One of the main mechanics in Batman: Arkham City involves traversing the city-sized jail using Batman’s cape to fly. This ability is also highlighted in the various movie and comic book iterations featuring the Dark Knight. Recently, a team of student physicists at the University of Leicester decided to investigate whether Batman could actually accomplish such a feat (because what is more important than proving the veracity, or lack thereof, of a comic-book character’s abilities?)
Their findings, published in a paper titled “Trajectory of a Falling Batman,” are pretty disheartening for fans (myself included) whose boyhood hero always had more “realistic” abilities than, say, Superman or Spiderman. Assuming Bats’ cape had a 15 ft wingspan, and he jumped from a building that was 492 ft high, the Caped Crusader could indeed glide for a whopping 1148 ft! But… and this is a big “but”… in the process, Batman would achieve a velocity of around 68 MPH, which would only be reduced to 50 MPH as he reached the ground. Even though Batman is the toughest of the tough superheros (feel free to debate in the comments, although I will tell you now that if you disagree, your’e wrong), meeting the ground at 50 MPH would not bode well for the World’s Greatest Detective. He would at the very least suffer serious injuries, or more likely, the attempt would result in his death. According to the young scientists:
“The velocity rises rapidly to a maximum of a little over 110km/hr before steadying to a constant speed of around 80km/hr. At these high speeds any impact would likely be fatal if not severely damaging (consider impact with a car travelling at these speeds).
Clearly gliding using a batcape is not a safe way to travel, unless a method to rapidly slow down is used such as a parachute.”
Perhaps the folks over at WayneTech should begin working on a parachute system to be implemented in Batman’s utility belt. Or, as one member of the team, David Marshall, suggests, “he could opt for using active propulsion, such as jets, to keep himself aloft.” Yes, I think that would be completely acceptable in terms of coolness factor.
For those of you who are scientifically inclined, you can view the paper in its entirety at the link below.
h/t to Anon