Batman’s one rule, to never kill people, is infuriatingly admirable. While that may be the first time you’ve ever heard both words one after the other, I must say that it’s the truth. Having lost his parents at a young age at the hands of a misguided and deranged street thug, Bruce Wayne has sworn to never inflict the same mortal harm to anyone else he encounters. He later transforms his loss of epic proportions into a dark and powerful symbol of justice and truth, Batman.
As Batman, Bruce becomes a mysterious and angry vigilante who purges Gotham’s streets during the night. But in spite of the tremendous power he has in deciding the fate of felons, Batman only goes so far as to assist the police in their efforts to catch elusive criminals. He never decides to end villains’ treacherous antics once in for all, instead allowing them to live another day. Although this moral code may seem relatively straight-forward, it is exactly what makes Batman such a morally convoluted superhero.
While I haven’t read enough of the comics to be entirely certain, Bruce Wayne never justifies his rule, leaving me to ponder his motives. Bruce Wayne, as Batman, refuses to murder his foes because he feels as if it is not his place to decide the mortal fate of others. He also recognizes the repercussions of the abuse of such power. After seeing his own parents die at the hands of a reckless thug, Bruce has realized the dangerous consequences of an absent moral code. Without a rigid statute dictating his interactions with the morally depraved, Batman could be free to kill anyone that he deemed fit. Of course, one would assume that as a superhero that Batman would always be guided by some sort of reason and purpose, but even so! Batman’s self-imposed prohibition of murder is evidence of his compassion and endless quest for justice.
In spite of how sadistic, twisted, and deranged his adversaries are, Batman never fails to shake them violently by the collar, brutally punch them in the face, and leave them at the mercy of the authorities. But even a child could tell you that Batman’s villains are cunning enough to slip past the justice system within a few moments of their incarceration, leaving them free to wreak havoc on the streets once again. As such, Batman must always engage in a perpetual game of cat-and-mouse, involving realizing that his foes have escaped prison, hunting them down, delivering swift, non-lethal justice, and eventually securing Gotham’s safety. That is, until those same villains liberate themselves just as they had done before.
And Batman is unique in that he is one of the few heroes who refuses to forever vanquish his enemies via death. The Wolverine, for instance, would not hesitate to kill the Joker had he seen the immense devastation the sick, twisted clown had caused Gotham. And having done so, he would ensure that Joker’s antics wold come to a definitive end, that no more citizens would be terrorized by his frightening madness and blood thirst. Batman, on the other hand, is constantly impeded by his unwavering ethical code, compassion, and quiet idealism, constantly allowing Joker to live another day.
This is why I find Batman’s rule so infuriatingly admirable.