Batman’s No Kill Rule Never Applied to Michael Keaton’s Batman

While Zack Snyder got Batman fans all riled up for explaining his resistance to the character’s no-kill rule, not every iteration has followed this rule.

Last Updated on April 5, 2024

A few weeks ago, Zack Snyder raised the ire of Batman fanatics when, in an interview with Joe Rogan, he explained his resistance to The Dark Knight’s “no kill rule”. As he told Rogan, “Batman can’t kill is canon. And I’m like, ‘Okay, the first thing I wanna do when you say that is I wanna see what happens.’ And they go, ‘well don’t put him in a situation where he has to kill someone’.” He continued, “you’re protecting your god in a weird way, right? You’re making your god irrelevant if he can’t be in that situation. He has to now deal with that. If he does do that what does that mean? What does it tell you, does he stand up to it? Does he survive that as a god? As your god, can Batman survive that?”

Predictably, fans were in an uproar over Snyder’s perceived ignorance as to why Batman not killing is such an important part of the character. Yet, one thing fans seem to have forgotten is that on the big screen, Batman has often violated that rule, or it simply didn’t apply at all. In the Christopher Nolan Batman movies, the “no-kill rule” was mostly respected, although having Batman tell Liam Neeson’s Ra’s al Ghul that “I don’t have to save you” is borderline. But people seem to have forgotten how cavalier Batman was with human life in the Tim Burton movies, with him raking up a pretty major body count in Batman and Batman Returns.

So, with that in mind, we here at JoBlo have decided to take a bit of a deep dive into the “No Kill” rule and how it’s played out on the big screen. Our ace editor/ host, Paul Bookstaber, is perhaps our biggest Batman fan on staff, and he’s worked hard at making a balanced video examining the rule and how, perhaps, fan indignation at Snyder’s comments was perhaps a little overwrought, as he’s far from the first director to have Batman kill. Check out the video embedded above, and let us know in the comments what you think of the “no-kill” rule. 

About the Author

Chris Bumbray began his career with JoBlo as the resident film critic (and James Bond expert) way back in 2007, and he has stuck around ever since, being named editor-in-chief in 2021. A voting member of the CCA and a Rotten Tomatoes-approved critic, you can also catch Chris discussing pop culture regularly on CTV News Channel.