Happy Batman Day! DC Comics first created Batman Day for Batman's 75th anniversary in 2014, and has continued to celebrate the Dark Knight on Sept. 23 each year since. While Harley Quinn has been trying to steal Batman's thunder (happy 25th, Harls) this year, we still want to take a closer look at the guy who started it all.
A few years ago, MoneySupermarket.com put out an excellent infographic about the cost of being Batman. They used numbers based on The Dark Knight trilogy of films from Christopher Nolan, which means they were using modern technology (and values). But they only looked at base costs, not at ongoing numbers, and the base costs alone were astounding: $682 million just to become Batman. Based on those starting numbers, how much has Bruce Wayne spent on being Batman over the years? We'll start with their numbers, and break it down based on the DC Comics sliding timeline; thanks to the New 52 reboot, where Bruce had been Batman for "about 7 years," and assuming at least a year or two has passed since then, let's go with nine years of Batman-ing.
One Batsuit, according to MoneySupermarket's research, costs about $1,058,600. Bruce has altered the suit over the years (over 35 significant different Batsuits have appeared in the comics), of course, with more or less actual armor in there. Assuming his entire New 52 career has used a variation of the armored Batsuit, though, we know he's gone through several. In he first volume of Batman, "Court of Owls," we saw at least four Batsuits in his "hall of armor." When "The Outsider" infiltrated the Batcave, we also saw a heavy armor variant. We've seen Bat-mechs (though most of those were developed by Jim Gordon and the GCPD), armor for infiltrating Apokolips, and more (and again, this is all only since the New 52). A conservative estimate would say that in nine years, Batman has gone through somewhere in the range of 45 base suits (five per year, based on the number of times it has been destroyed against the Court of Owls, Darkseid, etc.), running Bruce $47.6 million.
Add in the variants, and we're going to put this total at a nice round $55 million. That's just the suits, in just nine years, and doesn't even count the research and development costs.
Here we're going to slightly diverge from MoneySupermarket's original estimates. They put the Tumbler version of the Batmobile at around $18 million, the Batpod motorcycle at around $1.5 million, and "the Bat" (more commonly called the Batwing in the comics) at $60 million. Modern Batman definitely has a tank-like "Tumbler" variant in his arsenal, but he also has other variations of the Batmobile (and has destroyed at least a few completely in his quest). He's had a flying variant, a submarine convertible variant, and plenty that just plain drive -- you know, on actual roads. The modern movie Batmobile is estimated at a real-life cost of around $9 million.
So, if we have one tank, at least four in the modern style, plus variants, we'll put his Batmobiles alone at easily $70 million in his nine years of active duty. We know at least one Batwing has been destroyed (and another shown in its place) since the New 52 era, so we'll just say two of those for another $120 million. Let's say he's been much safer with his bikes, since he uses them way less, and give him just two over the years at $3 million.
That means his vehicles in nine years have cost around $193 million. This is getting out of hand.
Now, this is where the comics really far outweigh anything we've seen on film. In just the Dark Knight trilogy, his arsenal was estimated at $213,610. Each set of three Batarangs alone run about $1,000. Based on those numbers, Batman's arsenal, changing constantly as he develops new toys, is just staggering. Those barely count all the extra gadgets Batman has in his belt. Let's say in one average night of crime fighting Batman throws just three Batarangs. Batman's obsession means he's out in the field 360 out of 365 nights in the year. At 9 years, that's 9,720 Batarangs, or $9.72 million -- just on his throwaway weapon.
Let's add to that the $213,610, and with his rough-and-tumble approach to life, say he's spending that roughly twice a year, every year. That's over $3.8 million in other assorted gadgets.
A few specialty gear pieces, and his gadgets to take down each member of the Justice League like a red sun generator (seen just this past week in Justice League), and we'll make this a cool $16 million, though that's probably low.
Wayne Manor and the Batcave
The initial estimated cost of building the Batcave and Wayne Manor after total destruction was $600 million. It's been destroyed at least once in modern continuity. They also estimated it would cost $267,000 per year to maintain the manor and cave, and to pay Alfred ($2,403,000 over nine years, with no pay increases, sorry, Alfred).
But wait, there's more! We know Batman has satellite locations in Gotham, like Wayne Tower with its own underground system; luckily we don't have to add in the likely $1.6 billion cost of Wayne Tower, because that's not technically for being Batman (though it does fund it, certainly), so let's just add another $200 million cave underneath it. Here's where things skyrocket: Batman has his own underground tunnels. Now, he's co-opted some of the old subway tunnels and even the tunnels developed earlier by the Court of Owls, for sure, so we don't have to go with 2011's estimated NYC Subway cost of $2 billion per mile. But even with the base infrastructure there, making operable roads and rail systems, and then powering and maintaining them, we'll give Bruce an extremely conservative price tag of $1 billion for his underground system.
And then there's taxes. If Wayne Manor is valued at around $32 million by the state (ignorant to the hundreds of millions beneath it) and we assume a Long Island-style property tax rate of 1.99%, Bruce is paying ... brace yourself ... $636,800 per year in property tax. That's $5.73 million in nine years, assuming zero market fluctuation.
That brings his infrastructure costs to just over $2.41 billion. And you thought your rent was high.
Education, Training, and R&D
A mere drop in the bucket, Batman's training and education costs were estimated at around $1.75 million. But R&D costs would be Bruce Wayne's ultimate downfall, if he couldn't hide them within the Wayne Enterprises budget. In 2015, Apple came in at 19th in overall R&D spending with a total budget of $6 billion. If Wayne Enterprises is in the top 20 (which, as big as it is in the DC Universe, it would have to be), let's say they're spending around $6.5 billion a year on R&D. If even a paltry 5% of that was specifically for Batman's gadgets, costumes, and vehicles, he'd still be spending $325 million per year on personal research and development.
Multiplied by nine years, that's $2.925 billion in R&D spending for Bruce.
It costs a lot to be Batman
Our grand total for nine years of operating as Batman, from initial costs to ongoing concerns, is $5,600,750,000 (5 billion, 600 million, 750 thousand dollars). He's spending around $622 million a year, and that's not including obvious increases, the odd spend, or inflation. Veranda.com had Bruce Wayne valued at around $8.5 billion in 2016, so even if he's spending only his personal fortune, he'd still be a billionaire around three times over. Of course, this doesn't count arming and protecting his Robins and other sidekicks/partners. No wonder he's brooding all the time.
Just for fun, if he'd been spending this much for all 78 years of his existence? Batman would've spent over $48.5 billion just being Batman. Maybe he should just try therapy.
All images in this article courtesy DC Comics.