In addition to his huge intellect, superior fighting skills and crippling psychological scars that he lovingly nourishes each and every night, Batman possesses a mighty weapon in his war on crime. Or rather, a staggeringly large pile of weapons – kept in his utility belt or elsewhere on his person, and ready to be deployed at a moment's notice. Most of the "official" Batman canon limits his gadgets to the realm of gritty realism: smoke pellets, lockpicks and other things that a costumed vigilante would reasonably cart around. Hell, we'll even grant him that Kryptonite ring… because an evil Superman frankly scares the crap out of us.
More often than not, however, the Bat-Gadgets venture into the realm of the strange, the bizarre and the flat-out goofy. Some of them are loads of fun – where would Adam West be without them? – but all of them reveal a side of the Caped Crusader you won't be seeing at The Dark Knight Rises. So before we swoon into Mr. Nolan's arms one more time, let's take a look at the ridiculous side of his hero… with ten of the silliest gadgets ever.
(Special thanks to the various FaceBook Bat-Philes who contributed to this list.)
We have a lot of respect for The Brave and the Bold, and readily acknowledge its knowing attitude towards the goofier side of the Caped Crusader. The silly gadgets were a big part of the fun, and this little number – lifted from a science-fiction franchise of some renown – became as much a staple of this Batman’s arsenal as the Batarangs. Glad he’s got deep pockets; those copyright infringement lawsuits are murder.
The Brave and the Bold’s other piece of Super Nutty Awesome involves the Batmobile – itself a seemingly bottomless repository for ludicrous inventions – changing shape into an anthropomorphic battle mech. That’s a lot more shock and awe than your average mugger is expecting.
This one makes the list not for its self-apparent practical value, but because it apparently fits in his utility belt (well, either that or some convenient orifice).
The SuperFriends cartoon from the late 1970s is a gold mine for the ridiculous, with three mentions on this list (four if you count the Scooby-Doo team-up). How bad did it get? This entry – apparently a holding cell for feeder mice and shape-shifting alien girls – is only the third worst. Look for it at about the six-minute mark of the video.
Mr. Freeze is a terrifying villain, but he basically has one shtick, which Adam West’s Batman stymied with the timely use of certain foundation garments. Copies of the TV show are hard to find outside of piracy, but check the end of this awesome music video just to prove we ain’t lying.
We understand that Batman occasionally gets a late-night attack of the munchies just like the rest of us. Of course, we figured he’d treat it with MREs, protein tubes or at least a running tab at a 24-hour hot dog stand. But when the Dynamic Duo joins forces with the Scooby-Doo gang (in an act of contrivance so brazen it physically pains us to mention it), we learn the horrible truth. Batman carries Bat Cookies… the better to come to the aid of girl scouts, mothers with fussy children and cowardly stoners who hang out with Great Danes.
Numerous incarnations of Batman employed the old “roller skates in the Bat Boots” gag – and occasionally the “ice skates in the Bat Boots” gag, as Joel Schumacher so callously reminded us. None of them can top this moment from The SuperFriends however: pulled from an episode called “The Mind Maidens” about an evil feminist (?!) bent on world domination. With her army of hypnotized women firing disintegrating eye-beams in every direction, the Dynamic Duo chooses to thwart them by… well… take a look. The pertinent moment starts at about the 4:25 mark. If you listen closely, you can hear Frank Miller screaming.
Yes, you read that correctly. Returning again to The SuperFriends, we finally get an answer to all those rumors about youthful wards in legless tights…
Even more than the rubber nipples, the Bat Credit Card – which George Clooney displays midway through Batman and Robin – epitomized the utter failure of the Joel Schumacher movies. Yes, it's supposed to be campy and silly like Adam West. But Schumacher presents it so badly – with such a half-assed joke-by-committee payoff – that the supposed ridiculousness just makes you want to put a shotgun in your mouth.
Besides which, it's really a bad idea to make oblique anti-consumerist critiques in the middle of a summer blockbuster about the adventures of an obscenely wealthy industrialist. Just sayin'.
We’re not leaving this bad boy off the list: the high/low point of the Adam West years and the ideal embodiment of his ridiculous ethos. Early in the feature-length movie, Batman runs afoul of a vicious sea creature, only to fend the creature off with some timely acrobatics from his partner and a whiff of the handy spray can. Don’t use it all at once big guy.