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No killing?

14 Dec 2021 03:11 #72946 by Thefirstone
No killing? was created by Thefirstone
So how far do you prefer to take/what do you think of the trope of superheroes not killing their enemies, however much they may arguably deserve it, as used in stories?  Personally I’d say that there’s a difference between crimes in progress and the huge armies in each Avengers movie, which could be considered an act of war.  I’ve also wondered if the outcry over police brutality over the last few years would impact how superheroes would carry themselves.  One general story idea I’ve had for a while is an alien supergirl stationed on Earth as a combination of border patrol and a park ranger.  That is, her mission statement is to deal with alien criminals and monsters who are on Earth illegally/pose a threat to Earth and those who live here, and has a license to kill when it comes to them, but not to human villains.
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14 Dec 2021 04:43 #72948 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic No killing?

So how far do you prefer to take/what do you think of the trope of superheroes not killing their enemies, however much they may arguably deserve it, as used in stories?  Personally I’d say that there’s a difference between crimes in progress and the huge armies in each Avengers movie, which could be considered an act of war.  I’ve also wondered if the outcry over police brutality over the last few years would impact how superheroes would carry themselves.  One general story idea I’ve had for a while is an alien supergirl stationed on Earth as a combination of border patrol and a park ranger.  That is, her mission statement is to deal with alien criminals and monsters who are on Earth illegally/pose a threat to Earth and those who live here, and has a license to kill when it comes to them, but not to human villains.
You've just described a Velorian Protector, for what its worth. 

Shadar

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14 Dec 2021 07:05 #72949 by Rjjt456
Replied by Rjjt456 on topic No killing?

So how far do you prefer to take/what do you think of the trope of superheroes not killing their enemies, however much they may arguably deserve it, as used in stories? 
 
Personally, I don’t write about my characters killing. It doesn’t interest me that much, and I haven’t really considered.

BUT You might be able to use the act of killing someone as a plot device. Think about it. The “No killing” rule for many comic book characters shows that they have ideals, rules, and standards that they hold themselves against. When Superman killed the Joker in Injustice it just showed how he had crossed the line/was in the middle of doing it.

You can definitely use it in a story: Our Heroine is in a position where she needs to kill/accidentally does so. They could also be framed for it and the mistrust in them can then be a struggle in of itself.

Lots of opportunities!
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15 Dec 2021 08:26 #72952 by anonxyzus
Replied by anonxyzus on topic No killing?
Park Ranger. That sounds interesting.

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15 Dec 2021 10:57 #72954 by jimbob
Replied by jimbob on topic No killing?
I understand the logic, heroes can't just go around killing people left and right and still expect the public and governments to be ok with them basically being independent military forces. I only really have issue when it's written as an inconsistant story crutch to just make the heroes life as difficult as possible. Ie, when the enemy is nothing worth troubling about they'll kill but balk at killing an actual major character and let them keep getting away to cause problem after problem because they want the heroes lift to be as angsty as possible. And also when they're just stupid about saving the villain regardless. No Batman you don't have to save the Joker from his crazy exploding doomsday device he was gonna blow Gotham up with anyway that is entirely a problem of his own making.

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15 Dec 2021 12:19 #72955 by slim36
Replied by slim36 on topic No killing?
A single protector figure for an entire planet would need something to keep attackers at bay.   if single attackers are driven away one at a time, they could combine forces   A way to banish offenders and prevent them from returning?   Draining powers of attackers without killing them and make the protector stronger each time?  

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18 Dec 2021 02:58 #72976 by Jabbrwock
Replied by Jabbrwock on topic No killing?
I'd say a lot depends on the setting, including where the superwoman came from, where her attackers came from, and how many other supers of at least approximately similar power levels there may be in the world.

Is she a normal human endowed with tremendous power somehow? That gives her more leeway than a visiting alien. But even a visiting alien can have quite a lot of leeway in how she deals with invaders from another world, which she (or even the empowered human) would not enjoy when dealing with a local criminal, even an empowered local criminal. And if the setting has hundreds or thousands of high powered supers, no one of them will have the kind of moral impact from her decisions, no matter how potentially lethal, as a single superwoman having to bear the moral burden of being the world's only super.

