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Off My Mind: Should Evil Villains be Killed Before They're a Threat?

If the opportunity arouse, should the trigger be pulled?

What happens if you found yourself facing a child-version of what you knew would become a deadly threat to the world? This isn't a new question. Often, the question is tied to someone like Hitler and would it be right to go back in time and kill him as an infant?

This is a similar situation to what Fantomex dealt with back in UNCANNY X-FORCE #4. While on a mission to destroy Apocalypse before he could gain full power and proceed to wreak havoc and destruction upon the world, the team found themselves facing what appeared to be an innocent child being groomed by a genocidal cult to become the evil despot.

When the moment came to deal with the child, there was some hesitation. It was Fantomex that decided to pull the trigger. Now he finds himself on trial by the Captain Britain Corps in the mythical realm of Otherworld for his actions.

== TEASER ==

We know killing shouldn't be the solution for heroes but Fantomex made the decision based on the old argument. He figured that destroying what would become pure evil was the best way to deal with the problem. It's really a matter of whether or not the child should be held responsible for actions they have yet to commit.

In the case of killing Baby Hitler, it's already known what that infant will grow up to do. Going into the past, the future has already happened. There's no question whether or not the 'evil' person will stick to their evil path.

In the case of Fantomex's decision, the child was being groomed to become Apocalypse. He didn't know who he was or who he was supposed to be. He was being educated to become a version of the Apocalypse we all know. Could there have been another solution?

Fantomex made another decision after killing the child. He had a clone created who was raised in a virtual reality world. Killing a child wasn't a decision Fantomex took lightly and by making a copy of the child, he could see if there was a chance to redeem that child. This would be a way to explore the argument of Nature vs. Nurture.

Is the evil contained in a villain due to their genetic make up or does it have to do with how they were raised? The child that Fantomex killed was being programmed to follow the ways and thinking of Apocalypse. With Genesis, there is the chance to see if being raised in a loving and caring home could change what appeared to be the child's future. In other words, was he born evil or simply raised to be that way?

Another example of Nature vs. Nurture is Spider-Man and Kaine. Peter Parker was raised by his loving aunt and uncle. The idea of great power and great responsibility was ingrained into his way of thinking. This wasn't the case for Kaine. He was created in a lab and the only thing he had to a parent (the Jackal) cast him out in utter disappointment for being defective. It's no wonder Kaine's way of thinking was muddled yet now, he's finding himself acting more like a hero. He doesn't want to go out and actually become a superhero but he's finding it harder and harder to deny the urge to do the right thing.

SCARLET SPIDER #2
WOLVERINE AND THE X-MEN #4, is Genesis destined to be evil?

There are simply too many factors that go into what makes a person good or evil. Most comic book universes don't allow an individual to travel back in time to alter the past. It usually leads to further complications or the creation of an alternate timeline/reality.

If the future was known, it's a little different but the argument could still be made that the future is never set in stone. Knowing that a child could grow up and become a deadly force such as Apocalypse doesn't guarantee that they will. If there is some remote trace of goodness in the child, the proper upbringing might be able to turn things around so he'd become a savior instead.

Of course there's also the notion that heroes don't kill. I think even the noblest of heroes would have a hard time taking a life, even if it would guarantee saving the lives of numerous others, especially when that life is at an innocent stage.

There may not be a clear cut solution. Fantomex made a decision and is now dealing with the consequences. Whether or not Genesis will grow into a hero or still become an evil force (as seen in a possible future) remains to be seen. If a hero was ever placed in the situation where they had to make this decision, you can imagine they would struggle with making a decision.

118 Comments
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Posted by Skaddix

Yes they should. U can jail the shockers of the world but big bads especially should be killed.

Posted by TDK_1997

Some of them have to be killed.

Edited by Illuminatus

Just let people like X-Force and Flash Thompson handle it. Hell, they could care less if a super-criminal gets killed in the Ultimate Marvel universe. It's just another day on the job for the likes of Thor, Iron Man, Hawkeye, etc. etc. in that universe.

