One of the most popular types of superheroes breaks down to the "highly skilled, highly intelligent, (sometimes well funded) martial artist," with the most well known example of this superhero trope being Batman.

So what is Batman like?

Batman specifically exhibits physical prowess across the board the equal of Olympians, mastery of a variety of martial arts, gymnastic and acrobatic mastery, impressive engineering and craftsmanship skills, hacker/programmer/general computer genius-level capabilities, and ability to buy a wide array of impressive and often military gadgets on a billionaire's budget. He also manages to pull all of this off, fighting crime and supervillians (for the purpose of this question, we'll say "crime, terrorists, and similar threats to American society"). He has a long history of fighting these threats, and has survived the various possibly lethal encounters. And the icing on this cake is that he's accomplished all of this without drawing suspicion from either law enforcement or the public.

Impressive, but unfortunately unrealistically so.

Within the bounds of:

  • Human capabilities (mental and physical)
  • Physics
  • Economics/Logistics
  • Criminology
  • Modern public media
  • Etc.

And given the constraints/options of:

  • Our Batman cannot be any richer (liquid and other wealth combined) than any private citizen of the real Earth
  • Our Batman may be the owner (CEO, President, and primary stockholder) of any one fictitious private business that has a real-life parallel (publicly traded or private).
  • Our Batman may have mental capabilities of any description as long as there is historic justification for such capabilities
  • As long as he remains 100% human and bound by biology (or historic examples), his genetics can be whatever makes him best suited for this role
  • Our Batman works alone or with <5 people (who fulfill secondary or support roles). These people have absolute loyalty, and may hold upto similar physical/mental capabilities as our Batman.
  • Our Batman must be based out of any one major metropolitan region in the USA.
  • Our Batman can be of any age that would best fit this role

...How would could such a figure reach the previous listed accomplishments? How far would we have to dial back our caped crusader to return to the realm of reality?

  • 14
    $\begingroup$ One thing to specify...are we talking modern day (2016) or are we talking when batman was first released (1940ish)? The difference of public surveillance between these times means a lot...you could get away with alot more prior to the internet. $\endgroup$
    – Twelfth
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 18:11
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ It should be noted that much of Batman's crime-fighting power comes from the resources of a massive company which would no doubt be broken up by anti-trust laws in the real world. This includes not only developing tech and gadgets for him, but also providing him a vast information network for him to access private records (illegally) for use in his aggressive vigilanting (also illegal). $\endgroup$
    – Kys
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 18:22
  • 30
    $\begingroup$ @NexTerren - Modern law enforcement (through mass surveillance) would catch him after some collateral damage occurred. It'd make an interesting NCIS episode at very least. But given todays world...I'd say the entire operation would be uncovered by 5 teenagers trying to catch a pokemon that somehow got hidden in the batcave. $\endgroup$
    – Twelfth
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 21:37
  • 14
    $\begingroup$ I've wondered that myself. $\endgroup$
    – BruceWayne
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 4:30
  • 8
    $\begingroup$ Hi Nex, you will be glad to know there is already a book on what it takes to be Batman, written by a neuroscientist and martial arts expert. E. Paul Zehr's BECOMING BATMAN: The Possibility of a Superhero (2008). Details about which can be found here at en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 5:30

12 Answers 12


Perhaps not that far at all. Consider in the real world we have seen terrorists like "Carlos the Jackel" capable of committing terrorist attacks against some pretty heavy hitters (like breaking into an OPEC meeting) across the planet without being stopped by police or security services. On the other side, the Mossad sent teams around the world looking for the "Black September" terrorists responsible for planning the 1972 Munich Olympic massacre and were largely successful, also eluding law enforcement and Western security for the most part (Read George Jonas' book "Vengeance" for the account of one of these teams).

Now these people are/were not Olympians, mad scientists, expert computer hackers etc. (Avner, the protagonist and team leader in the book Vengeance describes himself and his team members as presenting like a pretty ordinary bunch of guys). Where they and their opponents are different lies in their mental preparation. In order to work undetected, they need to develop acute powers of observation and memory, have the ability to integrate large quantities of information and make and execute rapid decisions.

The fact they are/were spies and terrorists means they do have effectively unlimited resources (Spies largely funded by state sponsors. In that period, the USSR, Lybia and other Arab states were sponsors of Terrorism, today we see nations like Iran funnelling billions of dollars to Hezbollah and other proxies, while ISIS was initially funded by the Gulf States as a means of countering Iranian adventurism).

The Israelis going after Black September and Carlos the Jackal are very dated examples, going back to the 1970's. While I have no first hand knowledge, it is quite easy to believe that the training and support that terrorists and spies receive has increased by orders of magnitude since then, and of course the individuals who do these jobs are going to be rated in the sorts of cultures they come from (no spy in the 1970's would be a computer hacker in the sense we understand, since personal computers and the Internet did not exist. Today, however, it would be a rare individual who did not have some knowledge and understanding of computers and the internet).

