To this day Batfans are arguing as to whether Batman is the alter ego of Bruce Wayne, or whether Bruce Wayne is the alter ego of Batman. It’s somewhat confusing, as different versions of the character play it different ways. The personality of Bruce Wayne shines through as the dominant one in Tim Burton’s original franchise as well as the current DC Extended Universe. However, both The Lego Batman Movie and Batman: The Animated Series go out of their way to show us that the Dark Knight persona is the “true” Bruce Wayne. The Dark Knight Trilogy played it somewhere in the middle, with Bruce Wayne hamming up both his public side as a billionaire playboy and his justice-loving vigilante side as Batman. It honestly felt like we were watching three different versions of Wayne in this interpretation!
No matter which version of the character, there are some advantages to being the richest man in Gotham that you wouldn’t enjoy as a long-eared vigilante. Perhaps the persona may be a front, but acting as Bruce Wayne opens up a whole new array of possibilities in the Batman’s never-ending crusade against crime. Here are 15 Things Bruce Wayne Can Do (That Batman Can’t)!
15. Kill Someone (under certain circumstances)
Batman doesn’t kill. It’s like, his one rule. Shattered ribs? Fine. Concussion? No problem. But if the Caped Crusader ever crossed the metaphorical line of murdering his enemies, it would start him down a dark path and make him just as bad as them. Even with his seemingly more murderous tendencies in Batman V. Superman: Dawn of Justice, most of his body count comes as a result of the collateral damage of the fight.
It would totally be within reason for Bruce Wayne to kill someone if the right circumstances arise. Though it is a ridiculously grey area, a citizen is generally allowed to get away with killing if they feel that their life is directly in jeopardy (like in the case of an armed mugging or a life-threatening home invasion). So, though Batman can’t kill the Joker, if the Clown Prince of Crime ever broke into Wayne Manor with a gun, Bruce could legally put him down. Of course, we know that he would never do this, but it’s food for thought!
14. Use The family Name/Brand To His Advantage
Yeah, this one is pretty obvious. But it needs to be said anyway! Of course, the Dark Knight can’t go around throwing about his family name, as it would reveal his secret identity and immediately put everyone he cared for in danger. Not to mention it would undermine his entire mission and break one of the oldest rules in the superhero book (we’re looking at you, Tony Stark).
As Bruce Wayne, Batman can use his family’s name to his advantage. First off, he can use his fortune to go out and purchase things that may help him in his investigations. Oswald Cobblepot‘s giving him trouble? He can buy the Iceberg Lounge and rebrand it under his family name, forcing the Penguin to play his hand by setting his sights on the playboy.
13. Go Out Without Make-Up
There’s no way we can make a list about the benefits Bruce Wayne has over Batman without talking about one of the biggest continuity errors in the Batman film franchise. In the comic books and cartoons, the Dark Knight is portrayed with white lenses covering his eyes on the cowl. This works fine in these mediums because these white eyes can be drawn to be expressive; in live-action media this is a major drawback, as the only way to achieve this effect is CGI eyes (a la Deadpool) that look somewhat cartoonish. Instead, the actors playing Batman get to have black eyeliner around their eyes whenever they are in costume.
In theory, this eyeliner should be present around Bruce’s eyes whenever he removes his cowl. However, even the filmmakers seem to realize how ridiculous of a concept this is; they always make sure that the black circles disappear when the character is unmasked rather than leaving Wayne looking like a racoon. Thankfully, in his Bruce Wayne persona, the character can leave the Batcave without ever having to subject himself to such a silly look.
12. Maintain a semi-stable relationship
Try as he might through the years, any romantic relationship the Dark Knight has attempted with his fellow heroes or vigilantes has fallen flat. Sometimes it’s because he refuses to trust them; Batman: Hush shows his great relationship with Catwoman come to an abrupt halt just because she whispers an ominous command in his ear. Other times, he doesn’t want to put a target on their head or drag them into his overburdened life.
When people don’t know that Bruce Wayne and Batman are one and the same, things go much more smoothly. Though Bruce will always end up alone in the end, thanks to matters of continuity, he has been able to hold down a few steady relationships in his nearly seventy year history. Vicki Vale and Selina Kyle (Catwoman’s alias) are the two that most are familiar with.
In Mask of the Phantasm it was revealed that the true love of Bruce’s life was Andrea Beaumont, the daughter of a wealthy Gotham businessman. The two were set to be married but she had to abruptly flee town with her father when it was discovered that he had ties to the Gotham mafia.
11. Go out during the daytime
The Caped Crusader likes the color black. Darkness is a large part of his mantra; heck, he even made an entire song about it! Decked out in his night-shaded costume, Batman can sneak along the rooftops shrouded by the cover of the night. One of his signature moves is cutting out the lights in a building so that he can move around undetected and take out criminals one by one. Unfortunately Batman has no such luck when it’s the middle of the day. On the rare occasions that he does go out in the wee hours of the daylight he sticks out like a sore thumb.
