Ethics And Morality In Superhero Stories

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So over in Detective Comics (a Batman story), [spoil] Kate Kane kills Clayface to stop him from going on a rampage and killing numerous people [/spoil]. This prompts the expected indignation from the rest of the Batfamily, particularly Bruce and Tim who make the usual arguments ("There is always a choice", "We have to be better than than").

What has bugged me lately is how these two arguments never pop up when it comes to other actions a superhero can commit that are far more illegal or at least unethical than killing. Killing can be justified in certain instances like in self defense or defense of others (which describes Kate's actions) while stuff like torture, privacy violation and child endangerment. Torture in particular has been employed by Batman throughout his existence. No one ever seems to make an argument about him needing to find a better way despite torture being deemed a heinous crime in most civilized societies.

Going further. Remember when Huntress got booted off the League for trying to kill Prometheus, a man who almost killed the League, almost started WW3 and would later one go on to commit a crime that, had it occurred in real life, would have surpassed 9/11 as the most devastating act of terror in U.S history. Killing him could be argued as justifiable homicide. Meanwhile, Brother Eye, Bruce's foray into mass surveillance, which ended up killing thousands of innocent people, including the Amazons, somehow wasn't enough to keep him off the League despite his actions being far less justifiable and more harmful.

Basically, the way in which superhero writers and fans approach morality is just plain odd.

Oh, the 'We dont kill mass murderers' is always my go to of "This is stupid". The reality is that it is an excuse to hold on to recurring villains.

While it does suck to see plenty of villains bite it in their first movie, the MCU is a far more 'realistic' superhero universe than most others.

Agent_Z:
So over in Detective Comics (a Batman story), [spoil] Kate Kane kills Clayface to stop him from going on a rampage and killing numerous people [/spoil]. This prompts the expected indignation from the rest of the Batfamily, particularly Bruce and Tim who make the usual arguments ("There is always a choice", "We have to be better than than").

What has bugged me lately is how these two arguments never pop up when it comes to other actions a superhero can commit that are far more illegal or at least unethical than killing. Killing can be justified in certain instances like in self defense or defense of others (which describes Kate's actions) while stuff like torture, privacy violation and child endangerment. Torture in particular has been employed by Batman throughout his existence. No one ever seems to make an argument about him needing to find a better way despite torture being deemed a heinous crime in most civilized societies.

Going further. Remember when Huntress got booted off the League for trying to kill Prometheus, a man who almost killed the League, almost started WW3 and would later one go on to commit a crime that, had it occurred in real life, would have surpassed 9/11 as the most devastating act of terror in U.S history. Killing him could be argued as justifiable homicide. Meanwhile, Brother Eye, Bruce's foray into mass surveillance, which ended up killing thousands of innocent people, including the Amazons, somehow wasn't enough to keep him off the League despite his actions being far less justifiable and more harmful.

Basically, the way in which superhero writers and fans approach morality is just plain odd.

The main reason it makes sense for Batman to not kill people is that as a vigilante, he is himself a criminal. To just start killing random criminals when he is going out looking for them and more often than not starting the fight would be legally murky to say the least. Of course their philosophies differ due to upbringing: Bruce Wayne is a wealthy but troubled man traumatised by exposure to violence in ealy childhood involving death and firearms, whereas Kate Kane is a graduate of Westpoint - one of the most prestigeous Military Colleges in the world - and her old man at least is still alive and kicking. So Bruce cannot visit that level of violence on anyone no matter how much he thinks they deserve it: it isn't in his nature. Kate on the other hand is trained and conditioned to be able to kill someone should the consequences require it.

Of course it doesn't help that most of Gotham's police are corrupt, stupid, apathetic or a combination of all three with counter-examples you could count on one hand with fingers left over.

And of course the meta reason that we can't get rid of the popular villains.

Saelune:
Oh, the 'We dont kill mass murderers' is always my go to of "This is stupid". The reality is that it is an excuse to hold on to recurring villains.

While it does suck to see plenty of villains bite it in their first movie, the MCU is a far more 'realistic' superhero universe than most others.

But it comes at the cost of completely abandoning famous plot lines from said villain characters. I mean the Red Skull deserves more stories with Captain America than just one movie. I mean imagine killing off Magneto in the first X-Men movie?

Samtemdo8:

Saelune:
Oh, the 'We dont kill mass murderers' is always my go to of "This is stupid". The reality is that it is an excuse to hold on to recurring villains.

While it does suck to see plenty of villains bite it in their first movie, the MCU is a far more 'realistic' superhero universe than most others.

But it comes at the cost of completely abandoning famous plot lines from said villain characters. I mean the Red Skull deserves more stories with Captain America than just one movie. I mean imagine killing off Magneto in the first X-Men movie?

