Vigilantes are not heroes

I went to see “Avengers: Endgame.” This will not be a full review, but rather a single aspect of the movie. (Mild spoilers ahead.)

I hate what they did with Hawkeye. He should not have had a happy ending. He should have went to prison after seeing his family was alive at the end of the movie. Hawkeye is just one example of this, but I increasingly hate movies where the “hero” murders criminals. There is no due process and no civil rights for the criminal targeted by a vigilante. There is no court of appeals in the case of a wrongful conviction, and there have been many wrongful convictions in the real world. The “criminal” faces death at the hands of a man who has stolen the authority of the civil magistrate for himself.

I really want to see a movie where the “hero” vigilante murders someone only to find out that his victim was not a criminal. There could have been a case of mistaken identity or perhaps someone falsely accused of a crime. The movie ends with a totally emotionally broken “hero” justly facing the death penalty for murdering an innocent person, and admitting that this is why we have due process and civil rights.

Early in the movie, Hawkeye massacres an entire drug cartel. (All of the violence is off-screen, which makes it more effective as your mind fills in the blanks.) His motivation is that a lot of good people died when Thanos snapped his fingers, but criminals did not. So were all of the people murdered by Hawkeye murderers and rapists? I am imagining at least one of the people he murdered was a 14 year old kid who worked as a runner – not even running drugs, but running cash for the cartel. He was doing so under threat of death or torture because in real life that’s how cartels work. A victim of the cartel is re-victimized by the “hero.”

Hawkeye, like many characters that came before him, is not a hero. He is a bloodthirsty villain. He just happens to be killing other bad guys, and probably some innocent people along the way. Even worse, there are no consequences and even the more morally upstanding characters like Captain America did not express opposition for what he did. This mass murderer gets to go back to his family and live a happy life. This role would have been better filled by The Punisher than someone who the Avengers movies have tried to establish as a family man, but there is still the issue of the movie almost endorsing vigilante justice.

That is a very bad thing.