No one would ever confuse Batman with Superman.
But if I hear one more internet comic expert contrast the two storied DC superheroes by saying the essential difference between them is that the last son of Krypton is a superpowerful alien while the Dark Knight is “just an ordinary guy,” I’m going to scream.
Let’s get this straight: Bruce Wayne is not an ordinary guy.
He’s a billionaire.
His superpower is money.
A superpower is the special trait that distinguishes each comic hero from the rest of the human population.
It’s true, Wayne is not from another planet. He was never bitten by a radioactive spider. Nor was he born with mutant abilities.
But he’s far from normal.
Most estimates put the current number of billionaires in the United States at less than 500 out of a population of 320 million. Assuming the DC universe isn’t too far afield from our own, that means Batman’s alter ego belongs to a very elite group of American citizens.
He is among the wealthiest of the wealthy. He is not the one per cent – he is a fraction of a fraction of the one per cent.
And let’s not underestimate the importance of money to Wayne’s identity and mission, ridding his world of crime. Everything flows from his financial status.
Having nearly unlimited resources mean’s Wayne’s concerns are not the same as the rest of us.
Unlike a character such as Peter Parker, who struggles each month just to make the rent, Wayne doesn’t have to worry about keeping a roof over his head. He knows where his next meal is coming from.
Being a billionaire frees Wayne so that he can devote his entire existence to waging war on Gotham’s criminal element. Ultimately, it buys him a precious commodity that other people don’t have: extra time.
It has also allowed him to amass an unrivalled store of weapons and gadgets.
Without his money, Wayne wouldn’t be able to afford all the instruments of his vengeance — his tank-like Tumbler, the Batwing, even Bat Shark Repellent. These are not the things to which a regular person has access.
As smarter people than me have pointed out, if Wayne really was like everyone else, maybe he wouldn’t be so messed up.
If he had to find a way to support himself, perhaps he wouldn’t have the time to be so obsessed with avenging the death of his parents.
When a tragedy befalls you or I, we don’t have empty day after empty day to fixate on our misfortune. We have to get on with our lives, for better or worse.
So please don’t tell me you are a fan of Batman because he’s just a guy who depends on his wits and in-born strength.
Without his fat wallet, Batman would likely not exist – at least not in the form we recognize today.