How much does it cost to be a superhero or supervillain?

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How Much Does It Cost
to be a Superhero or Supervillain?

**Warning: This article contains spoilers for Avengers: End Game**

What are the financial rewards of a life of heroism or villainy? Is there money in the business of keeping Earth safe or plunging it into perpetual chaos? Or is it a job done purely out of passion, rather than for the wealth? We’ve rounded up six high-profile characters to scour through their assets: their homes, transport, gadgets, weaponry, even their tattoos in the attempt to find out how much each of them are worth.

Ever wondered how Black Panther’s bank balance looks next to Harley Quinn’s? We did the calculations so you don’t need to. We also spoke to Vincent Zurzolo, COO of Metropolis Collectibles - the world’s largest dealership of vintage comics – to get his expert insights.

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Iron Man

Prior to his dramatic demise in Avengers: End Game, billionaire inventor turned Stark Industries top dog was far from cash strapped. When he wasn’t clad in the Iron Man suit, Tony called the £450 million Avengers Tower home - an imposing glass skyscraper in the heart of New York. To this he added a £500k collection of flash cars and a wardrobe bursting with designer suits. The most notable of his assets, of course, is the gold titanium exoskeleton. After all, without his suit, he was less ‘Iron Man’ and simply just ‘man’.

Crafted from fortified fictional materials and bolstered by a force field, the exoskeleton comprises onboard weapons, enhanced strength and inbuilt repulsor jetpacks to name a few features. The JARVIS AI computer (Just A Rather Very Intelligent System) ran the show, using holograms to communicate with Stark and providing access to anything Stark needed or wanted.

He leaves his wealth to wife Pepper Potts and daughter Morgan.

Which superhero embodies financial power more than any other? According to Vincent Zurzolo, look no further than Mr Stark. “While it would seem T’Challa’s wealth as the ruler of Wakanda might be endless, I believe Tony Stark truly epitomises the true capitalist spirit and in many ways he may be more aggressive with his intentions as a business man rather than a monarch of a country.”

Iron Man's financial worth

Black Panther

When it comes to fortunes, no hero or villain compares to Black Panther. And he’s no run-of-the-mill superhero at that; this is the king of Wakanda after all.

As king, T’Challa is the rightful owner of the country’s rich reserves of vibranium (a fictional rare metallic ore with energy-manipulating properties). Calculated to be worth £9 trillion, that exceeds the GDP of every country on Earth combined! On top of this, T’Challa resides in a £250 million royal palace and gets around in his own private fighter jet.

T’Challa largely has his younger sister, Princess Shuri, to thank for his advanced collection of gadgets and technology. His powerful nanotechnology suit, redesigned by Shuri, is crafted from a vibranium weave and his trainers are also fortified by the precious metal. This makes them impenetrable and capable of absorbing energy for redistribution. The kimoyo beads worn by residents of Wakanda provide a lifetime of medical knowledge, with a holographic display allowing access to the Wakandan database, where other bead-wearers can be communicated with.

“Black Panther first appeared in Fantastic Four 52 in 1966,” explains Zurzolo. “He was the first African super hero. But what is equally important is the representation of his homeland, Wakanda, as a technologically advanced society. An African nation that was shown as superior to Western society must have blown people’s minds away back in the mid-60s.”

Black Panther's financial worth

Thanos

As it stands, Thanos has been the most powerful villain in the Marvel universe to date. But in his prime, how would he fare in terms of financial wealth?

In Avengers: Infinity War and to some extent Avengers: End Game, he was in possession of the full collection of six infinity stones: the Space Stone (blue), the Reality Stone (red), the Power Stone (purple), the Mind Stone (yellow), the Time Stone (green) and the Soul Stone (orange). With the entire Marvel Universe fighting it out for these precious gems, it’s fair to say that they hold significant value – and rightly so. Just one gem alone could present its owner with great power, and if all six stones were united, they could be used to destroy people, planets and even solar systems. With great power comes great responsibility – or great danger in Thanos’ case. Ahead of his extermination in End Game, the evil alien villain displayed them in pride of place on his gold-plated gauntlet, which complemented the gold-plated armour he sported.

Avengers: Infinity War also introduced viewers to Thanos’ epic star ship entitled Sanctuary II, which was later destroyed in End Game. We estimate the ship to have been worth a whopping £10 billion based on its vast size and power, making it comparable to a military warship.

Does money come up often in comic book stories? “Financial implications are often intricate parts of the characters’ story arcs,” Zurzolo explains. “For instance, Bruce Wayne couldn’t be the Batman we know and love without his billions. When asked by the Flash in the Justice League movie what his super powers are, he simply replies, ‘I’m rich’.

“On the other hand, many super-villains are led to a life of crime to gain riches. Some are forced into a life of crime to help with a family crisis that is financially crippling them.”

