One of Peter Parker/Spider-Man's core moral principles is that I want to touch upon is that he is a non-lethal crime fighter. He doesn't kill. Many superheroes have a moral code, which is that they are averse to killing. Spider-Man has been very adamant about using non-lethal methods when he formed a temporary truce with Venom and Black Cat:
I think a lot of people gloss over this because they typically think of Batman when superheroes and their moral codes are brought up. But Batman is not the only superhero who is averse to killing. Spider-Man is also averse to killing, and I will post some examples of situations that Spider-Man refuses to cross that line when he easily could have gone in for the kill. There are many examples, but I will only pick a few from different continuities. I'll start with one from an elseworld that retells of Spider-Man's origin story:
OK, I will have to admit that I was not a fan of John Byrne's Spider-Man: Chapter One. It's probably my least favourite version of the classic Spider-Man origin story. I found it to be pretty lame and unnecessary for the most part. But one aspect I do like about it is the way the Byrne wrote this specific moment:
The way Peter's confrontation with his Uncle's killer goes down differently than in Amazing Fantasy #15, Ultimate Spider-Man Issue #5 and Spider-Man: Season One. In those versions of the classic origin story, Peter incapacitates his Uncle's killer with a punch, and only realises the identity of his Uncle's killer when getting a closer look at his face, who is incapacitated. In this version, it's the reverse; Peter realizes the identity of his Uncle's killer immediately, and then proceeds to beating him up in a fit of rage and grief. But Peter eventually restrains himself, realizing that he needs to stop, otherwise he'll end up killing him. Bear in mind that this is the man who killed Uncle Ben. Peter already knows who is, and even when he gives him a beating in a fit of unbridled rage, Peter demonstrates a moral compass that's strong enough to stop himself from killing the man who murdered Uncle Ben.
Now I am going to start picking examples from the mainstream Earth 616 universe:
The Night Gwen Stacy Died is a really awesome story, it's one of the most iconic and famous Spider-Man stories of all time. One of the reasons why I like it so much is because we get to see Spider-Man on the edge, driven by pure anger and rage. Spider-Man is tempted to seek revenge on the Green Goblin for murdering Gwen Stacy:
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Norman mocks Peter for his feelings of loss and grief over Gwen's death, who Norman belittles, perceiving Gwen as a worthless waste of life, asking "What is there in that paltry existence of one useless female" and calling Gwen "a simpering, pointless girl who never did more than occupy space" as a response to Peter's grief stricken rage, which only serves to enrage Peter even more:
Peter beats the crap out of Norman whilst screaming and hounding him at the same time, but stops, realizing that he could wnd up killing Norman if he continued beating him up for just another moment. Peter expresses remorse and disgust with himself, thinking that killing Norman would make him a murderer just like Norman, as the narrator expands upon this by saying Peter "drops back, disgusted with the violence that nearly consumed him" whilst Norman takes the opportunity to recuperate:
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Peter says that he thought seeing Norman die would make him feel better about Gwen's death, that it would "mean more" and that "it should mean something" and that "It's got to have a point." But instead of that, it just made him feel empty, washed out, and maybe slightly more alone. Keep in mind that in this story, Peter had literally just witnessed Norman Osborn murder his Gwen Stacy, the first woman Peter had ever truly loved, and he failed to save Gwen.That is one of Spider-Man's most iconic failures. It's arguably his greatest failure. His powers weren't enough to prevent Gwen from being kidnapped. His powers weren't enough to save her. And Norman just laughed at Peter's loss and grief, showing no remorse, but mockery and contempt. So even when Peter had the chance to avenge Gwen and go over the edge by ending Norman once and for all, he stops. Peter refuses to cross that line, otherwise he would be a murderer just like Norman. He'd be no better than Norman in that regard. And when Norman died, it didn't make Peter feel any better, it just made him feel worse. Peter reflects on this in ASM #177:
