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Off My Mind: Should Heroes that Kill Be Allowed in the Avengers?

The idea is heroes never kill but there are members that have in the past and still do to this day.

Being a superhero is all about self-sacrifice. Their job is to protect the innocent against the threats of evil supervillains. They rarely get thanks and they don't ask for any. Being a hero is a noble profession, even if most of them don't get paid to do the job.

In the Marvel Universe, the Avengers are the world's premiere team of heroes. They are labeled as Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Because of their deeds and the many times they have saved the world, they are looked up at and can even be considered role models for other younger heroes and even the public.

The number one rule for a superhero is 'heroes don't kill. As Avengers, this is a rule they should all live by. Once a hero crosses that line, it's not really easy to cross back over. There used to be an extremely rigorous application process. Now we're seeing known killers on the team. Should 'heroes' that kill without a second thought be allowed on the Avengers?

== TEASER ==

The biggest example is Wolverine. This guy can have a temper that almost rivals Hulk's. When he goes into Berserker Barrage mode, anyone standing in the way better have a good life insurance policy for their loved ones. Wolverine will do whatever it takes to get the job done. He could be the ideal teammate to have watching your back in a battle. The fact that he will kill without a second thought is the problem.

There may be times when the odds are stacked against him. Sometimes the enemies can be so vile that he can't help but unleash his fury upon them. As an Avenger, that isn't the way they operate. Wolverine is a highly trained and skilled fighter. He should know a couple dozen ways to incapacitate a foe. Yet, when it gets down to it, he'll just start slashing away in the heat of the moment. He might control his killing ways while on Avengers missions but that doesn't change the fact that he is still a killer. As the leader of X-Force, there are no qualms about killing. This doesn't give the public a good impression.

It could be argued that Wolverine's time on X-Force is a secret. Very few know of the black ops team. Keeping it a secret doesn't make it okay. Wolverine has killed many and it doesn't matter how much they might have deserved it. That's not his decision to make. He should be held accountable for his actions and the Avengers could be seen as harboring a known killer.

Black Widow has no problem killing.

Wolverine isn't the only killer on the team. There are other members that have killed for the government. Captain America's past as a soldier is not an issue here. But what about Black Widow? As a former spy, how many individuals has she killed during her missions or outside of missions as a spy?

There's also Red Hulk. Yes, he was an Army General but when he gained his powers, he stole advanced tech from S.H.I.E.L.D., hunted down Abomination and killed him. Beast is also responsible for killing several enemies during a Secret Avengers mission. This was the only way to save millions from a bomb set to go off but the Avengers didn't give it a second thought afterwards. What about Thor? Does it not count that he killed his brother, Loki, because they're gods and Loki was able to come back to life?

Hawkeye believed in the "no killing" rule that he didn't even let it slide when it involved the death of the guy that assaulted his wife, Mockingbird.

In this case, Mockingbird didn't technically kill Phantom Rider, she simply didn't do anything to save him. Yes, she was a hero and member of the West Coast Avengers but this was a guy that abducted and brainwashed her into having a physical relationship with him (which was obviously against her will). Hawkeye was firm that Avengers don't kill.

Being a superhero and fighting insanely powerful supervillains isn't an easy job. The odds are often stacked against them. Regardless, if they intend to be full-fledged heroes and public figures as part of the Avengers, killing should not be an option. They are not authorized to kill as far as I know. Part of their training should focus on incapacitating their enemies without killing. Captain America was a soldier but does not kill today. Other heroes like Spider-Man and Iron Man don't kill. Even at other comic universes you have heroes like Batman and Superman who refuse to kill as well.

Killing should not be an option. It isn't the place for the heroes to make that decision. Ironically it was Wolverine that mentioned once you become a killer you can never go back. It's one thing to kill in self-defense. But if the hero could have handled the fight differently, that's where it becomes a problem. Killers should not be seen as heroes. Because the Avengers are seen as heroes in the public's eye, they should not allow killers to run loose on their teams.

294 Comments
Posted by Mbecks14

No. Real Heroes don't kill.

Posted by SexualLobster

Isn't that why Iron Man recruited Wolverine? Because he could 'get the job done'?

Posted by KainScion

what do you mean cap's past isnt an issue here? of course it is. same as wolverine's. they both killed for the goverment. so did black widow. almost every avenger has killed. oh and you forgot the biggest killer in the avengers (not wolverine): this guy

hes been killing for centuries

Edited by Rumble Man

@Mbecks14 said:

No. Real Heroes don't kill.

