Bruce Wayne Playboy Billionaire – One Aspect Of The Batman Character Not In Movies Yet
The world is gearing up for the release of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, featuring Robert Pattinson’s debut as the Caped Crusader. Early reviews seems positive, fawning of the auteur direction of this massive, three-hour-long Batman film. One thing both the director and the star promised was a new take on the Dark Knight. Yet, from what the marketing has shown us, it doesn’t feel all that fresh. Pretty much everyone in the history of Batman on film has played Bruce Wayne as a brooding, dark individual, save for George Clooney and the OG, Adam West. When the time comes for a new Batman with a new actor, a way to freshen the movies to come would be to finally show Bruce Wayne as a playboy billionaire.
Both live-action TV series and movies based on comic book characters all brush up against the notion of the secret identity. Modern heroes are very careless with their secrets, and – even though it makes narrative sense – reveal their identities to their helpers all the time. This is the 11th movie where Batman takes a leading role, and all of them have their charms. Yet, there is one angle that filmmakers have not yet explored, and that’s a seemingly well-adjusted Bruce Wayne leading a convincing double life. It also could help finally address the modern concerns about Wayne. As a billionaire, dressing up as a bat and punching criminals is the least effective way he can help fix crime in Gotham City.
Save for Adam West and George Clooney, most actors play Bruce Wayne as troubled. Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck to a great job making their Bruces distinct from Batman. Val Kilmer, Christian Bale, and (by all accounts) Robert Pattinson play Bruce and Batman as the same guy. This is a mistake.
Why a Playboy Billionaire Bruce Wayne Would Lead to Fresher Batman Movies
Image via DC Comics
Ironically, the mad-cap Gotham TV series is the first bat-story that justifies the Batman. In this show, costumed criminals ravage Gotham and a helpless police department. In that sort of an environment, a costumed crime-fighter makes sense. Sure, Bruce can fix the city’s troubles with his money, but there is also this chaotic costumed criminal element. So, it makes sense that he’d suit up as a freak himself, especially since (in that universe) he has a personal connection to most of those villains. David Mazouz did a great job as Bruce, balancing him being a caring kid with that darker edge. He never got to play adult Bruce in the Gotham finale, but I am curious as to what that would have looked like.
The secret identity is a great part of comic book stories. I’d love to see a not reclusive Bruce Wayne out in Gotham, partying and raising hell. Another fun twist would be to make him vocally opposed to Batman and vigilantes, playing both sides. It would show that he sees Batman as a necessary evil, but not the final answer to the problem of crime in Gotham. Also, it would allow Batman to be a little more fun than he’s gotten to be. For example, when in Justice League (both versions) Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen asks Affleck’s Wayne what his superpowers are, he simply answers, “I’m rich.” Batman is rarely a funny character, but (ironically) him being an out-of-touch and slightly arrogant rich guy humanizes him a bit.
We’ve seen the Bruce Wayne that thinks being Batman is his life’s calling. The idea that Wayne is the mask and Batman is the man is no doubt interesting. But it’s not the only version of his story.
Bruce Wayne Needs to Be a Character in the Batman Movies
Image via Warner Bros.
By the end of this year there will be 13 movies where Batman plays a major role, and filmmakers need new takes to keep the character fresh. Making Bruce Wayne a convincing playboy billionaire is clearly the best way to revitalize the character in future Batman movies. Why not have a Bruce Wayne who sees Batman as a means to an end, not his actual identity. Having Bruce and Batman in sync with each other, especially with a solidly British Alfred at his side, is an easier way to tell the story. After 80 years and a baker’s dozen of movies (not including TV shows and cartoons), we understand Batman. Yet, Bruce Wayne still remains a mystery to many of those who’ve not read the comics, specifically the post-psychedelic Batman and pre-Dark Knight Returns era stories.
Instead of just using the relationship with the female lead to drive him, show us a Bruce Wayne yearning for human connection. In the Nolan movies, all of the playboy antics of Bruce Wayne are in support of a ruse. If he has any romantic leanings at all, it’s for the woman lead of the film and is destined to end in tragedy unless it’s Catwoman. Not only is this fine, but it makes for a really fun and intriguing Batman story. Yet, maybe it’s time for a good Bruce Wayne story, where his billionaire playboy lifestyle works both as a ruse to protect his Batman identity and as a way that shows how his double life means he can’t be close to anyone.
Bruce Wayne is still Batman, so he wouldn’t waste an opportunity. But what if his liaisons were also part of his character’s need for connection, so he doesn’t get lost in the mask? Being a costumed hero without powers is a stupid idea. Someone as smart as Bruce Wayne would know that being Batman is not a lifestyle choice. Showing the man at odds with the mask in this way would bring a new but relatable story to the screen.
The Batman debuts in theaters March 4, 2022.
What do you think? Do you think the Batman movies thus far have done a good job showing Bruce Wayne as a separate character, and do you agree that making him a playboy billionaire would, at least, be a fresh take? Share your thoughts, theories, and fan-pitches for movies in the comments below.
Featured image via Warner Bros.
Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book of superhero short stories, Tales of Adventure & Fantasy: Book One is available as an ebook or paperback from Amazon.