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Peter says that he was "aching for revenge" when going after Norman, but "found how hollow vengeance can be" when Norman "died" as a result of his actions. Even as flawed human being, Peter's moral compass was strong enough to prevent him from actually giving into his vengeful desire to kill the Green Goblin. Spider-Man isn't about revenge. He's not the Punisher. Now I will move onto more examples from the 616 comics:
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Venom doesn't any introduction, but what I will say about this instance is that it's Spider-Man and Venom's first encounter. Venom initially has the upper hand due to having all of Spider-Man's powers but to a greater degree, so Spider-Man had to rely on using his wits to outsmart Venom. Spider-Man manages to outsmart Venom and has the opportunity to use his sonic blaster to end Venom, but there's a problem:
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Spider-Man realises that the Alien Symbiote has completely bonded with Eddie Brock's body, meaning that Brock and the Symbiote have become one and the same in the form of Venom. Spider-Man muses that if he uses the sonic blaster to kill the Symbiote, he'll also end up killing Brock. Exhausted and unwilling to cross that line, Spider-Man leaves the battle, saying that he doesn't know if he can take a human life to even save his own life, so he leaves to regroup and think of a new plan. Unfortunately for Spider-Man, his refusal to kill Venom inadvertently gives Venom the opportunity to recuperate and stop Spider-Man from escaping, regaining the upperhand and incapacitating Spider-Man. Spider-Man's no kill rule ended up costing him a victory in this instance when you think about it, if he killed Venom, both the Symbiote and Brock would have died, and not only would there be no more Venom (assuming he doesn't get brought back to life), there wouldn't even be a Carnage or any other Symbiotes. But the fact that Spider-Man refused to cross that line is still consistent with his morals, and he can't predict the future.
Granted, this does suggest that Spider-Man's no kill rule doesn't apply to Aliens because he refuses to kill the Symbiote because he's worried he'll also end up killing Brock, meaning that he is actually willing to kill the Symbiote as long as he doesn't kill Brock at the same time, and Peter also says that he doesn't know if he "could take a human life even to save" his own life. Note that Spider-Man says he doesn't know if he has it in him to take a human life, not just any life. As a matter of fact, Spider-Man has explicitly stated and confirmed that he has tried to kill the Symbiote before:
Spider-Man says that he has tried to kill the Symbiote, showing that his no kill rule doesn't necessarily apply to Aliens, but this case is honestly an an outlier. Taking a human life is a much harder choice because human beings are very complex life forms. The Symbiote isn't really that complex; it's just an Alien goo that thinks and requires a symbiotic relationship with a host in order to survive. Although the Symbiote was a sentient life form, in nature it's a parasite, much like bacteria. Spider-Man tried to kill it because it was an adrenaline junkie that tried to permanently bond itself to Spider-Man's body, Spider-Man couldn't stand the thought of being bonded with another life form for the rest of his life.
Now I'm going to move onto another example from the earth 616 universe:
Carnage doesn't need any introduction here, but what I will say about this instance is that it occurs in the Maximum Carnage, a story arc that Cletus Kasady AKA Carnage goes on a rampage with other homicidal supervillains. They absolutely ravage New York and spread lots of blood shed to the point Spider-Man has to team up with various other superheroes and even anti-heroes/villains to save New York from Carnage and his contemporaries. Towards the end of the story, Spider-Man and Venom have a 2v1 against Carnage, but Spider-Man doesn't agree with Venom's methods of achieving victory over Carnage:
Venom gains the opportunity to end Carnage once and for all and seizes that opportunity to inflict lethal harm, but Spider-Man stops Venom from killing Carnage. Spider-Man explains his reasons, saying that "Too many people have already died!" and that "One more won't save anything!" and brings up Cletus Kasady's bad childhood, believing that he never had a chance and that it's no wonder he turned into a homicidal serial killer. Spider-Man also exclaims that Kasady "may just be the most innocent of all!" due to his bad childhood. Spider-Man also tries to appeal to Brock's humanity by demanding him to put his "personal demons to rest" and bury his ghosts in the past to "begin the healing process!"
