After seeing "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," I can't stop thinking about whether or not someone could actually be Batman.
I think we all assume that we at least have a chance. I mean, that's what makes Batman so relatable. He's human. As in he isn't an alien, meta-human or mutant. Nor does he have superpowers. He's just a regular guy.
Of course, there are other human heroes without powers of any kind. Take Tony Stark for example. But Tony is still a billionaire inventor who created an element in his basement and built his own Iron Man suit. Bruce Wayne is just rich. He's not an inventor and really doesn't have any kind of background that would give him an advantage over anyone else (other than a deep, deep thirst to avenge his parents' death). Every skill Bruce Wayne has, he learned. I'm not sure exactly how rich he even is, though Forbes estimated his Net Worth at $6.9 Billion.
Quick note on the film itself: Go see it. I thought it was great (the Batman part, that is), which I've covered.
So, you want to be a masked vigilante? Here's what you'll need.
1. The skills.
First, Batman is a master detective. He's also a master in hand-to-hand combat and skilled in the use of firearms, explosives and all things tactical. He's also one of the best spies in the world. All skills and attributes that can be learned.
Bruce Wayne is also a very spiritual man, extensively trained in Far-East philosophies and practices. In fact, I'd say this is one of Batman's greatest strengths and the reason why he is able to remain a beacon of hope for the people of Gotham. He has the discipline and willpower to never let the power get to his head. In fact, he almost always stays loyal to his values as a man. While this isn't something that just anyone can learn, it can be honed. I would call this attribute part genetic and part learned.
Here's the thing, while Bruce Wayne wasn't forced to learn these skills, he was certainly nudged in the right direction by his experience with his parents' death. He then used it to make himself stronger and better. Depending on what storyline you're reading, Bruce Wayne was either terrified of the darkness or thrived in it. Either way, it molded him into the man he became.
Now look, when talking about the Dark Knight, you can't overlook the benefits that his wealth has provided him. You just can't. And without a Kevlar suit and ultra-high-tech gadgets, there's no way in hell a 5-foot, 7-inch, 160-pound guy like myself could ever be the Caped Crusader. I mean really, I wouldn't stand a chance against Bane or Superman.
But, and this is a big but, that doesn't mean that any billionaire can achieve what Bruce was able to accomplish. You still have to be driven. You must be singularly focused on a life of anonymity and crime fighting. You can't have a wife, you can't have kids, you can't even have hobbies.
Most people couldn't do that. It takes a special person to put in the work required to be a professional athlete or successful entrepreneur. Batman is a hybrid of the two. Let's be real, most of can't leave our phone off the table during dinner, let alone live a life of solidarity for Gotham's greater good.
Ben Affleck expertly portrays this in "Dawn of Justice." Affleck's character is Batman through and through. His world outlook is grim. He's hardened by years of evil. He's older, wiser and meaner. He understands the threats against our way of life and would do anything to destroy those threats — even kill.
Christian Bale's Batman was conflicted. He didn't fully understand his place in Gotham, let alone the world. And his indecision almost got him killed. In "Dawn of Justice," Batman is a professional. He knows EXACTLY what he is.
2. The time.
Sure, you can learn anything if you put your mind to it. But here's the thing, if you want to retain that skill, or better yet, master that skill, you have to practice like a master. You must learn, apprentice and live and breathe the craft. Bruce Wayne didn't become the man he is just by showing up.
Some comics have claimed that Batman is an expert in every known martial art. That's f*cking absurd. But here's what is possible: Perhaps Bruce Wayne contacted the best MMA coach in the world and flew him to Gotham. Maybe he dedicated hours, every day for months, to earn a black belt. He probably rolls around with Anthony Bourdain and Joe Rogan on the weekends. He sits ringside at UCF and talks shop with Connor McGregor after the fights.
Maybe you can do the same. Find the best coach in your area and get to work. Wayne likely replicated this plan for his yoga and meditation practice. And certainly he contracted the best strength coach in America, maybe the world, to program his training.
But that's where things get complicated. See, as a man with an anonymous alter-ego, Bruce Wayne can't let anyone get too close, as he runs of risk of them putting two and two together.
The problem's that basically every time someone learns about Batman's true identity, they end up dead. So it's more about protecting them than it is about the risk of being exposed. Batman knows and accepts the possibility of his own death. In a way, he already died once when his parents were killed. But what Wayne could never accept is letting another man die for him.
3. Alfred Pennyworth.
One of the things I freaking loved about "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" is that they finally got Alfred right. Don't get me wrong; Michael Caine was great as Alfred in the Christopher Nolan trilogy. But Batman still needed an inside man in Lucious Fox. But ideally, the fewer people who get close, the better. This leaves an enormous burden on Alfred.
But his job goes deeper. See, in order to stay up on the goings on in the world, the newest trends in health, fitness and combat, and to manage what would be one of the most grueling schedules imaginable, what Batman really needs is a manager. Enter Alfred.
