Published June 15, 2013
| Movoto Blog
This week, Superman makes his way back to the big screen in Zack Snyder’s “Man of Steel”, a much needed reboot of the Superman story for the big screen. If you’re a frequent reader of the Movoto blog, you’ll know we were champing at the bit to find a way to tie the film into real estate. Thankfully we have a Superman expert on the team: yours truly.
There are many things that have fascinated me about the Superman mythos, but one that always stuck out in my mind was the Fortress of Solitude. My younger self imagined the massive structure as Superman’s giant playhouse. Now that I’m older, part of me still thinks of it as such. Because of this, I thought it was fitting to write one of our fictional evaluations on the Fortress of Solitude. After suiting up in my best Kryptonian armor, I set out to battle the Man of Steel’s house of crystal.
What did I find out? By my estimates, the Superman’s colossal fortress would be worth more than $813 trillion. Yes, you read that correctly. If that piece of green Kryptonite didn’t scare you away, keep reading to figure out how I did it.
The Tools of Novelty Real Estate
Returning readers know this part by now. It’s like a superhero origin story, even. To write a fictional evaluation, I usually need a property’s size, location, and comparable properties. Only this time I tried something new. Think of this as my own novelty real estate reboot. Instead of my standard three criteria, I needed to know two things:
With these two pieces of information I was able to come up with an estimate for the value of the Fortress of Solitude. I should note, however, that the price doesn’t include all the multitude of zany rooms that have appeared in the Fortress. (Who has a replica of their office in their crash pad?)
But before I get to the heart of the matter, you’ll need a brief history lesson. I promise no fanboys were hurt in the making of this abridged history.
Fortress of Solitude: Better Than a Couch Fort
As the name suggests, the Fortress of Solitude is a place for Superman to go in order to be alone (well, and also do scientific work). I like to think of it as Superman’s man cave -- except on a massive scale. It also might be his bachelor pad; I can think of at least one female reporter who’d go gaga for a tour.
Like a list of Superman’s powers, the Fortress of Solitude has changed a lot since it was first introduced. Superman’s sort-of safe house (it has been broken into a number times) was first called the Secret Citadel. This version, introduced in Superman #17, was built into a mountain on the outskirts of Metropolis. A couple of years later, the Secret Citadel had morphed into a freestanding castle located in a “polar waste.” The first time that the Fortress is explicitly discussed is in Action Comics #241 in which, through the power of forgetfulness, it is once again located in a mountain near Metropolis.
I should also note something about the name itself. The name “Fortress of Solitude” originally appeared in Doc Savage pulps. In fact, an argument can be made that Superman’s creators essentially ripped off the idea. Old Doc’s Fortress was located in the Arctic and acted as a retreat for the mysterious man.
When it came time to make a decision for which version of the Fortress to use, I decided to go with the one located in the Arctic. I thought this version was the most well known. With this out of the way, I needed to find what material comprised the Fortress.
What is the Fortress of Solitude Made Of?
Most -- but not all -- versions of the Fortress of Solitude are constructed out of a Kryptonian crystalline material known a sunstone. Since there are no Kryptonian crystals in the real world, I needed to pick a substance as a stand-in. Some common crystals are: diamonds, salt, and snowflakes.
I can tell you right now that Superman doesn’t have a citadel made from salt or snowflakes.
I’ve never purchased an engagement ring, but based on the sheer amount of stuff you need to know before you buy a diamond, I might never get engaged. In other words, without Kryptonian diamonds handy, I went with the kind that is actually found on Earth.
How Big Is the Fortress of Solitude?
To figure out the Fortress of Solitude’s size, I first found Supe’s height and used this to calculate the dimensions of ice-cold crib. According the DC Comics Wiki, Superman is 6’3”. Once I knew his height, I found an image of him standing in front of the Fortress of Solitude and was able to estimate its height. I estimated that the Fortress of Solitude is roughly 7,065,000 cubic feet with a surface area of 141,300 square feet. (Talk about a fortress! Even Superman probably gets lost in this thing. His voice has to echo forever.)
To come up with this number, I made a number of guesses. As I mentioned earlier, depending on what version of the Fortress of Solitude we are talking about, the size would be vastly different. I chose the newest iteration of the Fortress of Solitude, which is dome-like.
Using Superman’s height, I was able to estimate the dimensions of the dome. Essentially, I found the volume of a sphere and then cut it in half. The same goes for the surface area of the structure.
How Much Is A Crystal Palace Worth?
The answer to this question is basically a crap load. I’m joking some here, but this is where things get really bonkers -- not that a flying man in tights living in a crystal palace isn’t bonkers. I wanted to know how much diamond it would take to build Superman’s digs. This turned out to be more difficult than I imagined. To come up with my figure, I found the size of the world’s largest uncut diamond.
The Cullinan Diamond, discovered in 1905, is the largest diamond on record. It came in at 4 inches by 2.5 inches by 2.12 inches.
How does this help me figure out the cost of Superman’s shiny super-shack?
My basic assumption is the outside of the Fortress of Solitude is covered with diamonds. You and I both know that Supes doesn’t have a leaky roof. So, if the entire crystal dome that Superman calls home is made up of crystal segments that are the size of the Cullinan Diamond, it would take 2,034,721 of them to cover it.
If you mind is blown, it should be.
The estimated value of the Cullinan Diamond is $400 million. Do you even want to know how much that would be? Our course you do. Here’s the price tag: $813,888,400,000,000.
That’s more than 813 trillion dollars. It doesn’t even include the price of all his rooms and gadgets.
Superman might already be a good guy, but there’s one thing I’d really like him to do to be truly -- flood the diamond market so I can afford that engagement ring.
Editor’s notes: Sunstone has many properties, the most famous of which is its ability to store information. I took this into account when I decided on what crystal to use in my evaluation. It turns out that, under the right circumstances, you can store information in fused quartz, which -- as the name suggests -- is quartz that is superheated into a glass-like substance. Once it is heated, however, it is no longer crystalline. Still, if you’d like to build the Fortress of Solitude out of quartz, one of the most abundant minerals on Earth, you’d expect to pay handsomely as well -- $21,159,015, which is a very conservative estimate.