Edited by Nerx
Hell Yeah, pro choice mawfvkkuhz

Use Precautionary principle dude they should kill them before they bloom. But when doing this they must be as detailed as possible to prevent a messiah scenario (what pharaoh failed when he tries to kill moses). If the parents hinder then they too must die. The best options is to use time travel to sterilize their parents or anything that leaves zero chance of life. If something like this should be enacted then they must act like Gestapos and the KGB. Just think of China's one child policy.

This can work best in anti-christ scenarios in order to prevent irreversible damage.

notes:

  • you might want a precog to peek into the future to be sure
  • if you dont want to kill then implant mind control from in vitro
  • There is always the choice of power nullification
Edited by NightFang

You could kill them but the'll just come back to life as clones, ghosts, demons, or somebody else takes their name; how many Goblins has Spiderman fought over the years? It's best to deal with the devil you know, than kill off Joker and get Darkseid as his replacement.

Posted by nonfiction91

thats a morality based question, if your asking on real world terms, as in there is no probability of a difference, this guy will grow up and perform genocide, of course he dies. the weight of his life and three million couldnt be weighed more obviously if you litterally put them both on an old timey scale.

but with comics, morality is always the same,good must never kill because that means taking your self to the level of the villian, meaning you kill once, your likely to do it again, since thinking logically its not the most difficulty thing once you get passed the psychology of it. even there though, I think somebody should have been cut short, specially zoom for killing barrys' mom.

Posted by Deadcool

@TDK_1997 said:

Some of them have to be killed.

They don't exist...

Posted by Illuminatus

Seriously, they should just bribe Zolomon to kill all the villains on Earth. Problems solved.

Posted by blueninjapanther

The worst villians should be killed. The death of innocent lives would increase if they are still alive.

Posted by Nerx

@NightFang: Make them deader than dead (as in uncle ben dead)

Posted by NightFang

@Nerx said:

@NightFang: Make them deader than dead (as in uncle ben dead)

The Punisher has killed Jigsaw 2 or 3 times and he keeps coming back, some villains just don't know how to play dead.

Edited by TheGreyOutcastX

The beauty of this is that Genesis truly is a blank slate. Meaning he could go either way. He has no memories or knowledge of Apocalypse so he easily could be influenced to be either good or evil. That said:

The real question is when he does learn the truth about his origin as a clone of a genocidal warlord who has caused tragedy after tragedy, and it's been kept hidden from him, how will he react? Most times, we don't go: You keep it from me so I could have a brighter future. We usually react: WHY DID YOU HIDE THIS FROM ME?

I think once he learns of his other life so to speak, we can then argue the nature vs nurture thing. That is the point of no return when this decision needs to be made. But consider he is basically Apocalypse Jr., it's a safe assumption to think the baggage of Apocalypse's history will lead him down the path of evil hence why Logan is trying to prevent that by teaching at the school....although, it's not like the school has prevented students from going to the dark side.

Should he be killed for acts that he didn't or hasn't done? No. We saw this already when Bishop tried to kill Hope because of his future was affected by her. You can't punish them for something they have yet to do. Should you be prepared for the moment when they figure out the path they will walk? Yes. He's not a threat yet, but Logan needs to keep one eye on him at ALL times. This has the recipe to go south at any moment.

This has inspired a blog in the future. Thank you, G-Man for sparking some creative thought.

Posted by Nerx

@NightFang: How about as dead as a z list

Posted by NightFang

@Nerx said:

@NightFang: How about as dead as a z list

There's no such thing.

Posted by Nerx

@NightFang: There are plenty of examples dude, just look at the countless AIM or HYDRA workers killed

Posted by NightFang

@Nerx said:

@NightFang: There are plenty of examples dude, just look at the countless AIM or HYDRA workers killed

Those are henchmen guys like Galactus and Parallax aren't gonna die any time soon.

Posted by Nerx

@NightFang: drop them to henchman status

Posted by saoakden

This is an interesting thought that I myself have been thinking about. Both in fiction & reality its a pretty good question to ask.

