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  1. #1
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    Default Would you be open to a Bruce Wayne who ISN'T a famous public figure?

    Thinking about the the upcoming Tynion run on Batman (in which he described part of his pitch as Bruce Wayne re-etablishing himself socially in Gotham with a more grounded persona and less of the playboy facade), and how Public Bruce rarely appeared throughout King's Batman, as well as a recent thread conversation about the Wayne family business and fortune...

    What do you think? Would you be open to a Bruce Wayne who ISN'T a famous public figure? Personally, I'd be interested in seeing a Bruce that is relatively anonymous, and not an international celebrity billionaire heir/CEO playboy.

    That status is a recent development (relatively, in the long arc view) -- in the early versions, Bruce was always a man about town in Gotham, he wasn't always necessarily a famous figure. Even if there weren't precedent for it, I still would be in favor of seeing this status quo, somehow. It would require an alternate continuity, or a retcon, or maybe that's how they'll play it in the Matt Reeves film.

    Whatever form the media would take, I'm just interested in talking about & exploring the potential advantages and disadvantages of such a status quo... I would simply scale back the "prince of Gotham" angle, and instead allow Bruce more flexibility with his non-Batman life.

    Here's what would change in his backstory

    —The Wayne murders were newsworthy, but 30 years later, it would not be something people would remember; it'd be the type of tragedy that "true crime fans" would know about, not a famous event.

    —There is no family company. Thomas and Martha were millionaires, but they were "new money"... their wealth comes from Thomas having a successful career as a top surgeon.

    —Everything else basically remains the same. Alfred could be re-contextualized, or he could easily keep his current origin largely intact as Thomas's butler who raises Bruce.

    Advantages:

    —An anonymous Bruce Wayne has more flexibility to be a master of disguise during the day without literally disguising himself (like Matches Malone)... he could operate almost like a spy, simply using fake names or aliases.

    —It creates more distinction between Bruce Wayne and other "rich playboy" comic characters like Tony Stark or Green Arrow.

    —This status is more relatable to the reader/viewer. Though Bruce is privileged, he's not absurdly infinitely rich. He can afford to develop Batman's gadgets and equipment, but he has some limitations, a budget... if he blows up a Batmobile, he doesn't have thirty replacements waiting in the wings.

    —It adds tension between Bruce and the Gotham old money establishment (ie, Court of Owls).

    —It allows Bruce to pursue other careers besides "inherited CEO"

    —Since Bruce isn't famous, there's less need for him to act like a bimbo to throw people off the trail of his secret identity. He's just one of millions of Gothamites.

    —It drops the "which is the real mask?" angle, which I've always found dull and reductive, but still allows for Bruce to have psychological crises over his identity.

    —Since Bruce doesn't own and employ half of Gotham, his fight against corruption becomes even more difficult (and necessary) as Batman.

    Disadvantages:

    —It's different.

    —Comic book fans historically do not like change.

    —It's not canon.

    —Since it's not exactly like previous portrayals, this is a stupid idea.

    —Could require re-contextualizing some of Bruce's closest relationships — Alfred, Lucius, his proteges.
    Last edited by gregpersons; 12-11-2019 at 12:48 AM.

  2. #2
    ♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦♦ Godlike13's Avatar
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    Can one be that rich and not be famous.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Godlike13 View Post
    Can one be that rich and not be famous.
    No, not with his current status as the heir apparent CEO to one of the world's largest conglomerates. You would have to scale back his wealth from billionaire to simply.... millionaire. There are plenty of millionaires/rich kids who are not famous.

  4. #4

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    I'd much rather see a Bruce who had less money, fewer connections, and less advanced technology, and was more independent and private.

    Little does DC care about what I want.

    Anyhow. I think the swelling of Bruce's bank account goes hand in hand with the swelling of the stories and the coming of Batgod. So these swellings are malignant.

    I'd prefer a comic that was more about a wealthy but not mega-rich, fairly solitary costumed crime fighter who runs around rooftops, alleys, and sewers, solving mysteries and beating up (and getting beaten up by) his rogues, and does not have a small army of likeminded working with him. I'd also like shorter stories that made better use of the rogues gallery. (I love the Joker, but omg send out the clowns.) Alan Grant's first Ratcatcher story line from the late eighties is basically a perfect Batman story to me. It's of a kind that has gotten nigh impossible to tell since BIGNESS is all the rage. Bruce's public life is symptomatic of that bias in favor of the epic.

