How long before you become a lethal enforcer?

Honestly, most of the criminals in comics would be released on technicalities stemming from the superheroes who bring them in. If you brought in the Joker you would have to testify in court as a witness. You couldn’t jump out of the shadows and beat them up for saying a plan out loud, their defense would be that they were just kidding and they weren’t actually acting. All your efforts are for not, they’re out on the street and you have 20 other villians that you contend with. I suggest no one with the power to put an end to a super villain would last five years, tops, without deciding it’s in the public’s best interest that they are put down. The law is a human institution that doesn’t always create a better tomorrow. With lethal enforcement you alleviate the economic and moral suffering that stems from housing a criminal that, despite society’s efforts, does not stop the threat and fear caused by criminals who are unable to be rehabilitated. Search your thoughts and feelings and then answer, how long before you kill in the name of ending suffering?

That’s a very common misconception. Just because a criminal recently got beaten up by another criminal doesn’t make their arrest or conviction invalid as long as there’s genuine evidence (e.g. the Joker talked about Joker gassing the city… and oh, guess what, there are tanks full of joker gas in his hideout). Sure, superheroes couldn’t do their thing while being actual cops, but stopping crimes and saving people wouldn’t create a problem. Of course, if they’re not cops, they’ll be as wanted by the police as the “bad guys,” but if you’re willing to brave that obstacle (or the police are willing to look the other way), this supposed problem doesn’t actually exist.

So, if I decided to be a superhero, and if I had the skill/abilities to subdue criminals without killing them, I wouldn’t, and I’d sooner quit than be a “lethal enforcer,” because it’s just not right for a vigilante to be judge, jury, and executioner. That said, in a world without supervillains, superheroes are not especially necessary. If you’re really itching to fight crime, it’s far more sensible just to be a cop or a prosecutor or something. Basically, being a superhero instead of a cop is cutting yourself off from resources and making yourself a bigger target. So, even if I had superpowers and wanted to be a superhero… I would still just try to work for the FBI or something. At which point, I’d be OK with the possibility of needing to kill because an actual law enforcement officer has legitimate authority to make that call in certain situations (but generally only if there’s no other choice).


Even though I came on strong neither of us can say what would or wouldn’t happen, we don’t have precedent for someone with super human powers fighting crime. Saying you would be fine with killing because an authority said you can seems like a cop out, you’d rather have someone else feel guilty for the death than you regardless of who killed the person. The only reason someone has the “right” to authorize a murder is because others gave it to them so they wouldn’t feel responsible. I would be fine with a lethal enforcer or being one as long as the death was quick. Personally, I wouldn’t work for any government agency or group under any flag.

If I’m a hero, beating them into a yearlong coma, but if I’m a bad guy…
I’m killing them right away. No “explaining my evil plan” or putting them in a trap that will take 24 hours for them to die, in which someone is 90% likely to save them
I’d just shoot them in the head, and beat their body with a crowns (sorry red hood)

Sorry if it was a bit much

No, I get it. Anybody who wants to wax poetic about their plans doesn’t deserve what they’re after.

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What did you mean when you said beat their body with a crowns? Did you mean acorns? Did you mean crowns like teeth or what a royal wears on their head?

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How long before I become a lethal enforcer? Probably immediately. I don’t want to sound like a psychopath; just being practical is all.

First issue: Mistakes
Look, let’s say you’ve got the wrong guy. You kill them, you’ve just murdered an innocent person. You arrest them (or cause them to be arrested), there are safeguards (not perfect ones, but they exist) to make sure the innocent walk and the guilty get put away.

Let’s say you thought you needed to kill someone and you were wrong. If you’re a vigilante, you have no accountability for that. Someone died who didn’t need to, it’s your fault, and no one can do a thing about it. If you’re part of a legitimate authority, at the very least your job is on the line, and possibly civil or criminal liability along with it. Again, the system doesn’t work perfectly, but it’s better than not having one.

So, a hypothetical person who never makes any mistakes, either as to whether the target is guilty or as to whether lethal force is necessary, could be justified in using lethal force.

