Christian Bale as Batman
Warner Bros. Studios
Using commercially available training, technology and domestic help, the average guy could conceivably become a real-world superhero.
updated 6/21/2005 4:48:05 PM ET 2005-06-21T20:48:05

Dark clouds have gathered over Gotham. Crime is rampant, despair is widespread and no one is safe. Who will rescue the metropolis from itself, fight the forces of evil and save the good people of the city?

Why don't you do it?

Plenty of us would love to fight for truth and justice, if only we had magic powers or mutant genes. Americans love superheroes. Last weekend, “Batman Begins” was the No. 1 film in the country, pulling in $71.1 million over its first five days. The Batman movie franchise is also one of the most lucrative of all time, with five movies (not counting “Batman Begins”) grossing nearly $1 billion.

Plenty of moviegoers had to leave those theaters a little sad that they can't fly through a city and crack muggers' heads. But don't despair — if Batman is to be believed, you can still save the day even if you're only human. Unlike Superman or Marvel Comics' X-Men, Batman doesn't have any superpowers. He survives on martial arts training, intense drive and a cave full of pretty serious psychoses.

OK, so he also has a couple billion dollars. Batman's alter ego, Bruce Wayne, is an old-money heir and the owner of Wayne Enterprises, a massive international-technology conglomerate. In our Forbes Fictional Fifteen, we estimated his net worth at $6.3 billion. If he were a real guy, he'd be the 28th richest person in America, right behind News Corp.'s Rupert Murdoch.

Wayne uses his riches and corporate connections to equip himself with the latest and greatest in military hardware, and uses those tools to help him fight villains like the Joker, the Riddler, and Ra's Al Ghul.

But you don't have to be a billionaire to become a caped crusader. Using commercially available training, technology and domestic help, the average guy could conceivably equip himself to become a real-world superhero, provided he's got at least a couple million to spare.

© 2012


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