Either Die a Hero or See Yourself Become the Villain: Life and Death in the Hands of Movie Superheroes

by     Posted 1 year, 37 days ago

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For better or worse, the final confrontation between Superman and General Zod in this summer’s Man of Steel set off a firestorm of controversy across the web.  Heroes and villains were once black and white but seem to be getting away from those restrictions with every new comic book movie.  Should comic book heroes be held to a higher standard of morality in today’s world of “gritty and realistic” adaptations?  Is it fair to expect filmmakers to portray movie heroes and villains as paragons of good and evil, or is it time they dabble in the gray areas?  Or is it as simple as looking at a particular character’s origins and tough decisions (made by writers) over the years to decide whether or not the killing of their adversaries makes sense?

We’ve taken a look at comic book movies made over the years and put together a list of combatants, conflicts and resolutions to see if the line made famous by Aaron Eckhart in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight holds true: “You either die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become the villain.”  Hit the jump to see how other heroes have dealt with their villains over the years.

Spoiler alert:  We’ll be talking about final confrontations in superhero movies, so it goes without saying that if you haven’t seen them and don’t want to be spoiled, steer clear.  We’ll also be focusing on major comic book adaptations (Marvel, DC, Image, etc) that have a long standing, so original screen creations wont’ be in the mix.  We’ll also be avoiding animated features, even though I happen to think they handle the material better than many live-action adaptations.  Sorry, Toxic Avenger, Darkman, Blankman and, though it pains me, The Incredibles.

batman-posterBatman

  • Batman (1966) – Batman and Robin lead a fist fight aboard a surfaced submarine, rescue the council members and rehydrate them more or less to their pre-shrunken states. Only one shark was exploded in the process.
  • Batman (1989) – Though Batman defeats the Joker initially by knocking him off the roof of a cathedral, the Joker nearly escapes by grabbing onto a ladder dropped from a helicopter.  Batman fires a cable that tethers the Joker to a gargoyle on the rooftop, causing him to fall to his death with the gargoyle breaks free.
  • Batman Returns (1992) – Bruce Wayne exposes the Penguin’s plan to the citizens of Gotham, causing Penguin to flee to the sewers. Batman defeats him and the Penguin plunges into toxic water, hauled off to his resting place by his penguins.  Catwoman electrocutes Shreck – who was responsible for her death and rebirth as a costumed criminal – and disappears into the night.
  • Batman Forever (1995) – Robin manages to get the upper hand over Two-Face but doesn’t have it in him to kill the maniac, even as revenge for the murder of his parents.  Two-Face uses this moment of weakness to capture Robin.  Batman manages to save Robin and another hostage, destroying the Riddler’s device in the process.  Two-Face falls to his death and the Riddler is carted off to Arkham Asylum after suffering a mental breakdown, thinking himself to be Batman.
  • Batman & Robin (1997) – Batgirl defeats Poison Ivy, who is then carted off to Arkham. Batman, Robin and Batgirl defeat Freeze (and Bane) and thaw Gotham.  They also manage to get Freeze to produce medicine that will help cure Alfred before they lock Freeze up alongside Ivy.
  • Batman Begins (2005) – Batman apprehends a number of Falcone’s men and turns them over to the authorities, including Scarecrow who is subdued by a dose of his own toxin. Batman defeats Ra’s on a train and allows him to die as it crashes.
  • The Dark Knight (2008) – Despite murdering his love interest, kidnapping and killing multiple citizens and blowing up hospitals, Batman captures the Joker and leaves him dangling, presumably until the authorities can lock him up.  He kills Two-Face in a sacrificial dive that saves the son of Commissioner James Gordon.
  • The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – Catwoman kills Bane with a rocket fired from the Batpod.  Batman pursues Talia al Ghul from the air, leading Talia to crash her truck.  She dies, but not before triggering the bomb.  Apparently having survived the blast, Batman then marries Catwoman and moves to Italy.

superman-the-movie-posterSuperman

  • Superman (1978) – Lex Luthor’s girlfriend rescues Superman, who keeps his word and disables a New Jersey-bound missile first and allows the westward missile to detonate and set off an earthquake. Lois dies in a car crash due to aftershocks. Superman, in his distress,  goes against his father’s wishes to refrain from interfering with human history and flies around the Earth to reverse time, thus preventing the earthquake and Lois’s death.
  • Superman II (1980) – Since Zod recognizes Superman’s weakness (protecting innocent bystanders), he takes advantage of this by threatening citizens of Metropolis. Superman lures them away by flying to his Fortress of Solitude. Superman uses Luthor’s penchant for treachery in order to trick the Kryptonians into giving up their powers and leaving himself unharmed.  Superman tosses Zod into the icy abyss beneath his Fortress, Lois knocks Ursa in after him and Non tries to fly and falls into the abyss of his own accord.  Luthor is then escorted back to prison.
  • Superman III (1983) – Evil drunk Superman battles his good alter ego Clark Kent in the middle of a junkyard.  Against the odds, Clark wins and strangles his depressed self to a metaphorical death.  A restored Superman then battles through rockets, missiles, and a Kryptonite beam produced by a supercomputer before Gus gains a conscience and attempts to destroy the computer.  Self-aware, the computer transforms Vera into a cyborg, who then immobilizes her former partners. Superman then destroys the computer and rescues Gus, leaving the evil-doers to the authorities.
  • Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987) – Superman lures his clone Nuclear Man into a variety of situations in which the villain will be deprived of sunlight and thus, his powers (including an elevator deposited on the dark side of the moon, pushing the moon out of its orbit to cast an eclipse on Earth and finally depositing him in the core of a nuclear power plant).  Having defeated the anthropomorphic nuclear weapon, Superman then campaigns for nuclear disarmament the world over.  Luthor and his nephew are also rounded up and taken back to prison.
  • Superman Returns (2006) – Superman challenges Luthor on the newly-created landmass, only to find it’s imbued with Kryptonite. Luthor stabs him with a shard of Kryptonite and Superman falls into the ocean. Saved by Lois Lane (Kate Bosworth) and her fiance (James Marsden), Superman lifts the landmass and hurls it into space, but crashes back to Earth and falls into a coma. Luthor escapes but is stranded on a desert island.
  • Man of Steel (2013) – After sending most of the Kryptonians back into the Phantom Zone and then destroying the technology that would revive their race, Superman engages Zod in an all-out aerial battle that decimates Metropolis.  In the end, Superman kills Zod by breaking his neck.

