Stolen Pixels #172: Gotham's Latest Superhero

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Good comic, not exactly an original joke though eh...

But more O current T: No one's going to mention rorschach? He's less about the shooting and more about the burning alive. But none of this "keep them alive" garbage.

His idealism is one of the things which makes Batman so fascinating. He transcends humanity and instead becomes the embodiment of an idea.

There's a book called "The Philosophy of Batman" that gives terms and reasons for all of Batman's behavior. I get his ideology, but it probably isn't the most practical things at the end of the day.

DaveMc:

Darkwolf9:

DaveMc:
Y'know who else should be dead? Professor X.

If it makes you feel any better in the Ultimate Universe Magneto snaps his neck. I'm not sure if its ethical to kill someone because they have the potential to harm or kill the entire human race.

I'm not at all sure about that, either, which is what makes it interesting to me. To simplify it further: you're presented with a person (Person X, let's say), and you know nothing about them except that they have the capacity to kill the entire human race in a way that nobody can prevent. I don't know what that person could ever say or do that would convince me that they would *never* use that power. Could they convince the authorities that they were safe to have around?

I can imagine some gut-wrenching comics about this: A young mutant discovers that their one and only power is to destroy all the oxygen around them when they get upset, and if they get mad enough they'll destroy all the O2 in the entire atmosphere. They're a cute young kid, never done anything to anybody ... but they could destroy the world. What to do? What would the military or the government want to do? (Given the sheer number of comics out there, it wouldn't surprise me to learn that such stories already exist.)

Actually, Prof. X could convince anyone that he wouldn't do it. Another part of his power (that he doesn't use) is the ability to control your thoughts!

Very few people are immune to that. Magneto, maybe Juggernaut, and Apocolypse, off the top of my head...

DaveMc:

Darkwolf9:
I'm a big Batman and I love the Joker, but realistically (I do realize were talking about comics) Joker should be dead.

Y'know who else should be dead? Professor X. (Yeah, wrong universe, but come with me, here.) Anyone with the ability to kill the entire human race (ref: the second X-Men movie) should not be walking around breathing. Even if he says he's a nice guy. Even if he says he only started to do it that one time, and it was an accident. I think such a person, in reality, would quickly meet with an unfortunate accident.

By this logic, we should be killing everyone, then. Granted I don't have the means to kill the entire human race, but by your logic anyone with the ability to perform a crime should be punished for that crime. I mean after all, I'm sure you're a nice guy and all, but I'd feel a lot safer knowing you're in jail so you can't rob my house.

Also, awesome comic (and follow-up commentary) Shamus. Reminds me of an article Escapist posted a while back that talked about some of the things you really shouldn't think about when enjoying some Batman. This comic actually brushes along one of the points the article talked about: the fact that the villains in the comic should be subject to capital punishment and swiftly killed off, but they're kept around to wreak havoc on Gotham and/or Batman purely for the sake of keeping the comic going.

Darkwolf9:

DaveMc:

Darkwolf9:
I'm a big Batman and I love the Joker, but realistically (I do realize were talking about comics) Joker should be dead.

Y'know who else should be dead? Professor X. (Yeah, wrong universe, but come with me, here.) Anyone with the ability to kill the entire human race (ref: the second X-Men movie) should not be walking around breathing. Even if he says he's a nice guy. Even if he says he only started to do it that one time, and it was an accident. I think such a person, in reality, would quickly meet with an unfortunate accident.

If it makes you feel any better in the Ultimate Universe Magneto snaps his neck. I'm not sure if its ethical to kill someone because they have the potential to harm or kill the entire human race. At least with killing the Joker you know you're really making the world a better place. He's killed a lot of innocent people out of the sheer joy of killing people. He has no desire or hope for rehabilitation. Not only has he killed many people, he plans on killing more. I value life and I think killing the Joker would uphold that value more than it would go against it.

At the end of the day, superheros need to live by a no-kill policy because the writers would then need to figure out someone else to kill. Then it would be Generic Madman 34 biting the dust in the next month, and it would be boring. Not only that, but it would upset parents and their thoughts that comics are a morality center for children - 'oh, its okay for little Johnny to read Batman, he may be a scary deranged man with homoerotic undertones, but at least he doesn't kill anybody.'

