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Off My Mind: Are Heroes Responsible For Battle Destruction?

Is the damage our price for protection?

When you have super-powered individuals fighting, there is bound to be destruction to their surroundings. Who should be responsible for paying for the damages? Obviously some of this was dealt with during Marvel's Civil War but I don't want to get into the argument about registering or if the heroes are properly trained to fight. 
City damage had been going on ever since Mole Man decided to send his creatures crashing through the pavement in New York City. We have seen the insurance company Damage Control in the Marvel Universe in the past. Is that all innocent civilians can do to protect their homes and surroundings? Are they forced to pay what ever high insurance rates exist to protect their belongings from "acts of superheroes"?  
Perhaps there is another solution that would save money for local residents. 
 == TEASER == 

The incident at Stamford, CT involving the New Warriors and Nitro was unfortunate. We could argue that they shouldn't have gone after the house full of villains since they were trying to get ratings for their reality TV show. But this is something that heroes often do. They need to get the bad guys off the streets. Those villains in the house had serious warrants out on them. While most of the blame was put on the Warriors, some should also be placed on Nitro (which is what I believe Wolverine tried doing). 
One solution is to force the villains to do some of the clean up as part of their prison sentence. The results of this can vary depending on their powers. If they have super strength, they could help sift through the rubble and such. If their abilities aren't of a physical nature, it could be a little difficult unless you simply hand them a shovel.  
There could be problems with getting the villains to perform some of the clean up. If their powers are dangerous, even under controlled circumstances, there could be the threat of harm to innocents. They might attempt to make a break or cause even more damage. There's also a matter of their civil rights (even if they are to blame for the destruction). Maybe it could be a choice to reduce their sentence if they help out. 
We've seen heroes help out from time to time. Bruce Wayne has set up foundations to help out in Gotham for various causes. Heroes already give so much of their personal lives in defending the innocent, should they give up more to help clean up the mess their battles cause? Should they have to join a union and pay dues that could go toward repair costs?  
Or maybe they could just get Jarvis to do all the cleaning.
47 Comments Refresh
Edited by Jordanstine

Guess super villain clean-up just depends on the city...  
DC cities like Metropolis has a lot of high powered villains that could fix up the city much easier as long as Superman and the Justice League are on watch.  Gotham... not so much unless Croc is there or Bane gets his dangerous venom... Joker can probably host a stand-up comedy (corny) show to raise... whatever he can raise for those who'd actually watch. 
New York City where nearly all the Marvel Heroes are, just feels like a different story even if this topic is subjective since it's... well... real, and all the real politics and real legislation, start popping up and starts interfacing with real people's problem, etc.

Posted by queenfrost_

get SHIELD to clean it?

Posted by Danial79

I've often wondered this myself, particularly after reading World War Hulk. If such things were real, I'd say there would be a tax for it.

Posted by the_orange_crush

 It's totally weird that I was thinking of this EXACT topic last night. I was going to message G-Man and ask him if he could do an Off My Mind on it.....weird. It's also never talked about how cities can be rebuilt so fast. Where is the city getting the money from? I would think if the heroes are billed for all the destruction, they wouldn't be left with any money at all. The idea of having villains do the clean-up to reduce their sentence makes sense, but it would be difficult because as you said, their abilities. 

Or why not have a special group of people with abilities hired to be the clean-up crew? Hell, in one of the first couple issues of Flash, he rebuilds a whole apartment complex in minutes. So perhaps place a tax on heroes which helps pay for a super-powered clean-up crew?

Posted by JarJarMinks

Imagine how high insurance premiums must be in the Marvel or DC universe.  Does GEICO cover Omega Beam damage?

Posted by TechParadox

I would think that getting the super-villains to essentially do "community service" would be right out.  I mean, seriously?  Most of the super-villain types are at best sociopaths and possibly outright psychopaths.  Would the people of the city feel safe, knowing that the super-powered being that just ran roughshod through their town is going to be back to help clean up the mess they made?  Highly unlikely.  I would think that in a world with superpowers we would be more likely to see companies like Damage Control in existence.  Heck, you might even see actual super-powered beings shying away from the limelight of being a hero and instead running their own damage control/remediation companies that would specialize in large-scale clean-up and reconstruction.

