I strongly advise anyone reading this thread to watch “Batman Unmasked” (available in the doco section of DCU) and Necessary Evil (unfortunately not available on DCU, although hope springs eternal it will be one day).
Protagonist = character that creates the action and moves the story forward.
Anatagnist = character that responds to the action.
If a villain does nothing, the hero does nothing. ONLY when the villain does something does the hero respond. Hence in a super hero/super villain story, it is the villain who is the protagonist. Confusing “lead or title character” with protagonist is a common mistake.
Batman’s no-kill and especially no-guns rules come from when we finally got his origin. Several months after his creation. We actually get a chance to see what motivates him. What his trauma is. Where his compulsion comes from. Make Batman a killer and/or a gun-toter and you destroy his reason for becoming specifically The Batman. Snyder made a vigilante movie and put him in a batman costume. That doesn’t mean he re-made The Batman.
BTW, this is comic books and, in case someone needs to understand this, it’s not reality. It operates within it’s own reality. These characters live in a much different reality than ours. A reality where a person can fly with no means of propulsion. To go into a comic book character movie and say “well x needs to happen cuz…uhh…reality” is comical, Mr Snyder…truly it is.
If an audience can except any means of time travel in a movie because time travel has not yet been done, so we don’t know how it works. Yet not except that a character can be compulsive about a particular behavior based on a specific trauma. A fact which we know to be proven and true. I find that an…interesting audience perspective.
Miller’s Dark Knight did two things heralded the “dark age” of comics, and in doing so sent comic book sales on a steady decline all the way through until a post-9/11 world. The “cultural revival” of Batman, (and it’s arguable there was ever a need for such a revival) is much more laid at the feet of Burton’s Batman in ’89 than Miller’s Dark Knight in ’86. Pop culture icons ebb and flow. History shows us this when if one actually studies it. “Camp” ’66 Batman burned through pop culture and burned out the character. Denny O’neil brought the character back from the brink by focusing on what made him great. His psychology, his trauma and how that propelled the character to do what he does. To be not a simple vigilante, but, the world’s greatest detective.
Issues around drugs were never explored during the comics code era. Oh, wait, they were, Green Lantern Vol 2, 85 and what do you know, there is an “Approved by the comics code authority” stamp printed on the cover. My, my, my…I wonder how THAT happened.
Death certainly wasn’t explored during the comics code era. No one died in Crisis on Infinite Earths…oh…wait…they did, and what do you know, all 12 issues were approved by the CCA. Darn, I wonder how that slipped by. Well, it was the mid 80’s. But…wait…Ferro Lad died in 1967 during the height of the CCA.
Sex…well let’s see…hmm…I guess Wonder Woman didn’t appear on the cover of the first issue of Ms. Magazine…oh wait, that’s right…she did. Here we are in 2019 and there was a single frame of Bruce Wayne “private parts”, and there is still an uproar, and oddly enough the biggest is not from comics fans, but from all those steaming masses yearning to be entertained. So who is being more prudish in this equation, one is left to wonder?
Any vigilante can put on a bat costume and go kill and/or use guns. That doesn’t make him The Batman. This is not “morality” talking, it is psychology. It seems that Mr. Snyder can only see psychology in black and white. More is the pity and more is the pity for those same steaming masses who, heaven forfend, might have to use their brains to understand the psychological depth of the character of Batman and demand that the writer/director use reason and rationality when looking at the psychology on which his character is based and basing the film off of a grounded character premsise. Naaaah…let’s just let him kill people, it’s easier to do, even if it is contrary to the psychology of the character. Why…because being true to the characters psychology is hard…poor Mr Snyder. If you can’t do the job, just say so. It’s OK. You’ll still get your participation medal, Zack.
Snyder hopes that if he tells bull cookies long enough, some portion of people will believe him. Knock your socks off, Zack. If you have to explain a joke, it isn’t funny. If you have to explain why your Batman is valid, it isn’t.
@Zomebody I’m not going to change your mind. You sure as hades aren’t going to change mind.
Hopefully this debate will spark curiosity and food for thought for others who sit on the fence.
As for how deaths and other mature topic things made it into the comics during the CCA era, they made it through because they weren’t graphically depicted.
I never saw guts and entrails in comics until Marvel left the CC with X-Force/X-Statix. And I still don’t want to, despite DC going crazy with gore at the start of New52.
Up until then, death was done pretty much like a PG television show. Where if no one said they were dead, they might not have been. Because it was mostly left to the imagination.
And sometimes, this was done to great effect, such as how Alfred Hitchcock made his stories more effective by alluding to things and not showing them directly.
The scene in Psycho is probably one of the most terrifying scenes in movie history. But it’s also one of the least graphic. The entire shower scene is an allusion.