I'm sure there are tons of other factors that could influence the morality of the choice.

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18 Dec 2021 13:15 #72977 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic No killing?

A single protector figure for an entire planet would need something to keep attackers at bay.   if single attackers are driven away one at a time, they could combine forces   A way to banish offenders and prevent them from returning?   Draining powers of attackers without killing them and make the protector stronger each time?  

That's an interesting concept... the "bad aliens" would learn that every time they battle the protector, she'll drain their powers and get stronger. So if they don't kill her on their first encounter, then it just gets harder until the planet she's protecting is impossible to attack. 

So maybe the strategy is to secretly send a couple of experienced Protectors to a newly protected planet along with a newly-minted teenaged Protector, to back her up while she takes on any rogue aliens or attackers/infiltrators or whatever. Once she's won a few battles and gotten strong enough, then they can leave her on her own. 

Of course, such a young Protector needs a local Terran to teach her the ways of the world and its customs and languages and so forth so she can fit in, perhaps underground, perhaps in public. There are endless story opportunities to tell the tale of this "mentor/guide" and the young Protector who he is teaching their ways. 

I'm sure we'd all sign up for that job. Pays not so great, but the perks are terrific. 

Shadar
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18 Dec 2021 15:43 #72979 by slim36
Replied by slim36 on topic No killing?
Another twist might be to make the protectors with a term limit, like 30 or 50 years.  Perhaps a lifetime of fighting planetary scale enemies would take a mental toll on even a supermind with photographic recall.  With enough surplus energy a replacement protector could be generated in time to be trained.   It might be a challenge to outlive generations of humans and continue to stay engaged enough to keep forming new relationships.  Perhaps a older protector might become unstable and become unable to contain their energy.   At the right time they would launch into space light years away to transform into a new star.  This could be a self destruct mechanism to avoid capture, a defeated protector could explode into a supernova.   In Lucifer Mom had an energy leak that killed at least one person before she was sent to another dimension.

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19 Dec 2021 19:11 #72988 by MisterK
Replied by MisterK on topic No killing?
My own creation, Ms. Infinity, strongly prefers not to kill if she can help it. But will kill if it's absolutely necessary. Her powers are such though that it rarely is (She once defeats an entire superhuman army singlehandedly without a single kill.) Also, as a writer, I'm just not one who enjoys showing excessive violence. It's stated that she WOULD kill if necessary, and no doubt HAS in the past, but we never see it.

 

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21 May 2022 20:38 #74309 by AUphoric
Replied by AUphoric on topic No killing?
Jabbrwock: "I'd say a lot depends on the setting, including where the superwoman came from, where her attackers came from."

Yes. My current story has the superwoman being ruthless to the enemy, but then, Empire Zukenov did invade in order to conquer, enslave, expand their empire. "Pretty please go away, will you?" isn't enough.

slim36: "Another twist might be to make the protectors with a term limit, like 30 or 50 years."

I put this in a part of my story that hasn't been published yet. In the Aurora Universe, wormholes between solar systems make possible spaceship travel between the stars. In my version, in the new Wormhole Guardian program, the teams serve for ten years. If they like the job as first line of defense at the edge of the solar system, they can stay on. Nobody thinks less of them if one term is enough. This is different than planetary Protectors who make a life on their protected planet, for the rest of their lives.

"It might be a challenge to outlive generations of humans and continue to stay engaged enough to keep forming new relationships."

Brantley Thomas Elkins has exciting and emotionally moving stories about this, like his "Empress of the Dawn" trilogy. They are a big part of why I wanted to try writing Aurora Universe stories myself. There's a little bit of this theme at the end of Zukenov (part 6, not yet published), and I want to write more in future stories about that personal toll of outliving those one protects, serves, and loves. It's a great chance to add some real drama and romance and psychology themes to make the stories richer than just "watch her beat up the bad guys!"

