Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
Ben Affleck as billionaire Bruce Wayne in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Mr. Wayne declined to be photographed for this story.
, the first big blockbuster of 2016, opens this Easter weekend, and a giant, sustained promotional push seems to guarantee that it will clean up at the box office. Having successfully revived the Superman franchise with Man of Steel (2013)
, director Zack Snyder turns his attention to the more recent superhero conflict between Superman and Batman. I have a big problem with movies that fictionalize actual events, because inevitably things are distorted to make them more dramatic. So earlier this year, as ads for the movie began to appear, I decided to get the real story by landing an interview with billionaire investor Bruce Wayne, who rarely speaks to the press and whose long career as a nocturnal crime fighter is well documented on film.
Wayne inherited a sizable fortune in 1981 after his father, real estate developer Thomas Wayne, and his mother were gunned down during a mugging attempt in Gotham. He graduated from Yale Law School, and his subsequent investments in real estate, petroleum, and rail transit have earned him a net worth estimated at $32 billion. Dealing with Wayne Enterprises is like dealing with the Kremlin, but after several weeks of professional vetting and negotiation by e-mail, the call finally came and a Skype interview was arranged.
Wayne is fleshier than I expected, and as he sat down for our interview, I wondered for a moment if the black armor suit he wears as Batman is meant to protect him or to contain his girth. He speaks like a man who has always known money, and his own mind. He has a long history of conflict with journalists, and his manner throughout the interview was impatient and aggressive.
Let's begin with something that was in the news recently. You tweeted on Monday that Superman should "leave earth to earthlings and find another planet that shares his values." What accounts for this long-standing antipathy between you?
Look, I don't have any antipathy for him. He's the one who's telling lies about me. He's all over the airwaves saying that I've turned Gotham City into a surveillance society, that I consider myself the law, all these things. What we have in Gotham is a system, a really great system, where people can plug into our network and provide information about suspicious activities in their neighborhood, and we can target dangerous behavior and increase people's security. It's completely legal and completely voluntary and it works great. People are out of their minds with how great this thing is. So Superman is just plain lying. And you know, I've always been perfectly nice to him. But he's a liar, and if you people in the press were doing your job, you'd be exposing his lies instead of cooperating with what is really just complete character assassination.
But you do understand how this "earth for earthlings" rhetoric is offensive to some people?
My position on this is very clear: I think we need to get back to the idea that earth was made for us, and we need to impose more barriers on people coming here from other planets and, frankly, changing our way of life. I know it's not politically correct to talk about aliens being evil and all that, but since the General Zod invasion back in 2013 things have really changed on this planet, and I just think we need to get back to the way it was before. They're coming here uninvited, they're taking our jobs, they're using our resources, they're blowing things up, they're not really becoming part of earthly society—they're just here to reap the benefits. And look, the people who are coming here are not the best people from their home planets; they're the rejects. Think about it: Who would come millions of light-years to live on earth if they were wanted in their own world? So they're coming here, and they're committing crimes, they're breeding and creating mixed-species children, which they then use as a means of staying here. It's crazy and it can't go on, and I'm going to do everything I can to put a stop to it.
Superman has called that the sort of dictatorial thinking that ruined his world. Do you have any response?
I have no response to anything Superman says. As I told you before, he's a compulsive liar. Look at this business that came out last year, where he was posing as a reporter for the Daily Planet
. He still walks around wearing those glasses, which are not real glasses at all, they're just plain glass—even his glasses are a lie. What can you say about someone who can see things 1,000 miles away but insists on wearing phony glasses? He just wants to make himself look smart. He's not that smart. I've known a lot of smart people and, trust me, he's really not smart. I don't know anything about the Chicago Reader
, but I think you people in the media need to look into this business of him posing as a reporter. Now you know why that newspaper, the Daily Planet
, has such a bias against me. Every story about me is negative. And then it comes out that Superman—or Clark Kent, as he calls himself—is involved with this Lois Lane person, who has written all this terrible stuff about me. It's disgraceful journalism, and she should be fired.
Lane has written that your longtime bachelor status is linked to your crime fighting, that you have a need to punish people because of your own traumatic past and this makes you generally hostile to women.