Then writers need to learn how to let villains survive on their own volition. They should live because they had an escape plan, not because the good guy is naive. Though that goes for heroes too. I want to see the hero survive and win, but not because the villain tied them up to an insane contraption, then left the room.

Saelune:
While it does suck to see plenty of villains bite it in their first movie, the MCU is a far more 'realistic' superhero universe than most others.

Hmmmmno.
MCU superheroes get it easy, just about every villain either kills himself (deliberately or accidentally) or is killed by another villain. MCU presents a cozy universe where the good guys never have to do any tough calls, they just fight off the baddies until everything sorts itself out; if the bad guy doesn't die at all he's always presented in a sympathetic light and goes to jail (Loki, Zemo, Vulture). MCU superheroes at best kill off non-entities like the bugs from Avengers 1 or the robots from Avengers 2, which you can kill by the truckloads without a moment's remorse. Nothing 'realistic' about MCU's perception of crimefighting, which is that things tend to sort themselves out and nobody ever has to compromise their beliefs.

Johnny Novgorod:

Saelune:
While it does suck to see plenty of villains bite it in their first movie, the MCU is a far more 'realistic' superhero universe than most others.

Hmmmmno.
MCU superheroes get it easy, just about every villain either kills himself (deliberately or accidentally) or is killed by another villain. MCU presents a cozy universe where the good guys never have to do any tough calls, they just fight off the baddies until everything sorts itself out; if the bad guy doesn't die at all he's always presented in a sympathetic light and goes to jail (Loki, Zemo, Vulture). MCU superheroes at best kill off non-entities like the bugs from Avengers 1 or the robots from Avengers 2, which you can kill by the truckloads withou a moment's remorse. Nothing 'realistic' about MCU's perception of crimefighting, which is that things tend to sort themselves out and nobody ever has to compromise their beliefs.

Im speaking relatively here. Compared to most other superhero universes, such as the comics. I am not saying MCU is a truly 'realistic' version of what life would be like with superheroes, it just seems to be the closest, even if its still far from perfect.

Agreed, I can't help but find the whole "if you kill him you'll be just like him" argument incredibly naive... though that just might be to my cynicism... the fact that the comics can't get rid of the popular villains doesn't help either.

This really is worse for Batman than for most other superhero franchises, because A) nearly all of Batman's Rogue's Gallery are baseline humans with no special powers, and B) as a genius detective who understands the criminal mind inside and out, and a rich entrepreneur with nearly unlimited resources, Bruce should easily be able to design and have built an escape-proof facility to hold Gotham's villains. Instead, they all get sent to Arkham Asylum, for which the term "Swiss-cheese security" would be a high compliment.

Well, arguably superheroes are already absurd concepts of purely escapism fuel. The whole reason why civilizations don't merely descend into anarchy is the economy of violence is usually either personal, or faces the typical 'hill' of operational paralysis.

It takes a lot for a group of people to say collectively they should fight back against something. Most of us are paralyzed to actually take that step because of the diffusion of responsibility. Superheroes circumvent that entirely by having the power, the economy on violence, already as second nature. It costs a superhero nothing to fight back against a crooked cop, or an armed bandit ...

They have the good fortune of being gods amidst mere mortals.

Which is why the writers tend to circumvent the complexities of realities we face. Metropolis is actually not such a bad place despite Superman's adversaries. Metropolis is actually fairly utopian. You don't see much poverty, you don't see much crime, it seems everybody has well paid work and isn't being exploited by their bosses ... But that's because Superman can't do something about poverty, or institutionalized racism, or political corruption without breaking that contract that their actions exist outside something humanly conceivable as natural wrongfulness.

Justifiable homicide makes sense, but I suppose you can flip it around. For imagine killing someone and then having to prove they were legitimately building a device that could not only conceivably, but reasonably be suspected of killing of thousands of people?

The threats that superheroes face are so far and beyond the means of a legal system to rationally handle that maybe the reason why superheroes can't just go around murdering people is because of the image it would portray.

Like let's say if I ran into Batman and he said; "There was this guy that triedto riddle the world with a techno-McGuffin that would have destroyed the entire city ... so I beat the living shit out of him and left him in the custody of the polic, you're welcome."

That's sort of reasonable, because as someone who can't even conceive of what this person tried to do or whether it was even possible, I would just assume bad person was doing something possibly dangerous, and thus the police have them now. All's well withthe world.

That changes if you had a Batman say; "There was this guy, with a McGuffin ... was going to destroy all of existece ... so I threw him off a building to his death. You're welcome."

Well ... that's not going to fly so well.

We don't kill mass murderers in real life either.
Unless they die fighting, they get caught and put in prison.
Charles Manson has a girlfriend in her 20's right now who visits him regularly, Brevik is studying international relations and playing PS2 games in prison.
Pretty much the only way a person can die in prison in a Western country is either from old age or from the hands of another prisoner.

