Law and the Multiverse: Superheroes, Supervillains, and the Law

This is too awesome not to share:

The Law and the Multiverse blog is a geek-meets-lawyer funfest, looking seriously at the legal challenges and ramifications of superpowers, superheroes and villains, and the battles they wage against each other.

WATCHMEN often receives praise for taking a ‘realistic’ look at how society would deal with superpowered creatures and vigilantes who leap from rooftop to rooftop in their masks and capes. But Law and the Multiverse looks at how such questions would play out with the actual laws on the books today in the United States.

Questions like: is Superman’s heat vision a weapon? If so, would the Second Amendment protect his right to melt pistols and cook hamburgers with it?

Now, admittedly, it looks at the issue from a US-perpsective, but since most comic book heroes seem to protect American cities and citizens it only makes sense. It’s great fun for those of us who have ever read about an epic battle between superheroes and supervillains and really, really want to know who should be found liable for the broken buildings and shattered streets.

Kicked off on Nov. 30, it addresses questions like: “What if someone is convicted for murder, and then the victim comes back to life?” And whether mutants are a legally recognizable class entitled to constitutional protection from discrimination.

Other topics include the admissibility of evidence obtained through mind reading by Professor X of the X-men and whether the RICO Act could be effectively used by prosecutors against the Legion of Doom.

The answers are dry, technical and funny in their earnestness. The Second Amendment, the bloggers suggest, would protect many powers, but “at least some superpowers would qualify as dangerous or unusual weapons (e.g., Cyclops’ optic blasts, Havok’s plasma blasts)” that are “well beyond the power of weapons allowed even by permit.” Those super-duper powers would be tightly regulated, if not banned outright.

Then there’s this jurisprudential nugget: When Batman, the DC Comics hero, nabs crooks, is the evidence gathered against the bad guys admissible in court? Not if he is working so closely with Commissioner Gordon that his feats fall under the “state actor” doctrine, in which a person is deemed to be acting on behalf of government and thus is subject to the restrictions on government power. In fact, he might be courting a lawsuit claiming violations of civil rights from those who were nabbed.


– S.