  • $\begingroup$ "Where they and their opponents are different lies in their mental preparation." This point caught my attention. Are you suggesting that what we should do is dial back Batman's opponents to make it more believable? Or are you saying that this gap already exists in his stories? $\endgroup$
    – jpmc26
    Commented Aug 22, 2016 at 23:03
  • 9
    $\begingroup$ @jpmc26: I would say that the gap already exists; most of Batman's foes suffer from some sort of neurosis, and Batman takes advantage of these conditions; for example, the Riddler compulsively leaves riddles/clues; Penguin and Catwoman generally steal bird and cat themed loot, respectively; Poison Ivy is an eco-terrorist who generally uses biological agents and weapons; Scarecrow almost exclusively uses a fear-inducing chemical weapon; Two-face is beholden to his coin flip; Harley Quinn is fanatically devoted to the Joker, etc. $\endgroup$
    – sharur
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 1:13
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ @sharur is correct in the comicbook universe, and in the real world the difference is similar, if not so pronounced. Terrorists are generally both driven by ideological considerations, so their assessments will be coloured by that, and are usually sociopaths as well, so they carry out their actions with little or no consideration about the human costs. The counter terror agents are driven by different considerations, but are acting in the service of their nation, sheepdogs rather than wolves. $\endgroup$
    – Thucydides
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 3:04
  • $\begingroup$ Regarding Black September, Munich is a pretty good movie that covers that material as well. I do not know if it is faithful to the book, but it is still a really good movie. It certainly shows the preparation, both materially and mentally, that goes into the mission. It also shows the emotional and physical toll that type of mission can demand. $\endgroup$
    – user1975
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 15:49
  • 4
    $\begingroup$ "In that period, the USSR, Lybia and other Arab states were sponsors of Terrorism" History books are always written by the winners. The US, UK and other western governments, through clandestine operations, sponsored ... terrorists too. CIA inserted Rebels into cuba etc. Whilst this isn't wikipedia, we should consider other people may use this site with their own political stand point, and a more balanced writing may benefit all. $\endgroup$
    – Jmons
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 8:54

This reminds me of my inspiration for my protagonist in my novel The Crusader. In the real world, I once worked for a company called Blackwater USA. They were a large government contractor that were responsible for providing security to the State Department and CIA. There was a lot of hype and pandemonium about how Blackwater was a "private army" which was mostly hyperbolic BS, but there is a certain bit of truth at the core.

The founder of Blackwater is a former Navy SEAL who in the early 2000s ran a significant government contractor which employed a large number of highly trained military vets, owned its own mini "air force", and controlled a pretty respectable arsenal (by corporate, NOT government standards). If you think about this in terms of "real world Batman". Prince was a guy who had some interesting skillsets, would have been capable of self-deploying to pretty much any corner of the world and surviving, had access to a lot of gear and weapons that might be useful, and (had he been so inclined) potentially could have done a lot of the things you would expect of a "real world batman".

In my novel, I altered some of the background for my protagonist. I went with Delta rather than the SEALs for his background because I felt that the Army SF teams emphasis on counterinsurgency, languages, "force multiplication", and survival training would make him more flexible. Obviously, since I was writing a novel and not a comic book, I gave him some flaws and limitations to make things interesting, but in this case, you could presume that your "batman" is a top-notch specimen probably ex SF or SAS or whatever, who has had some major country spend a few million dollars to train him, and who now controls some sizable corporation.

To handle the "how does he hide" aspect, I would probably make him a Federal contractor (maybe FBI). That gives him some access to contacts, information, and a certain degree of free movement that would facilitate his vigilantism. Obviously, it goes without saying that any "real world batman" would be always one small step away from a MAJOR prison sentence! Such is the cost of being a superhero though.


If you dialed back Batman to his original appearances, he would easily be a possibility in our world. As he is today, it's still possible, but there are some areas that would need tweaking.

Human capabilities: This one is easy. Simply look at the peek examples in any given area.

Starting with mental capabilities, the easiest place to start is IQ. The highest known IQ is around 230, with at least one individual suspected to be in the 250-300 range. So, let's be generous and give Bruce a 300 IQ. That's not the whole picture of a person's mental skills, but it's a quantifiable start. This gives a baseline indicator of verbal, mathematical, spatial and symbolic reasoning, as well as mental processing speed. For someone like Batman, we would probably want to weight the last two categories heavier than the first two, since the ability to identify symbols and patterns, and the general speed of thought would be the most useful to him.

Beyond that, you have his deductive reasoning, his vast knowledge, his ability to think strategically, and his inventiveness. Again, you can point to real world examples that, when taken together, combine to give a good approximation of Batman's capabilities. Dr. Joseph Bell (the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes) had amazing deductive skills. There are plenty of examples of people with extremely powerful memories. It's a skill that can be learned and practiced. Again, you can point to plenty of examples of master strategists throughout history. I would say this most often comes down to a knowledge (innate or learned) of human behavior, but that's my opinion. Regardless, there are many historical examples of people who were able to defy the odds. And finally, inventiveness. Again, you only need to look at someone like da Vinci to see examples of how creative someone can be. So far, I don't see anything in Batman's mental capabilities that would need to be dialed back.

Physical capabilities again, it's easy to find examples of the peek limits of the human form. Just look at the Guinness Book of World Records. People lifting up to a thousand pounds, breaking several slabs of concrete at once with just their fist, surviving extreme physical trauma, and so on. This might be one area where we would need to dial it down. Not so much in what he can do, but in how much punishment he can take. There are certain laws of physics, and no matter who you are, some of the more comic book-y injuries would simply kill or severely injure you. For example, you can build bone and muscle, but your brain is still a soft mass floating in a small amount of liquid, and a strong enough force is going to cause it to go slamming into your skull with enough force to injure it, no matter who you are.

