Batman author James Tynion IV has explained why he chose to have Bruce Wayne lose his fortune, an event which has had serious ramifications for Gotham City and the world of Batman, following the conclusion of his recent Joker War storyline.
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Over the years, the Wayne family’s immense fortune seemed to grow as necessary for narrative purposes, often being used as a unique deus ex machina ‘out’ for the intelligent-and-tech-savvy-yet-otherwise-powerless Caped Crusader.
As Ben Affleck’s version of the character so famously said in Justice League, that’s Batman’s power: he’s rich.
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Sadly, fighting crime and upper-dimensional cosmic entities is going to be a little harder for Bruce going forward, as he can no longer rely on his fortune to escape sticky situations.
Losing his status as a billionaire to the Joker’s machinations during Joker War, the Dark Knight’s fortune remains officially out of his control after a heist by Catwoman placed the fortune under control of Lucius Fox.
In short, he can no longer rely on Wayne Tech to replenish the tools in his arsenal or, if need be, fix and replace the Batmobile.
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Tynion explained, in the end-year-round-up edition of his personal newsletter, why the Dark Knight found himself in such dire straits under his guidance.
Quite simply, Tynion no longer wanted crime-fighting to be so easy for the vigilante.
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“The richer he got, and the more tools he had, and the more he learns about each of his enemies, the more it feels like Batman should be able to take down literally any threat that comes in front of him in a matter of minutes,” Tynion wrote. “So, my theory was, let’s make it harder to be Batman.”
“First, let’s bring him back to being a less problematic kind of Wealthy,” he continued. “Bruce Wayne, Millionaire, rather than Bruce Wayne, Billionaire. He’s not so rich that he could effectively buy Gotham City and fix it overnight. There are a bunch of much wealthier people than him in the city trying to maintain their power and influence and Batman is from their world and fighting against them, he doesn’t have the ability to just buy and sell them and walk away.”
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What’s more, Bruce’s new limitations give him something extra to overcome in his mission to defend the city. “Batman remembers every day that it used to be easier than it is now, and he has to push himself to new levels because he will NOT give up on Gotham City or his mission,” Tynion said.
Tynion also admits that another motivator, and perhaps the real reason, for Wayne’s financial downgrade was that he got tired of “deconstructionist stories” in which Batman seemed to fight himself in a way.
“If Batman is the most powerful force in Gotham – the richest man with the most resources whose best friend runs the Police Department – then all the stories you tell about Batman become deconstructionist stories about Batman effectively fighting himself, or stories about Batman deconstructing himself and his mission,” Tynion explained.
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He added, “There have been a lot of GREAT stories like that, but Batman came to exist because in a Gotham City without a Batman more children would become orphans and nobody else would do anything to stop it.”
Christopher Nolan injected a similar twist to the mythos in The Dark Knight Rises when Bane and the League of Shadows hit Batman where it hurts by taking Gotham’s financial district hostage. Hacking it to trade stocks in Bruce Wayne’s name, they rendered him almost penniless.
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Though he may have taken inspiration from the film, Tynion’s Batman will simply be less rich rather than outright broke, and definitely not “broken” the way Bane would have it.
Tynion’s Batman will soldier on after the end of DC Future State in Batman #106 on March 2nd, one of the few survivors of DC’s massive line cut which, revealed by December solicitations, will see reduce their Bat-family dominated offerings to just under 40 books.
What do you think of Tynion’s approach and philosophy? Does a less-wealthy Batman change the way you look at the character? Comment below.