  5. #5
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    Technically that would be just a return to it was in the Golden and Silver Age.

  6. #6
    Astonishing Member CPSparkles's Avatar
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    So how does Bruce fund Batman and his small army? Thomas the surgeon couldn't have left enough for all that or for Bruce to fund his and the batfamily's ops with inheritance alone. He needs a steady stream of income.

    Part of Batman is that he isn't so stupid as to think that punching alone makes a difference. Fighting crime and the success of his oath/mission means also tackling the social and economic factors at the root. The Bruce Wayne side takes care of this part along with WF. They are benefactors and forces for good in Gotham.

    The WF requires money and by it's nature very public.

    The gadgets and toys are now part of the character. It doesn't make sense stripping elements that make up the current character [the height of it success] to take it back to how it used to be when it was less popular and less successful

    Those swelling might be seen as malignant by some but factually they are value adding.

    The playboy side isn't really necessary and is rarely a thing in comics
    Last edited by CPSparkles; 12-11-2019 at 01:54 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by CPSparkles View Post
    So how does Bruce fund Batman and his small army? Thomas the surgeon couldn't have left enough for all that or for Bruce to fund his and the batfamily's ops with inheritance alone. He needs a steady stream of income.

    Part of Batman is that he isn't so stupid as to think that punching alone makes a difference. Fighting crime and the success of his oath/mission means also tackling the social and economic factors at the root. The Bruce Wayne side takes care of this part along with WF. They are benefactors and forces for good in Gotham.

    The WF requires money and by it's nature very public.

    The gadgets and toys are now part of the character. It doesn't make sense stripping elements that make up the current character [the height of it success] to take it back to how it used to be when it was less popular and less successful

    Those swelling might be seen as malignant by some but factually they are value adding.

    The playboy side isn't really necessary and is rarely a thing in comics
    The gadgets/toys could easily remain, as could Bruce's efforts to help Gotham economically. But in a stripped back version, the story would put Bruce in a position where he has to be much more hands-on with both. He can't just write a check.

    He'd need to directly engineer the gadgets/toys. He does this to a degree in some stories already. And he doesn't need to be a genius inventor like Peter Parker (even though Bruce already is basically) -- it's an opportunity to weave Lucius Fox into the story more. Rather than it being a CFO giving his boss some off-record war machines, it's a little more like they're entrepreneurs creating prototypes in the garage with the goal of creating a non-lethal crime fighter who isn't corrupted like the GCPD is.

    Similarly, I'd be interested in seeing Bruce actually build up a company or foundation if he is to have it, rather than just automatically having it. It's why in the OP I suggest removing the "family business" aspect of Wayne Enterprises/Foundation as a legacy enterprise.

    Instead, perhaps Bruce and Lucius could create these companies themselves. And, because they're heroic do-gooders, they are incredibly charitable, which makes it difficult to keep the company profitable without falling into corruption. It forces Bruce to make difficult decisions, which is obviously what you want in a story.

    The short of it is -- we could see the character earn these things, rather than just automatically having them. It opens a lot of previously unexplored challenges and directions for the characters.
    Last edited by gregpersons; 12-11-2019 at 03:52 AM.

  8. #8
    Astonishing Member Restingvoice's Avatar
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    We still need a lot of his money to fund the League. That Satelite isn't something a starter businessman can do. Unless everyone's cool with using The Fortress of Solitude since both Atlantis and Themyscira aren't friendly to outsiders.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by johnpeelgothisgun View Post
    I'd much rather see a Bruce who had less money, fewer connections, and less advanced technology, and was more independent and private.

    Little does DC care about what I want.

    Anyhow. I think the swelling of Bruce's bank account goes hand in hand with the swelling of the stories and the coming of Batgod. So these swellings are malignant.

    I'd prefer a comic that was more about a wealthy but not mega-rich, fairly solitary costumed crime fighter who runs around rooftops, alleys, and sewers, solving mysteries and beating up (and getting beaten up by) his rogues, and does not have a small army of likeminded working with him. I'd also like shorter stories that made better use of the rogues gallery. (I love the Joker, but omg send out the clowns.) Alan Grant's first Ratcatcher story line from the late eighties is basically a perfect Batman story to me. It's of a kind that has gotten nigh impossible to tell since BIGNESS is all the rage. Bruce's public life is symptomatic of that bias in favor of the epic.
    Our preferences are largely in sync, although I like Batman having a team... but I would prefer to see the Bat Family contextualized as more of a "team" than a "family." I like that they are close and familial, a found family, but literalizing the family dynamic isn't actually necessary. It starts getting problematic when Bruce is a legal adopted guardian, and also their vigilante mentor... IMO, the (original) origins for Tim Drake and Barbara Gordon are the right direction -- they are inspired by Batman and want to join the crusade.