And it would’ve passed the Comics Code if it was in comics because of that.
But these days, there’s some readers out there that ‘have’ to see the knife cutting into the body, they have to see lots of blood and possible internal organs popping out.
This is something that I just don’t understand.
Basically, in my view the fact Batman takes up a mantle and wages a war against crime FOR THE GREATER GOOD places him squarley as a Consequential Utilitarian. That means he decides moral righteousness through the consequences of his actions. By that alone, a no-kill absolute doesnt make sense.
You seem to see him as an agent of Rule Utilitarianism. Meaning a set of absolute rules that generally lead to a greater good and applying them regardless of their situational consequences. If Batman were so dead set on rules he wouldnt be in a Batsuit to begin with, he would just let the law do its job.
None of that really matters though, the real reason the no-kill rule exists is because:
1940 - Bill Finger gets raked over the coals by Whitney Ellsworth after Batman is depicted using a gun in BATMAN #1 - “We had our first brush with censorship over Batman’s use of a gun in BATMAN #1. In one story in that issue he had a machine gun mounted on his Batplane and used it. We didn’t think anything was wrong with Batman carrying guns because the Shadow used guns. Bill Finger was called on to the carpet by Whitney Ellsworth. He said ‘Never let Batman carry a gun again!’ The editors thought that making Batman a ‘murderer’ would taint his character, and mothers would object. The new editorial policy was to get away from Batman’s vigilantism and bring him over to the side of the law.” (Batman & Me, by Bob Kane)
1941 - Whitney Ellsworth institutes the DC Comics Editorial Advisory Board and an imprint wide editorial policy that prohibits certain depictions of Sex, Language, Bloodshed, Torture, Kidnapping, Crime, and importantly Killing: “Heroes should never kill a villain, regardless of the depth of the villainy. The villain, If he is to die, should do so as the result of his own evil machinations. A specific exception may be made in the case of duly constituted officers of the law. The use of lethal weapons by women ─ even villainous women ─ is discouraged.”(http://www.thecomicbooks.com/dybwad.html)
1954 - The DC Comics Editorial Advisory Board is replaced by the Comics Code Authority.
Way to get that angry mom from 1940 something’s back. F$#% Bill Finger, amiright?
If you want to understand morality and justice, read Kant.
There is no such thing as morality and justice. Merely the perceptions of such.
Credit to Bill FInger, he worked out a way to give the character a reason and a psychology to not kill and not use guns. Not every choice a writer, artist or director makes is a good one.
You have just made the case for Batman’s “code” and used Bill Finger to do it. Finger literally said he was following the lead of The Shadow. Putting a different face & costume on a different character.
A huge round of applause to the editors for not letting him do that, regardless of their personal motivations. Bill Finger would have fallen into possibly the biggest pit in comics. The pit of the derivative. By forcing him to make The Batman not The Shadow in a bat costume. Those decisions, along with creativity of Bill Finger and many more after him, have made The Batman much more iconic, timeless and relevant than The Shadow.
Batman doesn’t wage war for the greater good. He has a compulsion to try and make sure what happened to him, never happens to anybody else.
He is selfish, not altruistic.
My point is that the no kill rule isnt from any of the creative talent who worked on the title, it was from Whitney Ellsworth, head of the DC Editorial Advisory Board that later is replaced by the overbearing Comics Code Authority reacting to an angry parent letter, not Bill Finger or even Bob Kane. They saw the machine gun as “no big deal, because the Shadow used guns”.
If Justice or morality are just perceptions (I disagree) why is there any importance at all to a no-kill rule?
First: The out-of-universe reasons the no-kill rule was originally implemented do not matter. The character as he exists in collective consciousness was formed over time. Specifically, he has been shaped by a few months of stories about someone who kills and eighty years of stories about someone who does not kill. Those stories inevitably address the fact that he does not kill. They do so repeatedly and often in morally complex and intriguing ways. The Dark Knight Returns, the Killing Joke, Year One, A Death in the Family, Knightfall, Hush, and Under the Hood are a small sampling of Batman stories that grapple with the implications of taking a human life, why Batman doesn’t do so, and whether that’s a good idea. I think I’m justified in characterizing those as most of the most influential Batman stories of all time, all well after the demise of the Comics Code. I also think that Batman is somewhat unique in that so many of his most important stories address the subject.
