There's a simple truth that everyone should live by: always be yourself, unless you can be Batman, and in that case always be Batman. In that vein, it's worth considering just how much it would cost to be the caped crusader. Academic heroes at the University of Melbourne have released a paper that analyses just how much it would cost to be the Dark Knight, and compared it to the economics of being other superheroes.
Let's break it down: Batman has a sweet Batcave, a pricey butler, a bunch of crazy tech, medical expenses and fuel for the Tumbler and the Batpod and the Batwing. That's going to add up to one hell of a bill, one that has previously been underestimated by other analyses:
In tallying up the cost of being Batman, I’ll take the Centives estimate that puts the cost of Alfred at $262,800. I think they’re understocking Batman’s batarangs and tactical explosives, so I’m going to go with what I see as a pretty conservative 30 batarangs and 10 tactical explosives (for distractions and quick escapes) per month.
Add these to Alfred, round them off and you’re looking at about $300,000. Even this is overly conservative, as it doesn’t account for other expenses such as, for example, the lavish parties that Bruce throws in order to play the part of the playboy millionaire socialite fuel, ammunition and countermeasures for the various vehicles, not to mention replacements for those vehicles, medical supplies, including high-tech knee braces that can cure limps, and ongoing research and development of new gadgets, such as a giant supercomputer that can monitor everything and everyone all the time, a heavily armoured low-altitude jet, a bike with impractically massive tires, or a fusion reactor. Let’s be generous and assume that Bruce manages to do all this for no more than another $600,000, bringing the total cost of being Batman to around $900,000 per year.
By far the most interesting point in the paper is one that might just settle the age-old war between the Marvel and the DC Comics' universe. Academics compared the $900,000 per annum cost of being Batman to the cost per annum of being Spiderman, figuring out that it costs less to be Spiderman per year than it does to be Batman. Quite a bit less, actually:
So what is the opportunity cost of Batman? Well, to take one example, Peter Parker is a freelance photographer, who’d earn around $30,000 per year (this is the current US Bureau of Labor Statistics estimate of the median salary of a photographer, and given that that’s for full-time photographers, not freelancers, it’s fair to assume Parker would be at or below the median). So the opportunity cost of one Batman is 900,000/30,000 = 30 Spider-Men.
Gotham's policy makers might well ask themselves which it is better to have.
Image: Warner Bros