What would Batman's crime fighting be like if he didn't have qualms about killing?

Presume Batman doesn’t have a problem with killing and that a good percentage of the criminals he goes after are deadly threats who can be counted on to escape (again and again and again). What would his crime fighting be like?

Presume the budget of a multi-billionaire and DARPA-like technology but no crypto-magical stuff like cold fusion or antigravity drives.

Basically the Punisher, I’d imagine.

Or is he pro-killing, but still anti-gun?

Whichever one you think is more interesting.

I wonder what a high-tech, we-spared-no-expense version of the Punisher would be.

Apparently, not much different than the average cop on the beat, these days!

More the Shadow than the Punisher. Strike fear into the hearts of the lesser thugs, and shoot the more important ones they run to.

You know all those calls saying “BATMAN! The Joker is on another rampage!”

Those wouldn’t happen.

…like the two Burton Batman movies, pretty much?

Like Midnighter. (Although Midnighter doesn’t have all those wonderful toys.)

I’m picturing Batman locating the villain’s lair, and then calling in a Bat-drone strike.

He might have gone down that road. There was an episode of Superboy (182) where he was a guest star and thought he lad a lead on the guy who killed his parents, he was calling himself “The Executioner” and was going to kill the guy… Superboy showed him his deductions were wrong. You have the basis there for a decent “imaginary story”, if they still do those.

The question that needs to be answered, really, is “Why doesn’t Batman kill?”

If it’s a psychological hang-up from his parents’ deaths, then perhaps a Batman that would be willing to kill isn’t Batman at all, since “being Batman” is the biggest symptom of that issue. If it’s a bright line he consciously draws to keep him from being a bad guy, the major difference would probably come from his relationships with other heroes. As important as his no killing rule is portrayed as, I think a person capable of rationalising a fundamental difference between “death” and “severe, life-altering assault” could create another line somewhere beyond that - death only for such-and-such a crime, or for those sentenced to death by a jury. But Superman et al would probably have something to say about that, so the effect on Batman’s crime-fighting would be “yet more secret”.

Those are the two most common explanations for the rule, but there are others. One I’ve always liked is that it’s about Batman recognising his inspiring nature on the public, whether that’s because he recognises that it’s a lot easier to not get caught if he doesn’t appear villainous, or just because he doesn’t want the inevitable copycat heroes to be going around killing people. A Batman that doesn’t care about those things wouldn’t be Batman either, but only in the sense that he wouldn’t care about all the “criminals are a cowardly and superstitious lot” business. He’d just be “A gang of arms dealers was found dead today, police put the matter down to rival gang warfare”. And then there’s the hopeful reason, that Batman doesn’t kill because he truly believes that even people like the Joker can be redeemed (which you might quibble, would that be worth so many of his killing sprees? But could well apply to someone like Mr. Freeze or Poison Ivy, who in theory could do a lot of good if they wanted). Batman minus his mercy, a strict arbiter of justice, might well end up like some versions of Two-Face.

That’s what I was picturing too. Sitting in a Wargames-like HQ* with Alfred, Robin and Batgirl as aides, coordinating IMINT/SIGINT/MASINT drones, using his detective skills and a supercomputer to fuse all that data together and calling in missile strikes at the optimal Bat-locations.

Perhaps he’d be corny enough to use this munition to do it:



He’d be literally Rorschach wouldn’t he?

He’d pretty quickly end up killing someone innocent and even before that, the law would have to hunt him down and put a stop to him for good. If nothing else, Superman would have to get rid of him.

Albeit with a young sidekick wearing a cutoff trench coat that barely covers his rear.


Let’s cut the talk about real-world cops, here. We should be able to keep this discussion in Batman’s world.

I always thought Batman’s no-killing policy was somewhat of a sham. He’ll deal all sorts of long term damage and take actions that could conceivably kill someone if he’s unlucky or wrong in a move or if the person is left alone or without medical help for a while.

I expect he’d be a lot like the Punisher.

Generally speaking, Batman neither kills nor cripples people. (Usual caveat that he’s an eighty year old character in continuous publication that has been written in radically different ways at different times in his history etc. etc.) Sure, sure, the kind of beatings he gives out would put a real person into years of physical rehab. But Batman doesn’t beat up real people, he beats up comic book people. And people in comic books - just the regular, no-power schmoes - are freakishly resilient compared to actual human beings. For that matter, so are most people in television, movies, and novels that are fun to read. A physical injury that would require years of physical therapy and leave the patient with permanent physical injuries can be completely healed in a comic book inside of six months, with no long term effects.

Unless the writer has an idea for a story about someone in a wheelchair. Then all bets are off.

Actually, speaking of Batman and getting put in a wheel chair, after Bane broke Batman’s spine in the '90s, the role of Batman was given over to a guy named Jean-Paul Valley, a delusional assassin raised by an Illuminati-style religious cult. He was basically conceived as an answer to the question, “What would Batman be like if he killed?”

The answer, as it turned out, was “lame.”