If that is the case then kick out captain america as well for killing WW2 soldiers, and heroes (the one existing in myths before marvel and dc have killed)

WW2
Post WW2
Edited by Illuminatus

Depends on the universe. I'm fairly certain the entire current Ultimates roster is comprised of documented killers, with the possible exception of Spider-Woman (I might be missing something though). And yet, all of these characters are generally thought of as "heroes".  

Edited by Teerack

it's not the boy scouts why shouldn't they? read any issue of secret avengers killing people is a non-issue. get something else on your mind.

Posted by Quixotist

Never killing is boring, naive and idealistic. In an ideal world, they would never have to. But it's not an ideal world and sometimes people need to die. I'm not saying all the Avengers should become killers, or that every villain needs to die. I'm just saying that some heroes need to be willing to make that call and do what must be done, and they aren't any less heroic for having done so. They are, however, more effective.

Posted by InnerVenom123

There's a difference between killer and psychopath.

Posted by Rumble Man

Wonder Woman kills and she is an awesome heroine

Posted by TDK_1997

Yes,because heroes like Cap and others like him that have been in a war have killed a lot and they are still Avengers.

Posted by AdrianOpIvy

This goes beyond comics, but Captain America as a soldier gets ignored? So killing people in war doesn't count? But Black Widow as a spy counts? I'd argue that her actions and reasons match Cap's during the war: nationalism and widely held idealogies.

Posted by TheHeat

" Killers should not be seen as heroes." 
 
Tell that to the Marine Corps. We take pride in being killers.

Posted by Mega_spidey01

@Quixotist said:

Never killing is boring, naive and idealistic. In an ideal world, they would never have to. But it's not an ideal world and sometimes people need to die. I'm not saying all the Avengers should become killers, or that every villain needs to die. I'm just saying that some heroes need to be willing to make that call and do what must be done, and they aren't any less heroic for having done so. They are, however, more effective.

Posted by Mbecks14

@TheHeat said:

" Killers should not be seen as heroes." Tell that to the Marine Corps. We take pride in being killers.

That's disgusting.

Posted by tonis

It about 'context' when it comes to killing, Captain America certainly had to kill fighting in WW2.

realistically speaking, heros are in a war, and you certainly wouldn't hold it against a soldier who killed in battle anymore than you should a superhero. The expectation of a hero is that they have the moral ground to make that decision when necessary and that they don't let it personally overwhelm them.

It's about doing the right thing in the eyes of those watching.

If you are doing the right thing, then even killing is something that can be overlooked publicly because it's considered for a greater good which is what heroism is all about. If it's not, then you are vilified.

Any smart hero has to realize that going into the battle ;)

Posted by TwistedGamer

i do not care for this article at all. the users above me already explained why.

Posted by Mbecks14

If a superhero is going to stand for Justice, then they shouldn't kill.

Posted by venomoushatred1001

@InnerVenom123 said:

There's a difference between killer and psychopath.

I concur.

Posted by TwistedGamer

@Mbecks14 said:

If a superhero is going to stand for Justice, then they shouldn't kill.

thats easy to say, but when your put into a situation were your life might be on the line you may have to kill.

Posted by TheHeat
@Mbecks14: And how is that disgusting? Perhaps you prefer Marines to be pansies?  The greatest warriors, throughout history, were trained to kill, and be the best killers on God's green earth.
Posted by Billy Batson

Oh Wolverine.
BB

Online
Posted by DJ1107

Umm. Thor didn't kill Loki. The Sentry/Void did. Unless I'm missing something that had to do with ragnarok.

As for the topic itself. Eh. I guess

Posted by TheMess1428

What about when they are fighting off aliens? Are they supposed to knock out each alien or is killing okay in that case?

Posted by Mbecks14

@TwistedGamer: True. But killing is killing. It's not something that should be looked at so lightly in comics or reality.

@TheHeat: How is it anything but? I'd prefer the marines not glorify murder like barbaric savages. That's not heroism.

Posted by wowylied

Yes.

Because throwing mass criminal in jail is useless.

That is why i don't like having characters like appolo and midnighter in the new 52. If this was the wildstorm universe they would have raid gotham and nuke arkham.

Posted by TheHeat
@Mbecks14: Killing and murdering are not the same things. Learn the difference!
Posted by mikethekiller

I always found the notion of not killing a villain no matter what the circumstances to be a childish ideal.