Economics: This one is tough. In terms of pure numbers, it's easy. Plenty of places have tried to calculate the real world net worth of various rich superheroes, and Bruce usually comes in at around 10 billion, which is entirely realistic. What is less so is his ability to make that money work as far as building his bat gadgets. Nolan did probably the best job of realistically showing how this could work, but it would still be hard to hide the fact that he's using his money to fund his alter ego. Eventually his shareholders are going to want answers about why they've sunk money into inventing a bunch of prototypes that would have been very successful in military and law enforcement, which went nowhere.

Social Media: This combined with the technology we have today, would make for the least believable scenario. Cell phone cameras, combined with facial recognition software, and the fact that he's one of the most famous people in the world, would mean someone would put it together sooner or later. Plus there's the fact that few people would have the time and money necessary to put in the training he has and build the gadgets he has. The best way he could accomplish this is with a double - someone close enough in build and features that no one would notice the difference, but they could do the antithesis of the popular shirt "I'm not saying I'm Batman, I'm just saying no one's ever seen me and Batman in the same room together." There, you've seen them in the same room, and you couldn't have two Batmans (Batmen?), so our hero couldn't be Batman. Most likely though, people would still suspect there was at least some connection.

The best option for this is not to be the playboy millionaire, but to be boring. There are enough multi-billionaires that, if he didn't stick out in some way, he could get lost in the crowd. Also, not owning the company that could produce his gear directly would help. If he could figure out some way of getting what he needed covertly from someone else, preferably if they weren't aware, that would further distance himself from a chance to be the Bat. Shell companies, funded through offshore accounts, things like that.

  • 11
    $\begingroup$ "The highest known IQ is around 230," - No, IQ does not work that way, and having an IQ above 200 is mathematically impossible. IQ measures how many standard deviations the intelligence of an individual is away from the average. Also, this average should be calibrated on the age group and several other factors, so a global IQ number doesn't make much sense. Even if it would, IQ is not like the gram or the meter, its scale is not linear. An IQ above 190 would mean 14 people on the planet have it, and an IQ of 200 would mean less than one person. Most standard tests only go up to 130. $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 6:15
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @vsz: I don't see how an IQ > 200 would be mathematically impossible. Yes, tests only go up to a certain point and cannot return a value larger than some maximum, which you will reach if you answer all items correctly. But nothing would keep you from creating a bigger test with more items and thus a higher maximum. Yes, these would be hard to calibrate at the top levels, where the normal distribution assumption underlying typical IQ logic (15 points = 1 standard deviation) becomes very doubtful, but that's a far cry from an IQ > 200 being mathematically impossible. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 8:43
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @vsz: Of course an IQ above 200 is mathematically possible. Just because the assumption of the distribution of IQ in a population tells us that it is unlikely that there is such a person right now, doesn't make it impossible. Even if IQ was assigned on the basis of the percentile a person is in (which you seem to think), you can just look at a population over a longer time period, to get a >200 IQ person, who has to live at some time. Why not now? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 8:43
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @StephanKolassa : Maybe saying "meaningless" instead of "impossible" would have been more accurate. The definition of the IQ is somewhat distinct from the tests, the tests try to calculate it, while good tests are trying to remain as close to the definition as possible. Remember, "all models are wrong, some models are useful". Yes, one could design a test which goes with scores up to 1000, or which contains trivia questions, (some attention-seeking websites do this), but that would be far from the original meaning of the IQ. $\endgroup$
    – vsz
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 11:24
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ I've got to agree with this one. The most unbelievable part of the movies/comics is simply how many times he gets punched in the face and just shakes it off with no concussion or anything. The rest is nit-picking or common sense, like "he jumped slightly higher than a human should be able to" or "he punched that guy through a wall which is not entirely realistic" which you can mostly chalk up to artistic license. $\endgroup$
    – thanby
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 13:33

A realistic Batman wouldn't be one man. No one man could be the Batman, the physical toll on body and mind would be too great, but a team of skilled martial artists, escapologists, and persons with special forces training could do the job. They would be part of a team or a succession of Batmen. The Batman operation would be funded by a CEO billionaire, who we may call Bruce Wayne, and probably aided and abetted by a cabal of like-minded billionaires, businessmen, and public officials.

Quite, possibly, the Batman's rogues gallery could be staffed by persons run by the same operation. Their activities would exist to justify the vigilantism of Team Batman. This would also explain how the Joker, Penguin, Catwoman, the Scarecrow and other criminals are soon free to commit more crimes. Again these criminals who not be the one individual, but a series of persons filling their roles.

Doubtless the real target of Team Batman and its vigilantism would be uppity malcontents with misguided ideas about ending the plutocratic dominance of the deserving wealthy, ensuring there was justice for all, upholding democratic ideals and generally thwarting the social, political and economic elites from running society to suit themselves.

A celebrity crime-fighter would be perfect cover for the powers that be to keep the lower classes in their places. Most especially when that celebrity crime-fighter was the mask for many highly skilled operatives to do what was needed to be done.

This model of the Batman does adhere to the culturally fashionable opinion that Batman is a fascist thug, and, therefore, an instrument of wealth and power.

Anyone who deduced that the author of this answer was a Superman fan would be right.

