Dark Knight Rises Movie: High School Physics Says Batman Could Never Exist


When watching a superhero movie or any imaginary, fantastic film for that matter, it is important for the audience to suspend its disbelief. “Suspension of disbelief,” a term coined by poet Samuel Coleridge, entails the reader or viewer suppressing judgment due to the implausibility of the plot. In other words, a successful fantasy film is one that the audience enjoys regardless of how ridiculously imaginative it is.

However, what if I told you that the physics behind the Batman series just does not add up? How far would you suspend your disbelief for the soon to be released The Dark Knight Rises?

In a study released in December by three physics students from the University of Leicester in the United Kingdom, it was determined that the numbers do not add up. Given his weight, the size of his cape, aerodynamics, and the force of gravity, the velocity that Batman would reach by impact at the end of a glide would be extremely dangerous and almost certainly fatal. As an example, they note that he would reach a speed of 80kph (~49mph) upon impact after jumping off of a 150m (~492ft) building; this is the equivalent of getting hit by a car going the aforesaid speed.

Although I am not a physicist, their argument is pretty sound; they justify their claims with hard science, not just conjecture, and make a convincing case. But, there is one big problem that I have with it.  

What disappoints me about this journal article is the fact that they wrote it in the first place. They are completely taking the fun, fantasy and thrill from this superhero that has been the cornerstone of American culture for almost three-quarters of a century.

I encourage everybody to continue to suspend your disbelief for The Dark Knight Rises, which comes out July 20 in theaters nationwide.