Forbes’ Fictional 15 is the gold standard in determining the net worth of fictional characters. It estimated the 2012 net worth of Bruce Wayne at $6.9 billion making him the 8th richest fictional character. However Forbes’ does not publish its methodology and it takes into account all iterations of Bruce Wayne from the comics to the movies. Centives decided to create its own estimate of the net worth of Bruce Wayne, based only on the Batman movies directed by Christopher Nolan: Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
In Batman Begins we’re told that Wayne Enterprises helped build the rail system of Gotham City. Therefore the company must have a division focused on construction. Since the Wayne family has been wealthy for several generations it is likely that the civil engineering division has been around for decades. Gotham City is widely considered to be an analogue for New York City, therefore the company is based in the Northeast.
In the real world Turner Construction is a company that got its start in 1902, and is headquartered in New York City. It is also the largest green contractor in the United States, and the Wayne family’s philanthropic interests mean that Wayne Enterprises’ engineering division likely has a similar environmental focus. Turner Construction has a net income of about $39 million. Centives assumed that Wayne Enterprises’ construction division has a similar income.
We’re then told that in the 20 years since Thomas Wayne died, Wayne Enterprises has moved into the defense industry and that it has now become the cornerstone of the company. L-3 Communications is also a defense company that has been around for less than 20 years, has seen rapid growth, and is based in New York City. In 2011 it had a net income of $956 million.
We see a ship marked with the Wayne Enterprises logo, suggesting that the company is also in the shipping industry. Since there are docks in Gotham City, the company’s management is likely to have seen the opportunity in shipping fairly early. Horizon Lines is an American shipping company established in 1956 and in 2011 it made a net loss of $229 million.
Finally in the beginning of The Dark Knight we are told that Wayne Enterprises is considering a deal with Lao Security Investments, a company known in China for dynamic growth. We can surmise then that Wayne Enterprises has a troubled securities division dealing with low growth. Bear Stearns was a company that engaged in securities trading and in the year before it collapsed it had an annualized net income of $684 million. While there is no suggestion that Wayne Enterprises’ financial division is anywhere close to collapse, by comparing it to Bear Stearns we get a general idea of how much money a troubled financial firm can make.
Therefore, based on the information in the film, Wayne Enterprises has an approximate net income of $1.45 billion. The largest component of this is the defense division which fits well with the movie since we are told that this sector of the company has become its “cornerstone” and it explains why Bruce Wayne has the latest in military technology to help fight crime in Gotham.
But how much is Bruce Wayne worth?
At the end of Batman Begins Wayne Enterprises goes public. General Electric is another public company with a significant defense sector, and a long history, founded in New York. Its shares trade at around 16 times its earnings. If Wayne Enterprises trades at a similar ratio then it has a net worth of $23.22 billion. This would make Wayne Enterprises the 121st largest firm in the world by market capitalization. And how much of this is Bruce Wayne worth? We know that he holds the company dear and at the end of Batman Begins purchases a controlling stake. Assuming that this is 50% of the firm, this makes him worth $11.6 billion. This would make the Bruce Wayne depicted in the Batman films the 73rd richest person in the real world, and the fourth richest person in the fictional world, putting him ahead of Iron Man.
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