  • $\begingroup$ > Batman is a fascist thug Wasting resources on inefficient ways of fighting crime does not make one fascist though. One does not need to hate ducks to hunt them, one does not need to hate thugs to hunt them. Being driven by ego, not efficiency is a trait common to superheroes. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ @Daerdemandt. Do I really need to explain the joke? I suggest you re-read my answer to discover this version of Batman isn't really fighting crime. But that is part of the joke. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 13:34
  • $\begingroup$ Well, you sounded like a person sincerely bad-mouthing perceived false prophet. If you were joking, re-read my comment as well and contemplate if hunting thugs for fun really counts as fighting crime. To me it looks more like having scapegoat with acceptable PR,allowing for bigger game with "villains" and also having some of your actions hit the news without you going to the jail. There's no need for some conspiracy upholding world order. Friends who have couple beers at weekend don't prevent beer insurgencies.\ If you were sincere, you would attack member of outgroup anyway, wouldn't you? $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 14:01
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Your Batman sounds like the villain in a sequel to V for Vendetta. $\endgroup$
    – Torisuda
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 4:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Torisuda If I could aim so high, but if Alan Moore wants advice on the sequel I'd be happy to help. $\endgroup$
    – a4android
    Commented Aug 24, 2016 at 8:56

Don't get me wrong, but I think with right circumstances, Batman can be realistic.

Look, you have vigilante who since he was kid, was driven by vengeance who killed his parents. He is rich, so he have proper resources to get best experts in each field to teach him all what he needs to know to be Batman. As he has a goal and his mission, he will not side track and waste his time on fun with his friends. During the day, he could hide behind mask of eccentric billionaire, who is always sitting as his home, and afraid to come out, and die like his parents. As long as he pays all his bills, nobody will ask many questions.

Real version of Batman would be bit darker than original one, and It will have shorter life span than one from comic books.

So let's fix that. Let's create Batman not as individual, but as team of people. Who do we need to meet given requirements.

  1. Multimillionaire who wants to throw some money away on Batman Initiative. He is financial expert, he knows how to make a money, and how to hide them. So BI funds can be untraceable.
  2. Two highly trained soldiers. It will be best if they got training from special forces SAS, Delta Force, etc. One of them is guy who wears the suit. We need two in case of emergency: if one of them got injured, then we can quickly replace him by another one.
  3. Operator, highly educated individual. He is the brain, using small cameras and various sensors he sees all what batman sees and even more. Together with his knowledge and analytical skills and internet access, he can solve any mystery and find almost right away where to send Batman to get more baddies.

But, if we can go slightly beyond constrains, BI could be government covered agency, created to deal with very dangerous criminals who can't be dealt in normal circumstances. Because they corrupted local law enforcement, have influences in high places or have extremely good lawyers. If we go with this route, BI team could be slightly bigger, access to some data could be simplified and would be easier to cover some tracks.


The idea of a single person being able to meet all the requirements of Batman is absolutely impossible without massive scale backs. The biggest issue would be the time required to maintain his high level of performance in that many fields. Considering that Olympic level athletes train up to 6 hours a day, leading minds in engineering work over 10 hours a day, leading minds in computer science work over 10 hours a day, the standard corporate work day takes up 9 hours, and humans need around 8 hours of sleep to perform at their peak. Add these up and he would need around 43 hours a day to maintain the ability to fight crime the way he does, not including the time he actually spends investigating and fighting crime.

Now the idea of a team of 1 sponsor and 5 support people being "Batman" is much more feasible. With one Martial Artist (wear the suit), one Engineer (design the gadgets), one Computer Hacker (bury/dig up evidence), one Computer Programmer (keep the batcave online), one Detective/Forensic Scientist (solve the crimes), and one Businessman (supply funds) they could all be advanced specialists in their field and complete the duties of "Batman". The hardest thing to overcome would be satellite/drone/radar surveillance. If they drew too much attention then the government would put eyes on the area "Batman" showed up the most and would find the batcave. They would have to maintain an MO that did not grab the attention of anyone higher than the local PD, while squashing "Superhero" rumors and replacing them with something less enticing to the public.


It is possible to be Batman...sorta. As long as you discount "peak human physical ability" and some of the stated limits of Batman's abilities as just the writers not quite understanding how the human body works and what that means. For example, lifting 1000lbs is possible, but doing so while running as fast as Usain Bolt is not. Batman can do both in the comics, but this is because it is said that he is at peak human ability which is translated to the ultimate that individuals can achieve in a given category, when I think it is best to intepret it as what a human that is in overall peak condition can do. Which means he's slower than Bolt and weaker than the strongest man in the world, but he is at the highest level possible in those categories in balanced with each other.

Edit: I want to point out that my interpretation of peak fitness, which is never an actual thing but just a description, is more in line with what is stated in the comics. Bruce points out somewhere that Dick is better than he in areas, Jason in others, and Tim in others. This is because how they've been raised, were trained up, and their natural physical characteristics. Tim and Bruce can never match the level of acrobatic ability of Dick, but Dick and Bruce can never match the hacking and detective skills of Tim. (Yes. Batman is literally like 4th in line for the top detective in DC canon despite being considered the top by most people). This being the case it's obvious that Bruce isn't "peak" in every individual category, but "peak" overall.

The best answer though for how possible this is can be found Here. I would state all the info, but he references many things in the video and explains it quite well. The gist of it though is that to do it you have to do a very specific sleep schedule, education program, diet, etc that are all shown to work, but you'd pretty much have to be insane and rich to be able to do it, but not extremely so. A few million probably would get you to be able to do it. You also likely would have to start as a child so you'd have to have someone force you into it more or less to get to that level.

