Monday, June 8, 2009

Question for Readers: Who is the Richest Comic Book Character?


When most people think of "rich" comic book characters, they naturally flock to two notable superheroes: Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark.

The former, owner of Wayne Enterprises, uses much of the revenues gained through the many branches of the company (Wayne Steel, Wayne Shipping, Wayne Industries, Wayne Technologies, Wayne Medical, etc.) in order to fund his double life as Batman, equipping himself with an arsenal of bat-shaped gadgets, a utility belt, a kevlar (or somewhat stronger than kevlar) batsuit, a batplane, batsub, batmobile, and perhaps the most advanced supercomputer the world has ever seen ("Computer: cross reference this screeching sound with 'brown bat.'")

The latter owns Stark Industries, a multi-billion dollar company most known for its weapons manufacturing (an extremely lucrative market), but also having a strong international presence (Stark Industries has offices in Japan, Europe, etc.) and several subsidiaries (such as Fujikawa Industries and Stane International). Stark is of course famous for creating the Iron Man armor, which by far is the most advanced suit of armor in all comic book universes.

Naturally, it is easy to think of these two heroes, especially considering the recent motion pictures. However, there are several other wealthy comic book characters: Professor Xavier was a former nuclear scientist who inherited a fortune and owns an entire academy; Danny Rand (the new Immortal Iron Fist) owns Rand International; Oliver Queen was a billionaire and mayor of Star City; Lex Luthor owns Lexcorp, a heavy competitor of Wayne Industries in the DC Universe (Luthor has even managed to harness and channel some Brainiac technology, which he used towards gaining revenues for the company); Normal Osbourn owns Oscorp, and so on and so forth.

I will post my views either in the comments or a later post, but I'd love to hear from the readers the answers to several questions. Given your knowledge of these characters as well as the real-world performance of their respective industries (and assuming all the characters live in the same universe):

1) Who is the richest comic book character in terms of net worth? (You can answer pre-Dark Reign and Batman RIP and post-Dark Reign and Batman RIP)
2) What do you think is this character's net worth in today's dollars?
3) If you answer is not Bruce Wayne or Tony Stark, who of the two is wealthier?
4) Whose company do you think the recession is affecting the most (positively or negatively)?

52 comments:

SevenDollarPen said...

It's got to be Bruce Wayne. Wayne Industries handles defense (not affected by the recession) and infrastructure (likely to get stimulus contracts), so it's probably doing quite well right now (unless there's a Wayne Derivatives subsidiary).

Let's say Bruce Wayne has a personal net worth of $5 billion. And I base that, of course, on nothing.

MrDave2176 said...

If you are talking about super-hero comics, then sure. But in ALL comics, I think Richie Rich and his family could buy out Wayne and Stark without blinking.

Scrooge McDuck is another contender, although his money is in commodities like gold and silver and so is very rich, but not excessively so.

Bryan said...

What about Ozymandias from The Watchmen. He's rich enough to do what he does in the graphic novel, and he's the smartest man in the world. And think about all that revenue generated by the toy rights alone.

STT said...

I agree with what everyone's put out. This is a pretty difficult subject to actually measure. I'm sure Lex Luthor is up there with everyone else. Or Monty Burns from the Simpsons.

However, this is only true if we limit the measure for riches in terms of the earth economy (which is not the complete domain of the comic book world). When we step back and try to liquidate the assets/holdings of someone like Galactus, our scope suddenly becomes a lot bigger.

Bill said...

Yeah if you count the presumed value of assets, Superman's got stuff in the fortress of solitude that I'm sure would have off the charts value if he ever sold them. But he's probably cash poor and would have a hard time turning all that crazy stuff into cash as well. Tough to answer.

Kanedoras said...

For what it's worth, I seem to recall that Ultimate Tony Stark was reported to be worth $240 billion. That's what, like six times Bill Gates?

Cisco said...

It also depends on how you count heads of state. Is Latveria DOOM's*, or merely ruled by DOOM? I'd say it is the property of DOOM. But what about Wakanda? T'Challa always seemed to be an absolute ruler, treating the Treasury like its piggy bank, but he certainly doesn't have access to the country's net worth like DOOM has of his.

* Capital letters, or else.

