“If you kill a killer, the number of killers in the world still remain the same.” This is Batman’s/Bruce Wayne’s reasoning behind not snapping the necks of every single criminal he comes into contact with. Batman is trying to be a symbol of justice and order in his community; killing is, in his opinion, a violation of order and justice. Is this really the right choice, though? Batman refusing to kill his enemies means he has to lock them up in Blackgate Prison or Arkham Asylum, which they will escape from (Yes, this is a certainty. Name a single “Batman” villain who has stayed locked up.) and inflict more pain and misery on the innocent. Some would argue that Batman refusing to kill his villains is doing nothing but hurting more innocent people.
“I don’t know what clouds your judgement worse; your guilt or your antiquated sense of morality,” Jason Todd says to Batman in the final confrontation between him, Batman and the Joker in “Batman: Under the Red Hood” (2010). “Bruce, I forgive you for not saving me, but why? Why on God’s Earth is he (referring to the Joker) still alive?! Ignoring what he’s done in the past, blindly, stupidly disregarding the entire graveyards he’s filled, the thousands he’s suffered, the friends he’s crippled! You know, I thought … I thought I’d be the last person you’d ever let him hurt.”
This quote brings up an interesting debate; why will Batman not kill villains like the Joker who kill countless innocent people, but then allow those villains to murder those who are close to him? On the other hand, what about villains like Mr. Freeze who were (arguably) forced into a life of crime and do not really want to be criminals? Do they deserve to die too? Well, that is what we are going to find out today;
I have listed every single significant foe of Batman’s and made my own verdict on their lives after examining their motivations and abilities. If a villain was sentenced to death, he/she is considered too dangerous to be left alive due to their powerful abilities, lack of reason/judgement and little-to-no remorse for what they have done. Villains whose lives I spared however were considered to have sympathetic motivations and/or the possibility of an alliance with Batman.
Let’s discover whose lives the Dark Knight needs to seriously consider ending and not ending;
Abilities: Expert thief/cat burglar, excellent stamina/athleticism and master acrobat
Motivation(s): Catwoman loves to toy with/annoy Batman by committing frequent acts of mischief through theft. She is addicted to the life of a cat burglar and has a weakness for jewels, diamonds, gold, etc.
Reasoning: Putting aside the fact that Batman is way too attracted to Catwoman to kill her, Batman should not kill Catwoman because she’s more of an antihero than a villain. She has helped Batman numerous times, rarely kills and just has a huge weakness for thievery. If a compromise was to be arranged between Batman and Catwoman, she could prove to be a major full-time ally.
Abilities: Enhanced super-strength due to the steroid “Venom” and supreme mercenary/combat skills
Motivation(s): Bane loves to be challenged/pushed to his limits and will destroy anyone who attempts to challenge/humiliate him. He does not (and will not ever) understand a life without chaos or mayhem because he was born and raised in a South American prison.
Reasoning: Bane is too dangerous to be kept alive. He is never going to align himself with a noble cause because he does not know what being noble is. He is a powerful and dangerous mercenary who will surely kill Batman and countless other innocents if Batman does not do it first.
Ra’s Al Ghul
Abilities: Expert strategist, master in martial arts and combat techniques, immortality due to frequent exposure to the Lazarus Pit and leader of the League of Shadows
Motivation(s): Ra’s Al Ghul despises crime and imperfection in the world. Gotham City is his main target due to how crime-ridden it is and he has seeked to purge the city from imperfection numerous times. The difference between his methods and Batman’s are that he will kill his adversaries and those he believes to be dangerous while Batman will not.
Reasoning: Ra’s Al Ghul has good intentions, but he’s got the wrong way of going about things. Batman has learned about combat and martial arts from Ra’s Al Ghul, so if Ra’s were to take the time to learn from Batman, he too could prove to be a powerful ally. Plus, killing Ra’s would make his daughter, Talia, furious at Batman and she’s just way too pretty for Batman to lose.
Poison Ivy/Pamela Isley
Abilities: Control/dominion over plants, expert in herbology, botany, biology and chemistry and possesses the power to brainwash people through pheromone chemicals.
Motivation(s): Calling Poison Ivy a tree-hugger would be a massive understatement. She has an abnormal love and obsession for plants and believes that mankind is a direct threat to them. Because of this belief, she often targets innocent people who she believes have harmed plants.
Reasoning: Poison Ivy has a ridiculously abnormal love for plants. She is never going to lose that love which means she is never going to stop hurting humanity. She gets offended by the slightest threat to plants and is going to end up killing anyone and everyone who goes near a plant if Batman does not end her life.
Harley Quinn/Dr. Harleen Quinzel
Abilities: Excellent athleticism/acrobatic skills, total devotion to the Joker and background in psychology
Motivation(s): Harley Quinn is obsessed with the Joker and was seduced to a life of crime by him. She is a servant of his needs/desires and will do anything and everything he asks. Anyone who threatens the Joker is considered a subhuman to Harley Quinn and will most likely be eliminated.
