While I liked Ben Affleck’s portrayal of Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, I did have issues with it. Serious issues, in fact. Primarily, Batman doesn’t kill. It’s his number one rule.
Sure, some may say that if you look back at some of the early Detective Comics Batman stories, Batman was pretty brutal. He carried a gun, and in Detective Comics #27 he even knocked a guy into a tank of acid and responded with “a fitting end for his kind.” Savage.
By the 1940s though, Batman had started to calm down. He had stopped carrying a gun. And in Batman #4, in a story by co-creators Bob Kane and Bill Finger, Batman reminds Robin that “we never kill with weapons of any kind.” Considering the source, I think that’s pretty definitive.
In his autobiography, Batman and Me, Bob Kane said, “The whole moral climate changed in the 1940-1941 period. You couldn’t kill or shoot villains anymore. DC prepared its own comics code which every artist and writer had to follow. He wasn’t the Dark Knight anymore with all the censorship.”
Over time though, many fans and writers saw Batman’s refusal to kill from a different perspective. It became less about censorship and more about someone who had seen his parents gunned down in front of him feeling compelled to never lower himself to the level of the criminals he fought by killing them, especially with a gun. Now, with a few exceptions, even “dark and gritty” portrayals of Batman tend to show him sticking to his one rule.
Now back to Batman v Superman.
Director Zack Snyder rustled some jimmies during a recent Q&A following a screening of his 2009 film Watchmen. When asked about the dark tone that his DC films had, and the fact that both Superman and Batman killed in them, he seemed a bit surprised that anyone would have a problem with superheroes killing.
Someone says to me: [Ben Affleck’s] Batman killed a guy. I’m like, ‘F***, really? Wake the f*** up.’
As if that wasn’t enough, he then felt the need to elaborate.
I guess that’s what I’m saying. Once you’ve lost your virginity to this f****** movie and then you come and say to me something about like ‘My superhero wouldn’t do that.’ I’m like ‘Are you serious?’ I’m like down the f****** road on that.
It’s a cool point of view to be like ‘My heroes are still innocent. My heroes didn’t f****** lie to America. My heroes didn’t embezzle money from their corporations. My heroes didn’t commit any atrocities.’ That’s cool. But you’re living in a f****** dream world.
He’s wrong. While the word may be a pretty messed up place, there is still the need for good. Even as dark as Batman is, he is still light. He doesn’t kill. He doesn’t sink to the level of that which he fights.
I thought that Zack Snyder did a fantastic job directing Watchmen. Those were different types of heroes though. It was a different time. The heroes in Watchmen are not the heroes in the DC Universe. (Well, at the time they weren’t.) I’ve always felt that Snyder didn’t really understand Superman, but I thought he understood Batman a bit better. I was wrong.
What do you think of Zack Snyder’s comments? Do you agree with him that superheroes should kill or is there a line that shouldn’t be crossed? Let us know in the comments!