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22 Oct 2022 08:34 #75781 by Thefirstone
Replied by Thefirstone on topic No killing?
On further reflection, I think the more powerful the hero, the more reason not to kill, at least when it comes to normal people, because making a habit of killing unpowered criminals at least comes dangerously close to keeping people in line through fear, including civilians, if that makes sense.

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22 Oct 2022 13:07 #75784 by Jabbrwock
Replied by Jabbrwock on topic No killing?
Another reason is simple challenge. For a superwoman, stopping any human by just killing them would be trivially easy. No challenge, and really no stakes. Nobody on Earth could possibly call her to account for her actions. It would be like playing a video game with cheats enabled - maybe entertaining for a few minutes, but not more than that.

By contrast, helping humanity out without killing people, and trying to maintain a good reputation among the Earthlings would be pretty darned challenging. Possibly a challenge worthy of tackling over the course of a lifetime, even for a long-lived superwoman.

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22 Oct 2022 13:28 - 22 Oct 2022 17:22 #75785 by Monty
Replied by Monty on topic No killing?

Another reason is simple challenge. For a superwoman, stopping any human by just killing them would be trivially easy. No challenge, and really no stakes. Nobody on Earth could possibly call her to account for her actions. It would be like playing a video game with cheats enabled - maybe entertaining for a few minutes, but not more than that.

 
I immediately thought of Sarah Douglas's Ursa whilst reading the above. If she wasn't booting an astronaut clean off the moon, blowing U.S. army helicopters out of the sky with a mere kiss, to the demise of all on board, or picking up and throwing large buses full of passengers at innocent pedestrians, she was easily demolishing a 'competitor' over a table at an arm wrestle. She made it look so damn easy and effortless (as you would expect), she took it all in her stride, and was great to watch! 

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22 Oct 2022 13:40 #75786 by Woodclaw
Replied by Woodclaw on topic No killing?
A much better writer than me said it best: limitations are more interesting than powers .
The argument is pretty broad, but the core of it is that what makes a scenario interesting is how a character navigates around a problem, rather than simply bulldozering their way through. One really excellent example is the ending of the original Robocop, when Murphy had to find a way to put Dick Jones in a corner without violating any of the Prime Directives.

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22 Oct 2022 14:06 - 22 Oct 2022 14:06 #75787 by Monty
Replied by Monty on topic No killing?
Fair enough. If you look at Helen Slater's Supergirl and her having to escape the phantom zone with the aid and assistance of Peter O'Toole as Zaltar, that was also probably the closest the film came to including 'peril' when she was imprisoned in the glass walls and banished to the zone.
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22 Oct 2022 22:40 #75788 by shadar
Replied by shadar on topic No killing?
One simple test of whether killing is justified, at least in my thinking, is what is the bad guy going to do if they aren't permanently stopped?  Will they kill innocents? Will they teach others to? Can they be safely contained if captured alive? Or will their superpowered buddies break them out of any prison that might possibly hold them?  

The entire justification for killing is preventing the death and suffering of innocents. 

And while you could only write stories where the bad guys can be healed and rehabilitated and turned back into good people, that's not the way many humans work, so is unlikely to be the way for alien baddies either. 

My take is simple -- if the bad guys are going to kill or maim or otherwise seriously hurt people in the future, then any superheroine who cares about people must put a stop to them. Permanently. Immediately. 

No different than how you handle a rabid dog or wolf or whatever dangerous animal that threatens people with death and can't be cured. 

But that said, there is a strong argument for a humane death in that scenario. An overwhelming use of force that results in instant oblivion. 

The whole DC Comics mythos of never killing was idiocy, and forced a of of really stupid writing to work around the obvious necessity. It also resulted in a huge fan controversy when Wonder Woman killed Maxwell Lord because she absolutely had to. And people are still bouncing off the walls from Superman killing Zod in the movie. Both WW and Supes should have done it a lot sooner to save uncounted lives. 