(For a future post: remember how T'Challa came into conflict with Captain America over how the discovery of a second source of Vibranium in the Savage Land might affect the Wakandan economy? Mark Gruenwald should be patron saint of this blog.)

Scott said...

What about Namor or Thor (well before Thor lost the throne of Asgard). Both probably have immense wealth in the form of Atlantean or Asgardian gold that they're always throwing around when the plot requires.

Danny said...

Uncle Scrooge. The guy has like three hectacres of liquid assets! Or Richie Rich, but he's underage.

For reference, there's Forbes' Fictional 15, although Tony Stark doesn't even place. (I don't think he was popular enough at the time. I mean, Lara Croft appears but Stark doesn't.)
http://www.forbes.com/2005/11/29/forbes-fictional-rich_cx_mn_de_05fict15land.html

Crampton said...

I second Ozymandias....

doktorholocaust said...

Ozymandias, Richie Rich, Scrooge McDuck, Tony Stark, Bruce Wayne, DOOM... all fine contenders, but there's a member of the Green Lantern Corps that has them all beat: Mogo.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mogo As a sentient planet, Mogo literally has a planet's worth of mineral, oil, and real-estate assets literally at hand (when he shapes them into a hand, anyway).

Nils said...

Easily Scrooge McDuck, in "the invader of fort Duckburg" his money bin is said to have room for three cubic acres of money. That would be an eight dimensional value, would it not? Therefore Scrooge must have an incomprehensible and indescribable amount of money.

Add to this the fact that the money bin seems to be filled with coins and bills that Scrooge himself has a personal connection to, I am sure he has a bit more in the bank or something :)

As for Tony Stark vs. Bruce Wayne, I would go with Tony Stark based on instinct and absurdity :)

samax said...

Black Panther is King of a country.
Thor is Lord of Asgard.
Namor and Aquaman are Kings of world-wide empires... let's not even talk about the rich bad guys, or people that own Planets or interstellar Empires...

the Capitalist bias continues.
okay, to address the question as posed. i would say stark has more profit motive than Wayne. he is more like bill gates than wayne. i'd say at his peak, he's in the 10-20 Billion range.

Anonymous said...

Got to go with Bruce in this head to head match. As someone says, he is more diversified. Tony is kind of a one note millionaire.

Over all though, I've got to go with Scrooge McDuck. He has a wider range of industries and investments than Bruce, plus he has all of the treasures and antiques he has accumulated. Plus there's the whole Money Bin that is just the treasure he has earned through his personal involvement.

Toaster Sunshine said...

Shi'ar Empress Lilandra Neramani was by far the most wealthy of all comic book characters, leading an intergalactic empire that put Galactus himself on trial.

But if we're limited to Earth, it's most likely Tony Stark. Tony Stark's holdings are more diversified that Batman's. Stark Industries is world-wide, while Wayne Enterprise limits itself to U.S.A. defense work.

Chuck Huber said...

A few other contenders:

Steve Dayton (aka Mento) of the Doom Patrol series (DC) was frequently referred to as the "fifth-wealthiest man on Earth". Whether this puts him ahead of or behind Bruce Wayne and Lex Luthor is open to speculation. I don't believe the source of Dayton's wealth was ever delved into deeply, but he evidently had access to enough super-science to build the Mento helmet which gave him his super-powers.

Kaizen Gamorra (Wildstorm) -- Ruler and criminal kingpin of an island nation which he modestly named after himself. (At least Dr. Doom only named his capital city after himself...)

Pluto (no, not Mickey Mouse's dog!) -- The Greco-Roman lord of the underworld was also the god of wealth (hence the term "plutocrat"). This aspect has recently been played up in Marvel's Hercules series.

R'as al Ghul -- This nigh-immortal mastermind has been building his criminal empire for centuries. Gotta be on a par with his daughter's baby-daddy (Bruce Wayne.)

Anonymous said...

It simplifies things if we limit the comparison to legally recognized (And recognizable) assets. It's hard to say how much Ra's al Ghul or the Kingpin are worth, because much of their worth is hidden. And it's hard to say how much DOOM! is worth, because many of his assets are legally recognized as the state property of Latveria. It's like trying to determine Kim Jong-il's net worth.