the-punisher-posterThe Punisher

  • The Punisher (1989) – The Punisher rescues all of the children except for the Mafia leader’s son. After Franco frees the Punisher from the police, the two work together to raid the Yakuza headquarters, killing all of their members including Lady Tanaka.  Franco betrays the Punisher, but the vigilante wins the duel, killing Franco.
  • The Punisher (2004) – Punisher takes out Saint’s assassins – Harry Heck and the Russian – as well as a number of faceless goons.  He then sows discord among Saint and his closest associates, leading Saint to kill his own wife and right-hand man.  Punisher then personally kills Saint’s son and wounds Howard long enough to tie him to a slow-moving car that drags him through a parking lot full of explosives.

The Fantastic Four

  • The Fantastic Four (1994) – The Fantastic Four take on Doom’s military at his castle stronghold that ended with Doom intentionally falling to his death, apparently committing suicide.
  • Fantastic Four (2005) – The Fantastic Four combine their powers to subdue Doctor Doom, freezing him into a statue. Doom is transported back to Latveria but is very much alive.
  • Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (2007) – The Fantastic Four rescue the Silver Surfer and track down Doom, with Johnny absorbing the team’s combined powers to confront the super-powered villain. With the Surfer reunited with his board, he chooses to defend the Earth and flies through the heart of Galactus, destroying the entity and presumably sacrificing himself.

Judge Dredd

  • Judge Dredd (1995) – Dredd, Hershey and a hacker named Herman Ferguson (Rob Schneider) take on Rico, his half-baked clones and a combat robot.  Dredd defeats Rico by throwing him off the top of the Statue of Liberty.
  • Dredd (2012) – Dredd and his new recruit Anderson tear through dozens of thugs and crooked Judges, culminating in throwing their leader, Ma-Ma, from the top floor of the tower down to her death.

X-Men

  • X-Men (2000) – In a confrontation on Liberty Island, Storm fries Toad with a bolt of lightning and Mystique is incapacitated, but Magneto and Sabertooth temporarily subdue to the X-Men.  Wolverine overcomes his paralysis, saves Rogue, defeats Magneto and destroys his machine.  Mystique manages to escape and continues to impersonate Senator Kelly, while Magneto is locked up in a plastic prison cell.
  • x-men-posterX2: X-Men United (2003) – The X-Men team up with Magneto and Mystique to take down Stryker and his minions.  Wolverine kills Lady Deathstrike by weighing her down with an adamantium injection so she ultimately drowns.  Magneto and Mystique kill Stryker’s men by detonating their own grenades.  The evil duo then attempt to use Professor X to kill all the humans in the world and flee the facility, but the X-Men prevent this.  Stryker is killed when a dam bursts. Jean Grey holds back the water in order to let the X-jet escape, presumably sacrificing herself.
  • X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) – The X-Men battle Phoenix and Magneto’s soldiers, ending in Wolverine overcoming Phoenix’s abilities and mercy killing Jean Grey.
  • X-Men: First Class (2011) A young Magneto is overwhelmed by his own powers, killing two guards after they kill his mother. Sebastian Shaw’s allies run amok, killing numerous humans in their recruitment process, also killing the mutant named Darwin.  Magneto kills Shaw as revenge for his mother’s death, although Xavier protests this. Xavier then prevents Magneto from using Soviet and American missiles to destroy the humans, but takes a deflected bullet in his spine in the process, sacrificing his ability to walk from then on.

Spider-Man

  • Spider-Man (2002) – Spider-Man battles the Green Goblin to the death, ultimately caused by Osborn’s own attempt to impale Spider-Man with his remote-controlled glider.
  • Spider-Man 2 (2004) – Doc Ock delivers Spider-Man to Harry, who refuses to kill him after he discovers his true identity as Peter.  Spider-Man then battles Doc Ock in order to rescue a kidnapped Mary Jane.  Spider-Man defeats Octavius and convinces him to drown his fusion reactor in the river.  Octavius sacrifices himself in the process.
  • Spider-Man 3 (2007) – Harry Osborn helps Spider-Man take on Venom and Sandman, eventually sacrificing himself to prevent his own glider from impaling Spider-Man.  Spider-Man saves Brock from the symbiote and attempts to destroy it with a bomb, but Brock tries to reunite with the alien force and both are killed in the explosion.  Peter forgives Marko for his Uncle Ben’s death before the villain dissipates and floats away.
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (2012) – Spider-Man saves numerous cops and civilians during the Lizard’s rampage, but can’t prevent Captain Stacy from dying at the hands of the transformed Curt Connors.

