Posted by: Ryan McDonald | July 21, 2008

Become Batman: A How-to guide for aspiring superheroes

Want to become Batman? Now you can!

Want to become Batman? Now you can!

There is a VERY cool article and interview out at Scientific American with E. Paul Zehr, the author of Becoming Batman: The Possibility of a Superhero (The Johns Hopkins University Press), about what it would take for someone to actually become the Batman: from the training regimin needed to attain the Batskillz to the bone density changes that would come from them and down to their career longevity and possibility of multiple concussions leading to depression. (So THAT’S why Batman’s emo!)
The bottom line: If you were a billionaire with all of Bruce Wayne’s resources at your disposal and wanted to become the Batman, it would take you between 8 and 18 years to be at the top of your game and possibly only a few years before someone knocked you down again. How’d he get those numbers?
From the SciAm article:
That comes from my own training in martial arts and seeing how long it takes people to respond to simple situations—let alone the complexities of smoke bombs going off and people having big Batsuits on. No matter how much training you have, when we’re subjected to a lot of psychological stress, we make a bunch more mistakes.
So now that we know it’s possible to become the Batman, I was really excited to see how possible it really is.
How many of us do you think could become a Batman?
If you found the percentage of billionaires and multiply that by the percentage of people who become Olympic decathletes, you could probably get a close estimate. The really important thing is just how much a human being really can do. There’s such a huge range of performance and ability you can tap into.
This reminded me of an article in the way-back file that Forbes put out when Batman Begins first hit the theatres on how much it would cost to be batman. Their tally:
Final Cost: $3,365,449

  • The Training: $30,000
  • The Suit: $1,585
  • The Belt: $290
  • The Car: $2,000,000
  • The Cave: $24,000
  • The Alter Ego: $1,109,574
  • The Butler: $200,000
BTW: If you were wondering what the possibility is that someone could become a batman-like superhero, in the SciAm Digg comments section, one reader took it upon themselves to crunch the numbers for us.

The current world population is roughly World 6,709,979,465 (according to the US Census Bureau at 16:02 GMT (EST+5) on Jul 14, 2008)
There 946 (known) current billionaires in the world which is roughly 0.0000141% or the world population.
There are roughly 13,000 Olympic athletes in a given Olympiad (official max of 10,500 at the summer games and roughly 2,500 for the winter games — there were 2,508 in 2006) which is roughly 0.0001937% of the world population.

If we assume that being an Olympian and a being a billionaire are independent events (a very bad assumption, but one I will make anyway) we get that the probability of any given human being both as roughly 0.0000000000273144277685%

If we further assume that the only reason that someone would be both an Olympic athlete and a billionaire is to become “Batman”, then the probability that there is at least one “Batman” in the world this year is:

1-(1-946/6709979465*13000/6709979465)^6709979465 which is roughly .1810054328% or 1 in 552. Not bad really, esspecially compared to the odds of Spiderman or Superman.

So… 1 in 552? I like them odds! Let’s get Trump to swap out his hairpiece for a cape and cowl! I personally think Bill Gates would make a terrific Blue Beetle… 😉


  1. Very cool, Ryan! So… Does this mean that Palm Springs will have it’s own costumed vigilante running around in 8-18 years??

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