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Suit Up: Becoming Batman On A Budget

By Peter V. Milo
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An assistant from Bonhams auctioneers, models the mask worn by Cristian Bale in "Batman Begins"  (Photo Credit: Bruno Vincent / Getty Images)

An assistant from Bonhams auctioneers, models the mask worn by Cristian Bale in “Batman Begins” (Photo Credit: Bruno Vincent / Getty Images)

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SEATTLE (CBS Seattle) — Since Batman was introduced to the world in 1939, he has inspired fantasies of distributing justice in dark alleys and on roof tops with amazing gadgets, cool cars, and fists of iron.

The major appeal of Batman is that unlike his super-powered contemporaries, he’s a mortal.   Batman wasn’t bitten by a radioactive spider, or born on Krypton, he’s just like us — with the exception of an obscenely large bank account.

Forbes estimates that Batman, or otherwise known as Bruce Wayne, is worth $6.9 billion. With a war chest like that, Batman could easily afford all of his ‘wonderful toys.’ However is it possible for wannabe superheroes to become Batman on a much smaller budget?

Yes it is, with some smart shopping.

The first step of your hero’s journey is a lot of physical training. In “Batman Begins,” Bruce Wayne was trained by the League of Shadows, a group of justice seeking ninjas. However Seattle has a distinct lack of ninja cults, so in search of a practical option CBS Seattle talked to Andy Wilson, owner of MKG Martial Arts, about what sort of physical training that Batman would need.

“To be like Batman you’d need to learn to be vicious with the ability to inflict severe punishment without permanently maiming people or killing them,” Wilson told CBS Seattle.

He also adds that you would need to train for years to be the superb physical specimen that Batman is.  At least “for four to five years, three to four hours a day absolute minimum,” Wilson explained to CBS Seattle.

After the physical training, it’s time to go shopping for some toys.

Batman’s equipment from his car to his uniform is expensive. The “batsuit” is made from materials and technologies that aren’t available on the open market, and its capabilities include computer interfaces, bullet-stopping armor, and night vision.

Although homemade alternatives of the “batsuit” aren’t going to be as flashy or as functional, they will be cheaper and can provide a good level of protection. However you’re going to have to gather the materials from several different sources.

For example: a bulletproof vest could be found for $50 to almost $200 on eBay. The other accoutrements such as Kevlar gloves, shin guards, and most importantly a groin cup could also be found on eBay as well.

It’s also worth picking up some extra bolts of Kevlar fabric to customize your uniform and to make a cape. But if you are feeling lazy about making a cape, one could be bought online at the superhero supply store for $30.

A utility belt to carry around smoke bombs, homemade bat-a-rangs, and communication devices is surprisingly cheap. For $17.93, a ninja utility belt can be purchased at Amazon.com, or can be found for as low as $9 in various other outlets.

However, the most expensive and important piece of equipment won’t be available on eBay or Amazon.  It’s going to be a person and they are going to be a lawyer.

Some time ago, Seattle’s real life superhero Phoenix Jones found himself in hot water when he pepper sprayed a group of club goers that he thought were fighting. Although the charges were dropped, City Attorney Peter Holmes said in a statement that “(Benjamin Fodor) is no hero, just a deeply misguided individual.”

However Phoenix Jones is small potatoes compared to Batman. The amount of charges Batman could face would be much steeper, according to James Daily and Ryan Davidson, authors of “The Law of Superheroes”, and the blog “Law and the Multiverse.”

On any given day Batman could face felony charges of trespass, assault, and even charges of white collar crime. The authors state a vigilante-like Batman has “less obvious issues” compared to other superheroes.

“Someone like Superman who does general good by protecting people from natural disasters, that’s all OK,” Davidson told CBS Seattle. “It’s when you’re trying to fight crime that’s when things get sketchy.”

Batman wouldn’t have the same rights as Commissioner Gordon or another police officer, Daily explains.  “The state grants police certain protections — like sovereign immunity. You can’t sue a police officer for doing his job.”

But when the bat signal is lit it’s “a problem that he’s collaborating with the police,” because then Batman could be considered a state actor and “he would be restricted to the same rules that the police would have, like search warrants,” Daily told CBS Seattle.

“It’s a very fine line you have to walk to be on the right side of the law,” Daily explained. “Police don’t have to investigate every crime,” but because there are no super-villains like Bane or the Joker running around, “it’s much more likely in the real world someone like Batman would be prosecuted.”

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