    It's been 20+ years of "Batman is a dysfunctional, borderline abusive father figure to his sidekicks who he is reluctant to accept." Instead, I'd love to see "Batman is a flawed and eccentric but generous mentor. He knows he became Batman by spending a decade training as a pupil under various masters in crime-fighting. He understands the importance of teaching his skills to other worthy pupils to achieve his goal of creating a lasting symbol of hope in Gotham."

    Especially after King's run, I'm personally just tapped out on "Bruce's father/Bruce as a father" ... there are other themes and dynamics available!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregpersons View Post
    Our preferences are largely in sync, although I like Batman having a team... but I would prefer to see the Bat Family contextualized as more of a "team" than a "family." I like that they are close and familial, a found family, but literalizing the family dynamic isn't actually necessary. It starts getting problematic when Bruce is a legal adopted guardian, and also their vigilante mentor... IMO, the (original) origins for Tim Drake and Barbara Gordon are the right direction -- they are inspired by Batman and want to join the crusade.

    It's been 20+ years of "Batman is a dysfunctional, borderline abusive father figure to his sidekicks who he is reluctant to accept." Instead, I'd love to see "Batman is a flawed and eccentric but generous mentor. He knows he became Batman by spending a decade training as a pupil under various masters in crime-fighting. He understands the importance of teaching his skills to other worthy pupils to achieve his goal of creating a lasting symbol of hope in Gotham."

    Especially after King's run, I'm personally just tapped out on "Bruce's father/Bruce as a father" ... there are other themes and dynamics available!
    All the Robins and Cass were inspired by Batman and wanted to join his crusade not just TIm and Babs.
    The concept of Bruce allowing his kids to take part in his dangerous activities is problematic but not anywhere as problematic as Bruce allowing a kid from a stable safe home to join his crusade without his parents consent.


    We do have your Batman. He did teach his skills to worthy pupils and he did create a lasting symbol of hope in Gotham. Dick Grayson and the Batfamily are exactly that. Batman and Robin Reborn was all about that and that hope endures into the future with Terry.

    Only he did more than that he created a family and he became family to those who had none.

    I like Batman as a father and the concept of the Batfamily. It's one of the things that drew me to the character sadly that side of the character has been ignored in recent years.


    Todays Tec is a good argument for Bruce Wayne being a public figure and why it is necessary.
    We also got a flawed caring Batdad so the abusive dad trope is only under some writers

    Bruce's crusade is a two prong approach. Punching at night and striking terror as Batman and Bruce Wayne the public figure safe guarding and improving as a symbol for good by day.

    Taylor showcased both perfectly in today's issue. We don't often get to see the importance of Bruce the public figure and why it is necessary so I'm glad Taylor reminded us.

    I don't mind the inherited wealthy and company since it gives a believable explanation for certain elements of his lore and his lifestyle:
    explains how he can afford his war on crime
    explains how he was able to dedicated the time and pay for all his training and travels
    It explain's how he can afford to get brutalised everynight without worrying about getting up to go to work the next day. etc
    Last edited by Fergus; 12-11-2019 at 01:10 PM.

  11. #11
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
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    I enjoy Wayne Enterprises, so that's a no-go for me at least as far as main continuity is concerned. I'd rather just have Bruce be more involved in his actual company.

    Cutting back his wealth...well, I dunno. Unless we're scaling things back to Golden Age level tech Batman on a budget just seems too limiting. People will be expecting the vehicles and the gadgets and, conceptually, Bruce will need a vast (and maybe limitless) amount of wealth to maintain and build all that.

    As far as how famous he is, I prefer Bruce as a public figure with a reputation if only because that emphasizes the secret identity aspect. He needs to be out there, he needs to be public, and he needs to not act like Batman. Maybe it would help support the secret identity if people didn't really know him (or maybe it would make them more suspicious), but from a narrative standpoint I think it works better.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Frontier View Post
    I enjoy Wayne Enterprises, so that's a no-go for me at least as far as main continuity is concerned. I'd rather just have Bruce be more involved in his actual company.

