We got angry when Superman snapped Zod’s neck in Man of Steel, we got furious when Batman casually murdered criminals in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, but we cheered (spoiler alert for Wonder Woman) when Diana killed Ares — and General Ludendorff, believing him to be Ares. Why did we feel that Superman and Batman's actions were out of character for superheroes but Wonder Woman's actions were justified?
I've thought about it a lot. And I've also thought about what can she teach the rest of the Justice League as the DCEU continues.
We Associate Superman With Saving Innocents, Not Punishing The Guilty
Superman stands for hope, justice and the American Way. He saves airplanes from crashing and diverts nuclear missiles. When the Man of Steel snapped Zod's neck, it seemed to go against everything that he ever stood for.
The Superman we know doesn't kill. He is supposed to be the ultimate boy scout that finds any means necessary to stop his enemies without killing them. Maybe his agonized cry after killing Zod was supposed to be a cry for all of us?
We'll Accept Vengeance From Batman, But Not Outright Murder
Batman is one mad dude. After all he's gone through, he isn't taking crap from anyone, and we understand that. As Christian Bale tells Liam Neeson in Batman Begins, "I won't kill you. But I don't have to save you."
But we can't agree on the Caped Crusader killing criminals — even when it's through loopholes like in Batman v. Superman — because we don't want to see him become the kind of criminal who killed his parents. Batman killing feels wrong because he's sunk to a level that would make Joker proud.
Nothing phased Ben Affleck's version of Batman, and that's a problem. He wasn't thinking things through (until Superman mentioned his mother's name). Sinking to an enemy's level is all too tempting; we want to see Bruce Wayne flirt with darkness but not let it consume him.
Fortunately, Justice League seems to show another side of Batman, and that is a good sign. It seems that he spends a lot of time with Wonder Woman too. Hopefully their chemistry could guide Batman out of the shadows — figuratively of, course.
What's The Difference? Wonder Woman Kills Because She Was Born To Do It
We agree with her killing soldiers on the battlefield, because she's destined to be a warrior. Her origin story proved that she was born and raised to defend the weak, and when she finally steps up, it’s satisfying. It's generally accepted, at least from a legal perspective, that killing in wartime isn't murder if civilians aren't targeted — and perhaps that explains our greater acceptance of Diana's actions, because she's saving civilians.
The World War I setting caters to her purpose, and unlike Batman and Superman, her conscience is as clear as day. That’s why the moment she truly becomes Wonder Woman is one of the greatest scenes in comic book movie history. Director Patty Jenkins had this to say about Wonder Woman killing:
"She is actually one of the superheroes, interestingly, who is not adverse to killing when necessary, which is fascinating. But she also is the least likely to do it, I think, because she will always try anything else before she will resort to killing anyone. That's an incredible balance of Wonder Woman."
Wonder Woman continues to do what is right in Batman V. Superman as well. Her brief appearance shows more than you think; she stays clear of the situation until she has a purpose, just like when she crossed No Man's Land. She's cautious with her violence, neither too slow nor too quick to use it.
Wonder Woman Can Teach The Justice League When It's Right (And Wrong) To Kill
Wonder Woman feels like the true leader of the DCEU. With her and Batman assembling the Justice League, Diana will be an example to the others. With Parademons invading earth, the Justice League will have no problem killing them for the sake of humanity — but she'll also likely teach the heroes when to show restraint as well.
Wonder Woman had a fantastic story that organically surrounded Diana’s adventure. A World War setting gave the superhero her purpose, and therefore respected her character. As the world grows in the DCEU, Batman and Superman will soon be inspired by Wonder Woman, just like we were inspired by her solo film.
Did you agree it felt more natural for Wonder Woman to kill than it did for Superman and Batman? Comment below!