When it comes to justice, there are certain rules you abide by. Some are blatantly spelled out, like “everyone is innocent until proven guilty,” and “don’t kill when you can subdue.” With superheroes, though, there have been more than a few times where hands have been forced, and difficult decisions needed to be made.
Frankly, unless you’re the Punisher, most superheroes abstain from taking the life of an enemy under any circumstance. But what about the villains that can’t be contained? What about the times you’ve exhausted all other options?
Those are the instances we’re going to explore in this list. Not the times that superheroes killed for the sake of killing, but the times they killed because they felt they had no other choice.
Here are 8 times superheroes were forced to kill:
Hawkeye Kills Bruce Banner
Killing supervillains is one thing. Killing one of your closest allies, though – that’s an entirely different animal, and as for Hawkeye, unfortunately, he knows all too well what it’s like to have to take the life of a friend and teammate.
During the events of Civil War II, the superhero community is divided over whether or not it’s morally acceptable to use a new Inhuman’s precognitive abilities to deliver predictive justice (think Minority Report, but not as well-executed). While the heroes quarrel over this ethical dilemma, the Inhuman, Ulysses, has a vision of the Hulk going on a massive, violent rampage. When the heroes arrive at the location of Bruce Banner, though, he explains that it’s been nearly one year since he last transformed into the Green Goliath.
As tensions begin to rise, an arrow emerges from the forest, hitting Banner directly in the head and killing him instantly. The arrow, of course, was fired by the Marvel Universe’s resident archer, Clint Barton, AKA Hawkeye.
When asked why he seemingly killed his friend in cold blood, Hawkeye reveals that previously, Banner had entrusted him with a specially-designed arrowhead – one that was to be used on Banner himself, should he ever have another Hulk outburst. Hawkeye went on to explain that while watching the confrontation from the trees, his extraordinary vision allowed him to see a glimmer of green in Banner’s eye, signaling that he was moments away from Hulking out. Therefore, he did what was asked of him and killed his dear friend.Advertisement
Fantomex Kills Apocalypse
If you could go back in time and kill baby Hitler, would you? That’s the question Wolverine, Psylocke, Archangel, Fantomex, and Deadpool found themselves asking in Uncanny X-Force when they debated on whether or not they should kill the newly-reincarnated Apocalypse.
Psylocke determines that they cannot kill the young boy just because he will likely become a villain, but the topic remains up for debate among the rest of the team. Things soon become heated, though, and friends and teammates come to blows with one another, eventually leading to Archangel breaking down in tears after nearly murdering the child.
As Wolverine explains that letting the young Apocalypse live is the right move, there’s a loud BANG, and everyone turns their heads. Everyone, that is, except for Fantomex, who stands emotionless, holding a smoking gun. Meanwhile, the young Apocalypse lies dead on the floor in a pool of blood, with a bullet in his head, as the rest of the team looks on in shock.
Wolverine Kills Jean Grey
Wolverine has killed a lot of people. I mean A LOT of people. So many, in fact, sometimes you find yourself wondering if he really is a superhero. However, among all the deaths Wolverine is responsible for, none of them are quite as profound as the death of Jean Grey.
While battling the villain known as Xorn, Wolverine and Jean find themselves trapped on Asteroid M, which is hurtling straight towards the sun. Unable to withstand the intensifying heat, Jean begs Wolverine to put her out of her misery. Wolverine apprehensively honors the dying wish of the woman he loves, piercing her torso with his adamantium claws.
However, in doing so, Wolverine unlocks the power of the Phoenix Force, which resurrects Jean, allowing her to transport Wolverine and herself back to Earth. Upon their return, the rest of the X-Men confront Xorn, but in the villain’s final act, he uses an electromagnetic pulse to once again kill Jean, and this time, the Phoenix Force isn’t able to bring her back.
Green Arrow Kills Prometheus
Oliver Queen, AKA Green Arrow, has killed on a number of occasions. Sometimes, it’s by accident, like when his arm slipped and he inadvertently fired an arrow into a man’s heart instead of his arm. In the case of Prometheus, though, Ollie had every intention of ending his life.
During the subpar event known as Cry for Justice, the Justice League find themselves fighting against Prometheus, a man with a violent hatred for everything heroic. After the villain infiltrates the Justice League Watchtower, he swiftly defeats most of the heroes and even severs Roy Harper’s right arm. However, Prometheus is soon apprehended by Donna Troy, and the League begins to interrogate him.
