Capitalism and Intelligence in the DCU

Here’s a thought that’s bugging me today: Lex Luthor and Batman are, canonically, the two richest characters in the DCU. They’re also, canonically, the two smartest characters in the DCU. In fact, all the smartest people in the DC Universe seem to be at least millionaires.

In reality, intelligence and wealth are rarely correlated. It usually comes down to social connections, family background, and pure luck.

Why are the smartest people in the DCU also the richest? Is DC subtextually equating the two traits? Can you think of any exceptions?

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Well, Beuce was rich without his intelligence. I think for him, those two are independent factors. As for Lex… I think you might be on to something with him. There are others though, like Mister Terrific, who’s pretty much supposed to be great at everything, so it only makes sense that he would be super rich. And then you’ve got Ted Kord who, while no slouch when it comes to brain power, isn’t a genius, yet he’s still rich. A lot of the smart/rich characters also created something completely revolutionary practically by themselves, like Ray Palmer (I’m not sure how rich he is in the comics, but I’m pretty sure he’s got quite a bit) There are also scientists like Emil Hamilton, who aren’t necessarily loaded. But, while there are a lot of in universe reasons for this, in the real world… well, much of the DC Universe grew in the 50’s and 60’s, when Communism was the enemy and Capitalism was a major part of the American Dream. I think it might just be a remaining piece of the zeitgeist of that era.

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As always, super interesting topic to think about HCQ.

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Is Slade Wilson considered wealthy on an exorbitant level?

He’s a highly intelligent buckaroo and commands a premium for sure, but I don’t consider him on the Wayne and Luthor (and to a lesser extent, Holt) level of financial prosperity.

Ray Palmer and Ryan Choi don’t have alot of chips but they’ve got the smarts. Emil Hamilton isn’t rolling in the Benjamins.

An interesting pondering to ponder…

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If you think of it that way, you’re forgetting that those rich DC characters are more usually than not in the tech industry, and this does happen in the real world, as really smart people do start up successful tech ventures.

Now, there are also many smart people who are not that rich in the universe:
Barbara Gordon
Riddler
Dr irons
Static

There are also many rich characters who you wouldn’t consider geniuses:
Green arrow
Penguin (He’s a smart business man though)

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@TLKX Good call on Oliver Queen.

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What every rich CEO we know in the universe do all share, is some intelligence because you actually need some to run a multi-million dollar corporation

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Not especially. It’s just that of the rich characters, the ones who are smart do things with their wealth that are interesting to read about month after month. As others have brought up, there are plenty of smart characters who are not written as rich, and while there aren’t as many prominent rich characters who aren’t smart, you can find any number of throwaway characters who are written as very wealthy but without much sense.

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Ray Palmer isn’t rich is he? I mean I know he is in the Arrowverse, but in the comics he is just a college professor right? I mean, hardly a job that doesn’t pay anything but far from rich.

Although it is hard to find many, but mostly because superheroes or villains who are super smart often have to rich to justify how they then put their brilliant inventions to work.

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@HCQ, I would not say that those who are financially successful are not intelligence but that there knowledge is only relevant to there field of interest. Why those who are what we are considering intelligent tend to have different aspirations which do not necessarily correlate with capital gain although it can be gained through their contributions to science by means of patents.
While I love Batman as a character it has always bothered me that he puts so much time towards training and fighting crime physically, when with his intelligence and capital could combat the very issues that cause the crime in the first place instead of the resulting symptoms. If he devoted his time and resources to tackling things like unemployment/poverty/ education reform/ and mental illness, he could stop a lot of Gothams problems before they start. I know the Wayne foundation does this some what but clearly not enough. I would like to see a writer take a crack at these.

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I think this may be a case where a few prominent examples skew perceptions. Simon Stagg is nearly an idiot, but manages to run Stagg Industries. Think most super wealthy are relatively smart in their field and in management practices, but very few are geniuses. Buffet, Gates, Jobs I think are good examples, smart in their way but not Einstein, Turing, or Hawking.

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Also, Bruce came from money. He may be a situation of just keeping the money ball rolling.

Oliver Queen isn’t a moron, but he’s not a genius. However in JLU he was a billionaire having sold his company for 3 billion dollars.

In terms of money, I don’t know if it’s ever been made clear that Lex built hi fortune all by himself. There are continuities where he was a very rich kid growing up as well.

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Brainiac is one and Gorilla Grodd are two who come to mind as far as villains. They value knowledge among with a dash of Narcissism lol. You might say Barry Allen with his CSI skills and ability to speed his brain up makes him a candidate because you know law enforcement guys make jack crap for all they do every day compared to the high rollers. I also like to think he would have been one of the smartest men on the earth if not for his mother being murder.
Question How do I read the right books for the right earth/universe/ era to help keep everything in order having had time and for now you can just worry about The Flash lol

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What is your definition of intelligence? Do you mean just scientifically or being good at anything. People call LeBron James a genius all the time because of how great he is in basketball.

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That’s actually an interesting thought and when you look at the flip side over at marvel most of there smart Characters are nowhere near being rich: Reed Richards, Peter Parker Bruce Banner. I mean sure you got Tony Stark but he’s more tech savvy than he is a genius( but I’m sure if you asked him he’d tell you that he’s a genius lol)

Luthor just gave away his fortunes to the villains of the world.

@dogwelder9 There’s a Trump joke somewhere in there… but best to let it slide lol

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All rich people are a genius in some way. Unless there money came from inheritance

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To be fair, Bruce inherited his company, his intelligence didn’t build it from the ground up, and while his name is on the building and it’s his signature that finalizes everything, I imagine given his nightly activities, much of the the actual day to day is handled by Lucius or other executives he trusts to get things done. Bruce’s intelligence is put to use more as Batman than as the CEO of a company.

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Let me throw a pebble in the pond. Superman isn’t the richest or the smartest by any stretch of the imagination. This is by choice, so how much of the intelligence of the others is dedicated to making/maintaining their fortunes? Aquaman has availability to more wealth than anyone and he hasn’t the brainpower to power a light bulb.