Second: Most people are not exclusively deontological theorists or utilitarians. Yes, Batman does what he does because he thinks it makes the world a better place. However, if he doesn’t have certain lines he will not cross, then all of those stories I listed are really rather pointless. In fact, Batman’s quest for “vengeance” or “justice” implies that he feels some people have overstepped the boundaries of what they have a right to do and need to be punished. That kind of rights-oriented philosophy is not characteristic of utilitarian thought (not mutually exclusive, but not a traditionally utilitarian consideration). If Batman feels some lines should not be crossed, then he feels there are lines he should not cross. His entire motivation is he saw two people killed and that made him sad. While one could certainly construct a different character (Huntress, the Punisher, etc.) who has that backstory and uses lethal force, it still flows fairly logically that this would lead Batman to draw the line at killing. The fact that he does draw the line precisely there is a core trait that distinguishes him from the Huntress or Wolverine or characters like that.
Third: The question is not whether Batman using a gun or killing people is a good idea. I somewhat respect his choice, but admit that in certain circumstances it’s not a great solution. Again, that’s a character flaw. My point, at least, is that a character who does those things is too distinct from what Batman symbolizes to be considered the same character.
(And these are just quibbles)
First: “Protagonist” means “primary actor.” In an extremely literal sense, “primary” means “first.” However, the term was applied in Ancient Greek drama to the actor playing the main character - specifically, the one the audience follows. The antagonist is the one who acts against the protagonist - the villain, in most cases. Your definitions are not wrong per se, but, in my opinion, are somewhat pedantic and outside common usage. Even accepting that you’re technically right, I wouldn’t go as far as to say it’s wrong to refer to the hero as the protagonist.
Second: Morality and justice are theoretical concepts, which is not quite the same thing as not existing. “Justice” in particular can refer to any of various concepts of rights and obligations through which Kantian theorists interpret morality. Philosophy is all very loosey-goosey and imprecise, but ideas exist, and morality and justice are ideas. Now, a strictly nihilistic or existentialist (not that those are synonymous) mindset could posit that morality and justice are, like everything else, meaningless, but that renders any debating of the reasons for anything pointless. It’s certainly a valid belief system, but it seems odd to debate anything on that basis.
Anyone who thinks editors aren’t part of creative talent has probably never published a book.
In the works of Sophocles, Euripides & Aeschylus the title character is the protagonist (Edipous, Electra, The Sabine Women, Lysistrata they are all action starters.
Even in Shakespeare, Richard III, R&J, Henry IV, Anthony & Cleopatra. Really only does Othello buck the trend where Iago is the pot stirrer.
So from a literary standpoint you almost need to get to the 1700s before you see this bucking of the trend and the more modern common use of protagonist as main character rather than action starter. Which until then, by and large, the action starter was the main character.
We have agreed as a mod group to leave this topic as the discussion is around a quote, and the title uses replacement characters to obscure the profanity. The ensuing discussion remains civil and respectful and on-topic, but e will closely monitor for use of profanity that is used to strike out against each other.
Batman uses a gun with bullets in several of the live action films besides Snyder’s. He kills in them as well. Burton’s movies have many Batman kills.
He has killed in the comics in the beginning and as recently as Final Crisis. Incidentally, he also uses a gun with bullets in Final Crisis to kill. One very valid interpretation of The Killing Joke is that Batman snaps the Joker’s neck at the end. He killed in All Star Batman and Robin, The Boy Wonder. We now have an entire Dark Multiverse of Batmen running around killing people; these Batmen are still Bruce Wayne.
I don’t know what this thread is arguing about. Batman is a character that changes according to the story he is in. He is not one thing. Snyder clearly felt it important to use the metaphor of Batman to speak more authentically (in his estimation) about our modern, often dark, times. Maybe you don’t like his interpretation, but it is just as valid as Morrison’s, Moore’s, Miller’s, and Scott Snyder’s – who all, as I established above had Bats kill a little bit.
I think it’s sort if pointless to argue about morality. Everybody is different and everybody has a different moral compass. Someone telling me I’m wrong for preferring a version of Batman that doesn’t kill is the same as some one telling you that apples aren’t your favorite fruit because oranges are better.
I have every right to want to live in a world where Superman doesn’t and would never kill and Snyder has every right to live in a world where Superman snaps Zods neck like he’s a Arnold Schwarzenegger Character.
@BOZEA says it better than I ever could. I agree, but nobody would ever say its “wrong” to portray Batman as non-lethal. However, if he does use deadly force people lose their minds even if it makes sense to the story being told, even though Batman isnt real
@Zombedy Just because I didn’t go on a long rant about Batman using a gun and killing in his earlier days, doesn’t mean I’m being “willfully ignorant” of anything. The “no kill rule” has been established for a long time since then, so the relevancy of a kill-happy Bats from the '30’s is in question. Considering you keep using condescending language that “a no-kill Batman is only for kids”, telling people what protagonist and antagonist are and so on, you don’t get to complain about someone being “insulting” (however I allegedly did that). Also, people don’t need to be the same religion as me to recognize the laughably short-sighted tripe in BvS-Luthor’s rantings about God.