(BTW, i know Batman isn't gay, but c'mon, rumours have been floating ever since Dick Grayson put on the green budgie-smugglers and cape. And yes, i know it was, like, the stone ages when that comic was written - but its still no excuse.)

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Take the Midnighter, for example. He is basically Batman ramped up to eleven (yes, even the homosexuality), and he kills people left right and center - but only bastards. He's a magnificent bastard himself as well, but he has an effect - people fear him. Literally. To the point of pissing their pants when they see him. All because they know that not only will they lose their life now this man is here, they'll probably be in agony whilst they die.

Batman should have put down the Joker years ago. There were plenty of rogues gallery left for him to slap around, and there's always the mob. But you put down a rabid animal, not lock them up.

Few people realize how much bad-ass soldiers enjoy Am idol.

JohnTomorrow:

Darkwolf9:

DaveMc:

Darkwolf9:
I'm a big Batman and I love the Joker, but realistically (I do realize were talking about comics) Joker should be dead.

Y'know who else should be dead? Professor X. (Yeah, wrong universe, but come with me, here.) Anyone with the ability to kill the entire human race (ref: the second X-Men movie) should not be walking around breathing. Even if he says he's a nice guy. Even if he says he only started to do it that one time, and it was an accident. I think such a person, in reality, would quickly meet with an unfortunate accident.

If it makes you feel any better in the Ultimate Universe Magneto snaps his neck. I'm not sure if its ethical to kill someone because they have the potential to harm or kill the entire human race. At least with killing the Joker you know you're really making the world a better place. He's killed a lot of innocent people out of the sheer joy of killing people. He has no desire or hope for rehabilitation. Not only has he killed many people, he plans on killing more. I value life and I think killing the Joker would uphold that value more than it would go against it.

At the end of the day, superheros need to live by a no-kill policy because the writers would then need to figure out someone else to kill. Then it would be Generic Madman 34 biting the dust in the next month, and it would be boring. Not only that, but it would upset parents and their thoughts that comics are a morality center for children - 'oh, its okay for little Johnny to read Batman, he may be a scary deranged man with homoerotic undertones, but at least he doesn't kill anybody.'

(BTW, i know Batman isn't gay, but c'mon, rumours have been floating ever since Dick Grayson put on the green budgie-smugglers and cape. And yes, i know it was, like, the stone ages when that comic was written - but its still no excuse.)

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule. Take the Midnighter, for example. He is basically Batman ramped up to eleven (yes, even the homosexuality), and he kills people left right and center - but only bastards. He's a magnificent bastard himself as well, but he has an effect - people fear him. Literally. To the point of pissing their pants when they see him. All because they know that not only will they lose their life now this man is here, they'll probably be in agony whilst they die.

Batman should have put down the Joker years ago. There were plenty of rogues gallery left for him to slap around, and there's always the mob. But you put down a rabid animal, not lock them up.

As an avid reader I definitely understand the need to keep an interesting rogue gallery. I really like the dynamic between Batman and Joker, but to me there's absolutely no reason he should be alive based on what he's done. It amazes me that the cops just don't kill him. The man has killed enough people to be tried and put on death row easy. That's the other thing about the series that bothers me. All of Batman's rogues go to Arkham Asylum rather than prison. I understand they are justifiably crazy, but in the real world anyone who murders with intent ends up in prison. Joker could possibly get there his first time, but after he pulled one of his mass murdering stunts after breaking out of the Asylum (again!) there's no way in hell he'd simply end up in an insane Asylum. I love the characters and the series, but it has some incredible plot holes.

Arec Balrin:
This thread finally encouraged me to make an account. I was in a small discussion thread about this on the Steam forums. Here's the gist of my point from there.

If Batman kills, Batman loses his argument. It's not a simple matter of what is pragmatic versus what is ideal: pragmatists in the Batman setting are nearly always thwarted and out-manoeuvred by the larger characters that symbolise things. Gary Oldman kind of sums it up vaguely at the end of Batman Begins- "escalation: we buy semi-automatics, they buy automatics. We wear kevlar, they start using armour piercing rounds.." . The symbolic, idealist characters are thinking with a lot more foresight than the short-term pragmatists.