Hulk

  • Hulk (2003) – The Hulk and the Absorbing Man battle until Bruce is able to overwhelm his father, causing him to become unstable. The military detonates a gamma bomb on the two of them, killing David and knocking Bruce unconscious.
  • The Incredible Hulk (2008) – Dr. Banner destroys a lab and injures Betty Ross during his first transformation, but soon learns to control his rage.  The Hulk nearly kills Blonsky in their first confrontation, but a super-serum grants Blonsky super-human abilities.  Their final fight nearly ends with Blonsky/Abomination’s death at the hands of the Hulk, but a plea from Betty saves his life.

iron-man-posterIron Man

  • Iron Man (2008) – A captive named Yinsen sacrifices himself to give Tony Stark time to complete his Mark I armor.  In his memory, Stark puts a stop to his company’s weapons manufacturing.  Obadiah Stane, meanwhile, slaughters members of the Ten Ring and leaves Stark to die after stealing his chest-piece arc reactor.  Stark then knocks Stane unconscious and allows him to die in the reactor’s explosion.
  • Iron Man 2 (2010) – Although Stark and Rhodes nearly kill each other (and their party guests) in a drunken armored brawl, Stark eventually turns his blasters on faceless drones.  Stark and Rhodes manage to team up to defeat Vanko, who activates a self-destruct mechanism in the futile attempt of killing the heroes.
  • Iron Man 3 (2013) – While Stark is experiencing anxiety after the invasion of New York, his rival Alridch Killian has been experimenting with a super-soldier serum that has the unfortunate side-effect of spontaneous combustion.  Most of the damage done occurs between Stark’s drone suits and Killian’s army of faceless (though human) Extremis soldiers.  Stark attempts to kill Killian with a self-destructing suit, but an Extremis-powered Pepper Potts delivers the final killing blow.

Thor

  • Thor (2011) – Thor rampages against frost giants, S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, the Destroyer armor and coffee cups.  He defeats his villainous brother Loki – who killed Laufey, the leader of the Frost Giants – but grieves when Loki allows himself to fall into an abyss when his father rejects his pleas for mercy.

Captain America

  • Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) – Captain America and his team take out a number of HYDRA soldiers – who are even worse than Nazis – though his friend Bucky Barnes apparently falls to his death in the process.  Captain America defeats the Red Skull, who dissolves in a bright light when he touches the Tesseract.  Captain America then sacrifices himself to save American citizens by crashing a plane laden with weapons of mass destruction into the Arctic.

The Avengers

  • The Avengers (2012) – The team of Earth’s mightiest superheroes manage to destroy untold faceless alien Chitauri soldiers, with Iron Man wiping out a vast fleet of them with a thermonuclear explosion. In the end, they manage to subdue and capture the villain behind the invasion: Loki.

dark-knight-rises-imax-poster-baneSo let’s tally up the body count, shall we?

Batman: (8 Movies)

  • Indirect Deaths: Joker, Penguin, Two-Face, Ra’s al Ghul, Talia al Ghul, Bane
  • Direct Deaths: Two-Face
  • Captures: Riddler, Poison Ivy, Mr. Freeze, Scarecrow, Joker
  • Miscellaneous: One exploded shark, Catwoman escapes, Catwoman marries Batman

Superman: (6 Movies)

  • Indirect Deaths: Lois Lane (reversed), Ursa, Non, Evil Drunk Superman, a self-aware super-computer, numerous citizens of Metropolis, untold Kryptonians
  • Direct Deaths: General Zod (x2)
  • Captures: Lex Luthor (x2), Vera and her crew, Nuclear Man, Lex’s nephew
  • Miscellaneous: Lex Luthor and his girlfriend Kitty escape but are deserted on an island when their helicopter runs out of gas; Faora and the Kryptonians are sucked back into the Phantom Zone

The Punisher: (2 Movies)

  • Indirect Deaths: His extended family.
  • Direct Deaths: Dozens of Mafia and Yakuza members, assassins, the Saint family
  • Captures: None.
  • Miscellaneous: Pain and suffering of his allies at the hands of his enemies.

The Fantastic Four: (3 Movies)

  • Indirect Deaths: Doctor Doom, Galactus, Silver Surfer (sorta)
  • Direct Deaths: None
  • Captures: Doctor Doom
  • Miscellaneous: None

Dredd: (2 Movies)

  • Indirect Deaths: None
  • Direct Deaths: Numerous thugs, crooked Judges and drug dealers, Ma-Ma
  • Captures: None
  • Miscellaneous: None

x-men-first-class-movie-poster-04The X-Men: (4 Movies)

  • Indirect Deaths: Jean Grey (sacrifice)
  • Direct Deaths: Lady Deathstrike, Phoenix, Sebastian Shaw
  • Captures: Magneto, Emma Frost
  • Miscellaneous: Sabertooth is not confirmed dead. Mystique evades capture.

Spider-Man: (4 Movies)

  • Indirect Deaths: Green Goblin/Norman Osborn, Doctor Octavius/Doctor Octopus, Eddie Brock/Venom, Flint Marko/Sandman (sorta), Harry Osborn/New Goblin, Uncle Ben (x2), Captain Stacy
  • Direct Deaths: None
  • Captures: Numerous faceless criminals
  • Miscellaneous: None.

Hulk: (3 Movies – Including The Avengers)

  • Indirect Deaths: David Banner/Absorbing Man
  • Direct Deaths: Mutant dogs.
  • Captures: Emil Blonsky/Abomination, Loki
  • Miscellaneous: Numerous Chitauri creatures

Iron Man: (4 Movies – Including The Avengers)

  • Indirect Deaths: Yinsen, Aldrich Killian, Ivan Vanko, Exremis soldiers
  • Direct Deaths: Obadiah Stane, Extremis soldiers, vast numbers of Chitauri
  • Captures: The Mandarin/Trevor, Loki
  • Miscellaneous: Killian killed Maya Hansen, who attempted to back out of his scheme.