Reasoning: Quinn’s got it bad; she idolizes the Joker and just needs some major doses of medication, long sessions of therapy and possibly some shock treatment to get her on the right track again. After all, she was a psychologist before turning bad, so there’s got to be some reason in her, right?
Hush/Dr. Thomas Elliott
Abilities: Master strategist, expert in combat and martial arts and background in medicine
Motivation(s): Dr. Thomas Elliott despises Bruce Wayne and seeks revenge on him because of his troubled past with him.
Reasoning: Batman would never even consider ending Hush’s life. He was too good of friends with Elliott as a child and the amount of guilt he would feel after killing him would be too painful to bear. Batman needs to try to reconcile with Elliott by apologizing for his mistakes as Bruce Wayne. Who knows? Hush may end up forgiving him and chose to fight crime alongside him if he does this.
The Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot
Abilities: Born with a genetic disorder that gives him the appearance of a bird, possesses dangerous secret umbrellas and has the entire Gotham mobster/gangster world at his disposal
Motivation(s): The Penguin was never shown love because of his hideous appearance. This has caused him to despise society and to strive towards one major goal; respect.
Reasoning: Cobblepot’s influence over the mob world is dangerous enough, but his lack of care over society makes him someone Batman needs to kill. It is admirable that he wants respect and his backstory is sad and sympathetic, but his methods of getting respect go too far.
Abilities: Serial murderer and master with knives
Motivation(s): Zsasz is completely and utterly psychotic. He craves and lusts for murderer and gets a sadistic satisfaction from slowly killing his victims. He also has a powerful self-harming addiction.
Reasoning: If I were Batman and made the resolve to start killing, Zsasz would be the first one to go. He is the textbook definition of a serial killer and there is no way anyone is going to successfully treat his blood lust. Zsasz, is in my opinion, one of Batman’s most dangerous adversaries and needs to go as soon as possible.
Abilities: Understanding of Gotham’s criminal justice system, talent for heists/bank robbing and control of Gotham’s mob community.
Motivation(s): Dent’s dual personality causes him to be torn between what he wants to be right and what he knows to be right. Two-Face sees the injustice and corruption of Gotham’s community, but also recognizes that he is a part of that community, so he is torn between whether to harm or benefit society.
Reasoning: Two-Face’s condition can be cured. Some therapy and plastic surgery could easily make Harvey Dent the upstanding member of society that he used to be.
The Black Mask/Roman Sionis
Abilities: Can easily intimidate and break adversaries and has unlimited control of Gotham’s criminal underworld
Motivation(s): Black Mask has never known a life outside of crime. It is all he gets, so he will do his absolute best to get the top of the criminal underworld.
Reasoning: Black Mask’s influence over the criminal underworld of Gotham makes him a threat to both Batman and Gotham. Allowing him to live would be the equivalent of allowing a dangerous dictator to live.
Killer Croc/Waylon Jones
Abilities: Enhanced super-strength, born with genetic disorder that gives him a crocodilian appearance, dangerous jaw strength, master at camouflage/hiding and sharpened teeth/claws
Motivation(s): Like Cobblepot, Croc was never shown any sympathy, love or compassion. He was cast out by his family and often humiliated by society because of his appearance. He prefers a life alone in the sewers because of how cruel society has been to him and he despises people because he believes they are all monsters.
Reasoning: Yeah, I know, Killer Croc looks and acts extremely menacing, but deep down, he is an emotionally hurt man who just wants to be left alone. If Batman were to persuade Gotham City to allow Croc to live in the sewers alone or better yet, be shown some love and compassion, Croc would probably be so grateful that he would end up joining Batman’s cause to assist society.
Abilities: Possesses the unique ability to shape-shift his body into anything he can think of.
Motivation(s): Karlo’s only motivation to enter a life of crime was his failed career as an actor. His denial of a desired role angered him enough to attack people.
Reasoning: Clayface’s abilities alone make him a “must-go” but his arrogance and ego contribute to his place on the death list too. He does not care about anyone; only himself. He has no real motivation and just hurts people for no reason, so Batman should definitely consider taking him out.
Mr. Freeze/Dr. Victor Fries
Abilities: Background in cryogenic science, physics and biology and can survive in extremely cold temperatures
Motivation(s): Victor Fries (last name is actually pronounced “Freeze”, by the way) did not want to become a criminal. His wife, Nora, was diagnosed with a rare terminal disease, and rather than losing his wife, Fries froze her in a cryogenic sleep and desperately searched for a cure to her condition. His studies eventually caused a freak accident that mutated his body to the point where he now needs extreme cold to survive. Fries resorted to the life of a criminal to fund his research and seek revenge on those who caused his accident or have prevented him from curing his wife. Fries’ ultimate motivation is love for his wife; nothing more, nothing less.
