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Batman's "no kill" rule

About Batman's "no kill" ruleYahoo News

In live-action movies, Ben Affleck’s Batman and Michael Keaton’s Batman didn’t necessarily follow this rule. Meanwhile, Christian Bale and Robert Pattinson’s Batman promoted it. Despite this, Bale’s Batman had a few instances where people died because of him..."

The original "The Bat-Man" of 1939 used a side-arm and tossed crooks off the tops of building roofs, but that version of Batman, and the reversions, are built around the idea that the Gotham Police would immediately take Batman into custody if given a chance because "The Bat-Man" is not just usurping the role of the police, but the entire court system of Gotham. The "other" Batman, which is more or less the official one owned by DC corporate and has been the standard since 1940, is a Batman that has a tacit agreement, at times, with the police, which entails not laying waste to the criminals of Gotham, but assisting, through superior duplication, the police and their function to turn criminals over to the courts for due process (even if that "due process" role is romanticized so that Batman's "rogues gallery" always end up at Arkham asylum instead of exposed as simple amoral crooks).

The "no kill" rule runs up into simple logic at times, such as the conundrum of killing off (or not killing off) The Joker since he is a homicidal over-achiever, and making him dead would put an end to his endless string of murders, but that obvious logic isn't applicable in a world like Batman's. His world is always in a suspension of the moment in which The Joker, and Batman himself, are all new and the issue of Gotham's everlasting crime-wave is also new, and the obvious (to us) logic of just putting The Joker out of Gotham's misery isn't a real choice, but instead a problem that hasn't been solved yet, with details that haven't been examined yet, a mystery with many avenues for explaining what's happening as the bodies pile up.

When that suspension is breached, whether by something like Frank Miller's The Dark Knight, or by the many futuristic tales of the "Batman Family" in which Batman hands over the mantle to a son, or when DC's writers play with religious mythology, Batman is moved out of the core beginning of the character. What began as a blend of Dracula, bat-imagery, a devil suit, circus acrobatics, a code of knighthood, 1930s pre-atomic bomb science optimism, Gothic horror films, and a visceral street-level reaction to the injustice of crime, plus the sheer humor of a costumed-hero victimizing criminals with a supernatural fearfulness that exposed them as both ignorant and gullible, is a straight-forward formula, but it's also a DNA that can get scrambled pretty easily when DC takes the reins off their writers.

There once was a statement in a Comics Journal interview where someone claimed that "The Punisher" was just Batman "with the lies taken out." That obviously doesn't make sense when compared to the formula blend I mentioned above because leaving a trail of dead criminals in his wake would eliminate one of the main purposes of Batman's labors, which is to humiliate crooks and to leave them standing, in handcuffs (or bat-cuffs), as a warning and an example of the inevitable end point of criminal activity in Gotham. Batman (or The Bat-Man) isn't a childlike refashioning of the pulp-hero dynamic that proceeded comic books, but an evolution of the heroic concept that marries together the anti-hero and society, with the character treating Gotham's criminals as a pathogen, and the hero then dresses as the pathogen to attack it.

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Original Page August 20, 2023 | Updated August 24, 2023