There’s more to the distaste for Batman killing in BvS other than ignoring the rule, it’s also how nonchalant he is about it. He barrels through the streets like a blunt object, killing nameless goons when he didn’t have to! He put a tracer on the truck containing the Kryptonite! There was absolutely no realistic reason for him to attack them other (but it looked cool, right Zack?). This isn’t a Batman we’ve seen adhere to “no guns, no killing” for years only to use a gun to stop Darkseid because there really is no other way. Guns and killing seem to be his go-to move, and we’re supposed to let a few seconds of quiet brooding tell us why when, again, Snyder would rather focus on the action and destruction. He decides not to kill Superman, then goes ahead and kills some more goons. Thing is, just like the truck or Superman flying that warlord through multiple walls, it was absolutely avoidable. Someone known for his stealth can’t save a hostage without cracking open people’s brains and blowing them up? Sure, because it’s not like the hostage’s alien demigod son could’ve and rescued her without casualties in under a minute, because…it would’ve…made him feel selfish when other people were in danger, according to Snyder. So instead, he engages in a fight (that could’ve been avoided, too), while those same people remain in danger anyway.
I think that’s what a lot of people are seeing: Snyder creates situations for these heroes to go full revenge fantasy and use lethal force, but anyone actually thinking about it could find non-lethal alternatives if they didn’t want to kill. Superman and Batman are known for not wanting to kill, be it because they value human life or actually want the justice system to work or don’t want to abuse the power they have. But no, some people don’t like the idea of characters that want to be better, and maybe inspire others to be better, and it means we don’t get any spilled blood, which is, y’know, such a crime. Yet for all the claims of how this is a “realistic” world with superheroes, realism goes out the window when Bats and Martha are caught in an explosion and not only survive being so close to the shockwave, they don’t even get a ringing in their ears.
@Morbach, My words arent intended to be condescending, you are just taking them that way. The target audience of Superfriends and JLU are children. That doesnt mean I think anyone who enjoys them are immature man-children, totally not what I’m saying. An all encompassing, universal, no-kill rule is an age appropriate examination of the moral conflict.
What you and others are saying is that writers arent allowed to explore that moral conflict with the character if Batman, at least not in any challenging way. If a writer does so, you are saying its “incorrect” and “wrong” and doing so in an extremely over the too way, by jumping to the baseless conclusion that Batman would start trying to justify murder regardless of the situation. All this kind of ignores that stories are examinations of moral conflict.
I think that is a very limiting approach.
@Batjamags, a way earlier example would be Beowulf. Literally a literary “hero” and protagonist.
And I thought Ryan Johnson was bad.
Ahem, I watch Super Friends and JLU and am an immature man-child
The no-kill rule is one of Batmans most defining traits as a character. Some of Batmans most iconic stories are heavily influenced/impacted by his no kill rule.
I think its ironic when people say he use to kill and he doesnt kill because of “age appropriation” even though the Batman we know of today is heavily influenced by Frank Millers reinvention of the character in the late 80s and during the 90s. And Frank Miller’s Batman who is widely regarded as the reason why Batman became this “darker and angrier” version, made it a clear point to “not kill”.
And even in TDKR, which is an Elesworlds story and the one that Snyder based his Batman off of, he makes a point to use rubber bullets when he uses Guns and the batmobile. And this was supposedly a Batman who was at the end of his days and looking for a good way out. Snyder chose to ignore that when adapting Millers Batman, or from the interviews he is given, he didnt even seem aware that people cared about Batman killing or not until the backlash started happening.
Its not just Batman either, its Heroes in general. Several Marvel heroes also have the no kill rule. Every Hero is affected by the no kill rule whether they choose to kill or not. It has a direct correlation to how the character is interpreted and understood by the audience. Its an important choice. Its what separates heroes like Batman, Superman, Daredevil, and Spider-man from characters like The Punisher and Venom.
Usually but not always, when a Hero does kill, its an epic finale or a big conclusion or a horrible mistake, something involved with the story, not just a regular thing. Look at Heroes like Daredevil and Spider-man who make a point to not kill and Spider-man has even saved or attempted to save his enemies from death. In Marvel when heroes kill, their usually very conscience and have a moral struggle behind it.
Making Batman kill changes the character in most peoples eyes.
Yes, the character is always up for different interpretations, but that doesnt mean writers can just change defining traits without consequences because thats how they like it. We find that out everytime a writer makes a significant change to any character and it causes this massive backlash and outrage amongst fans. Which happens A lot in comics.
Though Ill admit sometimes changes are for the better, like what Geoff Johns did with Shazam and Aquaman. But thats rare.
@MajorZuma I think the fact that these backlashes happen so often is more indicative of the negative aspects of comic book fandom and not a prescription of what creators should avoid.