    Cutting back his wealth...well, I dunno. Unless we're scaling things back to Golden Age level tech Batman on a budget just seems too limiting. People will be expecting the vehicles and the gadgets and, conceptually, Bruce will need a vast (and maybe limitless) amount of wealth to maintain and build all that.

    As far as how famous he is, I prefer Bruce as a public figure with a reputation if only because that emphasizes the secret identity aspect. He needs to be out there, he needs to be public, and he needs to not act like Batman. Maybe it would help support the secret identity if people didn't really know him (or maybe it would make them more suspicious), but from a narrative standpoint I think it works better.
    If we take a step back from the comic book logic of it, it doesn't make sense that Bruce being a famous public figure helps him maintain a secret identity as a vigilante. It makes it, actually, much easier to connect the two, since they are both celebrities in the Gotham media. It's exactly as ludicrous as Clark Kent's glasses disguise. Bruce Wayne's disguise is... he smiles. Batman doesn't smile! Superman doesn't wear glasses!

    From the secret identity perspective on narrative possibilities, it's essentially moot. That story line is always fairly narrow, and deeply well-trod by every superhero. If a character is cornered on their secret, they have a friend show up as their alter-ego, and then that's it, suspicion averted. Obviously there's fun in the secret identity conceit, but the fun comes just from having to keep an amazing secret.

    I think there's more narrative advantages gained if Bruce Wayne and Batman are not BOTH public figures/celebrities, as I outlined in the OP, just by opening up Bruce as a chameleon a bit more.

    On the other hand, this always remains open to other members of the Bat Family, so maybe it works best having Bruce be famous in both roles. I must say that the dinner scene issue in "War of Jokes and Riddles" is my favorite recent example of Bruce utilizing his prominent old money status to save Gotham. It was clever!

  13. #13
    Moderator Frontier's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gregpersons View Post
    If we take a step back from the comic book logic of it, it doesn't make sense that Bruce being a famous public figure helps him maintain a secret identity as a vigilante. It makes it, actually, much easier to connect the two, since they are both celebrities in the Gotham media. It's exactly as ludicrous as Clark Kent's glasses disguise. Bruce Wayne's disguise is... he smiles. Batman doesn't smile! Superman doesn't wear glasses!
    Yeah, but they act completely opposite.

    I think more people are liable to assume an isolated and secretive billionaire is Batman then a partygoing, fun-loving CEO who knows how to mingle. This actually comes up with Year One where they immediately suspect Bruce Wayne is Batman until he fakes his injury and Gordon first meets Bruce as "Bruce."

    Unless people really focus on their chins, I don't see this as a Clark Kent issue.
    I think there's more narrative advantages gained if Bruce Wayne and Batman are not BOTH public figures/celebrities, as I outlined in the OP, just by opening up Bruce as a chameleon a bit more.
    There's only so much you can do with Batman as a purported myth, as the comics exhibited. Maybe if it were like an Elseworlds or a fresh from the start take, but not on an ongoing, mainstream, basis in my opinion.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Frontier View Post
    Yeah, but they act completely opposite.

    I think more people are liable to assume an isolated and secretive billionaire is Batman then a partygoing, fun-loving CEO who knows how to mingle. This actually comes up with Year One where they immediately suspect Bruce Wayne is Batman until he fakes his injury and Gordon first meets Bruce as "Bruce."

    Unless people really focus on their chins, I don't see this as a Clark Kent issue.
    Right. That scene in Year One was a brilliant move on Miller's part. It's easy to forget that prior to this, Gordon was basically an old buffoon. As he developed Gordon into a more competent character, he had to address head-on why this detective couldn't put 2 and 2 together about Bruce Wayne and Batman since... it's right there.

    He's got the motive. The means. They both show up around the same time. Forget about the chin, they have the same build. If you happened to see Bruce in a bathrobe with spiky unkempt hair, he'd have Batman's exact silhouette. Gordon correctly deduces Batman's identity and sees through Bruce's performance, too. If Bruce hadn't demonstrated his value, particularly by rescuing Jim's son, Gordon might've ended Batman's career before it began. (There's an interesting "Dark Tales of the Multiverse" elseworlds scenario to explore!)

    There's only so much you can do with Batman as a purported myth, as the comics exhibited. Maybe if it were like an Elseworlds or a fresh from the start take, but not on an ongoing, mainstream, basis in my opinion.
    Right. I agree. I don't think "Batman as an urban legend" is a sustainable status quo, nor am I suggesting it! Even when it was most actively deployed during the Rucka/Brubaker era, I always thought it was missing the point a bit.

