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Off My Mind: Should Heroes be Forced to Follow Civilian Laws?
by Tony 'G-Man' Guerrero on
Heroes risk their lives to save the world but happens when their battles cause destruction or death?
When it comes to superhero battles, things often get messy. These titans of power fight to prevent evil from winning the day and destruction to property is likely to be the result. Sometimes worse things can happen. Innocent bystanders can get caught up in the middle of a battle when it erupts at a moment's notice.
If a hero causes destruction or someone is killed as a result of a battle against supervillains, should they be held responsible? Is it their fault when bad things happen due to the decision they made in becoming a superhero?
== TEASER ==
It was the Trial of Captain America where this question came up. This was also the issue that basically sparked the Super Human Registration Act in the Marvel Universe. I did bring up the subject of heroes being responsible for the damage but now I'm talking about legal responsibility. If you're driving and smash into someone's car, you have to pay or you face criminal charges. What happens if a hero smashes a villain into a car? Should they still be held responsible or is it considered an Act of God? (Maybe if Thor is involved in the fight?)
While Bucky Barnes is facing serious charges for his actions while brainwashed as the Winter Soldier (and he's about to face a lot more in the months to come), there is another past incident that immediately comes to mind: the death of Captain George Stacy in Amazing Spider-Man #90.
Spider-Man and Doc Ock were fighting on a rooftop. A rooftop in New York City...probably not the best place to fight a nemesis but Spider-Man didn't really have a choice. During the fight, he shoots Ock's tentacles with webbing that had a chemical that jammed the brain impulses to his arms. As the mechanical arms were flailing around, one knocked into a brick chimney, sending rubble to the streets below. Captain Stacy rushed to push a kid that was just standing in the middle or the street. This resulted in his death. Does that make Spider-Man responsible? It may have been Doc Ock's arms that hit the bricks but it was Spider-Man that caused him to lose control of them.
We could try to relate it to police officers. If they're involved in a shoot out, innocent bystanders could get hit by stray bullets. But with police officers, it's their jobs. Superheroes are basically setting themselves above the law with their vigilante acts. Obviously police officers are no match against even someone like Doc Ock. If we didn't have heroes risking their lives on their own, many more lives would be in danger. We could go around in circles trying to figure out what the best solution is.
Going back to the original question, should heroes be forced to follow civilian laws? I'm going to say no. They are not regular civilians and their acts prove how heroic they are. They do a lot of good. As long as they're not out killing the bad guys or going to extreme measures and just being careless. This isn't a way to give them the freedom to do whatever they want or to break all laws. They should be held to different standards. The only problem is how to determine which heroes are deserving to be set above the law without bringing back the Super Human Registration Act.