Hey, I really don't care what Miss Lane has to say about my psychological makeup. She has some sort of weird problem with me, I don't know what it is, but she's behaved really inappropriately with me, asked really inappropriate questions, and I think the Daily Planet
should fire her. You get this sometimes with professional women who are unattractive; they have all this resentment toward men and it comes out in really inappropriate ways. The fact is that women love me. You can ask anyone who knows me and they'll tell you that women absolutely love me. They love me because I know how to give them what they need. They call me the Batman because I strike fear into people's hearts like a bat, but remember a bat can also be a baseball bat. As far as baseball bats go, I've got a Louisville Slugger.
That's the kind of joke she might call offensive to women.
Well, that's her problem. When you've got women like that, there's always a problem physically. Lois Lane does not look to me like a satisfied woman. Which makes perfect sense, if she's involved with Superman. I’ve never believed all this Man of Steel stuff. Lois Lane doesn't look like a woman whose boyfriend is the Man of Steel. She looks like a woman whose boyfriend is the Man of Vanilla Pudding. So I think there's some kind of problem downstairs, and unfortunately I'm really paying for it in the press. But that's OK because I'm very magnanimous, and I ignore it. I'm a very magnanimous guy. But they should still fire her.
Can you comment on reports that you and Wonder Woman are planning a sort of international body of superheroes?
I'm very glad you asked me about that, and I think people are going to be amazed then they find out what we've been doing. We're working with some really great people, first-rate people, and this organization, the Justice League, is gonna be the best thing that ever happened to earth. The really, really great thing about the Justice League is that it's going to be made up entirely of earthly superheroes. Wonder Woman, as you know, is of Amazonian descent—and if I can just insert a parenthetical here, she is a woman with a great body, a really terrific body, and you can tell that in her personality because she doesn't always have a stick up her you-know-what. Men treat her nice, and so she's OK with herself and she gets along with men. So Wonder Woman will be an important part of the organization. And we've got some really amazing people, like this fellow the Flash, who is just the fastest guy you've ever seen in your life, and this other guy Aquaman, who can breathe underwater. All these people are earthlings, and they're also committed to the kind of American values we want to spread around the planet. So this new Justice League will be like the United Nations, but better, because it will be all-American and we won't have to wait for Putin or the Chinese when we need to put the hurt on someone.
What about your recent statement that we should bring back Kryptonite? Doesn't that create even more tension between earthlings and aliens?
I do think we should bring back Kryptonite. In fact, if I were in power, we would go beyond Kryptonite. You've got to teach these people a lesson, you've got to teach them who's in charge. Once we get the Justice League going, you're going to see some really great things happening with Kryptonite. We're going to increase the space program's harvesting of Kryptonite, and we're going to build giant bases in Nevada for Kryptonite storage. And then—we've got scientists working on this, some of the best minds on earth, you'd be astounded—we're going to incorporate Kryptonite into a planetary force field that will keep all aliens out. We’ll be able to establish better naturalization programs, so that aliens can be integrated into our society more effectively, as manual laborers or servants or, like, comfort workers. As you know, some of these people can withstand incredible heat, so it would be great to use them for farm labor, especially in the Deep South.
What do you say to people who claim that the regime you're describing would be worse than the situation you're trying to correct?
People can say anything they want, but l have great support in Gotham City and all over the world. People love me. You have to admit, it's pretty hard to find someone who's done as much good as me. When my parents were brutally slain on the streets of Gotham, I had nothing—nothing. I had less than $10 million. Most people in my position would have looked to their own interests and turned their $10 million into $100 million. I mean, I did do that—in fact I turned it into $32 billion—but I also decided I would give something back by building a Batcave and by using my fortune to find bad guys, track them down, and torture and kill them in the most horrible ways imaginable. Because I wanted to give back—that's always been a big thing with me, I have to give back. So when someone like Superman, who doesn't even belong on this planet, starts calling me a menace to society, he ought to think twice. Him and his nonorgasmic girlfriend. Boy, I would hate to be him, and be stuck with her when it's that time of the month. I know he has superhuman powers of endurance, but there's a limit.