If the Joker is right about everything, killing him is futile. If Batman is right, killing him is unnecessary. If Rah'as Al'Ghul is right: killing men like the Joker is not only necessary; it's insufficient, one must be prepared to do all that is necessary and even innocent people must die. Execution serves no defensible long-term purpose.

This is probably the best argument I've seen on the subject yet, bravo to you, and welcome to the Escapist. :)

Certainly, the reasoning is there for anyone in Gotham to just off the Joker, but Batman shouldn't. He's outside the law, but he never places himself above it. He leaves Joker's fate to the judicial system (flawed as it is), because if he decides Joker's fate, what's to stop him from deciding another's? Or another's? Or how about just screw the superheroing and become dictator of the world?

That's probably the rub: the Joker's kind of a test, not just for Batman, but for everybody: How long can you hold up your morality in the face of that kind of madness? It's a really demented, rigged game, too. The only way to win is for the legal system to finally say "the insanity plea no longer applies here," and put him to death, and even that's a sketchy win. If anyone else does it, especially Batman, then the Joker wins, because he makes his point, and humanity's not worth saving.

(On that note: I'd love to see a story where someone just up and kills the Joker, and at first everything seems great, only for it to have opened the doors to something even worse than him. Wouldn't have to be an in-continuity story, or it could be on one of those alternate earths DC seems to have so many of. Would certainly make for some good reading)

SamElliot'sMustache:

Arec Balrin:
This thread finally encouraged me to make an account. I was in a small discussion thread about this on the Steam forums. Here's the gist of my point from there.

If Batman kills, Batman loses his argument. It's not a simple matter of what is pragmatic versus what is ideal: pragmatists in the Batman setting are nearly always thwarted and out-manoeuvred by the larger characters that symbolise things. Gary Oldman kind of sums it up vaguely at the end of Batman Begins- "escalation: we buy semi-automatics, they buy automatics. We wear kevlar, they start using armour piercing rounds.." . The symbolic, idealist characters are thinking with a lot more foresight than the short-term pragmatists.

If the Joker is right about everything, killing him is futile. If Batman is right, killing him is unnecessary. If Rah'as Al'Ghul is right: killing men like the Joker is not only necessary; it's insufficient, one must be prepared to do all that is necessary and even innocent people must die. Execution serves no defensible long-term purpose.

This is probably the best argument I've seen on the subject yet, bravo to you, and welcome to the Escapist. :)

Certainly, the reasoning is there for anyone in Gotham to just off the Joker, but Batman shouldn't. He's outside the law, but he never places himself above it. He leaves Joker's fate to the judicial system (flawed as it is), because if he decides Joker's fate, what's to stop him from deciding another's? Or another's? Or how about just screw the superheroing and become dictator of the world?

That's probably the rub: the Joker's kind of a test, not just for Batman, but for everybody: How long can you hold up your morality in the face of that kind of madness? It's a really demented, rigged game, too. The only way to win is for the legal system to finally say "the insanity plea no longer applies here," and put him to death, and even that's a sketchy win. If anyone else does it, especially Batman, then the Joker wins, because he makes his point, and humanity's not worth saving.

(On that note: I'd love to see a story where someone just up and kills the Joker, and at first everything seems great, only for it to have opened the doors to something even worse than him. Wouldn't have to be an in-continuity story, or it could be on one of those alternate earths DC seems to have so many of. Would certainly make for some good reading)

I think there was a story a year a so ago, in canon, where a cop dressed as Batman shoots the Joker in the face, but he doesnt die. Instead, he gets even more nuts - if thats even possbile.

I still dont see his death wouldn't be a boon to humanity. He's killed at least a million people in his lifetime, with no sign of slowing down. No amount of idealism is going to change that. Batman proves nothing by locking him up, because he simply escapes again. There comes a time when ideals aren't enough, and action must be taken for the greater good.

JohnTomorrow:

SamElliot'sMustache:

Arec Balrin:
le snip.

le snip

I think there was a story a year a so ago, in canon, where a cop dressed as Batman shoots the Joker in the face, but he doesnt die. Instead, he gets even more nuts - if thats even possbile.

I still dont see his death wouldn't be a boon to humanity. He's killed at least a million people in his lifetime, with no sign of slowing down. No amount of idealism is going to change that. Batman proves nothing by locking him up, because he simply escapes again. There comes a time when ideals aren't enough, and action must be taken for the greater good.