So you can "possibly" build a human that is Batman... however we don't know the long term strain of such a regimen and as a result, even though it "seems" possible, it could be that if someone lived like this they'd have an extremely shortened life...


He has a long history of fighting these threats, and has survived the various possibly lethal encounters.

That alone sounds very implausible. If you routinely go through fights in each of which you have a 5% possibility of dying, statistically speaking you are dead. In real life, you cannot dodge every bullet.

The Batman and James Bond-style hero simply cannot exist. The only possibility to have a long and successful career is being very careful, avoiding fights and risks, relying on henchmen, not exposing oneself, not engaging in a fight unless one has overwhelming advantage. Though this doesn't make for a good story to tell on TV, I am afraid.


Assuming Batman is a single human individual with access to, for simplicity's sake, the resources of a powerful multinational defense corporation, we can analyze the limiting factors within Human capabilities (mental and physical).

Human mental capability is often mistakenly thought to be measured with an IQ, or Intelligence Quotient, test. While it is fairly agreed upon in scientific circles that intelligence and IQ have a non-weak correlation, the causation is still a rather open question. That is to say that a high IQ is no doubt indicative of strong pattern recognition but, may say little with regards to the speed and ability of an individual to assess and take appropriate action in a high risk combative environment. Hence the different forms of "intelligence," the word itself being very ambiguous. For example, a highly selected military operative (think Delta force or SEAL) is highly adept at modern combat skills in a wide range of situations, however, there is little to suggest that a high IQ would imply better performance in this case. The average Ph.D candidate on the other hand, is significantly above the average high school graduate on most standardized IQ tests, at the same time it is quite apparent that the average Ph.D candidate makes much more use of pattern recognition, memorization, and data analyzing skills than does the average high school graduate.

Thus, we conclude that Batman most likely would have a higher than normal IQ. After all our Batman is proficient in the use of computers and gadgets, both of which give a moderate advantage to those who are quicker at pattern recognition. However, there is not much to suggest that a "genius" level IQ would give Batman much of an advantage to crime fighting.

The most important mental function would be tied to that of physical processes, namely procedural memory. Batman undoubtedly is proficient in acrobatics, martial arts, and preforming repeated tasks with gadgets, vehicles and (non-lethal) weapon systems. Some individuals have been shown to be more adapt at retaining and improving procedural (or sometimes called 'muscle') memory of which it must be noted there are different types. Having the ability to preform tasks repeatedly, while maintaining accuracy and functionality would be crucial for Batman to have the edge in both combat and non-combat operations. Whether in fighting a gang of thugs or solving a crime case, Batman is demonstrated to use a large selection of skills and tools at his disposal to accomplish the job, rather than relying on any powers of mental deduction or pattern recognition.

Thus we conclude that Batman would be an individual with a moderately higher than normal IQ, but with extremely fast reaction time, very adaptable procedural memory, and a lot hands on training. In other words Batman would most likely have a strong back ground as an athlete and military or paramilitary, spending most of his time in the gym and on field ops, rather than in a business office or lab.


I don't think it is possible to be Batman.

Let's say you are a high rank officer in Wayne Enterprises and you have regular meetings with the CEO who is Bruce Wayne. One day you read the news saying that Batman helped the police catching a criminal at night and your boss does not come to the meeting next day. Some time later you read that Batman rescued someone from a mob leader and the next day your boss comes to the meeting very tired(like he didn't sleep the night before). You soon realize that every time Batman does something in the night , the next day your boss acts strange. By the way your boss is a muscled man and has no family. You suspect.

Next time when there is a live footage of a car chase including Batman(like in the third movie) you call your boss and he doesn't answer your phone, but normally he always answers his phone. You find out that he is Batman.

It took Hermione(15 years old student) to find out ,that Lupin was Werewolf, only 1 month. She deducts it from the days that Lupin is not in class and full-moon cycles.


My vote is for maybe realistic, with some tweaking (either of abilities or expectations).

Physically, his abilities would have to be top notch, equivalent to Olympic-level athletes - although not actually an Olympic athlete, since that requires a lot more specialization to the point it might be counterproductive, but the raw abilities of one. If we want to be specific, perhaps the abilities of an Olympic-level acrobat or gymnast, since the flexibility, control, and body-awareness will be very useful (physically specializing towards, say, strength or sprinting-speed might not be versatile enough). There will be people faster, and stronger, and people with more specialized training in a single area, but if he has a decent level of native skill and takes his training seriously, he can maneuver better, fight where he can and out-think, plan traps, or manipulate the situation where he can't.

As for age, physical fitness tends to peak in from the 20s to early 30s. If he starts his 'career' at 20, or maybe even a little younger, say 18, he has at least a decade and a bit with which to pick up the experience and skill he will need to be able to compensate for the effects of aging and also the accumulating injuries form fighting, and keep his career going a little longer. Even so, his age will be a limiting factor - there will be no 60-years in this career no matter what the comics say, 3-5 years is reasonable career length for sports (given chance of injury) and most athletic careers are over by age 33. Even if he can use experience and skill to compensate - by stacking the deck, choosing fights wisely, being sneaky and underhanded, and not directly competing where he doesn't have an advantage, at some point he will no longer be effective in direct fights against younger, stronger foes even if they are less skilled. At that point, he might be able to train a successor and/or serve in a support capacity if he would like the name to continue longer, but his career is all but over.