In fiction, someone can go back in time and kill the villain before they do anything but that can really screw up the timeline. For example, lets say the X-Force team somehow goes back in time and kills one of their enemies before their powers can ever awaken. They kill the villain and go back to the present to see it as either paradise or the world in chaos. Like if Apocalypse was killed back in Ancient Egypt before his powers emerged, the X-Men could have fought someone just as bad, like Onslaught or some kind of varaiton of Apocalypse.

Just because someone kills the villain doesn't necessarly mean that the threat is over for good. Take Apocalypse for example. He's killed in his child form and everyone is safe from the mutant Apocayplse right? WRONG! Warren gets taken over by his Archangel persona and becomes Apocalypse's Successor. Osborn as well. He died and some other people became Green Goblin or Hobgoblin or joined a really messed up cult that believes in Osborn like the priest from the Osborn mini-series.

Posted by TheGreyOutcastX

@saoakden: I was hoping someone would have this opinion. You could kill the villain, but the natural order of things would have another evil perhaps even worst than what you have slain arise. Something has to and will fill the void that is created by that death. Like killing Hitler early could have created a better world, or it could have allowed an another Tyrant (Stalin for example) to appear (possibly sooner) and do the same as Hitler or worse cause he wasn't checked by Hitler. There will always be something to take its place.

Posted by Tone702

Exactly what the greyoutcastx said. Life is all about balance, the yin and the yang. Heroes would not exist without villains. (In the comic book world I mean) Some of the most liked heroes are borderline anyway, (Wolverine, Punisher, Emma Frost, Magneto)  and there are quite a few villains that are borderline heroes (Magneto back in the day), the line sometimes get blurred. There will always be someone to play the bad guy.

Posted by SoA

its y i like x-force, wolverine, the punisher , and the authority/midnighter

Posted by saoakden

@TheGreyOutcastX: When you mentioned a tryant appearing sooner it made me think of Flashpoint when Attocuis had killed William Hand and the Blackest Night began sooner than expected leaving the guardians to deal with Nekron and the Manhunters.

@Tone702: The balance thing can be a pain sometime. What you said also made me think of Flashpoint. Except instead of the whole Green Lantern thing, it made me think of Thomas Wayne becoming Batman and his wife beccoming the Joker.

Edited by TheGreyOutcastX

@Tone702: Exactly. For every positive reaction, there to must be a negative one too. That's the beauty of life: It's all possibilities. Heroes need villains, and villians need heroes. It's the words that Lex tells Clark at the end of Smallville.

http://youtu.be/v6nwDITHrqo (It's not embed requestable. >.>)

Side note: Wasn't Cable's son, Tyler, code-named Genesis? Cause I could have sworn he was.

Posted by TheGreyOutcastX

@saoakden: It's the ripple effect. You change one event and it causes tons of ripples in time. You now have to deal with the possibility that you have just made things worse by offing just one person. Cause and effect. But we sometimes forget the long term effects of a simple action.

Posted by MyraMyraMyra

In the case of killing Baby Hitler, it's already known what that infant will grow up to do. Going into the past, the future has already happened. There's no question whether or not the 'evil' person will stick to their evil path.

The hell? I'm pretty sure baby Hitler wasn't like Damian from Omen. He was just a regular person like anyone else who - due to various choices made, opinions and beliefs developed, and experiences gained - eventually grew up to be horrible racist extremist responsible of one of the biggest, most heinous genocides the humankind has ever seen. But he didn't crawl out of his mother's womb already planning the Holocaust. At certain point of history, he was just an ordinary baby with all the prospects of becoming something entirely different than the Nazi leader we all know and hate. He wasn't born evil, or destined to become what he became.

In the case of killing the infant Hitler, if given a chance to travel back in time to change history, I'd say that it would still be a horribly wrong thing to do. If one had the chance to meddle with Hitler's fate at such an early stage of his life, one might as well have him removed from Austria and raised in the Australian wilderness to keep him from adapting the eugenicist & antisemitic views popular at both sides of the Atlantic at that time of history. Hell, while we're there, one could arrange him to be raised by a loving Jewish family. There would be countless ways of keeping him from becoming what he became without having to murder him as a child.