Posted by DMC

Here's something else to add to your argument G-Man but this does get a bit meticulous.  

What about all biological hazards that can result from these battles that are never brought to light? When these characters unleash their powers in a fight, the health threat it poses to the environment and the human populace in the area are usually ignored.

Posted by G-Man
@the_orange_crush: You must've been thinking it pretty loudly. In the 80s there was more mention of Damage Control. They're the insurance company that cleans up all the messes. For a price, obviously. They also played a role in the Wolverine Civil War issues. 
Posted by lastdrag0n89

I remember in the Ult Spiderman series by Bendis, The wrecking Crew was used by shield to clean up huge messes. Especially after Peter's house was destroyed during the clone saga.

Posted by Hunter114

Wasn't there some kind of superhero insurance firm (or something) who would pay for repairs on any damage done to cities by supervillains... I heard it somewhere (MUA2 I think)
The money would most likely come from the government (IE taxes) or superheroes would do the re-building themselves.

Posted by Hazlenaut

It could be one of mutant academy’s 40 hours of community service before graduation.

You don’t think the insurance will try to skip in the bill. Like they won’t cover blast from Cyclopes due to them being optic not heat.    

Posted by ShirEPanjshir

Yeah well, I don't know what else they could do expect for what they're doing now with the Damage Control insurance company and sometimes the very wealthy heroes like Iron Man use their resources to help rebuilt the mess they ( or one of their villains ) made. But since Iron Man is kind of broke, I guess he won't be doing that anymore any time soon.
I also assume that the government would kind of have some amount of money set aside yearly to deal with a part of these costs.
Taxing the heroes for the damage they cause seems kind of rediculous. Yes they may cause a considerable amount of property and material damage. But they do also save a lot of lives and prevent a lot of this damage too. So it would be very off to tax them for doing this. Not to mention that a lot of heroes couldn't afford to still be a hero. Imagine what evils would result from Spider-Man etc. disappearing from the hero scene.

Edited by El_Derrico

I think the movie The Incredibles handled that issue pretty well. If you supers can't stop destroying the city, hang up your tights. Sure, they do a lot of good, but if every time a brightly colored cape shows up and a building collapses on you, maybe they're doing more harm than good. Or like the Civil War storyline, maybe get some formal government training, like a police officer does.

Edited by leokearon

The Avengers have the Maria Stark Foundation and the Fantastic Four pay their own damages so do other teams and companies in Marvel
Posted by buttersdaman000

ive always wondered how many innocents were killed when someone crashes through a building, or accidentily collapses a building, and so on. if the superheroes dont clear out the area before hand, the fights can be more dangerous than the actual villian