He probably won't be a "master" of all martial arts, that seems a little too much - especially since they will be specialized and mastery of each will require different strengths and weaknesses. But basically familiar with many types, sure - and a master (or nearly so) of two or perhaps three different styles might pull of the fighting quite well. The muscular control and body-awareness that comes with mastering a style or two might let him fight quite effectively even if not in his chosen style, if a specific style (that he still has to be familiar with) happens to be the best match for an opponent's style. And given the raw, Olympic level abilities, and starting training young and with a lot of motivation, being somewhere from fairly good to master-level in perhaps two martial arts might be reasonable when just starting out. Picking up the basics of other styles (and maybe mastering a third, depending) would be less critical, and could happen at any point along the way. That is, they would help with versatility and flexibility, but they would also take extra time and effort.

As for wounds and injuries, this will need some lowered expectations. He can be skilled, and careful, and have the best in body armor and gear - but injuries will still happen, and will not be magically healed. Stories are usually pretty bad at this, since they want shock value without actual consequences. So, every time he gets injured, he will need time off to heal, and he will need time off for bullet wounds, for broken bones, and also for strains and sprains, burns and cuts, and even significant bruising, since he needs to be in fighting condition. He will need periodic time off anyway, recover from strain, stress, lack of sleep, to catch up on all the littler healing (scratches and bruises and and whatnot) since that will interfere with him fighting...and also to basically keep his life balanced and livable. It is possible that this time happens, but "off-screen" in the media version, and he could do non-physical work in the meantime (perhaps also "off-screen" extra time investigating).

But in general, he will probably not be out nightly but maybe have appearances spaced over a month, or even a year. If his costumed appearances are tightly correlated to injuries, it will also make it much easier to track his identity - anyone injured during relevant time periods, over time, will probably give a fairly short list, with the added bonus of going out while injured/recovering might also let people figure out and track injuries quite specifically (still favoring that knee, something with the shoulder, etc). On the other hand, if his appearances are irregular to begin with, that might mask healing time between regular investigation-time and non-costumed activities.

Mentally, he might not need quite so impressive abilities to be quite effective. He will need to be highly intelligent, yes, and have a good memory, a decent problem-solving ability, deductive reasoning, and the ability to think unconventionally and look for out-of-the-box solutions. He will need a decent level of ability to figure out things on the go, while they're happening, and to change his plans to changing circumstances. And obviously the more native abilities he has, the easier all that will be. But really, he doesn't need to have abilities or training out of reach for a very good detective or investigator. And, studying and practicing can improve native abilities quite a bit - not to mention, he can lean on artificial help, in terms of computers, gadgets, and programs, to achieve quite a bit more.

So, for the rest - he doesn't need to memorize tons of details with access to a computer with which to look them up, maybe just things he expects to need on a day-to-day basis, or what he needs for a single outing. If he's got a decent connection to that computer on the go (I think I recall a glove-computer or the like), he can look things up if he has even a few minutes to stop and check. Or a (good) voice system so he can ask the computer to look stuff up for him if he hasn't got his hands free. Or a single accomplice, who can just access the computer and do a search if it turns out he needs more information between going out and coming back in. If he has a little camera on his suit, or audio recording, he only need a decent memory, not a perfect one - he can look over recordings after the fact to pick up details he might have missed. With money comes the potential to buy or access copies of the best investigation programs, from pattern analysis to forensics to tracking programs.

But wait, if he has the mental abilities, and resources, of most pretty good detectives or investigators, how does he continuously out-perform, for example, the police? Well, he can pick and choose which cases to investigate, while actual police (and so on) are investigating many cases at the same time, since they are responsible for all of them. If he has too much going on to deal with some crime, he can drop off tips and information to the cops instead of investigating everything himself. Also, between having lots of money and only needing enough resources for himself, he can always have the best equipment and most cutting edge programs, while police and so on will settle for the most cost-effective and still pretty good resources, and will have to share them among many people and cases. So not only can he focus in on just whatever he happens to be working on, he can also spend a long time going back to a case until it's solved to his satisfaction, without the outside pressures (the media, the higher-ups, the politicians) that the police might have to deal with on any given case.

The more realistic version will probably need to spend more time analyzing and researching the crimes, compared to the media version whose investigation time would be truncated or "off-screen", but with a tighter focus and the best of resources, he could still be very impressive. And again, the more time between appearances will let his healing and recovery time drop to a more realistic level.

Hacking and programming, hm. I think he would need to be quite good, to make it work - but again, while the better his skills the easier, he doesn't have to be genius level to make it work. He can augment his actual skills with access to the best programs and tools for the purpose, including those used by police (for breaking into digital systems) or computer repair places (for data recovery and such), but he will want to be fairly good in his own right for situations where he is without the regular tools. It would be easier if his company hired really good computer people and did some work in the relevant areas, had some division for developing such programs for law enforcement, (which will also give him a cover for procuring his own copy of the latest).