He's in charge of making sure Bruce is up at 5 am every morning to do cardio, train and/or practice yoga. After, maybe he'd prep the cryo-chamber so Bruce can get some cryotherapy or maybe a sauna session.
In terms of training, in "Dawn of Justice," Wayne is shown doing chin-ups and squats, pushing and rowing a Prowler weight sled, and smashing a tractor tire with a hammer. I think this is pretty much exactly the type of training Batman would need. But to stay honest, he still needs a coach, someone to program his training. Batman's best bet is for Alfred to serve in this role too.
Alf would then brief him on what's going on in Gotham and beyond over breakfast. At this point, to go all in, Bruce couldn't handle the day to day of Wayne Enterprises, and that's fine. His heart isn't in it anyway. He would still be the chairman and have certain obligations as such, but Alfred would have to be razor sharp when it comes to business.
Our Batman just doesn't have time for a day job. Money is most certainly going to be a factor.
After a nutritionist-planned breakfast, he would train in MMA, go to the gun range, or maybe attend a business lunch or appearance. He'd ring the bell on Wall Street. He'd have to regularly, as Batman, meet with the GCPD and might even need to go to Washington to meet with the President and with Homeland Security.
He'd be a privatized weapon of the state. But he'd do it for free. If he got paid, his identity would be public knowledge. Unless he was able to obtain some CIA-level clearances. Our average Joe Batman would have some trouble in this department. He would be a lot like Christian Bale's Bruce Wayne: an amateur vigilante.
Wayne would also need a way to travel, in private. Conflict doesn't only happen in Gotham, and if Batman is an elite detective, his services would be requested the world over.
I've read articles that say it would cost upwards of $600,000,000 to be Batman. And while those numbers look well-researched and make sense, the average Joe turned Caped Crusader can't afford that kind of hardware. His basic and most important needs are to stay alive, be able to maintain an athletic advantage, and a few toys like a grappling gun, smoke bombs, grenades and batarangs.
Finally, Batman would need some guns. Let's be real here. Would you don a mask and go full-on vigilante in sinister Gotham against the likes of the Joker and Bane without firepower? I wouldn't. Batman would need a military-issue rifle, a shotgun, a few handguns and a high-powered sniper rifle — plus some ammo.
Now add in some espionage equipment, and I think you could effectively be a minimalist Batman for about $1 million. It's a hefty price tag, but to stay alive and be worth a shit as a masked vigilante, it's a necessary cost.
As I mentioned above, in order to stay sharp, Batman needs to train. A lot. If he wants to be the best in the world, he would need to train with the best in the world. And what's the point of being a vigilante if you aren't going to be the best? There is no point because you would get killed.
In the first film of the Christopher Nolan Trilogy, "Batman Begins," Bruce Wayne trained with the League of Shadows and Ra's al Ghul. In real life, we would need someone a bit more qualified and up with the times of modern counter-terrorism warfare.
I'd recommend that our Batman find an instructor that is well-trained in secrecy, to teach him or her the deadly arts. Like most people that help in your quest, they would need to sign an NDA and wouldn't be able to ask many questions. Guys like Mark Divine, Marcus Luttrell, and Jocko Willink come to mind; all three men are SEALs, and all are badass.
6. A Batmobile.
Our Batman likely can't afford a $18,000,000 Tumbler, but I'm thinking a Humvee or Tesla would serve our purpose, as long as they are fit with bulletproof windows and other tactical accessories. The Humvee makes sense because it's military, and we know Wayne Industries has its hand in military contracting. But again, we're talking about an average Joe here, not Bruce Wayne, so we don't have those connections.
I like the idea of the Tesla because it's electric, giving it the added benefit of being a non-explosive vehicle with great acceleration. And they look legit. Let's not forget that Bruce Wayne has a pretty baller social life, and he needs to look the part.
7. A Batcave.
I think it's time to drop the old, lonely Wayne Manor narrative. Our Batman is a motivated man. Driven, not broken.
In "Dawn of Justice," Wayne Manor and Batcave is the best I've seen to date. It's a bachelor pad, and a freaking sweet one at that. But again, we're not all Billionaires and Millionaires. We just need a nice place outside Gotham to make our HQ. Then we need to fortify it and build a badass basement.
And hey, our Batman is probably going to get laid, so we should make it look modern, yet comfortable and warm. Again, "Dawn of Justice" nailed it.
At this point, I'm exhausted thinking about the time, training, money, and emotional commitment necessary to be the Dark Knight.
So, young grasshopper, is it really possible to be Batman?
Yes. It's possible.
Is it probable? No way in hell.
It's true that you have the same amount of hours in a day as Beyoncé, but aside from a very, very small group of people, that doesn't mean it's feasible to accomplish the work required to become Batman.
In conclusion, leave the crime fighting to our military, police, and three-letter government organizations.
And go see "Batman v Superman." #TeamBat
Note: the writer strongly discourages anyone from being a masked vigilante.