Since regular law enforcement doesn't really kill criminals (aside from the very authoritarian ones), how can a superhero?
An anti hero? Sure. You see Deadpool and Wolverine murdering everyone in their way all the time.
The main difference between a hero and a villain in comic books is the way they treat the lives of others.
If both the heroes and the villains kill, what's the difference between them, other than their socio-political beliefs?

Also, speaking of Batman specifically, he witnessed his parents get killed.
I think that, in the back of his head, he's thinking: "What if I'll kill that guy and he's someones father or son? I don't want to be like the guy who made me into an empty shell."

Vanilla ISIS:
We don't kill mass murderers in real life either.
Unless they die fighting, they get caught and put in prison.
Charles Manson has a girlfriend in her 20's right now who visits him regularly, Brevik is studying international relations and playing PS2 games in prison.
Pretty much the only way a person can die in prison in a Western country is either from old age or from the hands of another prisoner.

Since regular law enforcement doesn't really kill criminals (aside from the very authoritarian ones), how can a superhero?
An anti hero? Sure. You see Deadpool and Wolverine murdering everyone in their way all the time.
The main difference between a hero and a villain in comic books is the way they treat the lives of others.
If both the heroes and the villains kill, what's the difference between them, other than their socio-political beliefs?

Also, speaking of Batman specifically, he witnessed his parents get killed.
I think that, in the back of his head, he's thinking: "What if I'll kill that guy and he's someones father or son? I don't want to be like the guy who made me into an empty shell."

Um, you never heard of the death penalty or kill orders? What do you think happened to Osama Bin Laden.

Tell me, do you have trouble telling the difference between, say, Captain America and the Red Skull? Both have killed people but the former is still seen as a hero and the latter a villain. Same with Wonder Woman and the villains she fights. Context matters. Heroes kill in self defense or defense of others, villains kill to further their own goals.

Bruce having a rule against killing, never mind how unrealistic it is he's never broken it, even by accident, is one thing. Him trying to force other people to obey this rule regardless of their own philosophies or whether following that rule would do more harm than good is something else. The fact his use of torture and privacy violation makes Jack Bauer look like a human rights advocate only serves to make him look like a hypocritical prick.

Addendum_Forthcoming:
Well, arguably superheroes are already absurd concepts of purely escapism fuel. The whole reason why civilizations don't merely descend into anarchy is the economy of violence is usually either personal, or faces the typical 'hill' of operational paralysis.

It takes a lot for a group of people to say collectively they should fight back against something. Most of us are paralyzed to actually take that step because of the diffusion of responsibility. Superheroes circumvent that entirely by having the power, the economy on violence, already as second nature. It costs a superhero nothing to fight back against a crooked cop, or an armed bandit ...

They have the good fortune of being gods amidst mere mortals.

Which is why the writers tend to circumvent the complexities of realities we face. Metropolis is actually not such a bad place despite Superman's adversaries. Metropolis is actually fairly utopian. You don't see much poverty, you don't see much crime, it seems everybody has well paid work and isn't being exploited by their bosses ... But that's because Superman can't do something about poverty, or institutionalized racism, or political corruption without breaking that contract that their actions exist outside something humanly conceivable as natural wrongfulness.

Justifiable homicide makes sense, but I suppose you can flip it around. For imagine killing someone and then having to prove they were legitimately building a device that could not only conceivably, but reasonably be suspected of killing of thousands of people?

The threats that superheroes face are so far and beyond the means of a legal system to rationally handle that maybe the reason why superheroes can't just go around murdering people is because of the image it would portray.

Like let's say if I ran into Batman and he said; "There was this guy that triedto riddle the world with a techno-McGuffin that would have destroyed the entire city ... so I beat the living shit out of him and left him in the custody of the polic, you're welcome."

That's sort of reasonable, because as someone who can't even conceive of what this person tried to do or whether it was even possible, I would just assume bad person was doing something possibly dangerous, and thus the police have them now. All's well withthe world.

That changes if you had a Batman say; "There was this guy, with a McGuffin ... was going to destroy all of existece ... so I threw him off a building to his death. You're welcome."

Well ... that's not going to fly so well.

Almost Nothing a Batman does would "fly so well" in a sane society regardless of whether or not it resulted in death. But Gotham is not a sane society. Irony is justifiable homicide is the one thing he could get away with as opposed to the torture, criminal trespassing and use of child soldiers. The former is a right every citizen has. The latter is recognised as barbaric in any civilised society.

Agent_Z:

Almost Nothing a Batman does would "fly so well" in a sane society regardless of whether or not it resulted in death. But Gotham is not a sane society. Irony is justifiable homicide is the one thing he could get away with as opposed to the torture, criminal trespassing and use of child soldiers. The former is a right every citizen has. The latter is recognised as barbaric in any civilised society.

