- No Guns.
- No Killing
However, anyone who has seen a Batman movie since Tim Burton's Batman was released in 1989 knows that these two rules The Dark Knight lives by have gotten somewhat muddled along the way. Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice has been heavily criticized for the way that Ben Affleck's Batman uses heavy artillery vehicles (Batmobile and the Batwing) to dispatch criminals.
And yet, as many fans have pointed out in Batman v Superman's defense, Batman killing enemies in the movies has been something that go overlooked in other cases - like Tim Burton's 1992 sequel, Batman Returns.
During an interview with THR in honor of Batman Returns' 25-year anniversary, one of the film's screenwriters, Daniel Waters, admitted that a particular Batman 'kill moment' in the film wasn't part of the plan. The scene in question comes when Batman is trying to stop Penguin's Circus Gang from attack Gotham. After grabbing a bomb from its target, Batman ultimately uses it to blow up a the Strong Man member of the Circus Gang.
The scene plays well as a comedic moment in Batman Returns - but looking back at it now, it definitely violates what Batman is supposed to stand for.
According to Waters, "Batman killing the clown by throwing his bomb back at him, that wasn't in my draft. I know how uptight people are about Batman killing people in the first place. To me, if he's going to kill somebody, it better be worth it. It should mean something. So, when he's killing people in a devil-may-care way, it's a little grating."
Tim Burton explains the moment in the film by saying, "At the time, it felt like we were exploring new territory and it's probably quite tame compared to now.... I think that everybody was on board with the fact that these were going to be a different type of superhero movie. Because it felt new at the time, they really didn't know what to say about it."
Now that superhero movies are the biggest thing in Hollywood, fans are free to debate the various depictions of their favorite heroes. Waters has since come to have that 'Batman kills' moment in Batman Returns become the subject of much debate, in comparison with more modern depictions of of The Caped Crusader:
"My friends always asked, 'How can you have Batman kill somebody?' To me, Batman not killing Heath Ledger at the end of The Dark Knight after proving he can get out of any prison, it's like 'Come on. Kill Heath Ledger.'"
Batman fans are sure to have a lot to say about that notion. Indeed, the entire thematic arc of Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight revolves around Batman moral compass, and his resolve to be a vigilante with a code. So having him kill the Joker would've definitely been a major change to that story. Would've have been better? That's for fans to decide.
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