Date: 2006-10-19 12:30 am (UTC)
I wouldn't say it's more heroic to kill a murderer... just more practical. Superhero morality isn't that far removed the the real life ethical debate of capital punishment. Basically there are two kinds of heroes in the archtypical world of comic book reality, which is just a fictional allusion to real world problems.

On the one side there is the classical superhero (Superman, Spider-Man, etc), the archtypical representation of the perfectly moral human being, who doesn't kill because it lowers him to the level of the criminal he's just defeated... he believes in rehabilitation... the problem with this, though, is that in a comicbook world, villians don't stay in jail and don't usually get character arcs... they only exist to serve one purpose as the eternal foil for the hero.

On the other side is the anti-hero (Punisher, Foolkiller, Red Hood), who, as the name implies, takes more permanent action. The anti-hero doesn't believe that people can change, so he kills to prevent further crimes... becoming the thing he hates. Anti-heroes are morally ambiguous and don't really think of what they're doing as lowering themselves, because they believe themselves to be superior beings, and thus above both the law and ethical coundries.

Basically, the idea behind the classical hero is that he doesn't believe he has the right to judge anyone... so he/she beats the shit out of the criminal and leaves it up to the Law to decide how to deal with it. The anti-hero doesn't believe in the law so he takes it upon himself to judge.
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