Posted by Mainline

I'd say a good portion of the audience reads comics for the action.  Powers trend heavily towards offensive or combative uses (directed energy, mental manipulation, enhanced durability) rather than more mundane or esoteric abilities (calendar math, perfect pitch, etc).  So to the extent we rationalize comics they have to produce an end result which gives the audience what they want. 
For example, secret identities remained a trope for the superhero genre because allows the hero to enter and exit the story neatly, rationalized as a form of protection for one's family.  Afforded that protection, the heroes can go out and fight giving the audience the action they crave (rather than sit at home rationally guarding their family from threats).  A story, like Civil War, might strip away that protection which- under the earlier rational- might lead to quiet and orderly and utterly boring registration... but the reason it's stripped away is, really, to give us the reverse... an all out war between heroes who would not typically or rationally fight each other. 
So applied to collateral damage the principle is similar.  By ignoring or allowing externalities such as collateral damage be handled off-panel or by non-superheroes, there is less rational restraint on superheroes from engaging in action which the audience craves.  By contrast, putting the burden on them would lead to filling out forms, fund raising, legislative lobbying, behaving more cautiously, challenging determinations of fault, clean up work, etc. essentially a bunch of stuff that isn't the audience desired action.  There are two typical exceptions... 1) where the collateral results in violent conflict (the origin of a villain, the enraging of a hero, etc. again resulting in action) or 2) As a matter of character development or exposition (the damage has impact on the hero because of the victims or to give the heroes an excuse to stand around and talk to one another because, typically, they're too busy punching and blasting villains). 
Essentially, in a world sustained by their ability to cause on-panel destruction, I'm not sure measures which might reign that back are beneficial.  That's, of course, the 4th Wall analysis.  Internally, you'd still probably come to a similar result.  Assuming the actors are at least somewhat rational, the reason heroes rely so heavily on violence (and subsequent collateral damage) is because it is necessary and proper in most situations and thus justified, the citizens of that world would not want to put the brakes on something that is protecting them despite the collateral.  If you heighten the burden on heroism you might chill such efforts and thus subject yourselves to more intentional and evil sourced damage. 
It all comes down to justification. 
If the battle is justified, then the hero is no more responsible for the collateral than any law enforcement or civil servant is in their duties (a cop who shoots a criminal on a killing spree isn't suddenly liable for the criminal's child's college fund; a fireman who breaks open your door in order to save your home from fire isn't liable for the door).  In the hyper violent and powered world of mainstream comics it would seem a lot more collateral is justifiable than in our more mundane existence.  But, of course, if unjustified (running over a fleeing cuff-ed suspect with a car rather than pursing on foot, destroying an entire house as a "fire break" to stop a burning pot-roast) liability attaches.  So the question is whether the damage caused by comic book heroes is typically unreasonable and, in their world, it does not seem to be... few citizens are put into economic depression because of the fights and generally casualties are low in-story.  In fact, it tends to be played for laughs.  So, in general, no, heroes are not responsible for their battle destruction.

Posted by Doctor!!!!!
wow... thats a lot of thought.
Posted by blaakmawf

Create a new group called C.L.E.A.N?

Posted by Caligula

no because villains would destroy things anyway.

Posted by Lvenger

If it's construction damage, then it is unfortunate but if construction damage is a part of the hero subduing the villain and stopping him from causing more damage and potentially hurting or killing people or being a general menace to society that is an acceptable consequence. However, if the battle destruction involves the loss of innocent lives e.g the Stamford Disaster then heroes need to rethink their battle strategy e.g fighting the villain in an abandoned scrapyard or somewhere where they can't cause property or physical harm. However, that is difficult and part of the dilemna in some comics is the construction damage that goes along with the fight. But if it's an alien invasion, it's not really the heroes' fault if there's some damage? Better construction damage than conquest. On a side note, several superheroes and teams e.g The Fantastic 4 usually help with clean up anyway so in my view, most of the time, battle destruction is fine.

Posted by bybeach

Lawyers are a very important class I would suspect in these super Hero universes,and may have very well superheroes of their own. Only their Superheros don't save others from Evile, but rather win impossible settlements for their clients after particularly bloody and damaging conflicts. The Stark Foundation and other superhero organizations forced to pick up the bill after friendly fire and collateral damage have survived and prospered by many a slippery ruling based on these super-Lawyer machinations.Thus by doing 'good' for their clients, do vastly even more monetary Good  for themselves. They tend to be physically consisted more of fat than muscle, and speak a secret  obtuse language called Legalese.
Posted by BuddyBulson

They should have a reality bender fix everything in marvel. Like thats their job. but they get sick of cleaning up after everyone's mess and attacks the new york city.

Posted by _Sojourn_

A good point...but with all the super geniuses, and reality warpers...shouldn't this be an easy fix??? 

Posted by darkwolverineUSMC

That's why they have secret identities. Screw the safety of my family, I'm not paying for the portion of down town Manhatten I destroyed while trying to defeat some Gamma powered super villain. You must be high! Besides, I'd love to be a construction worker in New York in the Marvel universe, I'd never loose work.

Posted by frsty13

In Kurt Busiek's Astro City, part of the reconstruction is a community effort.  I think the city also pays for a large part since the superheroes bring in so much tourism.

Posted by Benuben

Posted by Paragon

I'm pretty sure in the Marvel/DC universe, you can get Incredible Hulk coverage on your car...

Posted by InnerVenom123
@blaakmawf said:
"Create a new group called C.L.E.A.N?"