Thor: (2 Movies – Including The Avengers)

  • Indirect Deaths: None
  • Direct Deaths: Numerous Frost Giants, presumably; numerous Chitauri
  • Captures: Loki
  • Miscellaneous: None

Captain America: (2 Movies – Including The Avengers)

  • Indirect Deaths: Red Skull
  • Direct Deaths: Numerous HYDRA agents, numerous Chitauri
  • Captures: Loki, Dr. Arnim Zola
  • Miscellaneous: Bucky Barnes was lost, presumably falling to his death. Everyone Rogers knew in his life is presumed to be dead since he was frozen for 70 years.

man-of-steel-posterIn addition to really holding a grudge against General Zod, Superman racks up a huge body count thanks mostly in part to the latest installment.  Not only does he put the citizens of Metropolis in harm’s way during his fight with Zod, he puts a stop to all hope that the Kryptonian race will continue.  It’s hard to get an accurate count of how many casualties Superman has been responsible for over the years, but with the Avengers blowing up Manhattan and decimating an alien population with a nuclear device, they might be just as bad.

On a more personal note, it’s interesting to see that most of the heroes have been directly responsible for deaths, with the exception of Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four.  While the fearsome foursome manage to keep their carnage reigned in to prevent as much collateral damage as possible, anyone in the vicinity of Spider-Man apparently ends up dead.  He’s no villain but he’s not all that great at bringing ne’er-do-wells to justice … they all just up and die on him.

The Hulk is surprisingly low on the body count while Iron Man is unexpectedly high.  What’s not surprising is that the Punisher and Judge Dredd have death tolls that are easily in the triple digits with no prisoners to speak of, which makes sense.  Those two entities are spirits of vengeance, not justice.  What strikes us is when a hero’s actions clash with his or her moral foundations.  Seeing Superman savagely snap Zod’s neck – rather than simply throwing him into the abyss where we can’t watch him die – was every bit as shocking as, say, watching Batman use a gun to execute criminals or seeing the Punisher  show restraint.

Was Man of Steel the first time Superman has killed someone in defense of others?  Nope. And he’s not alone.  Heroes do it all the time.  It remains to be seen just how future heroes will deal with their villains in upcoming comic book adaptations, but we’ll certainly have a lot to choose from.  Are villains becoming too bloodthirsty at the expense of morals?  Or are superhero films simply an extension of reality where sometimes the hard decision is the right one, even if it’s final?  Be sure to let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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  • Tommy Westers

    Nice article, but it’s funny how Cyclops death is forgotten – even in the movie they seem to forget that he died really fast. The first X-Man and no one cares.

    • Grayden

      If it was possible to have a character be an even bigger boyscout than Superman, Cyclops was it. He was portrayed terribly.

      • Doug_101

        He may have been underwritten, but I thought Marsden did a great job with the screen time he had.

    • Dave Trumbore

      Didn’t forget ol’ Optic Blast, but his death was never confirmed on screen (though I’m in the camp that says, “Yeah, he’s dead.”). More importantly, he would have been killed by a villain when the aim of this article was more about heroes willing to kill. A good point though, thanks!

  • Futur3Fo3

    The Harvey Dent quote is perfect for MOS! Some have said this is Superman’s “Peter Parker” moment. It may be (now). But if you ask me, it’s just poor writers, writing out of character and painting themselves into a corner. Villain is as villain does…thanks Goyer/Snyder.

    • Ben Wigler

      That poor writing is evidenced by the fact that there are FAMILIES IN A HISTORY MUSEUM while freaking *aliens* are floating around in the sky creating destruction on a level that makes 9/11 pale in comparison. They are literally milling about ooh’ing and ahh’ing at urns when Zod and Superman crash family day.

      WTF? Realistic my ass.

      • coconspire

        TRAIN STATION. Sorry to suck all the air out of your argument.

      • coconspire

        TRAIN STATION. Sorry to suck all the air out of your argument.

    • Ben Wigler

      That poor writing is evidenced by the fact that there are FAMILIES IN A HISTORY MUSEUM while freaking *aliens* are floating around in the sky creating destruction on a level that makes 9/11 pale in comparison. They are literally milling about ooh’ing and ahh’ing at urns when Zod and Superman crash family day.

      WTF? Realistic my ass.

    • diles1

      if Superman is written out of character (killing), then what do we make of the character killing villains in the comics (Zod and Doomsday, for example) and, as noted in this article, Zod in Superman II?

      • Futur3Fo3

        Gimmicks and poor writing to appear more edgy and relevant…plain and simple. As for Superman II, we don’t know for certain the fall was fatal. Do we? Perhaps Snyder will have Ultraman reverse the Earths rotation like the Donner Cut and banish Zod to the Phantom Zone (keeping consistent with character).

      • diles1

        what gimmick? that Superman could no longer imprison Zod in the Phantom Zone and that Zod said he would kill people unless he was killed by Superman? I’m not sure these can be characterized as gimmicks unless we acknowledge that fiction is by definition malleable, and thus no element is inherently necessary (meaning everything is to some extent superficial). This is tedious, however, so I’m not sure what you mean by gimmick. I am sure there are many who would love the education.

      • Futur3Fo3

        “Killing villains” is the gimmick. Class dismissed.

      • http://www.patuniverse.com/ PATuniverse.com

        I guess imprisoning villains is a much better idea. That “gimmick” has been ran into the ground.

      • Futur3Fo3

        Ya, so has “truth, JUSTICE and the American way.”

  • Nomis1700

    Let’s not forget Tony Stark shot some people dead in Iron Man 3 as well.

    • Dave Trumbore

      Ah yes, in his “Bond” sequence? I need to see that one again.

      • Lex Walker

        Also, when he first dons the suit and flies out to the Middle East, he interrupts 10 Rings thugs in the midst of looting a town. He kills a bunch of them with head shots from his shoulder cannon, blasts a bunch through walls, and blows up a tank.