In the practical sense, you're right, Joker's death would be a boon. Batman still shouldn't do it, but rather leave it up the law (which would allow for the death penalty). If he does it, he might as well do away with the whole legal system and become the fascist everyone always jokes about him being ;).

Your getting ripped, Stolen pixels doesn't even appear on the homepage anymore.

DaveMc:
Y'know who else should be dead? Professor X. (Yeah, wrong universe, but come with me, here.) Anyone with the ability to kill the entire human race (ref: the second X-Men movie) should not be walking around breathing. Even if he says he's a nice guy. Even if he says he only started to do it that one time, and it was an accident. I think such a person, in reality, would quickly meet with an unfortunate accident.

So as soon as we give the nuclear codes to someone, we should kill them? Because they might use them? That's a slippery slope, my friend.

SamElliot'sMustache:
In the practical sense, you're right, Joker's death would be a boon. Batman still shouldn't do it, but rather leave it up the law (which would allow for the death penalty). If he does it, he might as well do away with the whole legal system and become the fascist everyone always jokes about him being ;).

Agreed, Batman brings these people in, unless his actions are preventing proper sentencing it really should be up to whatever passes for a judicial system in Gotham to deal with it.

Arkham Asylum made me think pretty much exactly the same thing. It also makes the ending spectacularly unfulfilling; woo-hoo the Joker's back in custody, everything's safe and back to normal, just like at the beginning of the game...oh. Even if Batman is unwilling to kill people, it seems like the State should have sentenced the Joker to death a long time ago. The problem is that to maintain a series' orginal context, all the hero should do is restore the status quo, but after the series has existed for a certain amount of time, it becomes weird that the characters haven't noticed this and become exhausted and disillusioned by it.

man...its a shame batman died

he was cool...stuck to his guns by not using them

except the early golden age days...and that time with the dart gun...and then that time right before he died...huh...

Batman has almost killled the Joker. Anyone read Batman Hush? Joker pushes Batman to his limits and Batman proceeds to completly destroy Joker, going into rather specific ways of killing him. Then Gordan shoots Batman to make him stop. So yeah Batman does have it in him to kill someone, you just need to piss the crap out of him.

Are you talking about Batman R.I.P.? the comic never actually says batman dies,you never see him die, and the writter of that novel said theres gonna be a second. "The return of Bruce Wayne" i believ the nam is.

I love this drinking game!

"Batman should start shooting killers in the face!"

One shot! Pure!

"But if Batman kills the Joker, where will he draw the line? He'll kill the guy who's robbing bread to feed his family! Then the Joker wins!"

Two shots! From the bottle, of course.

"Both sides have good arguments... and blah, blah"

Sober up and kick Mr. non-confrontational out of the bar.

Seriously now. What about this line? Kill the damn genocidal archvillains. If any guy makes a plan that involves killing at least everybody in a city, that's a pretty good line, right there. If he already killed the equivalent of at least a city (a big city, 100 000 at least, to be lenient with the mass-murderers of small towns), good reason to off him too. If he's a serial killer and have shown the capacity to escape imprisonment without effort. Kill his ass. Give a green light to heroes who kills someone who's was trying to kill thousands. There are great spots to draw a line that are perfectly good and that every sane person in the world wouldn't try to stop you. The problem is that Gotham as a city just doesn't have a single sane citizen. Everybody just expects that the justice system will eventually find a solution to the "J issue", despite repeated empirical evidence that it is completely incapable. One cop who takes him into custody could just shoot him saying: "Fuck my job and freedom, that fucker is dead. It was worth it."

The problem isn't that Batman is being naive by letting the Joker live.

The problem is that Gotham is masochistic and wants to lose a few hundred citizens to Mr. J every year because... I dunno... it'd be too much of a bureaucratic hassle to erase the "Expected Budget to deal with Citizens Killed and Damages By Joker" out of the yearly city-planning agenda, apparently. Either that or some insurance company is making mad profits from him, by requesting absurd fees under the "Joker Hazard" clause. And everyone paying it up.

