Robert Pattinson’s The Batman can’t solve the Bruce Wayne money problem
On the halfway Batman, the mayoral candidate of Bella Real (Jamie Swanson) confronts Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson) with a critique you’ve probably heard before. Bruce is a rich guy in a struggling city. Why doesn’t he help anymore? In the movie’s pre-election plot, Real is a progressive Gotham candidate opposing a now-murdered incumbent with possibly corrupt connections. But despite her probably very good political ideas, her actions towards bats are downright banal.
It’s an argument that comes up over and over again when Batman is discussed by adults who have to think about things like “rent” and the thematic implications of the art they consume. The problem is, it’s a bunch of guano.
Simply put, this is a short-sighted criticism that simply sounds spicy. The billionaire class is finally coming under public scrutiny after decades of art that has reinforced their undeserved sense of grandeur. A feeling certainly reinforced by the mythology of Batman and Bruce Wayne, right?
Bruce Wayne isn’t a real billionaire, he’s a childish fantasy of having a butler. Who can do whatever you don’t want and a giant tyrannosaurus rex in your club. Gotham City is a fake city, cartoonishly ruined to the point that vigilante superheroes are the only logical option because nothing else works. And if there is a mental illness with symptoms that manifest as a “bizarrely competent killer clown,” it certainly isn’t on the DSM.
In other words, Batman can’t just buy a crime because it ignores the reality of planet Earth where there is no such thing as a criminal class, but simply a volatile body of regulation and policy that outlaws and disenfranchises an ever-changing group of people, and a special, fictional feature of the Batman Story. Besides, avid readers of Batman comics – and hell, viewers of Christopher Nolan’s films – know that Batman does often look for other means to solve the problem of “crime”.
It’s easy to miss because Structural Solutions to Structural Problems don’t wear animal-themed costumes and parade the streets, but it also becomes difficult to tell Batman’s story when Bruce Wayne just Robert Moses (the real argument for why one rich man mustdo not have too much power over the future of the city).
Batman’s sworn enemies include therapists, teachers, postal workersas well as ventriloquists. If you support art: you are probably funding an origin story. If you support public services: an origin story. There is no industry that has not turned into an assembly line for the production of villains. One day a police officer was shot dead and reborn as immortal Vengeful Wrath of the Slain Dead. Every single person in Gotham City is one bad day away from being turned into a criminal. And Bruce Wayne’s best bet is to hoard all his money. And make sure no one else gets their hands on it.
This does not mean that Batman’s wealth should not be questioned. The writers had to – and should – take away some or all of that. And see what Bruce Wayne looks like with his wit and colorful tarp. Other writers could—and have used—wealth as fuel for international intrigue (such as a bare-chested Batman in the desert battling Ra’s al Ghul with swords) or arcane oddities (such as Bruce Wayne daring to learn from Tibetan monks in order to learn the Togal Ritual. A form of meditation so intense it mimics death and afterlife). This is present even in Batman – some of the best moments in the movie are the moments. When Bruce overlooks something very obvious simply because he has always been too rich to notice it.
But basically, the whole argument that Bruce Wayne should just be doing something other than being Batman with his wealth is to move the gates out of reach of a fictional character. It looks like intellectualism when in reality it’s just holding the ball over someone below you, daring to take it. And also suggesting that you are down to earth and reasonable. Listen, there are Bat-fans who love this character. Because he’s “down to earth” and “realistic” and I assure you they’re annoying too.