Posted by Grim

Not killing is not a must. Most of the people who say "absolutly no killing" have a reason. Batman doesnt want to commit murder to stop murder's. Superman wants the people to trust him, so he stays non-lethal so no one fears him. But Captain America had to have killed people in the war. Wonder Woman is a trained warrior, and the only reason she doesnt kill is because other heroes frown upon it. But she carries a sword and has no problem doing it if necessary. Thor is a trained warrior who has had many battles during Oden Sleep. Im pretty sure people died in those. The articled mentioned Black Widow.

some heroes have a no killing code, but they tend to have some outstanding reason. But the warriors and trained killers and other worldly heroes all CAN and probably HAVE killed. The Avengers CAN say no killers... but then they would be short a few key players.

Posted by thenexusrebound

Haven't the majority of Avengers taken lives at some point in time? If Wolverine can't then nor can Cap, Widow, Hawkeye, Spider-woman, Luke Cage... the list goes on and on. It isn't cut and dry. Most of these characters have done something that I imagine doesn't make them story book heroes with a squeaky clean back story. Personally it makes the character more interesting.

Posted by DarthShap

Superheroes should not kill and should not be put in a situation where they have to kill someone.

It worked for some, that is part of what made Stormwatch/The Authority interesting, because they were different but the message behind it all is that those people are pretty much anti-heroes who answer to no one and take justice into their own hands. Are they superheroes though? Not really, they are former government operatives who became tyrants of sorts.

It is great for this universe (which should have stayed different) but I do not want to see the JLA and the Avengers try and copy them, especially without the moral ambiguity of the Authority present (and the slaughter of those parademons like it was nothing is exactly that, superheroes apparently killing like it is fine, no question asked, just because it looks cool...for the 90's).

Posted by Mbecks14

@TheHeat: Irregardless, neither should be glorified.

Posted by TheHeat
@Mbecks14: What are you, a Pacifist? There's no glory in murder, but there is in killing. Many people, throughout history, have been labeled heroes for killing. David killing Goliath is just an example. There's a great reason why US Marines are considered heroes in America.
Posted by The Black Hood

This entire thing is why I've always had a bit of an issue with Marvel and their lack on consistency on killing. If you look at how the heroes of Marvel react to the Punisher, then you think they would be against mass murder as a rule. However, everyone seems to be Wolverine's buddy regardless of the fact that he has in the past and continues to murder more people than Castle ever could. The problem is that it is convenient for Punisher to be an antagonist but it would be difficult to shoehorn Wolverine into every book if other characters reacted to him in a logical way.

Edited by Croi

The right question for this thread is "Should Heroes Be Allowed Kill in the Avengers?"

Because, really, most of them have done some killing outside Earth's Mightiest Heroes and inside.

Posted by BlueLantern1995

If their is no other way then they can kill the guy or let nature take its course...however if you can defeat the opponent without killing him then since they don't have the right than no that killer shouldn't be allowed on the team.

Posted by Eyz

Yeah...I always had a problem with Wolvie being on the Avengers..If any, for that reason mostly.

Spider-Man on the team on the other hand? No problem there personally!

Posted by jritter

I think what the article should have brought up was a more fine line between killing and murdering. Wolverine has done both and I have never agreed with him being put on the Avengers.

Edited by Fuchsia_Nightingale

This isn't the Golden age where you just throw Grim Reaper behind bars and cut to the Avengers laughing.

So heroes kill ? no but the only asterisk to the rule is in the most extreme cases.

I think you need a "killer" on a team to bite the bullet when that time comes.

Edited by tximinoman

As almost always the off my mind topic is pretty silly.

First you should make a difference between heroes like, for example, Black Widow or Wolverine and heroes like Punisher.

Heroes like Punisher shouldn't be allowed, 'cause they just handle every problem by killing his enemy. That's not such a heroic way to act, but Logan for example only kills when it became necessary, and you need a guy like that in any team. 'Cause you need a guy who's not going to hesitate when the situation requires it (and sometimes it does -for example, in the Chris Claremont's Uncanny X-Men epic run when Protheus attacked and Colossus killed him he did it because there was no other choice).

Also almost every hero have killed someone at some point. Even if like mockingbird's example it was just "leting him die" and not killing him or even an accident, they killed them.

(sorry for my bad english, I do try my best every time)

Posted by Nuec_Sol

@TheMess1428 said:

What about when they are fighting off aliens? Are they supposed to knock out each alien or is killing okay in that case?