Sure Mogo has personal sovereignty over a planet's worth of assets - But he is that planet. How willing are you to stripmine your organs for cash?

I'd put Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark on roughly equal footing. They both spend tens of millions of dollars on personal crimefighting gear, fund multiple superhero teams and back their HQs, and spend ludicrous amounts of money to build public reputations as useless playboys. Interestingly their crimefighting gear seems to reflect their corporate strategies: Wayne Enterprises is highly diversified, as is Batman's gear, while Stark Industries focuses on arms manufacturing and Tony Stark focuses on the Iron Man suits.

Superman's assets are essentially incalculable, since he can always stripmine a lifeless asteroid to produce anything he needs. Add in his access to Kryptonian technology and we should be grateful he chooses not to interfere in the human economy. We'd all be serfs.

Anonymous said...

Molecule man...... nuff said.

Opinion Dalek said...

Reading the current Iron Man comic, you'd know Stark Industries is basically out of Tony's control, and being liqudated and ripped apart by Norman Osborn for its tech (the bits that Tony himself isn't destroying). How this competes with someone who is dead, although I have no idea if a body was found? Well Tony wins, but only just.

Anonymous said...

Vandal savage or Ras al Ghoul; immortals, compond interest...

Michael said...

Atom Eve from Invincible. She has the ability to create anything at the molecular level. There is literally nothing she cannot make or buy with what she can make.

Also, I can't remember his name, but there was the throwaway superhero in Morrison's Final Crisis whose superpower was being rich.

lilacsigil said...

Just to nitpick (because that's what comics are all about), Professor Xavier wasn't a nuclear scientist. His father was. As to whether he owns his assets, that's debatable - at least once he's been declared dead and his stepbrother claimed the estate, and it's currently under federal jurisdiction.

Creverex said...

First off, if you're going to include Richie Rich and Scrooge McDuck, Scrooge wins between the two. Richie Rich invested heavily into futuristic technologies back in the early 80's. After the 90's internet bust, he's seen some rough times. He and Ricky Schroeder have both seen better days at this point. Scrooge owns VAULTS of gold and he doesn't like wasting money (a trait young Richie didn't share). Gold is a commodity. Commodities have soared.

Heck, Scrooge is still making a fortune fleecing people out of their jewelry. Who do you think is behind this whole Cash4Gold scheme? Who else would need that much gold, unless you want to swim in that shit?

Creverex said...

But, if we're just keeping to the comic universe, Molecule Man is a good guess because he can create anything but the problem is that he can't create 'wealth'. All the cash he creates doesn't have appropriate numbers, etc. He can buy high-end trailers and nice cars with cash, but since the Patriot Act he can't spend more than $10,000 cash on any one purchase and then afterwards the Secret Service would be on his ass for counterfeiting.

He can't create wealth 'in the system' which is what matters.

Through manipulation and planning, he certainly could, but he's not that bright.

Plus, 'the system' is run by Wayne, Stark, Osborn, and Lexcorp and they aren't about to let some grand counterfeiter interfere with their income.

So first off, the actual Norman Osborn is dead so I'll count him out.

Lex Luthor has many space and technology developments for his own personal concerns. Plus, the amount of money he spends on lining all of his buildings and enterprises with lead is ridiculous. His budget for kryptonite alone must be staggering. His being headstrong about his pet project (read: Superman) is detrimental to his overall wealth.

But between Tony and Bruce, I'm going to go with Tony having more money at the moment.

Bruce, much like Luthor, has to maintain his image. He's strictly against strip-mining, weapons development, etc. All Wayne buildings are earthquake proof and he has to ensure the highest safety standards around. The last couple of chemical accidents didn't go too well for Gotham. Plus, all Wayne buildings must be fitted with secret passage ways and hidden caches of weapons and batarangs. Which leads us to Bruce Wayne himself, who must spend tons to better security of Arkham and is involved in hundreds of philanthropic ventures.

The lack of auto sales has hurt Wayne Steel. The new Obama GM has used government leveraging to force Wayne Steel to accept much lower prices for steel. Wayne's only sector that's somewhat profitable is Wayne Medical, except that with government run universal healthcare looming on the horizon, the stock has cratered.