Spock had it right, although he wasn't talking about this scenario:  Logic clearly dictates that the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.

Shadar
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22 Oct 2022 23:33 #75790 by d_k_c
Replied by d_k_c on topic No killing?
If a superior being truly did exist, killing would simply be an inevitability. The reason why killings on mass scales have occurred in history, is the idea of eugenics, that some people are simply better than others. When one side can simply write the other side off as animals, traditional morale's are simply cast aside.

We humans are generally the same, but now lets up the ante by having a truly superior being among us...A Superwoman, lets say. Unless she's Alien, and has evolved past certain tendencies, fine. But if she's human, god help us all.
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23 Oct 2022 21:02 #75797 by BrokenIron
Replied by BrokenIron on topic No killing?
A lot of people could kill but don't. And it is not because they are worried about getting caught. In many American cities less than 30% of murders lead to convictions and that is higher than most of the rest of the world.

People - mentally well adjusted people - don't kill on a whim, because there is an emotional cost and they just know it is wrong.  Cultural norms can alter this a little but it is basically universal. 

Even killing animals can be tough and i suspect a super-nanny state is more likely than anything else to result from the emergence of a group of supergirls.


 

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23 Oct 2022 22:39 #75799 by Pepper
Replied by Pepper on topic No killing?
I feel like the same rules should apply to superheroes as everyone else, but taken to their logical conclusion.  If someone pulls a gun on me, I can kill them to defend my life.  If someone pulls a gun on Superman, He doesn't have that same excuse.  The gun isn't a threat to him, so he has no justification in killing.  Aim a gun at someone else, and Superman can jump in front to protect them; he doesn't have to kill the one with the gun.

So, I wouldn't say there should be no killing, ever, under any circumstances.  But killing someone should only be done as a last resort, and superheroes have a lot of powers and abilities they can use before getting to the last resort.

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23 Oct 2022 23:44 - 23 Oct 2022 23:51 #75800 by Monty
Replied by Monty on topic No killing?
A last resort could be if she or he as a Kryptonian is threatened by a malicious use of kryptonite which would make them vulnerable to serious or grave injury, or worse.
It would be hard to know where to call the shots with a scenario such as that. Would either be open to prosecution? Would they plead self-defence, even if their invulnerability was returned?
Could either just ignore any court judgement with a shrug of the shoulders, and a dismissive "do you really think you can just lock me up in a prison cell?"
Last edit: 23 Oct 2022 23:51 by Monty.

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24 Oct 2022 03:35 #75801 by slim36
Replied by slim36 on topic No killing?
could be hard to investigate if the body was never found

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24 Oct 2022 09:31 #75802 by Thefirstone
Replied by Thefirstone on topic No killing?
And obviously this is all disregarding the fact that in real life someone like the Joker would have gotten the death penalty dozens of times over by now.

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24 Oct 2022 13:34 - 24 Oct 2022 15:18 #75803 by Monty
Replied by Monty on topic No killing?
I think it would be fairly certain that the punch Melissa lands on the second bank robber more than takes him out, but would most certainly end the guy's life. If the full strength of her punch to the face didn't get him, then flying say, 20 to 30 yards to bang the back of his head on the concrete steps of the bank with super powerful force would.
​​​It happened on her debut in public as Supergirl, so maybe she was just 'experimenting.' Perhaps she didn't know her own SuperStrength? - of course she would have! (The second bank robber dude certainly did - perhaps it serves him right for shooting her at point blank range with his semi-automatic rifle. The first bank robber will be fortunate if he walks away with two broken arms.)
Melissa doesn't pull any punches here and she certainly looks as if she is enjoying herself!

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Last edit: 24 Oct 2022 15:18 by Monty.
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24 Oct 2022 16:12 #75804 by jimbob
Replied by jimbob on topic No killing?
There's also comic book logic where no matter how hard or how badly they beat someone up so long as they aren't deliberately trying to kill someone they never accidentally do so.

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