Yesterday we explained that Bruce Wayne--who fights street crime and evil clowns by night--has all the markings of a corporate criminal. We even went so far as to explain that Wayne seems like exactly the "better class of criminal" that his nemesis The Joker claims Gotham City deserves.
Some of you fanboys disagreed!
But it turns out we're not alone in seeing the criminality of Bruce Wayne. Smart lawyers and law professor types agree with us! And it's not just criminality: Wayne--and his Batman alter-ego--bring up a whole host of legal issues. After the jump, a quick summary of Wayne's white-collar criminality and litigation inviting ways.
"Bruce Wayne has other securities law problems," writes Ted Frank at OverLawyered. "By using front buyers to purchase more than 5% of the publicly-traded Wayne Industries without disclosing his controlling role as a beneficial owner, and then taking over the corporation, he has violated multiple provisions of the Williams Act, the only securities law named after a convicted felon, and is subject to federal criminal penalties, as well as civil lawsuits."
Larry Ribstein explains that lionizing corporate executives who pursue their own agendas at the expense of shareholder wealth is pretty typical of Hollywood movies. "Actually, as I've written in Wall Street & Vine, this is fairly consistent with films' view of capitalism over the years: business is fine, it's shareholders that stink," Ribstein writes. "From this standpoint Batman is not really a criminal. In using the shareholders' money to fund his crusade, he's just following in the footsteps of another popular hero -- Robin Hood."
And it's not just shareholders who are suffering at the hands of Bruce Wayne's vigilantism. Innocent property owners are taking the hit too.
"Just how many millions of dollars in property damage did Batman inflict on Gotham in that one night? And how are those poor property owners going to explain things to their insurance company?" asks Stephen Bainbridge. "Plus, if the mob runs the construction business and unions in Gotham, Batman's rooftop drives are helping subsidize organized crime."
We only wish Wall Street Journal were published in Gotham. We'd love to read Kate Kelly's take down of Bruce Wayne.
"Batman Begins": Bruce Wayne, Defendant
Batman as a better class of criminal [Ribstein]
Batman: Broken Body, Broken Property, Broken Laws [Bainbridge]