The CW’s newest DC inspired series, Gotham Knights, debuted on Tuesday night and while the series premiere set in motion the story of Bruce Wayne’s adopted son Turner Hayes being falsely accused of being involved with his murder — along with three other. young suspects — it was also stuffed with Easter Eggs and other interesting information, and we don’t just mean the introduction of the Court of Owls as a concept. The episode also dropped the suggestion that Batman may have broken one of his biggest rules of crime fighting at some point in his past: do not kill.
Warning: spoilers for the series premiere of Gotham Knights beyond this point.
One of the characters in the series who is accused of killing Bruce Wayne/Batman is Duela Doe, aka The Joker’s Daughter. When she’s arrested for the crime, Harvey Dent suggests that the motive for why she would kill Bruce is that she discovered that he was Batman and that the murder was an act meant to avenge her father, The Joker. The scene implies that The Joker was killed in some sort of confrontation with Batman, but Gotham Knights goes a little further and makes it more explicit later in the episode with Duela directly confirming to Turner that Batman did indeed kill the Joker.
On the pages of comics, Batman has had a long history of not killing his enemies. While some early Batman comics did see the character kill, around 1940, that began to change and saw the vigilante develop the moral code he’s most known for today. By Batman #4, the character even says, “Remember we never kill with weapons of any kind!”
The idea that Batman should kill — particularly when it comes to the Joker — is a topic of debate among fans and probably always will be. But what’s interesting is that when it comes to live action portrayals of the character on television — or even just references — Batman does kill the Joker fairly routinely. The CW’s Batwoman mentioned in Season 1 that their Batman had killed Joker, though the authorities still pretend he’s in Arkham. HBO Max’s Titans had Batman kill Joker in Season 3 after the villain killed Jason Todd’s Robin. With both of those fairly recent examples, the idea that Gotham Knights would go the same direction isn’t a huge surprise, but it will be interesting to see if that situation has any bearing on how the rest of the season plays out.
Gotham Knights airs Tuesdays at 9/8c on The CW.