You're still going to find yourself in a court of law if you shoot and kill someone in 'self-defence' ... The argument of justifiable homicide is on the basis of reasonable force and limited options.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Agent_Z:

Almost Nothing a Batman does would "fly so well" in a sane society regardless of whether or not it resulted in death. But Gotham is not a sane society. Irony is justifiable homicide is the one thing he could get away with as opposed to the torture, criminal trespassing and use of child soldiers. The former is a right every citizen has. The latter is recognised as barbaric in any civilised society.

You're still going to find yourself in a court of law if you shoot and kill someone in 'self-defence' ... The argument of justifiable homicide is on the basis of reasonable force and limited options.

True. But you're less likely to go to prison for that than almost everything else superheroes do. Wonder Woman stood trial for killing Max Lord and was acquited. Considering most super villains go on very publicised rampages, it will be child's play for a half competent lawyer to get a superhero who committed justifiable homicide free.

Ah, that. The first thing I thought when Clayface died was, "Huh. I wonder when they're gonna to bring him back from the dead?". In the case of Batman and his rouges gallery, a lot of them are kind of mentally ill. Clayface, a villain in the middle of reform, was manipulated by a villain into giving in to his condition. He was a victim and Batwoman killed him. It isn't difficult to see why Batman and Cassandra, who were both heavily invested in Clayface's reform, were more than a little devastated to see a teammate in need of help get shot down. I get why she did it. I get why Bats didn't like it.

Also, I don't find killing to be a desirable trait in my heroes, baring some exceptions like Wolverine. It's just really off putting to know that these larger than life beings go around playing executioner. I don't really apply the same rules to heroes as I do to officers. Like Tim said, they're supposed to be better than that.

Agent_Z:

True. But you're less likely to go to prison for that than almost everything else superheroes do. Wonder Woman stood trial for killing Max Lord and was acquited. Considering most super villains go on very publicised rampages, it will be child's play for a half competent lawyer to get a superhero who committed justifiable homicide free.

And arguably given some of the plots, it would be very easy for a half competent DA to argue that a superhero murdered someone on the basis of shaky understandings of a threat that was without evidence or rationally conceivable a threat, and rather than inform the police decided to take matters into their own hands.

As I was saying, I would have severe problems ifa masked vigilante told me some guy needed to die because of a Magical McGuffin.

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Agent_Z:

True. But you're less likely to go to prison for that than almost everything else superheroes do. Wonder Woman stood trial for killing Max Lord and was acquited. Considering most super villains go on very publicised rampages, it will be child's play for a half competent lawyer to get a superhero who committed justifiable homicide free.

And arguably given some of the plots, it would be very easy for a half competent DA to argue that a superhero murdered someone on the basis of shaky understandings of a threat that was without evidence or rationally conceivable a threat, and rather than inform the police decided to take matters into their own hands.

As I was saying, I would have severe problems ifa masked vigilante told me some guy needed to die because of a Magical McGuffin.

So you're okay with these guys interfering in police investigations, contaminating evidence, assaulting and torturing people and generally taking the law into their own hands as long as they somehow avoid killing people?

I mean, this feels like a strange line to draw given the concept of vigilantism is already crossing lines. If you can trust an unlicensed individual in a Halloween get up to use violence to protect people why would you assume he was wrong when he said he had no choice to kill someone?

Agent_Z:

So you're okay with these guys interfering in police investigations, contaminating evidence, assaulting and torturing people and generally taking the law into their own hands as long as they somehow avoid killing people?

Pretty sure I'm not okay with any of that stuff, butthen again if there is proof they prevented a larger problem without breaking at least basic understandings of human rights (like, say, torture) ... then it's reasonable. I'm not saying it's good. Just like I don't think it's good when police shoot a fugitive ... but it can be reasonable based on empirically understandable dimensions of the transgression... it's just that the criterion of it being within reasonable expression should be incredibly high.

I wiull note that the primary danger of vigilantism in my eyes isn't simply someone taking the law into their own hands. We often do that ourselves ... like when I co-ran a bar, my security would often escort someone out before any real damages were done. Pre-empting a worse situation from happening, even if there is shaky evidence it might of happened or not.

But let's say the situation where a vigilante justifies their actions not in terms ofthe information and options presented at the time, but rather in terms of; "Sure I beat up two guys, but I also saved 5 guys last weekend so it's fine."

Note, the key problem with power is always, always, the transgression of acceptability in the moment.

Even in utilitarianism, it's not about the tally at the end of the day ... it's about the situations that can be cleanly listed as disparate, and the individual actions as made to be humanly capable of being upstanding at every decision made. It is reasonable that a long winding series of misfortunate events might lead to someone driven to their wits end, becoming a symbol of otherwise unreasonable force and violence ...

It's not reasonable if the individual instances of that otherwise unreasonable force are unrelated to eachother. Because you're not testing the same thing.