Also, it is because Batman is an huge jerkass. He doesn't really care as long as The Joker is killing just random people out of the streets of Gotham and keeping himself to only threatening his friends. We all know Batman is fully well capable of killing Joker if he really gave a rat's ass to Gotham. He did exactly do so, even! More than once! What made him do so most of these times? Mr. J killed the Wonder Boy. When it is someone Batman actually cares about, then he kills the Joker's ass dead without hesitation. Also, how many times did he kill Rah'as Al'Ghul again? Just because this one literally never dies then Batman is just exempt from his own moral code (even though they're all "accidental").

Anyway. There's also the Comic Book Law, of course, so the point is moot: "A Hero (who's not an Anti-Hero) will NEVER EVER Kill A Villain (Directly) No Matter How Stupid It Is To Keep Them Alive (Because We Just Can't Think of A New Villain Every Issue, It'd Be Too Much Work)"

I'll elaborate on what I meant earlier because we can all imagine what Batman's argument is and what would count as him failing to uphold it. It's Joker's argument that destroys the basis of capital punishment(enacted by society as a whole, not just if Batman were to be an executioner).

Batman and Rah'as Al'Ghul are competing to defeat the Joker's argument based on their own understanding of it. In The Dark Knight, Bruce Wayne begins with the same view of the Joker as Liam Neeson's Rah'as would have: he's just a criminal, find out what he wants and use it to take him down. Alfred having experience of a similar kind of person warns Bruce that the Joker is not a criminal as pragmatic people understand it: "Some men can't be bought, bullied or reasoned with. Some men just want to see the world burn." If the version of Rah'as from Batman Begins had met the Joker, he would be in denial about their similar attitudes to society, laws and compassion.

If the Joker is right, capital punishment IS futile: the Joker is not the only psychopath and makes a big point of analysing that Batman is mentally atypical and that people support him for the same reasons they suddenly make schizophrenic turns against him. They are all crazy and all being sucked into the same abyss as the Joker, it's just that he is happily plummeting instead of scratching at imagined slippery walls in a futile effort to slow the descent or even, delusionally, crawl out. Rah'as Al'Ghul would argue that if people are on a slide into madness or are so easily manipulated by the Joker's threats(as they are), then they must die too, not just the Joker. Commissioner Gordon sees but doesn't realise the implications: the threat always escalates when you fight fire with fire. The Dark Knight demonstrates this brilliantly: the cost of thwarting the Joker with the pragmatic but immoral methods the good guys use throughout the film is to create Two-Face, destroying the only legitimate hope Gotham had in Harvey Dent.

Arec Balrin, the problem is how comics and the universe therein paints it so monochromatically. Basically, in the comic-book world, if you're Batman and acts like a good guy 24/7, then suddenly you kill someone, a genocidal someone who was 2 seconds from killing the WHOLE WORLD AND UNIVERSE, then you're suddenly Joker! How backwards is that? There is absolutely no grey area. Sure, there is the Punisher, but every Marvel hero hunts him with the same fanaticism they'd try to take Galactus. And mostly, his stories try to nudge to you that he's not making any difference (even though at least it takes more time for another crime-lord to fill the power vacuum than it takes for every other villain to escape imprisonment for the Nth time). Also, he's kind of the polar opposite, because he doesn't look for much excuse to kill criminals, and have very little lenience. Grey area, he ain't.

The most asinine thing all Heroes like to blurt out pretty much every chance they get is: "If you kill him (this serial mass-murderer who killed 125 964 innocent people for no better reason than to amuse himself and escaped imprisonment 300+ times), you'll be just like him (for killing a serial mass-murderer who killed 125 964 innocent people for no better reason than to amuse himself and escaped imprisonment 300+ times)".

Sure, if top-security-prisons in Comic Book universe wasn't just somewhere that keep villainous mass-murderers from increasing their "people killed by the minute medium" for a few hours at time, it'd be another story. At least the heroes wouldn't look so mentally defective.

Maybe the one thing keeping all these Heroes from not having a completely clear conscience for letting these serial-genocidal alive is a severe case of genre blindness... (IE, actually believing putting these guys in prison for the Nth time will keep them away for good this time around, because... now the prison has less guards since the massacre that was his last escape...)

(Sometimes I think how awesome and genre changing it would be if there were a story where the families of everybody killed by the villains since the first time they were "imprisoned" came to pressure the heroes and beg in tears that they kill them this time).