This is where being Bruce Wayne comes in handy. It’s expected that Gotham’s wealthiest bachelor would go about gallivanting during the day and then recharge by crashing at night. Whenever Batman needs to get around the city without drawing any attention he simply tosses on his business suit and drives off in his Lamborghini.
This concept is satirized in The Dark Knight when Alfred asks Bruce if he’ll be taking the Batpod, to which he responds “In the middle of the day, Alfred? Not very subtle.” The butler scoffs and says, “The Lamborghini then. Much more subtle.”
10. The Art of Negotiation
When we say “negotiation skills,” we aren’t talking about the kind that the Dark Knight might use. These types of negotiations (usually involving a hostage or an important artifact) end with Batman beating his opponent into a bloody pulp and walking away from the situation with the upper hand. If that course of action is ineffective or impossible, he resorts to using his gadgets and superior brain to outsmart the villain. This way usually ends the same way, with the baddie broken and bloody while Batman disappears into the night, victorious.
As Bruce Wayne, it would not be socially acceptable to use this technique. Not in the slightest. Instead, the billionaire must follow the standard tactics of business negotiations by compromising, utilizing his network of professional contacts, and making backroom deals before he and another party can come to a mutual agreement that they both see fit. In a way, this art of negotiation is almost more impressive than that of the Caped Crusader’s. Alas, audiences don’t want to see Batman and the Penguin sit down and talk about their differences over coffee!
9. Purchase new tech and equipment
The Bat Credit Card does not exist! Try as Batman & Robin might, the idea that Batman uses a credit card inscribed with his own insignia to make purchases never caught on. It’s not cheap being a brilliant detective and a brooding vigilante who relies on his pieces of tech to help him solve crimes and take down extraterrestrial threats. Although Batman can survive without his gadgets thanks to his rigorous training (your move, Mr. Stark), he wouldn’t stand a chance against the power of Superman or Darkseid on his own.
This brings us to an important conclusion: Though Bruce Wayne might be the real “mask,” there is no way Batman could exist without him. Believe it or not, being the head of a multi-billion dollar corporation has some benefits. In The Dark Knight Trilogy we see how this is done; Bruce Wayne and Alfred buy thousands of dollars worth of materials at a time, writing it off as expenses for the company.
8. Smile (without looking like a madman)
Let that above image sink in for a minute… It’s horrifying. Whoever thought it was a good idea to show the Dark Knight smirking in Batman Forever (probably Joel Schumacher) is to thank for the nightmarish image that is now burned into our brains. Batman is about as serious as you can get. Making the Batman smile or laugh is next to impossible. On the rare occasions that it happens, it’s anything but funny; it’s scary as hell! During Dick Grayson’s tenure as the Dark Knight, Two-Face was able to realize that it was a different person under the cowl because he saw Batman laughing as he fought his henchmen.
Thankfully, Bruce Wayne has no such issue. Since he’s seen as, well, a human being, Wayne is allowed to display the types of emotions we all feel. It’s quite common to see Bruce yukking it up with a group of board members or one of his dates. Even when he’s just hanging around the Batcave without his costume he’s willing to crack a joke or laugh at one of Alfred’s snarky comments. Most importantly, a smile from Bruce Wayne doesn’t make you fear for your life!
7. Investigate discretely
Batman is the world’s greatest detective. With his high-tech CSI gadgets and superior intellect, he can get to the bottom of just about any mystery that plagues Gotham City. In costume, the Batman is capable of breaking into (seemingly) abandoned buildings and high security facilities in order to search for clues or interrogate a witness. Unfortunately, if the Caped Crusader wants to be a little more discreet about his investigation, he has to shed his “Batman” persona completely.
Batman would stick out like a sore thumb if he walked into a charity ball, police conference, or political event in complete crime-fighting garb; this is where Bruce Wayne comes in. As seen in Batman V. Superman, The Dark Knight, and even Batman ’66, Bruce Wayne is able to attend these functions without drawing any suspicion to himself. Once he’s in the doors and out of sight of the other attendees, Batman once again takes over and can subtly continue his investigation.
6. Network with normal citizens
For similar reasons to the entry above, Batman can’t exactly waltz around Gotham during the day and expect to have any sort of regular human interaction. Even among the law-abiding citizens of the city, Batman only appears when there is foul play afoot; even in the more light-hearted versions of the series people treat Batman and Robin like celebrities rather than any other citizen. Likewise, in the darker interpretations the appearance of the Batman is something to be dreaded, as it usually means either you are in trouble or there’s something terrible about to happen. For this reason alone it’s hard for the Dark Knight to make non-superhero friends.
