Sheathe your swords, comic fans. Certainly there are countless legitimate differences to point out between Tony Stark/Iron Man and Bruce Wayne/Batman based on decades’ worth of comic books. But in modern cinema (particularly if we consider “Batman v. Superman: Dawn Of Justice” to be at least loosely related to Christopher Nolan’s Batman films), there’s an argument to be made that Batman and Iron Man are basically the same characters.
That’s not to say they act the same. Both Christian Bale and Ben Affleck have portrayed Bruce Wayne as a gruff, brooding, and generally antisocial character, whereas Robert Downey, Jr.’s Tony Stark is an eccentric socialite, albeit more of an introvert than he lets on. But as superheroes, they’re actually almost interchangeable. Don’t buy it? Consider these points.
Their Heroism Has Similar Origins
The key difference here is that Bruce Wayne’s heroism really comes from his desire to eliminate evil in Gotham after what happens to his parents at a young age. But as an adult, he turns from self-destructive semi-activist to full-fledged superhero because of a dramatic experience abroad that forced him to excel. Does that sound so different form what happens to Tony Stark in Afghanistan? Both of these characters find themselves in risky situations in distinctly foreign environments, and both realise their true potential while escaping these situations. There are of course several differences that can be pointed out, but fundamentally they follow a similar path to becoming superheroes.
Their Homes Serve The Same Functions
A few years ago Gizmodo, a popular tech, lifestyle, and entertainment site, did a fascinating and amusing analysis of some of the best superhero hideouts in an attempt to identify which one is the best. There, the Batcave is described as a lair where Bruce Wayne can store equipment, find solitude, and eventually enjoy special laboratories, hangars, and a supercomputer. That particular article counts Stark Tower as Iron Man’s hideout, but couldn’t you take the exact description of the Batcave and apply it to Tony Stark’s home as it’s been depicted in Marvel movies? Yes, that home has now been blown to bits, but it was initially a retreat for Stark complete with the ultimate supercomputer (J.A.R.V.I.S.) and a sort of basement workshop where Stark does pretty much everything. There’s quite literally no difference in functionality between the two homes.
They Have That “Super” Power
Neither Bruce Wayne nor Tony Stark is actually “super” in the traditional superhero sense. They don’t have alien powers, neither was bitten by a radioactive spider, neither is a demigod, and neither can turn into a rampaging green monster when things get heated. Thus, neither one is really a “superhero” so much as just a heroic figure. But a lot of comic lovers and Batman and Iron Man fans get around this issue by saying that the characters’ true superpowers are their minds. Both Wayne and Stark are uncommonly brilliant, and in both cases that’s about the only claim they can make to being extraordinary.
… And That Other “Super” Power
Oh, and they’re both incredibly wealthy, which can sort of be said to be another power they share. Amusingly enough, popular online lottery site Lottoland wrote up a list of the wealthiest fictional characters as one of a series of entertaining pieces that have to do with the sort of wealth people imagine when attempting to win lotteries. None of the fictional characters on the list actually won lotteries themselves, but they all have pretty exceptional estimated real world wealth. And interestingly, Stark and Wayne are almost neck-and-neck on the list. Stark’s estimated net worth is £8.5 billion, and Wayne’s £6.3 billion, with only Charles Foster Kane (of “Citizen Kane”) in between them. So not only do both derive power from incredible wealth, but their respective fortunes are very comparable.
They Have The Same Relationship
This one’s no longer applicable, in a way, because we saw Rachel (Bruce Wayne’s love interest) killed off in “The Dark Knight” several years ago. But while she lived, Rachel was to Bruce as Pepper Potts has been to Tony Stark. Both women are witty, intelligent, and determinedly professional, able to put their billionaire playboy buddies in their respective places but also able to command romantic interest. Both Bruce and Tony are attracted to their respective interest, but in both cases the men also struggle with whether or not to act on this attraction. They don’t want to endanger the women by association, and they also benefit from preserving professional relationships with them.
Throw in the fact that they’re probably the two most popular cinematic superheroes of the modern era, and the comparison feels pretty complete. These two may look, sound, and act differently, but as they fit into their larger superhero sagas, they’re almost interchangeable figures.
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