Bad things happen in war. Friendly fire, collateral damage, misinformation leading to otherwise unreasonable force. When it becomes a moral consideration is when these instances are unrelated to the otherwise harrowing conditions of their emergence ... due to negligence, malice, or wilful depravity.

Not merely a tally of; "Well the world's better with me than without" ... which is no real measure of morality, only a measure of how fortunate the world is that it doesn't have someone like you placed into more greyer situations more often.

Captain Marvelous:
Ah, that. The first thing I thought when Clayface died was, "Huh. I wonder when they're gonna to bring him back from the dead?". In the case of Batman and his rouges gallery, a lot of them are kind of mentally ill. Clayface, a villain in the middle of reform, was manipulated by a villain into giving in to his condition. He was a victim and Batwoman killed him. It isn't difficult to see why Batman and Cassandra, who were both heavily invested in Clayface's reform, were more than a little devastated to see a teammate in need of help get shot down. I get why she did it. I get why Bats didn't like it.

Also, I don't find killing to be a desirable trait in my heroes, baring some exceptions like Wolverine. It's just really off putting to know that these larger than life beings go around playing executioner. I don't really apply the same rules to heroes as I do to officers. Like Tim said, they're supposed to be better than that.

Actually few if any of Batman's rogues would be considered mentally ill. Most of them know the difference between right and wrong, they just don't care. Batman writers simply fail to have caught up with 21st century knowledge of mental illness, particularly how people with mental illness are more likely to the victims of mental illness rather than the perpetrators.

Yes Clayface was a victim. He was also a threat to innocent people that needed to be stopped by any means necessary. And shouldn't their anger lie with the person who undid all of Clayface's progress anyway?

"We need to be better than that" is a nice, if childishly simplistic, sentiment but ignores that a) no one has made any arguments for what else Kate should have done and b) superheroes commit a number of crimes when fighting villains. Exactly who does Tim think they are "better" than?

Having the "No Kill Rule" or not doesn't really make a difference in the long run, you know comic books, just because a character is dead doesn't mean they'll stay dead. Even if they are 100% a corpse, nothing's stopping them from appearing in flashbacks/visions, case in point: the Arkham games.

Bruce Wayne/Batman is an exercise in moral and ethical contradiction. A man with nigh incalculable wealth wants to fight the rampant crime in his beloved city, but instead of using his funds and technological wizardries to aid and arm the lawful defenders of Gotham, he hordes all the goodies himself, puts on his bulletproof pajamas with the pointy ears and willingly becomes a criminal himself by employing torture, coercion, severe-if-nonlethal beatings and often, least of his misdeeds, destruction of personal property in the pursuit of... lawful justice?

Batman would make more sense if he embraced his vigilante nature, embraced the duality of his two personas, and went full-bore 'spirit of vengeance' as Batman, a Punisher-esque anti-hero. No mercy, save tomorrow by killing today. How many times does the Joker have to go free from incarceration before Batman realizes, after dangling him off a ledge for the 149 millionth time, that he could save everyone a lot of pain and misery by letting the fucker drop? Yeah, the medical examiner might have to work some overtime, but how much time and paperwork would he save the active police force if he stopped breaking arms and started breaking necks? Do you think the criminals of Gotham would try half their bullshit if they knew that old "Bat-Brain" had gone "Bat-Shit-Insane" and traded in all his stun rounds for armor-piercing RIP ammo, his batarangs for razor-sharp shuriken and his smoke bombs for noxious sarin nerve gas grenades? Sure, he'd eventually get caught and face numerous counts of murder in the highest degree imaginable, but hell, if Batman did his job in such the way as he's more than capable, he'd essentially have the entire prison to himself!

Maybe not wanting to kill the supervillains is a character flaw. A superhero without flaws is a boring superhero.

Maybe they just try to portrait superheros as the opposite of supervillains. How frequent is for supervillains to kill in cold blood, or being pushed to the villain side after killing someone in the heat of the moment?

But yeah. In practice is better for business to keep the supervillains alive so if they become popular, they can reappear without having to revive them or explain how they survived or faked their death everytime.

Agent_Z:

Captain Marvelous:
Ah, that. The first thing I thought when Clayface died was, "Huh. I wonder when they're gonna to bring him back from the dead?". In the case of Batman and his rouges gallery, a lot of them are kind of mentally ill. Clayface, a villain in the middle of reform, was manipulated by a villain into giving in to his condition. He was a victim and Batwoman killed him. It isn't difficult to see why Batman and Cassandra, who were both heavily invested in Clayface's reform, were more than a little devastated to see a teammate in need of help get shot down. I get why she did it. I get why Bats didn't like it.

Also, I don't find killing to be a desirable trait in my heroes, baring some exceptions like Wolverine. It's just really off putting to know that these larger than life beings go around playing executioner. I don't really apply the same rules to heroes as I do to officers. Like Tim said, they're supposed to be better than that.