I will take that point Sandro and raise you...one Adolph Hitler. Should I really be bringing Hitler into this? It's difficult not to: even given the complex interaction between events in Europe during the 20th century and the course of his life, he is still THE relevant semi-modern example of the escalation concept at work. It took decades but the scale of the consequences was such that in real-life terms; someone other than Hitler himself(who bares sole culpability for himself) at some point made categorically the wrong decision, which if it had been right would have diverted history. I appreciate he's too emotive as a sub-topic so I won't make this post all about him. A read of the wikipedia article on the assassination of arch-duke Franz Fedinand-the single event that started the first world war-describes the classic escalation pattern. After the war, escalation kicked in again and Germany was brutally humiliated when the surrender was negotiated.

In Britain, comics that appear on bookshelves are stories the US got two years ago, unless you go to specialist comic shops. The Marvel comics only just finished the Civil War stories a while ago, but it was almost three years ago now in the US editions. DC comics have just finished 'Final Crisis' and Batman has killed someone using a gun: Dark Seid, who was good as destroying the universe after proving with a mathematical equation that he owned it anyway. Doing so cost Batman his life also and the comics are currently running a 'After Bruce Wayne' storyline. Guess what? Having killed Dark Seid, Bruce has been replaced as Batman and this new Batman is killing people; his reasoning being that Batman's delayed response in picking up a gun and killing is the reason he's dead. Escalation is rarely a linear process and rarely a simple process. Although you're right to point out that comics seem ridiculously simplistic in how they portray a 100% good guy suddenly turning into Hannibal Lecture; comic writers seem aware of it, but know as Jeff Goldblum does that "nature finds a way".

Going back to Batman Begins, Bruce DOES break his rule; once. He effectively kills Rah'as by not rescuing him. His reasons are not given, but it's safe to assume that he understands Rah'as is a threat too great to attempt a rescue for. The result? A non-linear escalation: the Joker would not have been able to exert the same influence over Gotham if Rah'as was still controlling the League of Shadows that had infiltrated 'every level of its infrastructure'. The Joker couldn't scare them, the mob as we know from Dr Crane's conversations with Falconi were far more afraid of Rah'as and Rah'as would probably kill the Joker.

That would be a cue for someone to say "well how come Rah'as is able to kill psychopaths without the escalation consequence?" and I'd say that's already been explained. Batman, Joker and Rah'as all have different arguments that conflict with both the others; if any of them are right, only one of them can be right. Rah'as can kill on a mass-scale because it's necessary and the only escalation is that the innocent people that act as food for the villains also need to die. There are no criminals without victims. Rah'as' argument is that sometimes decadence and decline are inevitable and it simply has to be cut out like an infection. He is the pro-capital punishment argument personified, but without the magic invisible lines stuck in: the only line is the one that is actually real; necessity. If killing is necessary, there is no reason to stop at the villains.

And again if Joker is right; it's futile to kill the villains, the decline is unstoppable. In Batman Begins, Bruce terrified people. In The Dark Knight, he tortures people. His only objection to Harvey Dent copying his methods is "you'd leave a man's life to chance?" and "if anybody saw you doing this, all we've worked for is undone" and "he's a paranoid schizophrenic, what do you expect to get out of him?". His objections are on practicality, although the one about 'chance' is ambiguous, next to the others it seems more like Batman is pointing that the bluff fails if Dent comes up with tails, Batman being unaware of the double-side of the coin. The ending of the film strongly suggests that the Joker is winning the argument and Batman must pay the escalation penalty in order to stall Gotham's decline.

Sneaky Hittler. I thought that by now bringing him only hurt arguments, especially because his actions weren't the result of hate but convenience and social pressure (and then of megalomaniacal arrogance). Or what have you.

And don't get me wrong. I abhor capital punishment. My country only allows execution in War Times, and that much makes me queasy. Put people in prison, give them a lifetime to try to change, prove their innocence, or rot as adequate.

The problem is that, as I said, in Comic Book universe all villains are such mad genius or just freaky dangerous there's no chance in hell they'll spend their lifetime in prison. It is surprising when they spend as much as a month in prison. What good batman got from arresting Joker in the Dark Knight? A few dozen killed policemen, his dead sweetheart and a psycho Harvey. And managed to keep the Joker in for whole... what? Couple of hours? If he killed the guy only his sweetheart and Dent would die. Not as bad, since Dent died anyway in the end, but with a lot of garbage that had to go under the rug.

