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With most modern depictions of Batman, one of the few rules that the Caped Crusader follows while battling criminals is that he won't kill. But not every creative mind adheres to Batman's unwillingness to take a life in his fight against crime. For instance, in 1992's Batman Returns, there's a scene where Batman dispatches one of Penguin's goons by attaching a load of dynamite to him and then knocking the man down a shaft right before he explodes. It's a shocking moment for DC Comics fans who aren't used to Batman being so ruthless, and as it turns out, that kill wasn't in Batman Returns' original script. Screenwriter Daniel Waters said:
Batman killing the clown by throwing his bomb back at him, that wasn't in my draft. I know how uptight people are about Batman killing people in the first place. To me, if he's going to kill somebody, it better be worth it. It should mean something. So, when he's killing people in a devil-may-care way, it's a little grating.
While Daniel Waters doesn't totally subscribe to the idea that Batman shouldn't kill any bad guys, he prefers that the superhero only do that in situations that will have a lasting impact for the story. So seeing Batman eliminating one of Penguin's goons so casually (he even smirks before doing the deed) in Batman Returns' finalized cut didn't sit well with the writer.
You can watch that infamous Batman Returns scene below.
I think that everybody was on board with the fact that these were going to be a different type of superhero movie. Because it felt new at the time, they really didn't know what to say about it
While Batman Returns is arguably the most notorious example of Batman killing an enemy, it's not the only time that's happened in a theatrical setting. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Ben Affleck's Batman is so damaged and worn down from his losses (especially Jason Todd, the second Robin) that he has no problem with killing his enemies, be it by gunning them down in the Batmobile or slamming their heads into the floor, and that's ignoring the Knightmare vision, too. And while Christopher Nolan's Batman stated numerous times he was against killing, you have to wonder just how firmly he stuck to that rule. After all, there's that scene in The Dark Knight when Batman drives the Batmobile into a truck being driven by one of Joker's henchmen and slams the front end of it into the roof of the tunnel. It's hard to imagine anyone surviving that. Let's also not forget Bruce Wayne leaving Ra's al Ghul behind in Batman Begins despite him justifying that as simply "not saving" his former mentor.
Batman will return to the big screen on November 17 for Justice League, but in the meantime, Batman Returns is celebrating its 25th anniversary, so feel free to play that tonight to go back to a different era of the Dark Knight's history.