Does Batman kill? One of the most asked questions about Batman. We know that there are many iterations of Batman, in most of the cases, Batman has a strict no killing rule. There are many story arcs however, which have Batman killing. Often these are else-world stories. If this was to be brought into the main Batman comic, would this change the very being of his character?
There are a lot things we identity when it comes to Batman. His parents died in an alley way, he embodies his fear to overcome it, he hates guns and he doesn’t kill. Lots of people kicked up a fuss when Batman v Superman came out. All of sudden we were faced with a Batman who was snapping necks and blowing people up. A radical change from the character we normally see. Did this stop him from being Batman?
No it didn’t. He was very much still Batman, but in a different life-stage to what we’re used to him seeing him in. In the main comics we see a Batman who has been at it for a while, but is still young. Batman v Superman gave us an older Batman, who has been through enough to break his moral standing. Why should he continue to live by his self-imposed rules when they’ve gotten him nowhere?
Another question that is often asked after the does Batman kill question is, why doesn’t Batman kill the Joker? Or why doesn’t Batman paralyse the Joker? Well the main reason Batman doesn’t kill the Joker, other than his self-imposed rules is that it would be exactly what the Joker wants. The Joker wants to prove that Batman is every bit the monster that he is, Batman just can’t admit it to himself.
Batman killing Joker would be a satisfaction to Joker. It would be a validation of his absurdist views and everything he has been doing. Is that really the message Batman wants to send? That losing faith in the order and sanity of the world, and deciding to instead cause havoc is the right thing to do? But on the other hand, the Joker would be dead which would prevent a lot of deaths…
Wouldn’t the world be better off without the Joker? Okay so then why doesn’t Batman just paralyse the Joker, incapacitate him so that he can’t do any more harm? To an extent he has done this, captured Joker and sent him to Arkham. But he always seems to find a way out (they clearly have the same security level as Star Labs on The Flash). The thing with the Joker is, that unless you kill him, he’ll find a way out.
Sure you can say, why doesn’t Batman cripple the Joker? But you know what, Joker will probably manipulate some poor sucker to be his legs, and carry him around whilst he causes chaos. That’s how much of an unstoppable force Joker is. If he was able to make sweet Dr. Quinzel turn into a maniac, who knows what else he’s capable of.
So yeah the only option is to kill the Joker, and that would be reaffirming everything Joker stood for. Batman is way too stubborn to do that.
Back to the main topic, does Batman kill? No, except for the exceptions. Does it inherently change the nature of his character if he kills? No. Because Batman is a complex guy, and its all to do with context. If he starts killing innocent people for the heck of it, then yeah, he’s changed. But if its a case like Batman v Superman, then that’s a different story.
How would you like it if you lived your life by a certain set of rules, that you convinced yourself was the only way to go, only to live a failure after failure? Would you stick by those same rules? Even though the outcome is the same? Probably not, you would probably change your methods to see if the result changes.
Batman cracked. He isn’t the tough shell he portrays to be. He’s still that same kid who is burdened by his parents’ death, and is unable to move on from that grief. Grief makes people do things, different. Grief cracks open your soul and makes you re-question your very being.
Yes, Batman cracked, he killed. But he didn’t stop being Batman. He re-evaluated what it was to be Batman. 9/10 times Batman will realise that killing bad guys isn’t the way to go. But you can’t expect someone with as much complexity in their emotional being as Batman, to not fault once in a while. It doesn’t stop him from being Batman, it just makes him human.
Don’t worry though, you can always count on Superman to be his light back onto the good side 😉
What are your thoughts, does it make a difference if Batman kills? Let me know in the comments below!
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Categories: comic book characters