      • Nomis1700

        Like it’s nothing XD

      • Lex Walker

        I always interpreted it as Tony kind of losing himself in a moment of vengeance. His movements and brutality were just so intentional that it was pretty clear his killing them was a little bit of closure. For the rest of the films, he never seems quite so coldly systematic in his takedowns of people.

      • Khan

        Too bad he wasn’t shown dealing with U S politicians and armed forces with the same passion, surely the primary buyers and users of his arsenal, maybe that blonde reporter should’ve shown him some of the countless pictures of mutilated ar,ab children bom,bed by uncle s,am while in hospital and school.

        But don’t worry too much Tony, go save the pres,ident, leader of the invading world… off you go.

      • Lex Walker

        Oh good, the sudden introduction of someone’s personal political grievances into a conversation about fictional characters. Silly troll.

      • Khan

        Acknowledging The Wrong, Unifying and Building a better World, no company with resources should avoid the chance of sending a message millions could see, this is the eleventh hour calling.

        Escaping reality in it’s entirety it’s a last century fool’s maneuver, and trademark of adam sandler’s entertainment.

        Silly you, try to ignore the undesirable information, until it knocks at your door.

  • ED

    I know that this was coming and bringing this worseless arguments in the history from “smartass” people of COLLIDER.COM would lead other people to act like totally “douchebags” and even people like them to called everybody a “faggit.” Directors and Writers of these comic book movies are doing similar things like the writers of the superhero comic based on whatever it good or bad. And now, WE ARE GOING HAVE STANDOFF WHAT IT GOING TO LEAD WHERE ONCE COLLIDER START SOMETHING AS FUCK , IT BECOME A WARZONE AND WE GOING TO HAVE PEOPLE USING WORDS LIKE FAG. I THINK THIS ARGUMENT SHOULD BE LET GO IN A SIMILAR WAY WHY PEOPLE ARE UPSET THEY HEARD A LIKE A BLACK GUY LIKE MICHAEL B JORDEN PLAYING THE HUMAN TORCH.

    • Lex Walker

      You’re just a big box of incomprehensible crazy, aren’t ya?

      • Dave Trumbore

        What is this I don’t even

    • http://www.pcass.co.uk Andrew Shaw

      LOUD NOISES

  • Andrew Jara

    Dredd really doesn’t belong here. He is from a comic book but he isn’t a superhero. He is acting in full accordance of the law. He has been given authority to execute. He is a judge.

    I mean if we’re putting dread might as well out history of violence or ghost world too.

    Having said that, this article was dumb. Of course it comes down to the characters and stories. Wolverine and captain America are or we’re soldiers so if and when they killed should be taken into account. Does that make them less heroes cause they knew what was at stake? You seem like you want golden age type heroes and that wont work today. I mean wolverine was a soldier of fortune for awhile and he has a dark and mysterious past. Does that make him not the best x-men? Of course not

    • Dave Trumbore

      Dredd and Punisher were included to show examples of anti-heroes who were out for vengeance rather than Golden Age heroes protecting innocents. (Others like Ghost Rider, V for Vendetta and more were originally included but it was getting too cumbersome.) The question raised was whether or not movie depictions of fictitious superheroes should stand for black and white morals or whether they should be more realistic with shades of gray.

      Wolverine and Cap as soldiers are perfect examples of more realistic heroes who operate in the gray, even if Cap’s moral code is the strongest one out there. Thanks for adding to the discussion!

      • WAldenIV

        You omitted a Punisher movie, “Punisher: War Zone”.
        Also, Talia didn’t trigger the bomb before her death. It had been active from the moment Dr. Pavel converted it to a thermonuclear weapon. And there is no evidence at all that Bruce and Selina married.

      • Khan

        Cap’s moral code… if he’s as righteous as his fans deemed him to be TODAY he would dedicate himself to saving this country from itself, with all the implications, he would oppose racism, invading sovereign countries targeting their resources, low culture and knowledge of the World, he would do all in his power, turning this country around is as justified to the eyes of the World (who has suffered the U S since our ancestors gave clothes of deceased contagious people as gifts to native americans, and let’s not forget 1973 coup d’etat in Chile one of many sponsored by the U S, all leading to spying both Citizens and the World this year) as stopping nazi schemes was justified 70 years ago.

        You wouldn’t believe the amount of persons that mock the phrase “leader of the fr.ee world”, and I can never blame them.

  • Harry

    Wasn’t Abomination killed?

    • Lex Walker

      Nah, just chained up and exhausted.

      • Khan

        Another phrasing for plothole, no place could hold him being almost as strong as Hulk.

      • Lex Walker

        It wasn’t the chains that were holding him, that was just circumstantial. It was more having been beaten to within an inch of his life and into submission, aka the exhaustion, that did the trick.

    • Lex Walker

      Nah, just chained up and exhausted.

  • Nathaniel Haywood

    Great topic! I think that heroes killing depends on the character and the plot. The Punisher example is perfect – if he’s not killing people then the filmmaker has no understanding of that character. On the flip side, if Superman is killing – which really should be a once in a lifetime thing for him – then he should have exhausted every other option in an attempt to avoid it/save innocents. The lack of an attempt to find an alternative made Supes look to ready to kill, whoch is why I think many (myself included) had issues with it. But escalation is the name of the game now. Villains are worse so heroes end up being more extreme – you didn’t see Zod go straight for genocide in Superman II. Now we get to see if we are okay with our heroes meeting the new, grittier reality or if we still demand they remain more pure and idealistic. Not sure which I prefer.

    • Dave Trumbore

      Spot on. The only redeeming bit of Superman’s killing of Zod was how torn up he seemed after the fact. I continue to think the animated series do a much better job at delineating heroes from villains. There’s a great episode of Justice League (Unlimited, I think) where Superman says to Darkseid, “There’s no one left to get hurt, so now I can show you my full power,” or something to that effect…then Supes goes ape on him. That sense of control wasn’t shown in Man of Steel. For better or worse, our contemporary heroes now count killing among their fighting options. I only hope that Supes is haunted by Zod’s death at his hands in future movies.