Actually few if any of Batman's rogues would be considered mentally ill. Most of them know the difference between right and wrong, they just don't care. Batman writers simply fail to have caught up with 21st century knowledge of mental illness, particularly how people with mental illness are more likely to the victims of mental illness rather than the perpetrators.

Yes Clayface was a victim. He was also a threat to innocent people that needed to be stopped by any means necessary. And shouldn't their anger lie with the person who undid all of Clayface's progress anyway?

"We need to be better than that" is a nice, if childishly simplistic, sentiment but ignores that a) no one has made any arguments for what else Kate should have done and b) superheroes commit a number of crimes when fighting villains. Exactly who does Tim think they are "better" than?

They are still going after the victim syndicate, but that doesn't mean they ignore the fact that Batwoman killed a friend in need. I can't help but feel like if it were some other villain, Deathstroke, Joker, Bane, that the only one who'd really care would be Bats. Cassandra is upset because she made a connection with Clayface. He was her friend and one of the first she ever made. Tim's just scared that he's locked on the path of becoming a murderous Batman. Batman would be upset no matter what. As it stands, Batwoman coldly gunned down an ally.

Kate should not have pulled the trigger. She should not have engaged in actions that go against what the symbol or the team represents. She should have at least tried to find another way. Killing Clayface was her Plan A. The only thing she could contribute to a team dedicated to operating without taking lives.

The city of Gotham is full of corruption. From the politicians to the cops, there's hardly anyone worth trusting. I've heard the argument that Bruce Wayne could help fund the GCPD and hand them the weapons they need to take down the villains, but what would actually happen is the villains would get their hands on the arsenal and suddenly even the common thugs are a lot more dangerous. Basically, they have to be better than that. Better than that corruption. Batman and his amazing friends are already operating outside of the law. I think it's reasonable for them to draw the line at killing. Preferably they'd also draw the line before torture.

And, while it may be childish, we're talking about men and women in tights fighting other men and women in tights, often of the brightly colored variety. Some call themselves heroes, others call themselves villains, and the jump around shouting one liners, gloating, and ranting about their evil plans. You can inject as much maturity as you want, it wont change the fact that he wears tights and dresses like a bat.

By the way, have you read Batman White Kight?

Captain Marvelous:

They are still going after the victim syndicate, but that doesn't mean they ignore the fact that Batwoman killed a friend in need. I can't help but feel like if it were some other villain, Deathstroke, Joker, Bane, that the only one who'd really care would be Bats.

Which only shows the hypocrisy of this team. What they only car because it's somebody they know? That doesn't make them heroes it makes them nepotists.

Captain Marvelous:

Kate should not have pulled the trigger. She should not have engaged in actions that go against what the symbol or the team represents. She should have at least tried to find another way. Killing Clayface was her Plan A. The only thing she could contribute to a team dedicated to operating without taking lives.

I repeat, what other options did she have? How many would be dead while she's trying to find another way? For all the moral indignation directed at her, it's telling that none of them (or you for that matter) can offer another option.

Captain Marvelous:

The city of Gotham is full of corruption. From the politicians to the cops, there's hardly anyone worth trusting. I've heard the argument that Bruce Wayne could help fund the GCPD and hand them the weapons they need to take down the villains, but what would actually happen is the villains would get their hands on the arsenal and suddenly even the common thugs are a lot more dangerous. Basically, they have to be better than that. Better than that corruption. Batman and his amazing friends are already operating outside of the law. I think it's reasonable for them to draw the line at killing. Preferably they'd also draw the line before torture.

Or they could join the police force and fight the corruption from within. Maybe Bruce could also run for Mayor or become a DA. After all, if these guys are so damn noble, maybe they should try fighting the problems from within because running around in bulletproof PJs hasn't solved jack.

Captain Marvelous:

And, while it may be childish, we're talking about men and women in tights fighting other men and women in tights, often of the brightly colored variety. Some call themselves heroes, others call themselves villains, and the jump around shouting one liners, gloating, and ranting about their evil plans. You can inject as much maturity as you want, it wont change the fact that he wears tights and dresses like a bat.

There's limits to how much idiocy an audience should be forced to stomach from the characters.

Captain Marvelous:

By the way, have you read Batman White Kight?

No. How is it relevant to this conversation?

Addendum_Forthcoming:

Agent_Z:

So you're okay with these guys interfering in police investigations, contaminating evidence, assaulting and torturing people and generally taking the law into their own hands as long as they somehow avoid killing people?

Pretty sure I'm not okay with any of that stuff, butthen again if there is proof they prevented a larger problem without breaking at least basic understandings of human rights (like, say, torture) ... then it's reasonable. I'm not saying it's good. Just like I don't think it's good when police shoot a fugitive ... but it can be reasonable based on empirically understandable dimensions of the transgression... it's just that the criterion of it being within reasonable expression should be incredibly high.

I wiull note that the primary danger of vigilantism in my eyes isn't simply someone taking the law into their own hands. We often do that ourselves ... like when I co-ran a bar, my security would often escort someone out before any real damages were done. Pre-empting a worse situation from happening, even if there is shaky evidence it might of happened or not.

But let's say the situation where a vigilante justifies their actions not in terms ofthe information and options presented at the time, but rather in terms of; "Sure I beat up two guys, but I also saved 5 guys last weekend so it's fine."

Note, the key problem with power is always, always, the transgression of acceptability in the moment.

Even in utilitarianism, it's not about the tally at the end of the day ... it's about the situations that can be cleanly listed as disparate, and the individual actions as made to be humanly capable of being upstanding at every decision made. It is reasonable that a long winding series of misfortunate events might lead to someone driven to their wits end, becoming a symbol of otherwise unreasonable force and violence ...

It's not reasonable if the individual instances of that otherwise unreasonable force are unrelated to eachother. Because you're not testing the same thing.

Bad things happen in war. Friendly fire, collateral damage, misinformation leading to otherwise unreasonable force. When it becomes a moral consideration is when these instances are unrelated to the otherwise harrowing conditions of their emergence ... due to negligence, malice, or wilful depravity.

Not merely a tally of; "Well the world's better with me than without" ... which is no real measure of morality, only a measure of how fortunate the world is that it doesn't have someone like you placed into more greyer situations more often.

I honest to God have no idea what you're saying here.

CaitSeith:
Maybe they just try to portrait superheros as the opposite of supervillains.

A while back there was two parallel series called Irredeemable and Incorruptible.

Irredeemable dealt with a Superman expy called The Plutonian who goes batshit crazy and, seemingly overnight, goes from being Earth's greatest hero to the cruelest mass murderer in history.

Incorruptible deals with Max Damage, one of the few super villains who can, and often has, go toe-to-toe with The Plutonian, witnessing The Plutonian wiping out an entire city -- a city Max himself was about to wipe out -- and it shocking him so much that he decides he has to become a "good guy" and try and protect the world as best he can. Only problem is he has no idea how to be a "good guy", he basically has no moral compass whatsoever, so he just does the exact opposite of whatever he would have done when he was a super villain.

Unsurprisingly, this often doesn't exactly have the intended effect.

While both series have their flaws, both are interesting takes on common super hero/super villain tropes.

CaitSeith:
Maybe not wanting to kill the supervillains is a character flaw. A superhero without flaws is a boring superhero.

That would be a good idea but that isn't how it's presented most of the time. And the few times it is presented that way, the fans lose their minds.

CaitSeith:
Maybe they just try to portrait superheros as the opposite of supervillains. How frequent is for supervillains to kill in cold blood, or being pushed to the villain side after killing someone in the heat of the moment?

Because apparently there is no other instance when killing people can be justified. Wonder Woman and Huntress have been killing since the 80s and is still a hero

CaitSeith:
But yeah. In practice is better for business to keep the supervillains alive so if they become popular, they can reappear without having to revive them or explain how they survived or faked their death everytime.

This I don't have an issue with.It just would be nice if said villains also weren't more depraved than your average war criminal.

Agent_Z:

Or they could join the police force and fight the corruption from within. Maybe Bruce could also run for Mayor or become a DA. After all, if these guys are so damn noble, maybe they should try fighting the problems from within because running around in bulletproof PJs hasn?t solved jack.

Because the corruption is much more wide-spread than you're making it out to be. There are literally a handful of true blue cops left in Gotham that are willing to put themselves and their extended families at risk for the shit that goes on in the city, and most of them aren't exactly all there, whether that be physically or mentally simply because of how widespread it is. Gordon is where he is through dumbass luck and tenacity and depending on what version of the story we're using, got where he is because someone higher on the totem pole got a bit too big of a head and decided he could be a good replacement for whatever reason.

And Bruce for Mayor? The guy is known as a playboy living on daddy's money. You can try to say something like "President Trump" as a counter-arguement. But the difference is that for the most part, nobody really knows that he's actually pushed for shit like better living conditions and free clinics. Nobody really knows exactly how much philanthropy he's done. He's given the police arms that allow them to take down criminals with less lethality through I think Wayne Manufacturing(or whichever is the former-ish military contractor arm of the Wayne empire), but it's only done so much. To the vast majority of people, he's the guy that jumps into the kitchen of a restaurant and buys it after smashing plates around the place in some kind of ritual kale dance. Not to mention there's been numerous times where he's gotten more power than he currently has(as more than a batsuit and psuedo-businessman) and it legitimately terrifies him. Like, you have seen when he's been put into a position of power in the League beyond his normal "founding member" status? Things do not go well.