Posted by IronSpidy-Rooney

DAMAGE CONTROL !!!!!!!!!!!


You want protection right?

Posted by crusader8463

 I would imagine it would have to be budgeted like a natural disaster. Both situations you have no control over when it happens or what gets destroyed. Just like some parts of the world budget for yearly tornado and hurricanes more populated cities budget for villain damage.
Also, insurance companies would sell super hero insurance. With all the cars that get thrown around and blown up it must be a big business for them.

Posted by CosmicSpiral
Damage Control was specifically created to repair the property damage created by superhero fights. 
Posted by ReverseNegative
@CosmicSpiral said:
" Damage Control was specifically created to repair the property damage created by superhero fights.  "
Posted by LP

You have no idea how many times this has crossed my mind, especially when I've written my own stories...

Posted by MorlockMartyr

It's always the taxpayers who pay the price. Dammit.

Posted by Mr_Wayne69

Cleaning service- Alfred & Edwin: "It's Worth every Penny to clean with Jarvis." 
I was thinking of this same topic the other day. Hilarious. Anyway... It's safe to say that comic universes have access to technologies that we'll never have. Alien or other wise. Entire cities are destroyed and rebuilt in a few years. They got it covered.

Posted by Jynxnet

Taxes!! Taxes!! Taxes!! 
That is my first thought, however, I believe I remember I read of some of the richer heroes paying for damages..such as Oliver Queen/Green Arrow in DC and LexCorp/LuthorCorp has been forced to pay for damages they have caused. 
In Marvel Stark industries has been known to pay for some damages. Likely any major organization that can afford it that is responsible for the damage, depending on the morality of whoever is charge of finances, Oscorp is alot less likely to pay for something than Stark Industries. 

Posted by harleenquinzel10

who cares?
Edited by Ston3face
interesting but at the end of the day its us poor taxpayers who pay the price ;)
Posted by EGoD

Everything always gets cleaned up from super hero / villian fights, even if figure the person has money or not, just brush it all up to magic baby, cosmic mojo at its finest lending a helping hand.  I'm just wondering how much more money Worthington Entreprises has left after paying for all the damages the X-Men cause fighting or rebuilding the Xavier Institute (I'm sure Xavier's money dried up and there was that one time where I believe afer Bastion's rampage, that Storm magically found her box she had hidden with her tiara and a few very valuable items to conveniently sell.  Man I wish something I buried would retain some value or grow in wealth, that money tree in my back yard isn't giving me squat
Posted by 123422
@Danial79 said:
" I've often wondered this myself, particularly after reading World War Hulk. If such things were real, I'd say there would be a tax for it. "
I'd say the city's fund has allocations to "superhuman damage control" or something like that
Posted by Danial79
@123422: I guess it's no different than damage due to earthquakes, hurricanes, or anything else that's called "Acts of God"... These are just "Acts of Superhero" :)
Posted by jordama

Poor Jarvis
Posted by Eyz

Well, I guess agencies like SHIELD in the Marvel U or Checkmate for DC could help clean up/pay for damages...

Posted by Aspenite

I don´t think that heroes are the ones responsible for the damage. Blame the villains.

Edited by Botiste

Consider how long its taking us to recover from 911 both physically and mentally as a nation.  Cities are defind by their landscapes, so when an enemy destroys that landscape the people that are attached its economy are affected emotionally and financially.     I would think that writers would consider this question in real time before destroying New York for the 100th time , then acting like it could be restored in one issue.  You can't destroy buildings without destroying people especially in a city.   hint. . . .  Ultimate Universe.  Then again these are just comics right? 
Who pays for the damages, taxpayer maybe?  a loaf of bread in the marvell u may be like $6.00 to insure bakery drivers.
Posted by Dark Noldor

I guess that´s a major point that writers sometimes just forget about it: who cleans up the mess after all those battles?
Tony Stark used to spend a lot of money in reconstruction and cleaning the debries (and one of the arguments after Avengers: Disassembled was that he didn´t have enough money to keep doing this); I guess this was an issue about Civil War too.
I think there should be a government organ in charge of this responsability: cleaning and rebuilding, like and insurance company.