Through the years Batman has devised and constructed just about every damn thing a super hero lacking super powers could possibly conceive of to fight crime. Batman doesn’t just use gadgets, Batman lives and breathes gadgets. Without them he would be half the man, half the crime fighter. He would just be Batguy. Batdude. Batfighter. Instead, he’s the Dark Knight. I think at this point in time a top 10 list of the best Bat gadgets of all time is in order. From the original comics, to the live-action television series, to the features of the past 19 years, there have been many. Here are the best...
10. Shark Repellant Bat-Spray
No, I did not make this one up. Batman does, in fact, get into a sticky situation — in one of the live-action episodes – where Robin lowers the Bat Copter too far down and dips Batman into the sea. When he comes back up he’s got a six foot shark dangling off his leg. What does he do? What anyone in the same situation would do: he has Robin climb down the Bat Ladder and hand him the Shark Repellant Bat-Spray. This lethal potpourri not only does the job of repelling the shark, which lets go of Batman’s mauled leg, but has the added bonus of making the shark explode upon hitting the water. Utility and vengeance, embodied in one gadget – in a way, this tool symbolizes Batman better than any of the others.
9. The Bat Wing or Night Wing
Though we haven’t seen the Bat Wing recently, it did play a part in the animated series and the unfortunate Joel Schumacher disaster Batman Forever in 1995. It was also in the original Tim Burton Batman of 1989. Unfortunately, as portrayed in these movies – it can’t manage to hit the Joker after firing a thousand rounds and a couple of missiles, then crashes after the Joker shoots it once with an oversized pistol – it is a worthless pile of Bat Crap. The Bat Wing is undeniably cool, however, and it’s my hope that Christopher Nolan doesn’t shy away from this excellent gadget as a result of its ignominious cameos in the past.
8. The Batmobile Remote
The Batmobile is that much cooler because it has a remote. I mean, Alfred can’t be on call all the time. Someone’s gotta do Bruce Wayne’s dirty laundry, and you know Bruce doesn’t spend his time in the Bat Cave figuring out which fabric softener to use. So what happens when he’s gotten himself in a scuffle he can’t sneak out of and his Bat Mobile is parked ten blocks away? He whips out the Batmobile Remote. I wonder if they can make one of those things for my Buick…
7. Smoke Grenades
Sometimes Batman gets into situations that go tits-up, and there’s really nothing else to do except escape, post haste. That’s where the smoke grenades come in handy. They’re also an excellent subterfuge and enhance the aura of Batman as a mysterious knight of the night.
6. The Bat Pod
Admittedly I know very little of this new gadget, as it’s one of Batman’s new vehicles in the upcoming The Dark Knight. But just from looking at it you get a pretty good idea of its capabilities: like the Bat Mobile it’s fast, tough, and capable of doing more than just a little bit of off-roading. On top of that it’s mounted with some pretty heavy artillery; it would take a couple of biker gangs to challenge it. A replacement for the Bat Mobile? No, of course not. A sweet addition to Batman’s modes of transportation? Indeed.
5. Utility Belt
Batman’s utility belt should not be overlooked simply because it’s one of his least flashy gadgets. The utility belt is the magnifying glass to Batman’s Sherlock Holmes. It not only holds much-needed items to help him disappear when trouble gets a little too real; it not only contains weapons that can take out a whole cadre of thugs; but it also serves as a portable laboratory to help the Dark Knight do on-the-scene detection work. Let us not forget that Batman is as powerful as he is due to a brain that matches his physical might.
4. The Batarang
The Batarang is one of Batman’s most indispensable gadgets. A boomerang-like projectile, Batman hurls it at anything or one that obstructs his way. It has the added bonus of usually coming back to him – talk about recycling! The Batarang is significant not only in its crime fighting applications, but in its symbolism as well. Because of the circumstances surrounding his parents’ deaths Bruce Wayne is extremely anti-gun. In lieu of crafting some kind of Bat Gun he devised the Batarang, a very effective substitute for a firearm. But don’t hate on the deadly shuriken-like weapon: Batarangs don’t maim people. Batman does.
3. The Bat Grappler
The Bat Grappler is for Batman what webs are for Spiderman. It allows him to zip around Gotham, it enables him to scale a tall building in a matter of seconds, and it gives him the ability to quickly get into and out of otherwise inaccessible spaces. The Bat Grappler also helps endow Batman with many of the qualities that make him bat-like; i.e., dangling upside down from the tops of hundred story buildings, then whisking bad guys to the tops of said buildings and shaking them down for information. Moreover, it’s an extremely handy gadget when you’re at the end of a dark alley with a lovely lady and need a quick rescue. Nothing says hero like repelling up a building in ten seconds flat.
2. The Batmobile
What would Batman do without the Batmobile? Take the bus? Have Alfred drive him everywhere in a Bat Limo? Car pool with Cat Woman? Hard to say, because it’s difficult to conceive of a Batman without the Batmobile. Its form has remained the same for many of the films, then was altered dramatically in Batman Begins. It went from a campy relic of the television show to a roided out love-child of a Hummer and a Panzer. The Batmobile is, ultimately, Batman’s failsafe getaway, and its new urban-tank design reflects that. But I think every guy, deep down, really loves the Batmobile because it’s more or less exactly what he would drive if he had his druthers. It can go ridiculously fast, and even fly for short spurts; it’s bullet proof and impervious to most small arms fire; and it inevitably does more damage to anything that gets in its way than can be done to it. Batmobile? That’s what I call a Man-mobile.
1. The Bat Suit (body armor, arm gauntlets, cape, cowel, boots, etc.)
Batman is universally known because of the suit he wears. This suit has gone from a tailored pair of gray tights, to a full-body rubber suit, to a high-tech, custom designed set of combat armor. The Bat Suit is what lets Batman be Batman: he is a one-man vigilante police force equipped with the armor to defend himself against any number of opponents attacking simultaneously. It is also what lends him much of his bat mystique. I mean, between the cape, cowel and overall color of the most recent cinematic incarnations of his suit, he pretty much looks like a huge bat – especially when he’s gliding over Gotham. And this is one huge bat most thugs in their right mind don’t want to mess with. Batman’s suit, like the man himself, is also extremely practical: the gauntlets on his forearms make for some nasty lacerations, and his cowel both serves as a face mask and enhances his hearing (those pointy ears are packed with state of the art electronics). If Batman was devoid of all his other gadgets – Bat Mobile, Batarangs, Bat Grappler, hell, even his Whale Repellant Bat Spray (no, didn’t make that one up either) – he’d still be a frightening force to be reckoned with as long as he had his Bat Suit. You can take the man out of the Bat Mobile, but you can’t take the kick-ass out of the Batman.