Imagine living in a world filled with superheroes from all different comic strips including Superman, Batman, and Daredevil. All these superheroes try to save the world in their own way. With superheroes, the world would probably be better because they can influence others to change their behaviors. However, superheroes may also need to take action that go against society’s moral boundaries. Therefore, the question of whether superheroes are truly moral and if they can serve as honorable examples for society is often debated.
For example, in the movie “Kick-Ass”, when a victim was kicked and tortured, all the bystanders just stand to the side and take out their cell phones to record the event. This causes Dave, the main character, to take matters into his own hands and save the victim from getting hurt more. Similarly, superheroes have to step in to do the work that society deemed as inappropriate or unnecessary. Although superheroes sometimes take actions that goes against societal norms, their deeds are backed up with good intentions, thus, making them an ideal model of morality.
Often times, superheroes ought to go out of their way to save the world from criminals. This causes them to break moral code or some laws in order to capture criminals. Although they break laws, superheroes can set a moral example by showing the public that someone can and should break a moral standard if by doing so can save a life. Skoble asserts that “[Batman] breaks some of the laws of Gotham in order to pursue the real criminals who are violating more important laws, and to protect the law-abiding citizens of the city from these thugs and murderers” (Skoble, 31).
In order to catch “thugs and murderers”, who are the law-breaking characters, some illegal actions must be done to take them down. Nonetheless, the world is in need of superheroes because the citizens are “lawabiding” and usually do not want to break laws to catch a criminal. Skoble makes the point that Batman breaks laws with good intentions to save citizens from murderers. This also shows that Batman made it clear that there are good reasons for him to bend the rules such as to stand up and protect others who are attacked.
As a result, superheroes break moral standards to show that there is nothing to be afraid of when helping those in need. Superheroes are well-known for their super human abilities and power. With these powers, superheroes have the choice to use it for good or for evil. This concept is known as the “Double Power Principle” in which Morris defines in his article “God, the Devil, and Matt Murdock” as “the more power something has for good, the more it correspondingly has for ill and vice versa… (Morris, 47). Without a doubt, superheroes made the conscious decision to do good and be who the world needs. This shows their awareness of their choice and acknowledges that certain situations might tempt them to use their powers for otherwise immoral intentions. However, superheroes always refrain from hurting the innocent and keep humanity’s best interest at heart. Thus, they can show the public their morality by choosing not to give in to their own needs and destroy the world with their powers.
As a result, superheroes show humanity how to stay strong and not give into temptation. Superheroes are responsible with their powers and proves themselves worthy of someone the world should look up to. Some people may say that superheroes go overboard when saving the world such as going above the law. They also criticize superheroes for breaking laws even if it is for good intentions. However, they are wrong because the villains that superheroes fight against already have broken many laws, and in order to undo the damage, going above the law may be necessary.
In contrast, they try to break the minimum amount of laws limiting to only the laws that they need to break. For example, in “Superhero Revisionism”, Skoble asserts that “Batman… has always been cautious and measured in his use of violence… has refused to cross certain lines, and… has consistently interfered with and apprehended only criminals” (Skoble, 33). Batman has shown his interest in catching criminals and does whatever he needs to do in order to stop them from creating more harm.
However, he does have a balance and does use caution while he is fighting to make sure that no civilians or bystanders are hurt. As a result, breaking the law is sometimes necessary for superheroes to protect people and the world from harm. Most superheroes created in comic strips are human, and sometimes they may have certain beliefs that influences them in how they fight against crime, such as religion. Because they are human, they live with two completely different lifestyles.
One life revolves around the world of crime fighting, while the other life just deals with the average demands of a working class civilian. Thus, some superheroes have outside influences that usually only humans would have, such as Daredevil’s Catholicism. In “God, the Devil and Matt Murdock”, Morris claims that Daredevil “seems to want very badly not to break the classic religious commandment against killing” (Morris, 59).
Morris also emphasizes that when a villain tries to kill him but the villain instead kills himself, “Daredevil simply prays, ‘may god have mercy on his soul… (Morris, 59). Morris makes it clear that Daredevil is a character who does not like to murder with his strong catholic belief of one of the 10 commandments “Thou Shalt Not Murder”. He will feel guilty if he kills someone, even accidentally, and continuously ponders whether his actions as a superhero is accepted by his religious beliefs. Therefore, even though Daredevil may be violent in some ways, in the end, he never kills his enemies, no matter how immoral they may be.
In another example, Morris depicts a scene where Daredevil is contemplating on saving Dr. Octopus while shouting out ‘I should let you fry, Octopus, but then I’d be no better than you’ (Morris, 59). This makes certain that Daredevil has a heart and that he understands that killing is wrong. He understands that killing will make him the villain and that he would rather let the law give the justice instead of doing it himself. Because of his religious beliefs and his open-minded personality, he goes on to save the villain from whatever danger they are in.
Nonetheless, this shows that he should be considered a moral example because of his unselfishness to not let his feelings get in the way of his revenge and understands the meaning of justice. Because all superheroes have two lives, there comes a time when deception is necessary to protect the people around them and the people they live with. They have chosen to become a superhero, and understand that by becoming one, they would have to let go of some relationships and deceit others. Despite the risks, this shows that they are very committed to protecting the world from corruption by villains.
In “What’s Behind the Mask”, Morris claims that “If a lie or a deception is reasonably judged to be reasonably judged to be necessary for the avoidance of great harm to an innocent person, or is the only thing that will prevent an unnecessary act of killing from taking place, then the lie or deception is typically considered morally permissible and morally justified” (Morris, 256). Spiderman, for example, wears a mask because he does not want his classmates and other people to know that he is Peter Parker.
He understands that secret information is very difficult to keep secret, and that telling people secrets may result in the information becoming public. If a superhero decides to give away their secret identity, villains can threaten their family or friends to hold them back from defeating them, giving villains the advantage in a fight. For this reason, saving people around them from harm by deception emphasizes the point of superheroes’ willingness not threaten the world more with their identity, thus, making them worth following. Superheroes truly want to help others because they have a balance between their interests and the world problems.
They do not want to save the world for money nor for their fame, but because they have interest in the fight and passion for the world. In “The Real Truth about Superman: And the Rest of Us, Too,” Mark Waid explains Superman’s creation has been “a shining example to readers everywhere of the virtue of selfless heroism- but he has accomplished this by acting in his own selfinterest” ( Waid, 10). Waid argues that Superman acts himself while saving the world, and this allows him to use his “natural instincts” to be able to do whatever is necessary to save them.
This is important as many superheroes must show interest in order to use their own decisions to find the best way to bring the least harm to the world during a disaster. Therefore, superheroes save the world with their own interests and the public’s values in mind in terms of safety and the goal to protect others and themselves. Superheroes are great moral examples because they have a balance between good and evil. They hold a dual-identity, making sure that everyone around them is protected, especially their family and friends. Because they also live among humans, they are influenced by their lifestyles, such as practicing religion.
They often do things that the public would not usually do, such as going above and beyond to save people from trouble. Although superheroes always have the people’s best interest at heart, they are also aware of their own needs. This shows that superheroes are authentic in who they are and what they do. This also shows that superheroes are not afraid of ruining their reputation or to put their life on the line. Therefore, superheroes make great moral examples for the public because they show normal civilians a way of life that is both beneficial to the world and for themselves.