Reasoning: If Batman were to kill Mr. Freeze, it would (ironically) make the world think Batman is completely cold and heartless. Mr. Freeze is one of the (in my opinion, the) most sympathetic villains in Batman’s universe. If Gotham’s scientific and medical community were to assist Mr. Freeze in curing his wife, Freeze would never resort to crime ever again and would settle down with his wife.
The Red Hood/Jason Todd
Abilities: The Red Hood is, basically, a more extreme version of Batman. He possesses all of Batman’s expertise, knowledge, gadgets and techniques and has even found his own ways to counteract/improve them.
Motivation(s): Jason Todd’s resurrection after being murdered by the Joker caused him to wish revenge upon the Batman for failing to save him and crime in Gotham. The Red Hood wishes Batman would kill his enemies (especially the Joker) because of how much harm they repeatedly inflict on the innocent.
Reasoning: If Batman is going to kill Jason Todd, he might as well kill Alfred, Tim Drake, Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson too because that would be equivalent to that action. Todd thinks of Batman as a father who betrayed and disappointed him. If Batman repented his faults to Todd and sought forgiveness from him, Todd could be persuaded to rejoin Batman’s cause. (SPOILER ALERT! The Red Hood actually does rejoin Batman’s crew/team later on in the comics.)
The Mad Hatter/Dr. Jervis Tetch
Abilities: Knows how to brainwash people and expert in mental sciences/psychology
Motivation(s): The Mad Hatter is obsessed with a woman named Alice who does not love him back. Her rejection forces him into insanity and makes him misinterpret and adopt the persona of the Mad Hatter in Lewis Carroll’s stories. Tetch gets an abnormal satisfaction from brainwashing his victims to do his deeds.
Reasoning: Tetch’s obsession is dangerous enough for Alice, but it is also extremely harmful for society. Allowing Tetch to live and cause harm to society gives off the vibe that Batman is okay with dangerous obsessions and brainwashing people.
Man-Bat/Dr. Kirk Langstrom
Abilities: Kirk Langstrom’s addiction to a certain scientific concoction causes his body to morph into a bat-like creature. Man-Bat can fly, communicate with sonar, pierce victims’ ears with his screeching and use his sharpened claws and teeth to harm people.
Motivation(s): Langstrom is the victim of an addiction. The concoction of his own making causes his sanity and reason to diminish while in the Man-Bat persona.
Reasoning: Man-Bat’s addiction is a heartbreaking and sad factor of Langstrom’s life that does not warrant a death sentence. Batman and Gotham’s rehabilitation team should spend more time trying to help Langstrom fight his addiction and less time tracking him down, annoying him and beating him up.
The Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathan Crane
Abilities: Expert chemist and studier of fear and paranoia
Motivation(s): Crane is intrigued by fear and it’s effect on the human mind, spirit and body. He believes the world and the people in it are his own little guinea pigs/lab rats that he can inflict fear on and then study.
Reasoning: Crane’s experiments with fear on the people of Gotham always end in disaster. He is never going to learn to stop using fear to hurt people and he is always going to get a sadistic satisfaction from seeing people afraid. Scarecrow is a psychological terrorist who needs to have the plug pulled on his reign over Gotham.
Abilities: Master technician and pyrotechnic
Motivation(s): Firefly is a pyromaniac. He thinks fire is beautiful and loves seeing its effects.
Reasoning: Firefly’s obsession with fire is a recipe for disaster for Gotham. He hurts too many people with his pyromania and causes too much collateral damage. It is time for him to go.
Dr. Hugo Strange
Abilities: Head doctor/psychologist of Arkham Asylum, has support of powerful businessmen and politicians and master in dominion over the human mind and spirit.
Motivation(s): Strange is obsessed with Batman and is intrigued by his psyche. He has discovered the true identity of Batman and above all, desires total power and control over society.
Reasoning: Hugo Strange knows Batman’s secret identity. This fact alone makes him a “must-go” but the added fact that he will do anything to obtain and keep power makes him a threat to Gotham.
The Riddler/Edward Nygma
Abilities: Master of puzzles and riddles and knows how to “get into people’s heads”
Motivation(s): The Riddler believes his talents in puzzles and riddles make him above Batman and everyone in society. He hates anyone who claims to be more strategic and intelligent than he is and will do anything to prove he is the “top dog”.
Reasoning: The Riddler’s ego is the cause of too many innocent deaths and sufferings. Batman needs to put his foot down to the Riddler’s games and antics and show him that he is not the greatest man who ever lived by ending him.
Abilities: Expert and anarchist, talented with knives, explosives and chemistry and knows how to force people to insanity.
Motivation(s): The Joker has no real motivation or purpose for what he does. He enjoys chaos and disorder in a community and enjoys causing Batman pain and misery.
Reasoning: You can not reason with the Joker. He does not care about order or law. He is a servant of chaos who repeatedly inflicts pain, suffering and misery on nearly everyone he comes into contact with. The Red Hood/Jason Todd is right; the Joker staying alive is a threat to society. He needs to go.
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