It’s a common observation that , if given a choice of plausibility and attainability between Batman and Superman, Batman is entirely the more attainable. The idea is that it is impossible for me to be an alien born on Krypton and rocketed here from birth with a unique physiology triggered by the Earth’s yellow sun. It’s too late for that. I was already born here, to human parents, as far as I know. So ‘Superman’ isn’t really an option for me, and never was. But to a young boy, there does remain the remote possibility that somehow he will amass a fortune and a mansion and a cave and from there will be free to train him body and mind to become a razor-sharp weapon in an endless war on crime. It’s remote, but it’s possible.
Of course there is a lot more to Batman than just a big pile of cash and a cave under your house. Comic characters are relatively ageless ( Peter Parker spent almost two decades in high school and Archie never has graduated) so it’s hard to really know Bruce Wayne’s age. But just think about this. How long would it take you to master (and I do mean master) every form of unarmed Swindled: How the GOP ... Buy New $13.32 (as of 04:43 UTC - Details) combat that you might encounter? It takes , according to some 3 1/2 years to get a black belt in karate, and a black belt is just the beginning of that discipline. But Batman isn’t just a wrestler, or just a boxer, or just a marital arts guy. Batman is betting his life, night after night that he can physically outperform every thug or costumed clown he might encounter. It would easily take 10 years of constant training to reach that level of proficiency. If Bruce Wayne started training the night his parents were killed, he would still be in his 20’s before he was ready, and that’s only if he dropped out of school in the 5th grade and did nothing else.
Batman isn’t just a musclebound guy though. He has invented, out of whole cloth, an entire arsenal of weapons, gadgets, tools and vehicles that he has had to either design himself or hide the origins. Leonardo da Vinci has got nothing on Bruce Wayne because Waynes also have to function out in the real world. Assuming he’s a natural born genius, it would still take Bruce Wayne at least a decade in the engineering field to acquire the skills necessary to build his bat-ensemble, which puts him in his 30’s before he can really begin his crime-fighting career.
Batman is also arguably the world’s greatest detective, with observational skills that are second only to maybe Mr. Holmes. He is a master chemist, able to easily analyze any number of clues left behind and deduce their sources. He can’t afford to outsource any of this work or rely on anyone else for knowledge. He is a world-class scientist. He maintains a computer system (which he built himself, no doubt) housing complete dossiers on every criminal he encounters, plus an encyclopedic trove of information on any available topic, all of which must be constantly updated. He’s a master mechanic, able to repair all of his specialized equipment and vehicles. He is a master thespian and a master of disguise, with his most impressive acting job being that of goof-off layabout playboy Bruce Wayne. He designs all of his costumes. He has a matchless knowledge of the city, being familiar with every skylight, alley and abandoned warehouse. He knows how to pick locks, and how to hack computers. Any of these skills require years of constant practice, and yet Batman maintains spot-on proficiency in them all without a hiccup. Amazon Prime (One Year... Check Amazon for Pricing.
Then there’s the Batman presence. This guy regularly rubs shoulders with heroes that can lift planets, and they are intimidated by him when he is basically just a guy in a suit. He is so good at what he does that nobody notices he has absolutely no powers. Acting on that level requires its own training and upkeep.
Assuming that his vast fortune left him the free time to study all of these things, and assuming he is a quick study, Bruce Wayne still falls prey to the same thing everyone else falls prey to; the clock. He is an least as good a shape as Michael Phelps, and Michael Phelps trains 6 hours a day and consumes about 10,000 calories a day to keep that behemoth physique running. That gives Bruce Wayne 18 hours in his day to do everything else except train. His training regiment has to be designed by him and has to include flexibility, speed and strength exercises. After all he isn’t training for just one thing, he’s training for whatever may happen.
It probably takes at least 2 hours a day of eating to wolf down 10,00 calories, so that leaves him 16 hours. He has to go on patrol, and assuming he patrols from dark to dawn, that leaves him with 8 hours. But he has to keep the money rolling in as Bruce Wayne to pay for all this. I’m sure he has competent management that takes care of most things, but he still has to show up occasionally and do something. Even if he did ‘Bruce Wayne’ stuff ( including expensive dinner parties with gorgeous starlets to keep up appearances) for a mere 2 hours a day, that only leaves him 6 hours.
Of course there is maintenance on the Batmobile and assorted gadgets, research on the latest threat to Gotham, showers, upkeep on his topical knowledge, meetings with Commissioner Gordon, counsel with Alfred, instruction with Robin, designing gear and testing gear, recovery from beatings, probably more showers, and pretty soon his 24 hours is gone, with no time really alloted for sleep. Without sleep, your brain cannot process the knowledge you’ve accumulated, your muscles quake, your coordination goes and you begin to hallucinate. The next day it starts all over again. It would take the most dedicated and focused ( to the point of neurosis) person in the world to accomplish this, and long before they got there they would collapse in a smelly, babbling heap.
Yeah, maybe I ought to examine that ‘Superman’ option again.
Reprinted with permission from Michael S. Alford.