      • diles1

        So if we imagine that Superman doesn’t kill Zod in that scene, what will Superman do with him next? Throw him in the Phantom Zone? Can’t do it? Put him in prison? No prison is strong enough. Lock him in a vault? Heat vision will blast him out. What were his options? If we focus on the personal situation that Superman/Zod/the family found themselves in, then maybe the argument that Superman had tons of options is a legit artument, but once we step back and ask, ok, now what does Superman do with Zod? Zod has committed to killing every human he can until Superman kills him.

      • Khan

        I recall a panel in Comic-Con last year, one of the writers interviewed made a pretty connvincing case about why breaking a radiated Kryptionian’s neck wouldn’t be the end of it.

        Starting on a cellular level his neck would instantly start rearranging itself, and he would wake up in a matter of minutes tops.

        Radiated Kryptonians are invulnerable indeed it would take another’s strength to accomplish TEMPORARY cuts, loss of blood and broken bones, however he says, in Superman’s Universe, logic dictates a radiated Kryptonian is indeed Immortal.

      • diles1

        I think we can assume that Goyer and Snyder are not using this reasoning, which, it is worth noting, may be contradicted by other writers. If Zod continually comes back to life, then Superman would have to find a more permanent means of disposing of him, because clearly there is no way to contain Zod or reason with him. I don’t expect to see Zod return in the next film. In the Goyer/Nolan/Snyder Universe, he is dead, and Supes killed him.

  • http://twitter.com/Osan912 Orlando Sanchez

    No Punisher War Zone? Ghost Rider? For Shame :)

    • Dave Trumbore

      Oh believe me, I had them and many others, but this post was getting ridiculous as it was. I really lament not putting V for Vendetta in here as V’s a great anti-hero with a purpose who’s out to kill.

  • http://twitter.com/Osan912 Orlando Sanchez

    No Punisher War Zone? Ghost Rider? For Shame :)

  • JOE

    I Totally agreed with that ED Guy, people at COLLIDER.com would sometimes used a argument like this one a smart way at first. But then it become out of control by using some of the mistakes in this article. FOR EXAMPLE, JUDGE DREDD IS NOT A SUPERHERO CHARACTER LIKE THE OTHERS IN THIS LIST. You have to understand that directors and writers of these are like the writers of what they do in marvel or DC comics. For example, “Mike Grell” took over Green Arrow in the 1980s, FRANK MILLER TOOK OVER DAREDEVIL AND BATMAN, EVEN KEVIN SMITH DID DAREDEVIL AND GREEN ARROW BETWEEN 1998 AND 2001. When directors want to their version, their look for some of the heroes comic book stories or on their own (like Chris Nolan use influence in Frank Miller’s Batman: year 1 and Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb ‘s the long Halloween in Batman begins and the Dark Knight and Bryan Singer used influence of Chris Clarement God loves man kills for X-men 2), these arguments like this one give you mistakes facts in one way and then what happened next, it become a battlefield where we used words like fag and dick. I mean the people at COLLIDER.COM started a war with news of Michael B Jordan could play the human torch and Matt Goldberg called out the fanboys who were upset that a black guy would a played a role that is meant to be played by a white guy. THIS ARGUMENT SHOULD BE OVER.

    • Dave Trumbore

      You lost me about half-way through, but Dredd is another comic adaptation like the rest. What is your definition of a superhero? Does it apply to Batman, Punisher and Green Arrow, but not Dredd?

  • JOE

    I Totally agreed with that ED Guy, people at COLLIDER.com would sometimes used a argument like this one a smart way at first. But then it become out of control by using some of the mistakes in this article. FOR EXAMPLE, JUDGE DREDD IS NOT A SUPERHERO CHARACTER LIKE THE OTHERS IN THIS LIST. You have to understand that directors and writers of these are like the writers of what they do in marvel or DC comics. For example, “Mike Grell” took over Green Arrow in the 1980s, FRANK MILLER TOOK OVER DAREDEVIL AND BATMAN, EVEN KEVIN SMITH DID DAREDEVIL AND GREEN ARROW BETWEEN 1998 AND 2001. When directors want to their version, their look for some of the heroes comic book stories or on their own (like Chris Nolan use influence in Frank Miller’s Batman: year 1 and Tim Sale and Jeph Loeb ‘s the long Halloween in Batman begins and the Dark Knight and Bryan Singer used influence of Chris Clarement God loves man kills for X-men 2), these arguments like this one give you mistakes facts in one way and then what happened next, it become a battlefield where we used words like fag and dick. I mean the people at COLLIDER.COM started a war with news of Michael B Jordan could play the human torch and Matt Goldberg called out the fanboys who were upset that a black guy would a played a role that is meant to be played by a white guy. THIS ARGUMENT SHOULD BE OVER.

  • Lizard King

    I enjoyed the article, but I would like to point out that you excluded Punisher: War Zone, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Green Lantern, Watchmen, and a few others. With the exception of Watchmen, those all suck, but still, they are all live-action Marvel or DC publications.

    • Dave Trumbore

      Yeah I wanted V for Vendetta, Ghost Rider, The Phantom, Hellboy, Spawn, Steel, Catwoman, Elektra, Daredevil, The Rocketeer…pretty much any adaptation that wasn’t an original creation. Just not enough time in a day so I stuck to the majors.

  • Pinoypride

    Dredd indirect deaths: Citizens of Peach Tree by Ma-Ma and the Medic shot by the corrupt judges.

