The great thing about Batman, is that anyone, if sufficiently dedicated and wealthy, could become him. He doesn’t have any superpowers, magic rings, or radioactive rays turning him into a hero. He’s just a dude with an extremely narrow-minded focus on the martial arts and law and order.
Dr. E. Paul Zehr, a professor of neuroscience and kinesiology at the University of Victoria, presented his analysis of the possibility of developing Batman skills at Comic-Con, and he concluded that most of what Batman does can be achieved through long years of training, a fair amount of cash, and the right genetic traits promoting excellent coordination and strength. But getting there will take a long time:
- 3–5 years of physical training (meaning, weight lifting, increasing bone density by punching heavy things, acrobatics)
- 6–12 years of skill training and refining. This is Batman’s wide and deep mastery of numerous martial arts. Zehr showed comic panels depicting batman performing moves from judo, kung fu, and what he called “basic fisticuffs.” He also showed scenes of Batman taking out whole groups of ne’er-do-wells and engaging in long fights with single foes, demonstrating the breadth of his ass-kicking knowledge.
- 6–8 years of poise, experience, seasoning. If you ask me this period could overlap with the start of Batman’s crime-fighting career, but Zehr argues that this still counts as training, and he’s an expert in the field.
So, to sum, that’s a minimum of 15 years, and a maximum of 25 years, before Batman ever hits the street.
And once there, Zehr basically gives him a maximum of a three-year career. Zehr argues that Batman’s life of crime-fighting would just put so much on abuse on his body that he would eventually be unable to defend himself fast enough—too much repetitive stress (like bloggers, but with your whole body instead of a couple fingers), too many concussions, not enough time to heal. Batman goes out most nights, so his body wouldn’t have time to heal. And Batman’s suit wouldn’t be enough to protect him. Even if the suit prevented penetration by knives and bullets, it can’t protect him from the sheer blunt force of the punches he receives and delivers. (“Delivers”? Yes: Zehr had some excellent video showing the stress on the arm and fingers of a punch.)
But what will really limit Batman’s career, Zehr said, is that he can’t lose. A martial artist can lose a bout in the ring and live to fight another day. If Batman loses, he’s dead. Just another reason the citizens of Gotham should be damn glad to have the guy.