The League soon learns that Prometheus plans to detonate bombs that will destroy each of the heroes’ cities, including Star City, which is destroyed then and there. Thousands of innocent people are killed, including Roy’s daughter, Lian. Prometheus then promises to detonate bombs in every other major civic area unless they release him. The League reluctantly agrees after Green Arrow reminds them that it’s the only way to save millions of lives. However, Ollie follows Prometheus back to his lair and delivers an arrow right between his eyes, killing him for what he believes to be the greater good.Advertisement
The Flash Kills Professor Zoom
Sometimes, when battling supervillains, emotions get the best of you. Sometimes, whether intentional or not, lives are lost. In the case of Barry Allen, his hand was certainly forced, and although he may not have wanted to kill Professor Zoom, the man known as Eobard Thawne ultimately died at the hands of the Flash.
After Barry and Iris West are joined in holy matrimony, his greatest enemy, Professor Zoom, kills her at a masquerade party in an attempt to emotionally cripple the Flash. Though Barry is devastated, he eventually moves on and becomes engaged to another woman named Fiona Webb. However, on the day of their wedding, Zoom reappears, threatening to once again rob the Flash of the woman he loves.
Without hesitation, Barry begins chasing Zoom across the world in order to stop him. Eventually, in a last-ditch effort to save Fiona’s life, Barry clotheslines Zoom at super-speed, inadvertently snapping his neck in the process. It may have been a crime of passion, but nonetheless, a man’s life was taken by the Flash on that fateful day.
Superman Kills Doomsday
When it comes to superheroes, one man stands above the rest, with a moral compass that consistently points towards the direction of truth, justice, and the American way. That man is the Big Blue Boy Scout, himself: Superman. Surely he would never take a life, would he? Well, when you’re dealing with a nigh unstoppable killing machine, sometimes you don’t have much of a choice.
In The Death of Superman, the Man of Steel is forced to do battle with the prehistoric Kryptonian monster known as Doomsday in the streets of Metropolis after he lays waste to the Justice League International. Although Superman fares better than his fellow Leaguers, he soon finds himself greatly outmatched.
After leaving a massive trail of destruction throughout the city, Superman and Doomsday soon find themselves going blow-for-blow in front of the Daily Planet, with all of Metropolis watching. In the final moments of the fight, Superman and Doomsday simultaneously connect with massive punches on one another before they both collapse. Although Superman dies in the arms of Lois Lane, Doomsday also meets his maker, as it was all the Man of Steel could do to stop the beast.
Wonder Woman Kills Maxwell Lord
Sometimes, superheroes are forced to kill. Sometimes, princesses are forced to kill. And sometimes, the superhero and the princess are one in the same, and this was the case for the Amazon Princess, Wonder Woman, who was forced to take the life of Maxwell Lord.
In the lead-up to Infinite Crisis, Lord had been using his ability to influence the minds of others to control Superman. This results in the Man of Steel beating his closest ally, Batman, within an inch of his life under the false pretense that he was actually Brainiac. However, Lord isn’t done there, and he subsequently sends his Big Blue Puppet after Wonder Woman, whom Supes believes is actually Doomsday.
Realizing that even if she defeats Superman, he’ll still be under Lord’s control, Diana uses her lasso of truth to force Lord to reveal how to free Kal-El. When Lord replies, “Kill me,” the Amazon Princess obliges, twisting the man’s head 180 degrees like an owl and instantly killing him. Unfortunately, despite her noble intentions, this act would be met with contention by Superman and Batman, and would eventually lead to the temporary dissolving of the Justice League of America.Advertisement
Batman Kills Darkseid
What makes this entry so shocking isn’t the fact that a superhero killed a supervillain – it’s that Batman killed anyone. After all, Batman hasn’t really been known to take the life of one of his enemies since his gun-toting gallivants during the Golden Age. However, in Final Crisis, the Dark Knight’s gauntlet-covered hand was forced.
The entire DC Universe was in peril thanks to one of the publisher’s most notorious villains, Darkseid, who had fired a radion bullet back in time to kill his son, Orion. Radion, of course, is a substance that is highly toxic to New Gods, including Darkseid, himself. Knowing this, and being aware of the gravity of the situation, the Caped Crusader decides to make a one-time exception to his ‘no guns’ rule, firing the same radion bullet at Darkseid, who simultaneously blasts Batman with his Omega Beams and seemingly kills him.
Although Darkseid doesn’t immediately succumb to his injuries, the radion in his body does leave him mortally wounded, opening the door for the Black Racer to deliver the finishing blow. Still, even if the Racer hadn’t been involved, it was Batman’s bold decision that paved the way for Darkseid’s climactic defeat.