Are our comic book heroes really all that righteous?

Four episodes into the new season of Daredevil and I asked myself a question I should’ve asked myself since the beginning of the series. A question that works for all super hero media in all mediums from games to comics, film to television. We all know that Batman, Superman, Flash, Daredevil, Arrow and all the main super heroes have a code of law that they don’t kill. That is what makes them a hero and people like Punisher and Deadpool anti-heroes. Even Batman and others have the issues and the films that depict them as anti-heroes and vigilantes but the audience always sees them as the good guys. They will never shoot a gun, they will never go for the head-shot.

My epiphany came in the third episode of Daredevil. (I won’t say specifics to limit spoilers but of course there was a superbly choreographed fight sequence. Daredevil was asked what makes him different then the antagonist of the season and his response is that he doesn’t kill the bad guy, he lets the law handle it. But during this sequence and countless others in this series you see the bad guys falling from multiple stories onto hard staircases. You see Daredevil bluntly knocking out the bad guys with a steel rod, or whatever other tool he has at hand. Even fist to fist and foot to head causes unrecoverable trauma.

Daredevil has been pushed to the edge of death multiple times but happened to get to the right place to recover always in the nick of time. I doubt that the hundreds of foes he faced had the same string of luck. Internal bleeding, brain damage, contusions, and concussions have been results of much less impact in real life. A rod to the temple, and front flip kick to the nose, a point-blank punch to the head and Daredevil still sees himself as better than his opponents?

Heroes have had story arcs where they deal with the moral question of is their brand of justice actually worthwhile. They contemplate all of the main foes that they had to put in jail or in the case of Man of Steel end their reign of terror. None of them ever consider the henchmen and the thousands of employees that they run through and leave knocked out cold on the floor before they slowly walk out of the hall just in time to not be seen by the authorities. Dozens on the ground, each brutally battered and restrained, do they think each of them were arrested or made it out without any permanent damage?

Giving a bad guy a back story gives the audience feel and relate to them but they still are the
“bad guy” who shoot guns, and will twist the neck of any crew member who gives them bad news. But seeing your neighborhood hero slinging a chain around an expendable neck and sending them tumbling down flights of stairs to what would easily kill others in this “grounded world” that was created, and we still consider them a hero, a good guy.

A quote from a meme, taken from a batman comic shows batman saying that killing a killer will still leave the same amount of killers in the world. Batman has been knocking people out cold for years, he already is a killer. Boxers fight in the ring and knock other fighter out, gloved and trained and padded and yet still boxers have passed away from injuries. Batman with his gloves punching a minion of the Jokers, who is just a regular guy with no fighting skills, in the face onto the cement floor and we all expect that he survived?

I seem like the radio and TV broadcasters at the start of every superheroes “year one” who asked the question, hero or vigilante? But truth is they might be a hero and trying to do the right thing but they are unintentionally committing manslaughter to a percentage of the people who get in the way of the main foe who is intentionally causing mayhem. Does that make one better than the other?

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