Or at the very least his company should be pretty careful about cyber-security and he keeps himself up-to-date on what they were looking out for, borrowing their expertise to figure out exactly what he needed to learn and what he could get around other cyber-security systems. He would need to know enough to take what they were doing and apply it elsewhere, but he could piggyback off of their results instead of having to be a genius about it himself. Having even one trustworthy computer-person in the know would help a lot, but it might be worked around. It also might be helpful, in a different way, if his company was doing work on computers instead, and thus he could (sneakily) have some back door installed (for legitimate, um, data-recovery purposes!) that would let him have a shortcut if whatever computer he needed to break into happened to be of his company's make.

And speaking of which, logistics. Obviously, if he spends company resources on developing the gadgets (and/or producing them) and then doesn't sell them, his company will want to know what the heck is going on with R&D. On the other hand, it might not be a bad idea to produce and sell some of the gadgets for use, the gadgets that are more useful than dangerous, anyway. The gadgets being sold might be larger or less efficient or less tricked out versions anyway (due to pricing or ease of use, or deliberate choice). Perhaps the "best" version would sometimes still be sold for military/police use, as well - it gives a reason for still making them, and if they are available to buy, it is harder to point fingers at who might have them than if they are actually restricted. He should probably "buy" them from the company, though, at least replace enough of the cost from his personal fortune, to not run up red flags about someone skimming profits. For anything he reasonably can, he should be buying the best products available (by proxy, if possible), and maybe modifying them as needed for his specific use... the fewer things he has that aren't widely available, the harder it is to track him down using them.

Other gadgets, ones more specific and less hide-able, he might want to make or acquire equipment for making himself. Most rarely, he might develop or partially develop a gadget through the company, and never put it into production - something which will cause questions if he does it too much, but might work if really needed. For batarangs, or whatever, a machine to produce specific shapes from metal might be a good investment (since he needs a lot of them, and I think they're visually distinct), and also producing solid metal cutouts might not be too complicated of a process. Or at the least, he can acquire such machinery for (or from) his company, if he can just hide the specific mold or equivalent that is needed to actually make them. For other gadgets, he might be able to acquire needed parts from piecemeal from other companies and spend time assembling or modifying them - at the cost of time and for the value of secrecy. If he's careful with the equipment, and doesn't loose it all over the place, he might be able to get away with a few gadgets not market-available without people knowing enough about them to try and track back to the source.

As for economics, a billionaire's budget should cover most of what I've mentioned (programs, really good computer system for one, some gadgets), as long as the billions are his personal fortune, not his company's - although, if he doesn't want to be known as openly funding, well, himself, he might want to combine frugal personal spending habits and a public image of a spendthrift, so people don't wonder where his money is going. If he has more money tied up in his company, it will be trickier - since budgeting, or auditing or internal checks (for tax purposes, for internal budgeting, to prevent corruption) might turn up cash flow discrepancies, that may look like anything from embezzlement to money laundering to financing something underhanded (which I guess this is). If at all possible it will be better to keep the business as clean as possible, paying the company for raw materials or damages and keeping the cash flow clean.

Lastly, social media. This will be trickiest, and the least plausible answer. Social media is everywhere, and between camera-phones and tracking software and people, oh, people everywhere, keeping something like this secret is going to be very difficult. To start with, he will need a body double in the know, or several who may have different levels from being in-the-know to being ignorant. Because people will ask questions if he needs to drop out of sight, and announces (say) a trip, and there's no reports back of sightings in the areas he was "going to". If one person covers too many of these trips, they will likely get suspicious very quickly, so they must be somehow in the know. On the other hand, if there are several, using them at different times, each with some semi-plausible excuse for missing a single event or trip and not wanting to admit it, may cover longer stretches with no single one getting suspicious about the accumulated time - as long as they are somehow prevented from comparing stories.

Beyond that, any visible injuries will be dangerous, since they will likely be recorded (and available for comparison) long after they have healed. They can build up a case over time, especially if compared against injuries known to be suffered while in costume - because once or twice may be coincidence, but over time people will get more and more suspicious. And they may also reveal the body-double scheme if not handled carefully. Also, he will need a lot of really good stories for the injuries and scars, because not only will they accumulate very quickly, and leave distinctive marks (wait, how many bullet wounds?), they are likely to be continually renewed, from very old to barely healed - so can't be attributed to a single, or even a few, larger events instead of continual injuries.

It will be hard to explain why he doesn't stop such activities that dangerous or beyond his skill level even long enough to heal, and there won't be official backup for any such story (police or hospital records, or reports of similar accidents or injuries) when people do get curious, and look for answers. They might assume scandals, they might assume criminal activity (either towards him, like abuse, or from him - which vigilantism kinda is) - but once people start investigating, those discrepancies will stand out.

So, to make it work... his daylight persona also can't be out and about every day, and will need to be able to drop out of sight sometimes with little notice. He might be able to be out more during the day if he goes out at night less (when injured, or when still investigating, or during down-times or such), but since going out when injured is not a great idea unless the injuries can be very well hidden or attributed, less exposure is better. He will need body-doubles, and fair reasons for them to believe that he wants to duck out of whatever and not tell why (which might involve "fake" secrets, but whatever). He will need his doctor to be in on the secret (and also capable from primary care to serious patching-up), and willing to spread misinformation on his behalf when people come questioning.