    • Lex Walker

      Yeah, no kidding. When Ma-Ma unleashes the dual chain guns, there had to be dozens of indirect deaths of all those people huddled in their homes who got shredded to pieces as they tried to mow down Dredd.

      • Dave Trumbore

        Good additions, thanks!

    • Lex Walker

      Yeah, no kidding. When Ma-Ma unleashes the dual chain guns, there had to be dozens of indirect deaths of all those people huddled in their homes who got shredded to pieces as they tried to mow down Dredd.

  • Ryan Ambrose

    Even though I adored Man of Steel one of the major gripes I had was regarding Supes negligence to take the fight as far away from Metropolis as he possibly could so as to not endanger bystanders.

    I mean, at one point during the brawl both kryptonians are trading blows on top of an orbiting satellite, couldn’t he perhaps have swayed the destruction to, say, a barren wasteland or even the moon?

    I could not enjoy the choreography, no matter how impressive and well put together it was, with each punch sending one of them hurling across skyscrapers all I could imagine were the people inside those buildings getting hurt in the crossfire. There’s no way Superman didn’t directly contribute to the death toll after that.

    It actually reminded me of Dragonball Z, where entire cities were leveled each time a new villain was introduced, with the execption being that Goku’s first thought was flying to an upopulated area in order to avoid collateral damage whereas Superman would just beat the crap out of Zod with no restraints in a metropolitan city. Superman may have saved the world, but he sure as hell didn’t protect those people.

    Man of Steel 2 should begin by adressing this issue and show the city being rebuilt by LexCorp as way to set up initial conflict.

  • Ryan Ambrose

    Even though I adored Man of Steel one of the major gripes I had was regarding Supes negligence to take the fight as far away from Metropolis as he possibly could so as to not endanger bystanders.

    I mean, at one point during the brawl both kryptonians are trading blows on top of an orbiting satellite, couldn’t he perhaps have swayed the destruction to, say, a barren wasteland or even the moon?

    I could not enjoy the choreography, no matter how impressive and well put together it was, with each punch sending one of them hurling across skyscrapers all I could imagine were the people inside those buildings getting hurt in the crossfire. There’s no way Superman didn’t directly contribute to the death toll after that.

    It actually reminded me of Dragonball Z, where entire cities were leveled each time a new villain was introduced, with the execption being that Goku’s first thought was flying to an upopulated area in order to avoid collateral damage whereas Superman would just beat the crap out of Zod with no restraints in a metropolitan city. Superman may have saved the world, but he sure as hell didn’t protect those people.

    Man of Steel 2 should begin by adressing this issue and show the city being rebuilt by LexCorp as way to set up initial conflict.

    • Dave Trumbore

      100% agreed. In Superman II, Supes lured the Kryptonians to his Fortress in the middle of effing nowhere. A moon battle would have been pretty cool or even like a desolate desert mountain range…something, anything!

      As long as it’s addressed in the future and the death toll weighs on Superman’s shoulders and informs his protector status moving forward, I’ll be okay with it in hindsight. We’ll see!

  • Ryan Ambrose

    Even though I adored Man of Steel one of the major gripes I had was regarding Supes negligence to take the fight as far away from Metropolis as he possibly could so as to not endanger bystanders.

    I mean, at one point during the brawl both kryptonians are trading blows on top of an orbiting satellite, couldn’t he perhaps have swayed the destruction to, say, a barren wasteland or even the moon?

    I could not enjoy the choreography, no matter how impressive and well put together it was, with each punch sending one of them hurling across skyscrapers all I could imagine were the people inside those buildings getting hurt in the crossfire. There’s no way Superman didn’t directly contribute to the death toll after that.

    It actually reminded me of Dragonball Z, where entire cities were leveled each time a new villain was introduced, with the execption being that Goku’s first thought was flying to an upopulated area in order to avoid collateral damage whereas Superman would just beat the crap out of Zod with no restraints in a metropolitan city. Superman may have saved the world, but he sure as hell didn’t protect those people.

    Man of Steel 2 should begin by adressing this issue and show the city being rebuilt by LexCorp as way to set up initial conflict.

  • CaptainUnknown

    I don’t think that Zod is “dead.” Seeing how many times Superman himself has “died” before. Plus, that could affect how he goes after Luthor in the sequel. If he can kill a super-human that easily, how easily can he kill a normal human?

    • Dave Trumbore

      I’m hoping that the weight of Zod’s death will make Superman think twice about taking a life in the future, especially that of a non-superhuman. It will certainly (or should) make humanity fear this super being and take steps to put his power in check should he go rogue. (Ahem, enter Batman and/or the Justice League.)

      As for Zod … Zod’s dead, baby. Zod’s dead.

  • TheAvengersSucked

    If it came down to either saving the life of an innocent or taking out a bad guy permanently, a real hero would save the innocent life at all costs and live with the blood on his/her hands.

    /End of story

    • diles

      is this true? Is this not the moral conundrum at the end of Watchmen? Is it heroic to save millions to let billions die? I’m thinking that your argument is morally simplistic. On what grounds do you base this argument? Just come up with it? Rely on your gut? While these comic book characters deal with a lot of serious weighty issues explicitly or implicitly, it’s not clear to me that they necessarily offer the best answers. Maybe some of them do, but at the very least they offer interesting suggestions.

  • Tyrannosaurus

    “Captures: Lex Luthor (x2), Vera and her crew, Nuclear Man, Lex’s nephew”

    Actually, Nuclear Man died directly in the hands of Superman when he was tossed into the nuclear reactor after he was depowered (when Supes blocked the sun by pushing the moon to create an eclipse).

  • ervin

    in comics and their movie adaptations some people/super-heroes/gods just need to die (better yet, deserve to die), because, simply put, usually they are mass murderers. i really do not see a problem here. having said that, batman’s moral code is pointless and naive.