You mistake the Dark Knight as a movie with a simple single theme about vigilancy and justice. That movie was freakishly ambiguous. It's like the Joker says at one point, Batman can't kill because of a twisted honer sense, and he deserves to die. I'll not surprised if in the next film Batman ends up with a really difficult choice (considering the replacement still delivers the Joker well), such as: "Kill me or police stations explodes. My heart is rigged to a detonator, and if I'm still alive in two minutes, it goes off." Or a policemen tries to kill Joker and Batmen get grievously injured protecting him, and that allows the Joker to escape killing truckloads of policemen in the process laughing at Bruce's boy-scout honor.

(also, are you arguing Batman should just let Darkseid destroy the universe? That spawning a Batman that kills people is worse than the end of the universe?)

Godwin's Law only applies when you compare a person or disfavoured opinion with Hitler or Nazism.

In regards to Darkseid, I'm not arguing anything on that: I don't think Batman had any choice. But the plan Darkseid had was one he could have had at any point in time but he didn't; it was(so far) the last plan he ever had. There was a reason for that, something was preventing it and then someone somewhere made a choice that removed it, thus enacting the law of escalation. Batman taking up a gun and killing Darkseid was itself a consequence and response to the escalation. It also it's own escalation consequence, but go far enough back and somewhere a choice is made that could have avoided it.

As for Heath Ledger's Joker: every bit of harm he did in the course of the story was never him alone. Whilst the relationship between Joe Chill and the League of Shadows in the first film is that whilst the League were responsible for the economic circumstances, Chill was wholly responsible for murdering Bruce's parents, the Joker can not be held directly and solely responsible for anything: his reign of terror absolutely required the cooperation of the people of Gotham. It is this very point which makes Harvey Dent into Two-Face.

On the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne: Bruce blamed himself, Rah'as blamed Bruce's father, Alfred blamed Chill and the Joker blames everyone and no-one. That pretty much captures the philosophical argument that each of them represent.

On the chaos sowed by the Joker: Harvey Dent blamed the corrupt and complacent(Gordon, the police, the mob) and no one could really argue with him, which he knew, which is why he determined that good or bad is all down to chance anyway. It heavily strengthens the point Rah'as made: it's not enough to do something about the criminal; all that enable that criminal are equally responsible and they need to go too. Harvey Dent was the sole means by which Gotham could have been made better without the escalation, but choices made before the story even began made the events of it unavoidable.

The good guys only managed a draw in The Dark Knight: killing the Joker would have made no difference to capturing him. The whole point of it was to get rid of or de-legitimise Dent. If Joker had died when he was first caught: Dent would be dead(because Batman would have no address to go to) and only some cops, many corrupt, would have been saved. If he had been killed instead of captured at the end, Batman would not have reached Dent in time to save Gordon and his family and Two-Face would be on the loose and people would know what had happened. The only thing that would have stopped the Joker is an injection of moral fibre into Gotham society. The only significant victory for good was the decision of the people on the boats not to kill each other.

EDIT: Yes, I know Dent died anyway, the point is that the characters aren't clairvoyant. Their goal was to keep Dent alive and legitimate and the only thing they knew at the time was that this could not be served by killing Joker.

But the problem is that they need not be clairvoyant. The just need to learn at some point that it is not worth anything dealing with those kinds of villains. Dealing with the Joker will only lead to help him in his schemes, he'll only deal with you by his terms, whether you know it or not, and people will DIE one way or another. But keeping him alive will only lead to more situations like this.

Sure, in the Dark Knight didn't have the Joker experience yet, and movie adaptations usually end up killing the Villain at the end (even though always by accident or the villain killing himself) so they don't actually count in the end.

The matter here is the Comic-Book hero ethics. Is it really ethic? And why do the governments just nod and agree in letting these people alive? Many countries would easily (and swiftly) change their policies if ever anything like the Joker or Lex showed up. Maybe it'd take a couple of (very short) imprisonments, but somewhere down the line the whole world would like them dead.

I think some dude already came up with the idea of Gunman, a gun-themed superhero in a gun costume, operating out of the Guncave, driving the Gunmobile and incapacitating villains with gun-shaped boomerangs. (He does shoot sharks instead of using a special repellent, though.)

It may or may not have been Lore Sjoberg

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