For his helpers and those in the know, take your pick of who is in the "five or less" the question asks for - at least one general helper for computer access while out, basic patching up, organization, and giving excuses about him; his doctor, for larger injuries and also primary care; some accomplice in his accounting or business who knows what is really going on with the cash flow and why, to misdirect others; helpfully but not required - a really good computer person who can check on the computer work, help with programs and such; helpfully but not required - at least one body double so they aren't asking questions about why he needs to be out of sight so very often; and probably (depending on circumstance), whoever trained him might have some idea of what he was doing with that training even if they aren't "actively" helping, especially investigation training and martial arts - the former has few other uses, especially to be good, and the latter might identify him from familiarity with fighting style and/or seeing a fight in costume.

So, to sum up - the more realistic version will go out much less often, and spend extra time being his cover persona, researching, healing injuries, and acquiring, customizing, upgrading and fixing the gadgets and programs he uses. However, his ability to focus in and spend the time and effort beforehand means he will be quite effective on those occasions where he is out and about, and irregular appearances will let his reputation have time to grow in the telling. He needs to be decently wealthy, and his company should at minimum have a division doing R&D for law enforcement or military tech - including programs, tools, and forensics, so that he can legitimately acquire and develop the things he needs and even profit from it, though much of what he uses (or is seen to use) should be commercially available, so it is harder to track him that way. He needs to openly claim to practice/enjoy something dangerous enough to justify the continual injuries, and also need to be personally unreliable, and have enough reasons to be that way, to justify body-doubles. He has three to five accomplices, and possibly two or three other people who might guess, given the right circumstances (but who also might listen to the reasons why and be silent). He probably should start late teens to early twenties, he can count on his physical prowess for no longer than ten years from that, and he might stretch his career a little further through experience, underhanded tactics and stacking the deck - though perhaps not much further, before he has to find a successor if he wants the name to continue. At which point he can be one of the five support people for the next one. I think that's most of it, really.


This is a pretty unrealistic question because the nature, abilities and restraints on almost all of these characters is dependent from story to story and author to author.

When a character spans 60 years of ass kicking and more writers manipulating his life story than jesus, the variety of versions of the character are astounding. The fact that they were able to justify batman enough to ask this question means the creators of the character were successful.

If you take the 'Movie Version' of batman from the Christopher Nolan series, I see no reason why he couldn't exist. In fact most of the Live action film versions are pretty plausible (although no real batman would put nipples on the batsuit)

Delve into the realm of comic books where batman is simultaneously fighting his entire Rogues gallery whilst simultaneously leading the justice league into outer space to fight aliens whilst also being stuck in a hole in Uzbekistan with gonorrhea and it becomes a pretty silly ideal...

**Unless there are cloned batmans. Or he's secretly super triplets... Maybe christian Bale acted in "The Prestige" as a hint

Within the greater realm of comic book fiction we don't really have the expectation for realistic justifications because fiction by nature is not realistic. There is, however, an expectation for some form of justification from the story teller as to why their characters exist. If you had a dude running around in a bat suit beating up on random citizens without justification nobody would care about the story. Justifying and explaining who and why the character is who he is gives the characters depth and opens up new realms for story tellers to dig into.

A property such as batman spans to wide a reach to say 'could he be real?' and the character owners aren't about to confine him to one version.

Could you ask the same question for similar characters in a one-shot or limited series title like watchmen? Absolutely.

Except for Dr. Manhattan, almost all those characters could effectively exist within our own real world. Night owl is much like the Batman Archetype, Rorschach is almost his dark reflection, and Ozymandias is pretty unrealistic, but not impossible...

So it all depends on the context of the character. Batmans 'skill sets' could all be learned effectively in a short space of time. Anybody with an IQ over 100 should be able to learn just about any skill within a month of intense training with experts in the field to guide you. People today are either too busy working/ surviving/ partying or dealing with some other bullsheizen to worry about saving the world from super criminals.

Ol' Pareto figures you only need to know 20% of a subject to be 80% effective at it. Couple that with wealth and the fact that you can train yourself to learn faster and you're the golden goose. Learning to be a computer hacker could honestly be a day of playing with backtrack. It also stands to reason the wider your fields of expertise the better you will be as a detective... Even the worlds greatest detective.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ A couple of quibles: A) There are comic versions of Batman I'd argue that are more reasonable than Nolan's. B) The very, very rough rule of thumb for mastering a skill tends to be "10,000 hours of progressively increasing challenges." Assuming 12 hour days (no weekends, no vacation) dedicated exclusively to mastering a given craft, that's ~2.3 years, not one month. Certainly not one day. $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ @NexTerren Could you give me titles of those Batman comics which you mention in point A, please? And about point B, first if you do really intensive training you could stretch it at least to 14-16 hours. And another thing is, don't forget some of the things which you learn for one skill can be useful when you are learning another, which can speed up learning process. $\endgroup$
    – user902383
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 14:03
  • $\begingroup$ Just to clarify, @user902383, are you That1Anon or a different user? $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 14:06
  • $\begingroup$ @NexTerren I'm different user. $\endgroup$
    – user902383
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 14:07
  • $\begingroup$ @user902383 So several of the comics where he was more realistic I read in high school at the library, so they're at least 8 years old, and I read them that long ago. I'll try to Google around for them. But one comic (ignoring Bruce's age it's realistic for him. Superman also makes an appearance, but he doesn't affect Batman's realism) The Dark Knight Returns is quite grounded. In fact it's an amazing story without him actually doing anything amazing, save a (mostly pathetic on Batman's part) fight with Superman at the end. $\endgroup$
    – Ranger
    Commented Aug 23, 2016 at 14:20

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .