How Much Does It Cost To Be Batman?

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.

$900,000 per year is pretty pricey, but it's nowhere near as bad as the cost to become Iron Man. [Economic Students PDF]

Image: Warner Bros


    Look at it as a percentage of how much the hero earns/is worth. Bruce Wayne is a billionaire so if he's worth, say, 6 billion, then spending 1 mill per year is just 0.016% of his worth. Spidey spending 30K is probably spending more than 50% of his worth. While Starck spends 25% of his 6 billion.

    Starck seems to be the happier of the 3.

    How about the cost of being Casey Jones then?..

      The cost of being Casey Jones is not monetary.

    You'd think for people so smart they wouldn't have made such horrible apples to oranges comparisons.

    All you need for batman is the gadgets, spiderman needs a genetically altered spider to bite him. Now where you to compared the R and D for making said spider (that was also supposed to kill with that bite i believe) to the cost of making a batman which would be the true comparison then you could compare them.

    As it stand it makes no sense to compare the cost of batman who is self funded as in costing the city nothing and spiderman who works for someone else. Ergo it cost the city nothing for a batman but spiderman drains 30k in such an example.

    so this whole comparison in the article makes 0 sense at all.

      The premise of the article is simple: what does it cost personally for an indivdual to be a superhero, in this case Batman?

      Your points re: R&D for the radioactive spider and all that are perfectly valid, and we could make equally valid arguments based around the cost to the environment; personal emotional cost; cost to the ideals of freedom etc. etc., but the article was specifically focussed on the pure quantitative cost to the individual superhero himself, of being that superhero vs. not being that superhero.

      Of course, then there's the question of who would win in a battle to the death. I'll leave this one to ScrewAttack:

      Suck it, Batman! :P

        Even if that were to case the article is still wrong, the cost of being spiderman would be his potential income difference (the opportunity cost) if he didn't spend all day being spidey and the cost of his suit and webbing depending on which one your comparing.

        In which case spiderman's cost would be significantly higher than 30k. He has genius level intellect and could have become the next tony stark. This would put his opportunity cost into the millions and billions mark making the cost of spider man far more than batman. Since batman is already rich and has the company he can't do much better.

        As i said the comparison is disgracefully bad =/

          Both Parker and Wayne are supposed to have genius level intellects, humans are nowhere near any kind of technological "ceiling" and there's no limit AFAIK on how much wealth on person is "permitted" to acquire.

          If you want to go into opportunity costs lost by being superheroes, I would say that Wayne could have done the same as Parker except with a MASSIVE head start. That head start would translate into many times greater impact in any given period of time, meaning that if you want to look at it that way the opportunity cost for being Batman is many times greater than the opportunity cost of being Spiderman. But this is all speculation on what kind of person these men would be if things didn't work out such that they felt compelled to put on a costume and fight crime. It's easier, and certainly more quantifiable, to just look at how much money each individual would have to spend to make his superheroing possible. :D

    I think it might be a little more expensive to be batman

    Alfred costs $262,800 a year?? Is that the going rate for butlers these days?

    Does the Spider-Man calculation use mechanical web shooters or biological ones? Web formula can't be cheap.

Join the discussion!

Trending Stories Right Now