I was just thinking about the Secret Invasion story arc, and from what I know Skrulls are sentient beings much like humans and the Avengers made it an hunting season when killing them. I also remember in Fear Itself when Captian America told Tigra support the Avengers Academy members to kill if they had no choice, which everyone one of eventually did.

Posted by pingclang

Thank you! This is something that urks me to no end. There is no screening for Avengers now. I miss the days when it was an achievement to reach Avengers status. It's the difference in time I guess. Back in the day it was all about a team who could deal with the threats that no single hero could handle alone but now it's about what characters are the most popular and can we get them into a book together. I despise it. Captain America would never, in a million years, allow Wolverine to join the team. Not to step on Wolvie fan`s toes but it's a fact that he will do what he feels is needed, which is to his character and his nature but that sort of thing would never fly on the Avengers. I completely agree and I'm not sure if you feel strongly on this or just did the article as something you thought was interesting but thank you, I have felt alone questioning this.

Posted by CircularLogic

Man, even Batman killed in the Golden Age before the Seduction of the Innocent came out. Fact is, every last Avenger, with the exception of Spider-man, has probably killed more than their fair share. Killing in the name of the greater good, killing people who might deserve it, without trial or proper judgement is exactly the thing every actual soldier is trained to do in battle, and their considered one of the closest things to real life heroes. The only difference is who they answer to. Wolverine, for example, answers to his own moral code, a very bushido-esque set of rules, so the real debate is if that moral code is a valid one for the avengers.

Posted by saoakden

Taking a life usually isn't the best way to go. Some people can be put in jails. Other people can't be put in a prison. I hate to say this but sometimes they have to be put down. Look at the Serpent from Fear Itself. You can't put that dude on jail.

Plus, weren't a couple of the people mentioned killed people while they were under some kind of trance or brainwashing. What about Bucky? He probably killed some people during World War II and he killed when he was Winter Soldier.

Wheather some people like it or not, some people will have blood on their hands. Daredevil has taken some lives hasn't he? even the Sentry has killed people when he was in his Sentry and Void alter egos. Ares has killed some people for sure.

I haven't read Secret Avengers but is it true that they kill people on their missions???

Posted by Petey_is_Spidey

Personally, i think they should.

I.A.T.

Posted by Narok24

I'm pretty sure if you dig far enough, your going to find a black mark on everyone's record. When everything is on the line, killing may be the only option. Do you really think any of the Avengers would hesitate to kill if it was the only option. They do what they need to do to keep the world safe. That's why they're Earth's Mightiest Heroes.

Posted by JPWolf5

Killing is only justifiable if it is to protect self, family, or in the extreme case in order to protect humanity( i.e. killing someone who is about to kill thousands of lives). Otherwise it is murder so what you have to ask is which member of The Avengers have killed someone for personal reasons. Killing is easy anyone pushed hard enough can kill another human without think about it until after the adrenaline wears off, but it is what you KILL FOR that makes it right or wrong.

Posted by Stronger

Guys even Captain America kills if he has to.

Posted by ltbrd

Reality.......heroes kill. Plain and simple. Without soldiers and law enforcement that are ready to and have taken a life in the defense of others and for the protection of their country those men and women are heroes for the sacrifices that they make. It may by many be considered just another job to be a soldier or police officer, but I don't see the majority of the country lining up for applications.

Comic Books.......the idea of heroes not killing is not a bad thing but even from a fantasy standpoint not really practical. Many have stated, and I believe correctly, that comic books are a modern way of telling stories and getting across messages, much mythology to the ancient world was. Even then, comic books didn't start with the rule of "no killing" or even to a lesser extent of no violence. You simply have to read Action Comics #1 (1938 not 2011) to see how much different Superman was even though he was the first "superhero". He was tough, not afraid to kick the crap out of the bad guy, intimidate them, hold them over ledges, and so on. Batman was the same way during his first years of publication.

So what changed? The American public. We had the Congressional hearings in the 50's (can't remember the psychiatrists name that wrote Seduction of the Innocent that precipitated them) where comic books were put on trial for being too violent (and potentially Communist) and as a result the comic book industry came about with the "no killing" concept to appease its audience.

