Updated on December 10, 2021
Since 1939, Batman’s famously used his vast fortune as a big part of what lets him fight crime. While a lot of people state Batman’s “relatable” because of his lack of superpowers, most of us are as likely to become billionaires as we are to gain x-ray vision.
Still, there’s been some who’ve pondered the costs involved in functioning as Batman. It’s subjective, given changes in technology, reader expectations, etc. over the decades. Similarly, the size of Bruce’s fortune has grown over the years. Like Archie’s Mr. Lodge and Marvel’s Tony Stark, inflation also forced Bruce to become a billionaire (and not a millionaire) by the 80s.
Mashable and Samsung created an infographic taking a few guesses at what Batman’s equipment would cost in both his 1939 debut and today. I’ll analyze each point below.
Given Bruce inherited Wayne Manor, he wouldn’t have to pay much on it beyond property taxes and upkeep. Still, it’d be worth a lot more than the paltry amounts in that infographic.
A Huffington Post article estimates Wayne Manor’s value is worth $32 million. This would include the facilities a real-life mansion would have: multiple bedrooms, a gym, a pool, library, etc. It doesn’t include the value of the Batcave itself.
As for the Batcave, that’d also be hard to put a value on. But given its one-of-a-kind/state-of-the-art equipment, rare items, etc., I’ll accept the $54.4 million figure. (In 1939 dollars, that’d be a bit over $3 million, not the $5,600 quoted.)
Assuming it’s the standard Batman costume, and not the specialty ones, I’ll accept the modern figure quoted. The Batman costume’s usually said these days to include some sort of Kevlar. However, the 1939 figure seems awfully low. The $303,000 modern costume value would be about $17,000 in 1939 dollars, ignoring the changes in technology, lack of Kevlar, etc. (I can assume the utility belt might up the dollar amount.)
Not included is the cost of Bruce Wayne’s clothing. However, I’d assume it costs plenty, judging from real-life celebrities’ ever-changing fashions.
I’m pretty sure a top-end red roadster (the original Batmobile as seen in its first appearance) would’ve ran more than $600 at the time.
But focusing on the modern vehicles, I’ll go with the Batmobile, Batplane, and Batcycle values cited. Of course, he’s had other vehicles over the years, but those would be the main ones. It also doesn’t account for the various Batmobiles he’s had through the years. Some modern portrayals suggest Bruce keeps them all in an auto museum-like corner of the Batcave.
Again, Bruce Wayne would also have various cars, keeping with the playboy image. He’s also frequently shown being driven around in a limousine.
The 1939 gadgets are much more limited, keeping with the era. Still, the infographic creators forgot one thing the 1939 Batman did (very briefly) carry: a pistol.
The modern Batman, of course, is famous for carrying all manner of gadgetry, both realistic high-tech ones (night vision goggles, etc.) and fantastical ones. The infographic throws in kryptonite and adds a dollar value. Of course, carrying kryptonite as standard equipment carries a few cynical assumptions, but such is the case of modern superhero comics. (Sigh.)
Not included is Bruce Wayne’s own gadgets he’d have as a CEO: a smartphone, laptop, etc. Of course, since Wayne Enterprises manufactures such things, Bruce wouldn’t have to pay for them.
Not included are the costs associated with Bruce Wayne’s and Batman’s lifestyles, including things like:
- Parties at Wayne Manor or elsewhere in Gotham City.
- The rare dates with others.
- The costs of running his Wayne Foundation charity.
- Paying Alfred’s salary.
- Helping pay for some of the expenses of the various Robins/Batman Family characters.
- Helping pay for some of the JLA stuff (computers, orbiting satellite/moon-based space stations, etc.)
- The occasional birthday gifts for his friends (like Clark).
There’s also the costs of Bruce’s globe-trotting as a youth to learn his various skills, including martial arts training, criminology, and so forth. Some origin versions also suggest Bruce went to college for a time, so the cost of at least a two-year associate’s degree might be thrown in.
The infographic figures it’d be a total of $134,735,100 to become Batman. (That’d be about $7.8 million in 1939 dollars.) The figures I estimated above would raise the price a bit. However, it’s still well within Bruce’s net worth. A previous post I wrote about comic characters’ net worth estimates Bruce is worth at least $80 billion. $134.7 million would thus only cost 0.2% of Bruce’s fortune.
In 2012, Mashable (and another party) did a similar look at what it’d cost to be Batman. This one was mostly based on the Nolan movies’ version, and included more costs for equipment, training, and Alfred’s salary. They estimate it’d run a whopping $682.5 million. That’d raise the percentage of Bruce’s fortune to… 0.85%.
As a point of comparison, the median American household income in 2014 (per the US Census) was $53,482. 0.2% and 0.85% of that income figure would be about $107 and $455 respectively.
Either way, it’s a good thing Bruce Wayne’s vastly wealthy. Otherwise a lot of his adventures wouldn’t be possible as portrayed!
“Infinite Batman (Black & White)” by JD Hancock is licensed under CC BY 2.0 (Flickr / cropped from original)