Anyways. I think it's many flavours of insane to suggest that any terrible person in history would "stick to his path" no matter what. Nobody is born evil in the real world.

I think the case of the child Apocalypse is slightly different, because we're talking about a mutant in a comic book. It's difficult for me to judge Fantomex's actions by real world standards because concepts of destiny and fate and good and evil are very different in comic books. Thus, the child Apocalypse Fantomex killed is hardly comparable to any real child in the real world. I do think that he was destined to become an evil villain because in the Marvel Universe both destiny and evil seem to be pretty real and solid concepts, even though I believe in neither in the real world. In this case, the kid growing up to become Apocalypse was probably inevitable, and Fantomex did a morally ambiguous choice to spare the world from an upcoming threat while it was still easy - one act of evil to prevent greater acts of evil. I don't think that there's a right and easy answer to the question of whether he was morally right or not.

As for Genesis, I hope that they do intend to keep him as a hero (regardless of Deathlok's dystopic vision of the future) because he's far more interesting that way. In my opinion, Apocalypse has always been the most boring X-Men villain because of his lack of range as a character. He's basically just a big ogre, and I really do wish that he went away for good. I think the concept of Genesis as the child clone of a terrible villain seeking to remain a hero despite his origins is a far more fascinating character concept than "Apocalypse the evil villain" has ever been.

I don't see why Genesis couldn't resist any inclinations he has for destruction and world domination, considering that being "raised" in a decent family has filled his mind with ideas of alternatives ways of thinking. He has the potential to become Apocalypse because of his powers (and because sooner or later he will find out about his true origins), but I do think that he also has the potential to remain as the hero he's now decided to be.

Posted by Carolina574

If this was ok then, based off what Bishop knew, they should have killed Hope in Messiah Complex.

Edited by TheGreyOutcastX

@MyraMyraMyra: I have the same idea on this. Frankly I think you should keep Genesis as the hero, but somehow find some way to still have Apocalypse. That way you get to see the Nature versus Nurture argument in action. Plus I want Genesis to have to hang around the guys who vowed to kill Apocalypse like Nate, Cable, etc. just for the awkward tension.

@Carolina574: I said the same thing in an earlier post. If you choice to pay god now with Genesis, then you should have done it with Hope, Nate Grey, and various others who were claimed to bring about the end of the world or cause great harm.

Posted by royale_with_cheese

So it's inevitable that Genesis will somehow obtain celestial tech?

Posted by lannister

@MyraMyraMyra said:

I think the concept of Genesis as the child clone of a terrible villain seeking to remain a hero despite his origins is a far more fascinating character concept than "Apocalypse the evil villain" has ever been.

I agree.

Posted by Killer_of_trolls

No, it will only lead to a what if/elseworld story that he didn't get killed in.

Posted by Luthorcrow

@MyraMyraMyra said:

Anyways. I think it's many flavours of insane to suggest that any terrible person in history would "stick to his path" no matter what. Nobody is born evil in the real world.

I am sorry but some people are born evil. Now we can argue that how they are raised may change the degree of evil but they will still be at their core evil. Let's get a bit more specific because the word "evil" really is too vague. Evil can often simply mean an opposing will or side in a conflict but when we talk about pure evil we are talking about a sociopath. A person that does not recognize other people as having value, worth and are in capable of empathy for other people. A true sociopath is going to be evil no matter how they are raised because they simply lack the ability to feel other people's emotions.

People are not blank slates. The idea of the baby being innocent is a Christian concept and one that generally serves us well in law and government but in reality is not really true. We can turn the dial up or down but at the end of the day, the song remains the same.

I do agree with you though the "Hitler" baby scenario has a lot more effective solutions than just killing him. That is largely due to the fact as an ordinary person he only had power through other people. The main reason killing Hitler would be a waste of time is not because it would be immoral but that it would not have the desired effect. We overrate the importance of the individual because of own Western framework. Hitler was able to come to power because circumstance of political and economic realities that would still exist if you remove him. The person that would fill is role might not have taken it to the degree of "the final solution" but it would still have likely led to war and something similar.