Today, the public is going back to a more realistic viewpoint on comic books but the tradition of "no killing" has been going on for so long that old readers are very hesitant to the idea. Readers today want to see more violence and un-boy scoutish ways of dealing with criminals because they can just turn on a tv, go online, or look outside their bedroom window and see that the world is not the pretty thing comic books portray it as. As a society we've left behind this childish notions that precipitated the 50's and 60's....which in and of themselves were a backlash/result from the 6+ million people that died and the total devastation that was World War II (so really I can't blame people for wanting to believe in these unrealistic concepts, especially those that served in the War, but they still aren't practical or even true).....and are looking to read about adventures closer to what is actually going on in the world than something made up by a writer. We want to see Superman win, but we don't want to be lectured about the evils of killing and why those that are truly good should never kill. We know that's bulls$%!. We would rather see superheroes win against the same things we see around us every day as a way to show that they can be beaten.

So where is the disconnect? One, of course, is the very understandable concept that even if a superhero beats an issue in a comic book, its still actually there in the real world. The classic example is that it would be insulting for Superman to beat Hitler because of the effort real men and women were putting in during the war. That is absolutely true but it also leads into my second point....writers don't know how to deal with these issues. I mean, there is absolutely no way for a writer to completely understand every issue in the world. I'm not just talking about reading up on an issue (which is what I'm guessing they do and in my opinion why they can't write them correctly) but having lived an issue or truly been a part of it. For instance the idea of superheroes taking a life. I'm have no care to follow the lives of comic book writers, but can anyone tell me if any writer (I'll even expand it to artist) has ever been in the armed forces and seen combat? Some people will say "well who cares" or "you don't need to have been in that situation to understand it" I would disagree. You absolutely have to have lived an issue like combat in order to truly understand it and communicate it to someone else. We can also use the issue of race that was dealt with heavily in the Green Lantern and Green Arrow series (and crops up again from time to time) and how bland the writing truly was on it even as it was important to bring the issue up (again seeing things through rose-colored glasses rather than true experience). Or the more common argument of why writers can't make believable female characters most of the time.

So how do you fix the disconnect? Start bringing more reality into comic books. I'm not saying every villain should be killed from the onset, that would ruin a core concept in comics, this idea of a never ending battle....plus having to come up with new characters every month or few months would lead to a diminish in creativity and uniqueness to characters and kill the industry. But heroes should be allowed to kill should it work for the story and in keeping with the concept of the character. Sidenote: would like to point out that technically the Avengers are sanctioned by the government so technically they could kill as long as they're actions could be justified during an investigation and wouldn't be subject to local law enforcement. Personally I think this idea is what comic books need (and I'm not just talking about killing aliens, which should be a separate Off My Mind about why characters have free reign to kill aliens (which could still have real world connotations) yet not humans) to bring new life (pun intended) into them and move along the characters that we read about. Though a separate issue in terms of talking points, the fact that the comic book industry and readers can't let characters go (like Bruce Wayne needing to be Batman vice the idea and mantle of Batman being passed) is simply ridiculous at this point and I think will continue to hurt the industry rather than bring in new readers. They can do all the reboots, revamps, re-alignments, or any other way to avoid the issue at hand that they want....at the end of the day the comic book industry and readers need to figure out that change is both necessary and good for this medium and the concept of heroes killing (even if only occasionally) is a key aspect of that change.

Posted by SupremeHyperion

In the world of superheroes an superpowers killing is all part of the job. See since we read all the different books we know who has killed who but in a big comic world most of the people these guys kill would be unknown to most of the world. I have no problem accepting them in teams like the avengers.

Posted by IronAngelX

Ahh, this all just a bunch of liberal hog-wash, why let they guy live who is unwilling to change and at the same time powerful enough to escape, cause they always escape. Also, the Avengers are run by S.H.I.E.L.D. which is run by Nick Fury, you think that guy has a problem killing anybody. I like the way Jason Todd puts in Red Hood: "...I didn't think I had to prop up some pillows before I took him out!" Given this quote is about a drug-dealing pimp who really just needs to be put behind bars. But terrorists, warmongers who pose a threat to our freedom, and big bad supervillains who can cause global destruction if not monitored all the time (and they're not) deserve to be taken out. You want to think about it this way: I have a wife and a daughter, if I pull up somewhere, doesn't matter if it's my home or not, if someone is threatening to kill my family, there is no doubt in my mind that I would kill him instantly. It take a death to save a life or lives sometimes and that is not murder and those people should not be labeled killers, nor should those who have murdered in the past but are changed be held accountable if they've made their cause a noble one.