It is a truth universally acknowledged that a superhero in possession of almighty powers and steadfast morals must do something indescribably evil once every few years or so. Just to keep things interesting!
In fairness to comic writers, it must be pretty frustrating to be restricted to heroes only using their powers for truth, justice, and the American way. With all the strength and magic they have at their fingertips, it must be tempting to explore what they would do if they turned to the dark side.
There's only one problem with this: casual readers like to pick up a comic and understand what's going on. If you only know Superman from the Christopher Reeve films, you're going to be pretty confused when you open up an issue of Action Comics to find that he's stealing candy from babies while on a serial killing spree.
As such, writers need to push their heroes to the limit if they want them to dip their toes into villainy. If Spider-Man is going to rob a bank and slap the mayor, he needs to be put in a situation so dire that any of us would have done the same thing. Oh, and he needs to come out the other side of the ordeal a better person for it, of course! Superheroes are allowed to do a little bit of evil, as a treat, as long as they promise to turn back into their friendly neighbourhood selves afterwards.
Jimmy Kavanagh is an Irish comics enthusiast and co-founder of Club Valentine Comedy, a Dublin-based comedy collective. You can hear him talk to his favourite comedians about their favourite comics on his podcast, Comics Swapping Comics (available on all good podcast platforms).