Let's look at evil on a smaller scale. Rush Limbaugh is a sociopath that doesn't mind making money off the misery of others. If he were to have a stroke and die tomorrow it would not end the thirst that a section of society needs for racist, homophobic and sexist demagoguery. Another "entertainer" would fill that niche just as Rush did as he replaced Morton Downey Jr. after his fall from popularity. The existence of that one person would not change the ugly underbelly of hate in our country. The forces that give people like a megaphone are much larger than any one person. Which actually makes the probably much scarier and problematic than a single villain.

Going back to Apocalypse, the case is very different from Hitler because his power comes from the fact that he is not an ordinary human. So now we have an evil seed with immense individual power. If you combine a sociopath with that much power they would be a threat no matter what and killing them would be the only sane option. Of course in this case, our hero makes the completely inconsistent decision to clone the child and simply repeat history.

The idea that it is wrong for heroes to kill is one that exists only in comic books. It is the one feature that no matter how well a super hero comic is written ultimately stunts the art form because it keeps the morality of the story stuck in childhood.

Posted by tonis

It isn't really nature vs nurture, it's nature & nurture.

Both can affect the course of probabilities but neither is guaranteed to have the results one would expect.

A person can have a mental disorder (nature) that can lead to some sort of malevolence, however with the proper environment (nurture), that possibility could be counter acted.

Just as a person brought up in a loving environment has a better probability of being a 'good' person, but could still have mental deficiencies that lead them to evil things.

The best we can do is recognize, understand, and try to keep nature & nurture in balance. Too much of either leads to bad things regardless of intention.

Edited by Jonny_Anonymous
@MyraMyraMyra: You misread, G-Man meant as it was TIME TRAVEL we know how it's going to end up with Hitler but Genesis is different as we cant tell his future, this isn't like going back in time and killing Hitler, it's like going back in time and killing Hitler's son because of what he MIGHT grow up to be. 
 
Anyway we all know when Bendis is put in charge of the X Books he's going to make Genesis crazy and kill everyone in the school
Online
Posted by karetaker

really great article. killing them should be an option, but i wonder if this will have any effect on The AOA universe and any existing characters like bishop

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous
@Luthorcrow said:

The idea that it is wrong for heroes to kill is one that exists only in comic books. It is the one feature that no matter how well a super hero comic is written ultimately stunts the art form because it keeps the morality of the story stuck in childhood.

also this
Online
Edited by DarkChris

Some villains must be killed. Doom, Apocalypse, Osborn, Red Skull, Scarlet Witch (yeap, SC too). On the other hand, you don't know how they will be developed in the future. What I mean? I believe Magneto should be killed years ago. But who knew that he would become an X-Man? Or Doom. Who knew he would join FF (even though he still has his motives)?

And that's when time travellers come into picture. Every team needs a time traveller. If Nathaniel could tell X-Men, FF or the Avengers about their future, they wouldn't fight all theswe villains, heroes wouldn't die.

Posted by Mrakbarman

If they kill people just because theyre marked as villains they would be no different to Hitler who killed people marked as jews

Posted by MarvelMan1985

Normally I would say no, With Genis, I would say...keep and eye on him and a gun ready :)

Posted by MyraMyraMyra

@Luthorcrow said:

@MyraMyraMyra said:

Anyways. I think it's many flavours of insane to suggest that any terrible person in history would "stick to his path" no matter what. Nobody is born evil in the real world.

I am sorry but some people are born evil. Now we can argue that how they are raised may change the degree of evil but they will still be at their core evil. Let's get a bit more specific because the word "evil" really is too vague. Evil can often simply mean an opposing will or side in a conflict but when we talk about pure evil we are talking about a sociopath. A person that does not recognize other people as having value, worth and are in capable of empathy for other people. A true sociopath is going to be evil no matter how they are raised because they simply lack the ability to feel other people's emotions.