    It seems to me Batman clearly does want people to know he exists -- just now how he exists. "Batman" is a performance (the Nolan trilogy nailed this better than most of the comics had until that point) by an individual who understands the value of theatrical imagery and communicating via symbols. The true Bruce Wayne is a spy: he can competently assume different roles to complete his objectives. The true Bruce Wayne is creative: he invents an identity, method, and means. The true Bruce Wayne is ambitious and process-oriented: he's setting the bar impossibly high, but dedicating every ounce of the rest of his life to completing it.

    So, Batman being famous is a given... building a specific reputation is the express purpose of the project. It's entirely pointless if Batman is an unknown element in Gotham.

    The question I'm presenting is — narratively, can you imagine a status quo with the standard famous Batman, but an anonymous Bruce Wayne?
    And if you're open to that, what new facets of Bruce's character could be explored if he had to be more DIY by necessity?
    What new situations could arise from Bruce Wayne having the freedom of anonymity, even as he builds Batman's presence?

    I'm interested to read about the ideas that come to mind for people of how stories might look, or how it could work with this variable of the character adjusted.
    I think it's more fun to explore possibilities than say "well that hasn't happened, so no" (speaking generally; not accusing you or anyone specifically of doing that) so that's where I'm trying to drive the conversation.

  15. #15
    Mighty Member Tzigone's Avatar
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    Yeah, but they act completely opposite.

    I think more people are liable to assume an isolated and secretive billionaire is Batman then a partygoing, fun-loving CEO who knows how to mingle. This actually comes up with Year One where they immediately suspect Bruce Wayne is Batman until he fakes his injury and Gordon first meets Bruce as "Bruce."
    That makes no sense to me. I like the old-school version where Gotham is home to so many people and they've no reason to suspect any particular one. Of course, there were fewer amazingly expensive things then. Liked that, too. And how the hell would any normal person know Batman's personality? Gordon, maybe, but anyone else - heck no. He shouldn't stick around and chat.

    However, I don't want Bruce Wayne an isolated and secretive billionaire, either. I'd rather him like he used to be. A socialite. A bit of playboy. A parental figure to whatever kid. An intelligent enough man (maybe a good businessman if you like him involved in the day-to-day) who donates to charity and likes to engage in recreational activities more than work (if you don't like him involved in the business). But definitely not the Brucie guy he was later. And I don't even like Batman as the isolated billionaire. As I said, badass, alpha Bruce that we might be getting is as unwelcome to me as the fake Brucie.

    Right. That scene in Year One was a brilliant move on Miller's part. It's easy to forget that prior to this, Gordon was basically an old buffoon. As he developed Gordon into a more competent character, he had to address head-on why this detective couldn't put 2 and 2 together about Bruce Wayne and Batman since... it's right there.
    I thought Gordon was not at all a buffon when he was Barbara's supporting character in the bronze age.

    It seems to me Batman clearly does want people to know he exists -- just now how he exists. "Batman" is a performance (the Nolan trilogy nailed this better than most of the comics had until that point) by an individual who understands the value of theatrical imagery and communicating via symbols. The true Bruce Wayne is a spy: he can competently assume different roles to complete his objectives. The true Bruce Wayne is creative: he invents an identity, method, and means. The true Bruce Wayne is ambitious and process-oriented: he's setting the bar impossibly high, but dedicating every ounce of the rest of his life to completing it.
    Batman is absolutely theatrics and performance. My problem is I don't want Bruce Wayne to be a performance for real-guy Batman (a very heavy element since the 90s, at least), but to be a well-rounded person who's 80-90% genuine, while just hiding the superhero part of himself. I don't want every interaction in everyday life with everyone outside his family to be fake. I've commented similarly on Clark Kent as a false personality.

    I kinda like the idea of villains, criminals, or the general population thinking of Batman as a force of nature, almost. I mean, they know he's a real person, but they don't think of him eating food or going home or anything but he shows up and criminals go down. Some wondering if he's meta. At least in the early days. It's not sustainable with the police, at least those who ever interact with him (Bullock, Montoya, etc.). Hey, does anyone remember the issue (Batman #423 "You Shoulda Seen Him...") with the cops all telling stories about Batman? Ended with a couple kids sleeping over at Bruce's house until their aunt came to get custody.
    Last edited by Tzigone; 12-11-2019 at 07:20 PM.

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