  • DemiathDH

    WRONG! Flint Marko/Sandman didn’t die! He and Peter had a conversation at the end of Spider-Man 3 and Peter said: “I forgive you”, Sandman agreed not to bother him again and then disappeared, that’s it! Sandman was very much alive when we left him! so clearly, he’s NOT dead! lol

  • ED

    SEE WHAT THE FUCK IDIOTS OF COLLIDER.COM ARE DOING WITH ARTICLE, THEY’RE MAKING SOME MISTAKES BY COMBINING PAST STUFF OF MOVIE ADAPTATIONS AND NOT TALKING ABOUT THE PAST STUFF OF COMIC BOOKS THEMSELVES WHEN YOU HAVE PEOPLE LIKE MARK MILLAR, FRANK MILLER, AND MIKE GRELL DO THEIR VERSION OF THE HEROES. COLLIDER.COM ARE JUST MAKING US STUPID WITH THIS POINTLESS AND SOME TRUEFUL ARTICLE AND CALLING US FAGS. MARVEL AND DC HAVE EACH OF THEIR CHARACTERS IN THE WAY THEY WANT TO (IF SUPERMAN IS THE BOY SCOUT OR WOLVERINE AS THE ANTIHERO). COLLIDER.COM SHOULD BE A SHAME FOR STARTING THIS WAR BY USING MEN OF STEEL AND TRYING TO COMPARE WITH OTHERS THAT ARE NOT TO BE COMPARE WITH AT ALL. BATMAN WORKS WITH LAW ENFORCEMENT WHILE PUNISHER IS THE ULTIMATE ANTIHERO WHO IS HUNTING DOWN BY THE POLICE. IT DEPEND ON THE CHARACTERS THAT YOU CREATED AND NOW THANK TO DAVE TRUMBORE, HE JUST MAKING EVERYBODY WHO WANT TO WRITE THEIR COMMENTS IN EITHER A SMART OR DUMB WAY A BUNCH OF FUCKING IDIOTS.

  • Al Conyado

    Man of steel needed some Jonathan Nolan in there. Goyer and C.Nolan are great when they team up but they’re magnificent when J.Nolan joins them.

  • ED

    USING MAN OF STEEL ENDING TO COMPARE OTHER SUPERHERO FILMS IS LIKE COMPARING HOW YOUR BOTH SIDES OF YOUR BRAIN SIDE WORK WHEN THEY WORK IN DIFFERENT WAYS. THE DICK BEHIND THIS ARTICLE IS USING THE FILMS WITHOUT THE OTHER FACTS THAT ARE MORE IN THE COMIC BOOK. LIKE I SAY, MARVEL AND DC COMICS HAVE DIFFERENT STYLES (DC HAVE MUSCLE- BOUND METAHUMANS, MARVEL HAVE SUPERHUMANS WITH FLAWS, DC DONT HAVE LOT OF STRONG FEMALES SUPERHEROIRES WHILE MARVEL A HAVE A LOT, MARVEL CREATED WOLVERINE AND PUNISHER AS ANTIHEROES DURING POST VIETNAM WAR IN SAME WAY AS CLINT EASTWOOD FILM CHARACTERS IN THE 70S, DC CREATED LOBO AS A PARODY OF THE ANTIHEROES OF THE MARVEL STUFF, EVEN WHEN DC AND MARVEL HIRE PEOPLE LIKE ALAN MOORE, FRANK MILLER AND MARK MILLAR TO WRITE THEIR HEROES, IT THE SAME WAY AS TIM BURTON AND CHRIS NOLAN DID THEIR VERSIONS OF BATMAN OR SAM RAIMI AND MARK WEBB FOR SPIDER MAN).PEOPLE LIKE DAVE FUCKOFF TRUMBORE WANT TO PUSH THE FANBOYS AROUND LIKE A BULLY AND CALL YOU OUT. IF THE DICKHEAD WANT TO COMPARE MAN AND STEEL AND THE OTHER “GRITTY” FILMS THEN COMPARE THOSE TO THE GRITTY COMIC BOOKS IN THE 1980S FROM PEOPLE LIKE ALAN MOORE AND FRANK MILLER. THOSE PEOPLE CHANGED THE SUPERHERO STUFF IT HOW PEOLPE LIKE CHRIS NOLAN AND JOSS WHEDON ARE INFLUENCE BY.

  • name

    Didn’t Cap kill some people on the Helicarrier too? I vaguely remember him shooting a gun like a madman and pushing one guy off to his death.

  • Kriptonian Knight

    This all comes down to every nostalgia goggle wearing Superman fan that has irrationally and wrongfully smeared Man of Steel. I could destroy Donner’s Superman with logic on how ridiculous the script is With Superman not being able to be fast enough to stop two missiles but is fast enough that he could spin the world backwards and cause time travel and how Superman 2 showed a a Petty Superman That kills a powerless old man Kryptonian and beats up a truck driver and on and on but what is the point. I liked those movies. I didn’t take a magnifying glass to them like people are doing with Man of Steel even though Man of Steel was far more sophisticated and properly produced version for our generation! I personally want a Superman who is willing to kill an evil Kryptonian who threatens to make every human suffer and proclaims that the only way this ends is either I die or you.

  • BALG

    By the way. If you think Superman in the latest movie was reckless with human life go back and watch the movie again. It was zod and his cohorts that landed in kansas and metropolis and did about 99% of the destruction. AND, in the final fight between zod and superman, superman is throwing zod through the buildings that zod had already destroyed when he commenced terraforming. ["That block was already messed up!" (Chris Tucker, Rush Hour, 1998)]. AND, in a few scenes of the final fight where they are in some of the buildings, the buildings are empty. So the body count was racked up by zod and company. NOT superman.

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