Second issue: Justice
What crimes warrant death? Would you kill every purse-snatcher and pickpocket? Probably not. Would you kill a psychopathic serial child murderer? Probably. Would you kill a murderer whose victim was a real jerk and arguably had it coming? Maybe? Would you rather have that decision in the hands of twelve citizens, or in the hands of a single criminal with a mask, a gun, and a whole bunch of issues? These decisions are too important for a single person with no accountability to make.

And let’s go back to those three types of criminals. Category 1 is presumably not at issue here. I hope we can all agree that those people don’t deserve death. Category 2 is more justifiable to kill… but how many serial killers is one vigilante likely to encounter over the course of his or her career, realistically speaking? There just aren’t that many of them out there. So, we’re really dealing with Category 3, and I don’t think anyone engaging in vigilante justice is properly equipped to make that call.

And even if we assume we’re in a comic book setting filled with Jokers and Zsaszes… They actually wouldn’t have an insanity defense given how that actually works under the law, real prisons are a lot harder to escape from than Arkham Asylum, and there’s a decent chance they’d be killed by the cops or in self-defense by a potential victim at some point. So, it’s kind of odd to talk about what someone would “really” do or what would “really” be justified in a fundamentally unrealistic scenario. So, if we narrow the question to “If I were Batman, would I kill the Joker?” I… probably wouldn’t, but only because Batman has particular psychological baggage that makes the no-kill rule carry more weight with him. I could actually see a non-Bat-family superhero deciding “enough is enough,” but only for the most violent villains and at the genuine risk of a slippery slope into considering more and more people acceptable targets for lethal force.

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I should of been clearer. If I was a super hero and I see a murder by someone established like Joker I would kill him. First time offenders I would probably turn over but if they are released and kill again, then they’d be put down too. For predators of a different nature; if I catch them in the act they are out.

*should have

Killing is wrong no matter how you spin it. Batman doesn’t kill joker because he knows that if he did he be no better than him. An eye for an eye leaves everybody blind. Heroes find another way, even if that way is a never ending back and forth struggle with evil. You don’t fight evil and cruelty with more evil and cruelty you fight it with truth and Justice.

To quote the great Keanu Reeves. “Mr. I’m already there.”

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I think killing murderers is necessary.

Agreed. Batman will survive Joker, average citizens will not. You would be responsible for all the deaths of the other people because of inaction. If you kept them in dungeons seperate from anyone but you all over the world so they don’t escape would make you a monster, end it and end suffering.

@Youarenotwill You aren’t responsible for other people’s actions. And killing someone doesn’t end a cycle of violence it just adds to it. Yes A madman does deserve to die more than some innocent person on the street, but that’s not your call to make. Once you start playing judge Judy and executioner where does it end?

Plus, how many times has the Joker died again? So, if we’re assuming the circumstances of a superhero universe, killing is more drastic than not killing… but just as unlikely to be permanent.

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We’re going to have to agree to disagree. Also, I already play judge Judy so don’t pee on my leg and tell me it’s raining. :grin:


You’re right, I actually wouldn’t feel bad in that universe since he’s just going to come back. Since there is a hell in DCU it might wind up rehabilitating a villain since going there is going to be worse than prison. The unfair part is no hero is working to bring back the innocent victims. Then again if they’re in a heaven it would probably be nicer.

It wouldnt be a matter of time, but a matter of situation, imo. Lethal force should be used to stop a direct physical attack that one has an established reason to believe would result in loss of life.
So, Joker escapes Arkham, breaks into a gun store. Batman shows up to catch the crime in progress. Joker will no doubt use the weapons to cause chaos, but he doesnt have one yet. If Batman kills him, Batman just murdered someone with excessive force. If Joker has a gun to a clerks head, Batman is legally allowed to end the Joker as it would be in defense of others. This definitely ends the cycle of violence as far as Joker is concerned, there is no debate.

This thread reminds me of this awesome video. It’s a lawyer explaining every law broken in Dark Knight and how the sentencing would work, as well as the legal reasoning. Its fascinating