People are not blank slates. The idea of the baby being innocent is a Christian concept and one that generally serves us well in law and government but in reality is not really true. We can turn the dial up or down but at the end of the day, the song remains the same.

Sociopathy isn't just another word for evil. It's a psychological condition caused by several different factors, and it's been argued that it's caused mainly by environmental factors, such as childhood experiences and parenting. Either way, I strongly, strongly disapprove of calling people with personality disorders "evil" & the general demonization of the mentally unstable.

Also, the idea of children as blank slates is not a Christian concept. The original Christian concept from the early Middle Ages suggested that children are born bad because of original sin and must therefore be beaten and diciplined into proper behaviour. The idea of the child as tabula rasa and childhood as a state of innocence comes from the 18th century philosopher Rousseau.

Evil, however, in Western discourses often (disclaimer: not always) pertains to a Christian/religious view of the world, stemming from the idea that there indeed are steady & indisputable forces of "good" and "evil" in the world, as opposed to the perception of good and evil being a case of subjective views & moral relativity. It's a dated, vague concept that cracks under the simplest philosophical examination, and in my opinion should not be used in all seriousness in any modern conversation.

Going back to Apocalypse, I'm not sure how to apply real world logic when it comes to superhero comics, as the view of the world the Marvel Universe offers us is really a construct of a variety of writers, all of who have dealt with questions of predestination, good, and evil in their own ways. I'm not sure how relevant psychological terminology is when analyzing a character like Apocalypse. Him I could call evil, because I think the concept of flat and simple "pure evil" is a part of the fictional universe the comics take place in. But as far as the real world is concerned, I'd leave a term as naïve as "evil" out of serious discussions, as I don't believe that it grants us a better understandment of any phenomenon.

Posted by avenger11

when baby hitler was born nobody knew he would grow up to be a terrorist. when jesus/einstein/muhammad/da vinci was born nobody knew that they would grow up to do great things.

also people can change from bad to good and vice versa.

being good or evil is a choice

Posted by BlackArmor

Preemptive murder? Yeah cause that worked great for Big Brother..........wait a minute..........I withdraw my example

Posted by Mbecks14

NO! That's not how justice works!

Posted by The Stegman
Short answer, No, they shouldn't
Posted by InnerVenom123

You answered your own question.

If the person's destiny is locked in time, such as baby Hitler, then yeah. Kill them.

If their fate isn't locked, then no.

Posted by jubilee042

genesis makes my skin crawl

Posted by thanosrules

Only if you are growing your own version of that same person somewhere else in the World. ;)

Posted by feargalr

Ive never liked this whole notion of Heroes don't kill, a true hero should be able to put aside his/her selfish belief (Im looking at you Batman) and do what NEEDS to be done, regardless of how you feel.

Posted by Suprman

Killing in my opinion is never the route to go, once you rationalize the first step it becomes easy to fall into a pattern of behavior. If you kill one potential threat, how long will it take before you decide to kill another and then another? Plus there has been proof that even if you try to guide a young prospect, it could be good or bad. For example look at Jason Todd, he was trained as Robin, killed and then became Red Hood, He still became evil despite Batman's attempts to put him on the right path. On another note, what decides a potential threat?

Posted by Inverno

@feargalr said:

Ive never liked this whole notion of Heroes don't kill, a true hero should be able to put aside his/her selfish belief (Im looking at you Batman) and do what NEEDS to be done, regardless of how you feel.

AGREED

Posted by Cosmic_Hobo

The time travel argument never works for me. If I could go back in time and kill baby Hitler, I probably wouldn't. Not necessarily for moral reasons, but simply because doing so would change everything. My great grandparents met during WW2, so my entire family would cease to exist.

Morally speaking, I'm against killing once you've already captured\defeated an enemy, but the idea of killing them during combat doesn't bother me at all. The whole 'heroes don't kill' thing DC and Marvel use is a fake morality anyway, it's simply used because that way villains can be used again and again

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