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Editors’ Note: This post contains spoilers regarding the first seasons of “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones”, as well as references to other superhero movies and shows.
Given its dependence on violence, the superhero genre struggles under a childish reluctance to explore its implications. As a general rule, superheroes — exemplified by Batman and Superman — are not allowed to kill their antagonists, but are expected to bring them to justice and (hopefully) repentance. Villains don’t always live to commit another crime or threaten another city, but they are far more likely to meet their end through suicide or their own hubris, rather than at the end of a hero’s fists, blade, or — God forbid — gun. And even when this hero’s rule is broken (even Superman and Batman have killed), it’s rarely give the weight it deserves, and is often undone by the genre’s reliance on resurrection and reboots.