As for how much idiocy people shouldn't be willing to be put up with, I have yet to see a long-running work of fiction not run into the same problem. You're literally throwing a fit about pulp novel storytelling. Odds are constantly being upped and downed, villains constantly appearing and reappearing after asspulls, and basic motivations stay the same throughout it all. You cannot try to apply real-world logic to a world where they've learned how to create a stable and reliable space elevator with medical rubber, titanium, and balsa wood. You're supposed to take the basic reasoning and enjoy it, or see the commentary(whether it be social, critical, or what have you) and find some manner of applying it to your own views.

Batman doesn't kill.....because he doesn't kill. That's basically it. The meta explanaiton is obviously so they can keep the rogue's gallery (not that people dying in comics has ever meant they stay dead, of course, with a few notable exceptions).

The in-universe explanation is just that he can't. All his talk about it being the line he doesn't cross are really dumb when you actually tally up all the shit he's already done, from stalking, to breaking and entering, to assault, to torture, to crippling people.

Or, to put it in a funny way:

But mostly: It's just comic books, they mostly don't make sense anyway. Just enjoy the ride until the inevitable reboot and/or cancellation.

Redryhno:

Because the corruption is much more wide-spread than you're making it out to be. There are literally a handful of true blue cops left in Gotham that are willing to put themselves and their extended families at risk for the shit that goes on in the city, and most of them aren't exactly all there, whether that be physically or mentally simply because of how widespread it is. Gordon is where he is through dumbass luck and tenacity and depending on what version of the story we're using, got where he is because someone higher on the totem pole got a bit too big of a head and decided he could be a good replacement for whatever reason.

Like I said, what they're doing now isn't making any headway.

Redryhno:

And Bruce for Mayor? The guy is known as a playboy living on daddy's money. You can try to say something like "President Trump" as a counter-arguement. But the difference is that for the most part, nobody really knows that he's actually pushed for shit like better living conditions and free clinics. Nobody really knows exactly how much philanthropy he's done. He's given the police arms that allow them to take down criminals with less lethality through I think Wayne Manufacturing(or whichever is the former-ish military contractor arm of the Wayne empire), but it's only done so much. To the vast majority of people, he's the guy that jumps into the kitchen of a restaurant and buys it after smashing plates around the place in some kind of ritual kale dance.

I don't know. We're talking about a billionaire who is shown to be mildly eccentric at worst. Not the p*ssy-grabbing cheeto in an unconvincing hair piece.

Redryhno:

Not to mention there's been numerous times where he's gotten more power than he currently has(as more than a batsuit and psuedo-businessman) and it legitimately terrifies him. Like, you have seen when he's been put into a position of power in the League beyond his normal "founding member" status? Things do not go well.

Are those in main continuity or elseworlds?

Redryhno:

As for how much idiocy people shouldn't be willing to be put up with, I have yet to see a long-running work of fiction not run into the same problem. You're literally throwing a fit about pulp novel storytelling. Odds are constantly being upped and downed, villains constantly appearing and reappearing after asspulls, and basic motivations stay the same throughout it all. You cannot try to apply real-world logic to a world where they've learned how to create a stable and reliable space elevator with medical rubber, titanium, and balsa wood. You're supposed to take the basic reasoning and enjoy it, or see the commentary(whether it be social, critical, or what have you) and find some manner of applying it to your own views.

The problem is that writers keep drawing attention to the unrealistic nature of their stories with plots like the one I mentioned in the opening post. It's like a stage magician expecting people to enjoy the act when we can clearly see the wires. You can't just gou "don't take us seriously except now we want you to take us seriously". That's trying to have your cake and eat it too.

Agent_Z:

The problem is that writers keep drawing attention to the unrealistic nature of their stories with plots like the one I mentioned in the opening post. It?s like a stage magician expecting people to enjoy the act when we can clearly see the wires. You can't just gou "don't take us seriously except now we want you to take us seriously". That's trying to have your cake and eat it too.

Guess you're not much of a Sci-Fi or Ancient Fantasy fan I suppose?

As for the rest, I don't know for certain, Elseworld's, Main continuity, past continuity, and Reboots have sorta made it impossible to know exactly what timeline anything is in.

CaitSeith:
Maybe not wanting to kill the supervillains is a character flaw. A superhero without flaws is a boring superhero.

I wouldn't call it a character flaw as such. I think you must remember that batman is kind of insane, he is traumatised. He strictly adheres to a sort of deontological morality as a self defence mechanism.

Also for other meta-reasons. Remember comics were/are associated with children's entertainment. They were expected, at some level to present lessons acceptable for children. Solving your problems by killing people has very poor optics even if justified by common sense utilitarianism.

Batman: A Rich Dude Plays Dress Up And Then Beats The Poor AND Mentally Ill

Yeah...not really a great example of 'ethics' or 'morality'.

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