Tony Stark doesn't have any of that crap. His pet project, Iron Man, is completely able to be written-off. The technology used in his suit is the same that is used for profits. He doesn't have to worry about hidden lairs and everything is over-the-table. He doesn't have to spend extra on hiding anything from the government or his accountants. Also, he's completely at ease with everything that Stark Industries does. He's not worried about 'carbon footprints' or anything of that nature. His company is about blowing shit up and making money.

Stark Industries is heavy on weapons development. Weapon prices have soared under Obama. Also, with the wars in Afganistan and Iraq, and now we're concerned about North Korea and Iran and we even have people wanting military action in Darfur, Stark Industries is at an all-time high.

Plus, during the Marvel Civil War, Stark Industries received massive amounts of government funding for his super-powered prison. Half the money the US owes to China is probably money that we've paid Stark Industries.

Lastly, whiskey's cheap.

So as far as US Dollar net worth goes, Stark wins. Hands down.

However, what is money and wealth? The value of money is determined by what people will do for it. Thus, money is man-power.

That being said, Darkseid is the richest man in the Universe.

lord_chain said...

your forgetting that dr doom has international wealth. and characters like apocalypse seem to just have stuff with no real explanation, however if your bringing it in the real world apocalypse has had 10,000 years of gaining capitol though it seems like he chooses power over money.

but lets not forget the hellfire club who only allow the wealthiest people in their ranks.

a lot of villains seem to have wealth with no explanation making it almost impossible to determine how wealthy they are.... Read More

then there's destro, international arms dealer. exclusive to cobra at one point but after the mismanagement by cobra commander destro sold to everyone willing to buy even war mongering to make mad cash.

now bringing darkseid into the picture. he does rule apocalypse however the lantern corp protect the universe with an army of green lanterns so they definitely have more man power than anyone in the universe. their like a billion strong.

SMC said...

Time to represent for the girls!

WHITE QUEEN or MYSTIQUE would be the most wealthy.

WQ frequently uses her telepathy to invest in the stock market. She funded the Generation X Academy completely her own.

Mystique? She's had so many jobs throughout the years and keeps many secret identities to date! (She's a senator's wife, a supermodel, etc.) She probably has access to amounts of money that would rival Professor Xavier!

Between Stark and Wayne, I gotta go with Stark. Stark's an engineering genius--he's invented so much stuff that he'll be raking it in for years and years.

David Wintheiser said...

Creverex has an impressive list of characters for analysis, but he leaves out the one I think is the best candidate: Kang the Conqueror.

Basically, any entity with sufficient intelligence, unlimited time travel, and immortality should, in any rational universe, become the universe's wealthiest being. (And if you want to argue that having the first two would get you the third pretty much by default, I wouldn't put up much of a fight.)

bottleHeD said...

The Forbes Fictional 15, while not limited to only comic book characters, has a rather indepth look at not just individual wealth, but also mega-rich corporations. Plus, they update it every year, with some rather strange results.

Anyway, it would be rather hard to compare individuals across planets and galaxies, unless we know the equivalent currency value and economic standards of living.

Also, I suppose in cases like Mogo, (definetely an interesting choice) due to his complete and absolute sovereignity over himself as a real-estate resource, he could effective put the value as high as he wanted, with no outside regulation.

Anyway, I'd love to see you guys here at the blog tackle something this, the value of inter-galactic currency and real estate on other planets.

Plus maybe your spin on the richest corporations in comicdom.

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Khanh said...

"Scrooge starts losing one million dollars each minute, and comments that he will go bankrupt within 600 years."

NEED I SAY MORE?

Found this on wiki

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If we ave to choose between Stark and Wayne, I believe that as we have things today the upper hand would be on Stark's side, with "War against Terrorism" (I have my reasons for the quotation marks) in such a high point now he as a weapon developer has more profit than Wayne

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Blake Mitchell said...

The riches of every comic book characters is totally variable depending on how their story was told or the continuity, but I do believe that Tony Stark (on his pre-alcoholism days) is one of the totally successful guys out there, since come on, just look at his office! I totally wish that I can manage to have that kind of space to hold a huge meeting with my colleagues in DC!

Though I have that kind of space in my Dulles, VA office space I still wish to have a sophisticated design like Tony or Bruce Wayne.

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