self-control to not continue down that road as it were. Without a strong case for mens rea, the Joker is able to escape conviction.


Thats true but a defence like SIAM or Insanity is almost never pleaded by defence council becausw theres no control over sentence length. Hed just end up committed indefinitely - like Charles Manson.

Really theres no reason why Jokers narrative shouldnt have unfolded as it has. The constant escapes are pretty unrealistic though


But that’s a plot needs situation. As are a lot of things.

MARVELS Secert invasion and the killing of Skills was very badly handled. I get it was suppose to be a them or us.
And folks like Cap, thor should have no isues switch to kill mode. And anyone who’s been a soldier might be reluctant to do it. But they would at least have the mindset for doing it.
But the FF, Spiderman should still be set on Stun.

The stuff with Osborne hunting down the remaining skrulls I had little issue with. Because it fit the character.

I think one of the worst OOC kill I can recall is Still the Punished scene is Civil war.
It’s not that he killed. It was how he did it.
The Punisher is smarter than that. He’s a machine. But he seldom does anything to put innocents in danger. He’s a focused killer rather than a mindless one. It just didn’t sit right with me.

Just introduce work mate to the Authority. He can’t get over the hard stance. And how casual they are about the killing. But he’s enjoying it. Wants to know how the can be around a world with Superman.


None of it is very realistic, it should be internally consistent though.

Good luck with that of course.

We live in a world where people kill in order to do good, as well as bad. It’s on the news every day. That doesn’t mean we have to like it.

Fiction is one way to express our feeling about that (and other) issues.

There’s no single answer. I have as much trouble with James Bond NOT killing some bad guys as Batman killing others.


That’s an inherent flaw in ongoing frequent narratives.

The individual story can make sense but the longer it goes on the less the whole does.

If you take soap operas like Eastenders or Home and Away (moreso than the American ones that are more fantasies by nature), any individual storyline can be very realistic, they sell themselves on being true to modern life. When you look at a long running character or the street/town history though it’s completely ludicrous.


Sequel potential


Have you given him Action Comics 775 to read?


Which makes his continued presence in the DC Universe somewhat plausible.