Unfortunately for Spider-Man, Carnage is not convinced by Spider-Man's pleas, and attempts to kill him:
You can read or re-read the rest of the story yourself, but this instance speaks volumes about Spider-Man's empathy and compassion, but also his idealistic views. Spider-Man refuses to allow Venom to kill Kasady because he thinks that here has already been too much death in the crisis that Carnage has recently put them through, and killing Kasady won't solve it. Spider-Man also shows sympathy towards Kasady because of his terrible childhood, and even pleads with Venom to put his personal inner demons to rest and bury his ghosts in the past to begin his healing journey. But Spider-Man's pleas demonstrably fail because they're too idealistic and Kasady himself points it out, saying that he didn't buy it and that Spider-Man's "psycho-babble is good for the occasional plea bargain, but it bears little relation to reality!" which is sadly true in this instance. Spider-Man's aversion to killing and idealistic views nearly costed his life. And the root source of Spider-Man's idealist views are the teachings and moral values of Uncle Ben and Aunt May, who taught him to see the good in everyone and have faith in people.
I saved this example for the last because even though it's from a Marvel/DC comics crossover, it's the best example in my opinion because anyone who knows the Joker should how evil and homicidal this guy is. Spider-Man and Batman: Disordered Minds is the first crossover between Batman and Spider-Man. I won't go into much detail about what happens in the story, but Spider-Man and Batman team up to fight Carnage and the Joker. This story was published in 1995, written by J. M. DeMatteis, who has authored many Batman and Spider-Man comics. The story itself features the Earth 616 versions of Spider-Man and Carnage, and the Post Crisis versions of Batman and the Joker. So even though it takes place outside of the mainstream Marvel and DC universes on account of being a crossover, it's supposed to be an accurate representation of how these characters would interact with each other if they met. Towards the end of the story, Spider-Man has a confrontation with the Joker, and it starts like this:
When Spider-Man confronts the Joker, he is tempted to kill Joker and even threatens to kill him, knowing fully well how evil Joker is, saying that he murders hope, tramples goodness, sucking it all down into chaos. Spider-Man declares to the Joker that the only way to stop "a sneering animal" like him... Is to kill him. Joker however, isn't even afraid of Spider-Man, but actually encourages Spider-Man to give into his darker impulses, finding that the prospect of a "goody two-shoes" like Spider-Man murdering "a stinker like" the Joker is hilarious. But Spider-Man change of heart and calms down, realizing how violent and vindictive it would be to kill the Joker. Joker appears to express slight disappointment, but shrugs it off because he has other plans, but before he can finish talking, Spider-Man incapacitates Joker with a punch. Spider-Man talks to the incapacitated Joker, saying that he could never bring himself to kill Joker and anyone else for that matter because he has "an example to live up to." A faith he'll never betray. This is likely a reference to Uncle Ben and the moral values he instilled in Peter's worldview, as well as the lesson of Power and Responsibility that he learned from Uncle Ben's death, which may not be funny to the Joker, but it's true. It's true because Uncle Ben's ideals and death are what motivated Peter to become Spider-Man in the first place. Uncle Ben's ideals and death are what make Spider-Man the hero he is.
Granted, the story doesn't make it clear whether Peter knows the full history of the Joker's atrocities, but I would assume he has a hunch. But regardless of what Peter knows or doesn't know about the Joker, it's still a great moment to the reader when you take into consideration of what the Joker has done. This guy crippled Barbara Gordon (The Killing Joke), murdered Jason Todd (A Death in the Family), murdered Sarah Essen (No Man's Land) and has done many other terrible things. So the fact that Spider-Man demonstrated a strong moral compass to overcome the urge to kill the Joker is a really great moment. I'm not sure if this has actually been confirmed in any Spider-Man story, but I belive that the reason why Peter has a moral code is because he thinks Uncle Ben would be ashamed of him if he became a killer. It just seems like the sort of thing he would believe in, considering how his career as a superhero is driven by living up to his Uncle's ideals and death.
Wel, I think that's enough examples of Spider-Man's no kill rule being illustrated as an integral element to his character as a whole. Hope it was worth reading. Good day.