As a billionaire philanthropist, people line up at the door for a chance to meet Bruce Wayne. Over the years Bruce has been able to create a network of friends who help him in his crusade against crime. Lucius Fox is probably the most obvious of these connections; he always is helping Mr. Wayne find the newest and greatest technology for him to use as Batman. Vicki Vale, Dr. Leslie Thompkins, Thomas Elliot, and Bruce Wayne’s many love interests have all aided Bruce in his quest at some point or another (whether knowingly or not).
5. Have fun
When you’re a superhero, you devote yourself completely to a life of crime-fighting. Batman takes this philosophy a step above the rest of the heroes of the DC Universe. Superman will make the occasional public appearance to foster a sense of community with the people of Metropolis. Batman sees this as petty and pointless; while attending one of these functions there are two or three crimes occurring simultaneously that he could be stopping.
Though it doesn’t happen too often, Bruce Wayne is expected to go out and have a little fun every now and again. Whether it’s taking a kid he is mentoring to the movies or simply going out on a date with his girlfriend, there’s a little more leniency for having fun when the mask comes off. Sadly, Batman is so obsessive with his crime-fighting career that even while out on one of these excursions he is thinking about his next move in the case he’s pursuing. Also, due to story reasons, whenever the audience sees Wayne having a fun night out on the town it usually gets interrupted by the main villain of the tale, forcing him to abandon his friends and reappear as the Caped Crusader.
4. Be a perfect Law-Abiding citizen
They don’t call Bruce Wayne “mild-mannered” for nothing. Even the versions of the character that are a little more eccentric tend to stay out of trouble with the law. In the Nolan films Bruce Wayne was known to the public as a harmless buffoon who flaunted his money like it was going out of style. He may have been a little out there, but he wasn’t really doing anything that would get him in trouble with the law. In the original film series as well as the Adam West program, Bruce Wayne was known around Gotham as a model citizen.
The very existence of the Batman means that he cannot be a good, law-abiding citizen. The Dark Knight operates outside the law at all times, doing the things that the police legally cannot or that would get their hands dirty. Even if Batman were to somehow go through all the proper training and studying that a normal police officer does, his refusal to reveal his identity to the public would put him outside of the law. Eh, Batman works better as a vigilante anyways!
3. Be a public advocate for those he protects
You all know the drill: Someone is being held at gunpoint by a mugger and his pal, who are threatening to hurt the innocent civilian unless they hand over their money and precious goods. Suddenly, a shadow leaps out of the darkness, disarms the muggers, and leaves them tied up to a street post while the victims look on in horror. Batman has saved the day once again. But what happens in the aftermath of one of Batman’s heroic deeds?
What about the people who suffer PTSD from this violent encounter? What about the Gothamites who are hospital-bed ridden after being exposed to Joker Venom? The Batman is nowhere to be found. Thankfully, this is where Bruce Wayne can step in and act as an advocate for the victims of these horrific crimes. We’ve lost count of how many times one of Wayne Enterprises’ many charities has stepped up and donated/helped collect funds for these innocent people.
2. Go undercover
Remember Matches Malone? That was the infamous name that Bruce Wayne took on whenever he wanted to infiltrate one of Gotham’s crime syndicates. He stole the identity from a common criminal who had passed away long ago, adopting the voice, clothes, and mannerisms of the crony. The character was called “Matches” because he was often shown to be holding a match in his mouth or in between his fingers. Bruce would go on to use this identity for decades.
For obvious reasons, Batman can’t go undercover the same way his alter-ego can. It wouldn’t be hard to pick up the Dark Knight’s raspy voice or notice his gigantic billowing cape tucked underneath of a business suit! Likewise, everyone and their brother expects Batman to be spying on them. Absolutely nobody would expect Bruce Wayne!
1. Take credit for his good deeds
Admit it, we all like a little bit of recognition every now and then. Whether it be for a job well done or for an obstacle that we were finally able to overcome, getting told that we did awesome is always spectacular to hear. Unfortunately, the Dark Knight has been doing his thing for so long that saving the entire city from impending doom has come to be just another Wednesday in Gotham. There aren’t any big celebrations for Batman. You don’t see billboards of the Caped Crusader issuing public safety announcements. The only reward he receives is justice and peace for his home.
That’s kinda lame! As a billionaire philanthropist, Mr. Wayne has ascended to celebrity status in Gotham City. He built a group of orphans a new home? Put him on the cover of Esquire! Wayne Enterprises helped secure funding for a new transit system? The Mayor can throw a gala in his honor! Best of all, Bruce doesn’t have to hide his love for the spotlight when he’s outside of his costume; we’d like to think that whenever he attends one of these great spectacles, deep down he’s pretending that the people are thanking him for his work as the Caped Crusader.
Does being Bruce Wayne sound like it’d be a lot better than being Batman? Let us know in the comments!