|By Shamus||Jul 2, 2015||Nerd Culture||232 comments|
It comes up all the time: Why doesn’t Batman just kill the damn Joker? Sure, a no-killing stance makes perfect sense at first. But when you’ve got a ravenously homicidal loony who openly admits his guilt, gleefully expresses a desire to do more murder, has a seemingly endless supply of resources and willing manpower, is hyper-competent and dangerously intelligent, and is supernaturally able to evade capture and escape any asylum or prison, then it seems like maybe the “no-killing” policy should be set aside just this once.
Eventually Joker seems less like a character and more like a force of nature. So after a while we start getting angry at Batman. He’s smart, and he knows Joker will escape and kill again. At what point do we shift some blame to Batman for letting this problem run amok? He had the power to stop the Joker, so shouldn’t some of this blood be on his hands?
At this point Bat-fans jump in and offer in-universe excuses for his policy. “He’s just too idealistic!” Or maybe they offer out-of-universe excuses: “In the old days, the Comics Code wouldn’t allow for a hero to kill people on purpose!” Or maybe they weave a message into it, “Yeah, this constant death shows that Batman’s methods don’t work!”
Those are all fine reasons. Really, whatever lets you set aside your objections and get back to enjoying your Batman is fine. But there’s a deeper reason Batman can’t kill, and it has nothing to do with his personality or cultural attitudes towards killing. It’s a mechanical necessity of his stories, and no amount of hand-waving or excuse-making can change it. If Batman killed his foes, the entire world of Batman would fail to deliver on their central promise.