Thanos' financial worth

Captain Marvel

Having only made her on-screen debut in 2019, Captain Marvel is yet to become a familiar face in the realm of Marvel characters. That being said, she is arguably the most powerful of the roster, boasting super human strength, endurance, stamina, lightning-fast speed and flight, among others.

On the financial side, Carol Danvers is less cash rich than her peers, though she has received a lot of government money. Approximately £4.2 million will have been invested into her training as a US fighter pilot; a boon, surely, when you’re commandeering a star-ship worth a cool £10 billion.

Government money has gone a long way, then, to bringing Captain Marvel centre stage, but she also has the Psyche-Magnetron to thank for her powers. The weapon exploded near Carol and left her with a new set of superhuman abilities.

We asked Zurzolo for his opinion on what influences the hierarchy of superheroes and villains, to which he answered, "I don’t know if I’d say there is a clear-cut victor in terms of which plays a bigger role in hierarchy, wealth or power, as each story is different. But if I were forced to give one answer, I’d say powers. There are heroes/villains who take the lead due to their superior powers. This happens also with super intellect. Many of the ‘lesser’ heroes/villains will take a back seat to the stronger/smarter characters – such as Captain Marvel.”

Captain Marvel's financial worth

Joker

Gotham’s most notorious resident may have made an enemy of the local billionaire Bruce Wayne, but how does the Joker fare in terms of riches? Well, this is a man that robbed Gotham Bank just to set the cash alight, so money is clearly not a motivating factor in his crimes.

Like a lot of his background, it’s unclear where the Joker lives – he is unpredictable in every way, so it’s possible that he has no fixed abode. He comes across as educated and well-spoken, but the tale he tells of his past life and how he became the Joker changes with every rendition.

It appears the majority of his spare cash goes on his appearance and weapons. He disguises old scars on his face with thick clown makeup and dyes his hair a vibrant shade of green to maintain his persona. Though not conventionally fashionable, he has a sartorial eye, something he demonstrates when sporting the iconic purple trench coat, or a metallic suit. Tattoos complete the look.

The Joker’s weapons are his prized possessions. The Joker’s ‘novelty’ playing cards and squirting flower are far more sinister than they may first appear – the cards have razor sharp edges and the flower squirts poison, venom or acid depending on his mood. One of the most iconic guns in his collection is a two-toned Glock 17, which he has used to further his aims in the past.

“The Joker is one of my favourite villains,” reveals Zurzolo. “I loved what they did with his origin in the 1989 Batman movie. Jack Nicholson was a blast as Jack Napier and the clown prince of crime. However, the origin I like best is the one from the 1988 graphic novel, The Killing Joke by Alan Moore and Brian Bolland.”

The Joker's financial worth

Harley Quinn

Partner in crime - and life - to the Joker, Harley Quinn (originally Harleen Quinzel) is another of Gotham’s trouble makers. As a qualified psychiatric resident, Harleen fell in love with Joker while he was incarcerated and was led down a path of destruction from here.

Much like the Joker, details of Harley’s home life are shrouded in secrecy, and any money she has is likely a result of the crimes she commits.

She shares the Joker’s love for heavy caricature-esque makeup and brightly dyed hair, and her trademark Harlequin outfit sets her apart. Looking at her inked skin, she seems to have invested a fair bit in her tattoos!

As an expert in the field of comic books, we wanted to hear Zurzulo’s thoughts on the wave of superhero movies doing the rounds. “Comic book movies have become a huge deal and I am not surprised. I have long stated that comic books are the greatest American art form ever created,” shares Zurzolo. “The creators who brought these characters and worlds to life, such as Jack Kirby and Stan Lee, are true artists. Movie studios have only scratched the surface, and comic movies are here to stay. They are their own genre and come in many stripes from superhero and crime to war stories and romance too – The Joker and Harley Quinn to name one romantic double act!”

Harley Quinn's financial worth

Whether the ‘godly’ brawn and grit of the Justice League has made a DC super-fan of you, or the more ‘human’, light-hearted quirks of Marvel’s Avengers has won you over, there’s no denying that comic book adaptations of beloved characters are a big deal. And as we’ve discovered, you don’t need to be flush with cash to make an impression – though it doesn’t hurt.

Want to know how we calculated the costings for the six characters? Head over to TechTalk to read about our methodology behind the campaign.

Vincent Zurzolo

Vincent Zurzolo is the COO of Metropolis Collectibles, the world’s largest dealership of vintage comics. Zurzolo is one of the US’s leading comic book aficionados, known throughout the collectibles market as a fair deal maker. He has garnered an impeccable reputation, alongside the trust of collectors around the world.

1. https://www.computerweekly.com/news/252444965/Mobile-devices-lost-in-London-underline-security-risk

2. https://www.ons.gov.uk/peoplepopulationandcommunity/populationandmigration/populationestimates/bulletins/annualmidyearpopulationestimates/mid2017