Chances are, if you're reading this, you've either already seen The Dark Knight Rises or plan to. We don't want to spoil the plot -- or the ending. But we can say that in the final installment of director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, everything changes for billionaire industrialist Bruce Wayne.
That got us thinking. What if there were real-life billionaire business leaders who could lead the same double-life that has inspired so many to follow his exploits since Batman first appeared in the pages of Detective Comics No. 27 in May 1939? Could it be done?
Here, in the spirit of fun that comics are supposed to inspire, is a lighthearted look at the top five candidates:
5 Businessmen Who Could Compete With Bruce Wayne
5 Real Businessmen Who Could Follow in Bruce Wayne's Bat-Steps
CEO, Microsoft (MSFT) Net worth: $15.7 billion Nickname: "Boisterous Boy" Powers and abilities: Can knock you over with his close-talking, loud voice, and unpredictable monkey boy stage dancing. Ballmer's gadgetry would look awkward and sometimes break down, but beware his dreaded Blue Screen of Death!
Vice chairman, Berkshire Hathaway Net worth: $1 billion Nickname: "The Octo-Instigator" Powers and abilities: Buffett's octogenarian sidekick is able to unleash rapid-fire barrages of withering commentary that reveal economists, gold bugs, and supervillains for the ninnies they really are.
CEO, Apple (AAPL) Net worth:unknown, but probably rising Nickname: "2.0" Powers and abilities: After years of studying with his now-deceased Zen master, Steve Jobs, Cook has developed amazing levels of dexterity, useful for dodging not only enemies but also difficult questions about the future of Apple's products.
CEO, Oracle (ORCL) Net worth: $36 billion Nickname: "The Puzzler" Powers and abilities: Uses bluster, bizarre logic, and rapier-sharp sarcasm to confuse Wall Street, impress acquisition targets, and throw off enemies bent on destroying him.
As a segment of the entertainment business, comic books are rare in that they not only offer fertile ground for investors, but also for creators. Imagine anything and you can bring it to life in the pages of comic. Witness what AMC Networks (AMCX) has done with Image Comics' hit series The Walking Dead.
In that spirit, let's end this adventure with a creative exercise. Who's your favorite would-be billionaire superhero? Or, even better, how would you go about fighting crime if you had Batman's resources and know-how? Would you master the martial arts? Corner the financial markets? Something entirely different? Please weigh in using the comments box below.
Motley Fool contributor Tim Beyers owned shares of Apple, Berkshire Hathaway, Time Warner, and Walt Disney at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and past columns. The Motley Fool owns shares of Microsoft, Oracle, Berkshire Hathaway, Apple, and Walt Disney. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Walt Disney, Apple, Berkshire Hathaway, and Microsoft, as well as creating bull call spread positions in Apple and Microsoft.