Old 07-15-2008, 09:50 PM Offline   #1 (permalink)

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Default Alt Text: Grading Batman's Gear

I was thinking about the upcoming Batman movie, and I suddenly realized: Batman and Richie Rich are basically the same character.
They both have butlers (Alfred, Cadbury), they both have sidekicks (Robin, Dollar), they both dress in ridiculous outfits (bat costume, short pants with bow tie) and they both have adventures in which problems are solved by the appropriate use of incredibly expensive material possessions.
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The main difference is that Richie Rich's parents weren't shot to death in a filthy alleyway right in front of him, but tell me that wouldn't have improved Richie's back story.
At any rate, the point is that Batman has a lot of stuff. And, as with so many things, it falls to me to tally and grade this stuff. Batman's holdings are so extensive that this is merely Part 1. Part 2 will swing into action next week.

When I was a kid, a superhero having a car seemed completely natural, yet utterly cool. Sure, Superman could reverse time and lift mountain ranges, but Batman had a car! With fins! Nowadays, though, the Batmobile seems painfully unlikely. I can accept that the police force would cooperate with an anonymous, violent vigilante with a series of fragile teenage sidekicks. I can't, however, accept that the Gotham Department of Parking and Transportation would let him get away with an unregistered vehicle. I don't care how advanced Wayne technology is, that sucker's getting towed.
Grade: B-

Seems to me the Batarang's gotten a bit less versatile over the years. It used to be an all-purpose flying device used as a grappling hook, or to tie up fleeing criminal types, or to wonk some miscreant in the forehead before flying back to Batman's waiting glove. Too whimsical! Now, in most incarnations, the grappling duties have been taken over by a little handheld shooting device, and Batarangs are just small, mammal-shaped shurikens. They've lost their -arang! They're -arang-free!
Grade: C+
Smoke Pellets

These seem to work pretty well, because villains are stupid. As soon as Batman drops a smoke bomb, everyone starts shooting at the smoke. Guys! Batman's not going to waste a very expensive smoke grenade, then just stand there! You're shooting at the one place in the room he's guaranteed not to be! This is why you rarely see criminal masterminds promoted from within the organization.
Grade: C

Batman doesn't need a boat. He has a plane. And a helicopter. And a hang-glider? And possibly a Segway. They just made up the Batboat to complete the land-air-sea theme. Unlike the rest of Batman's vehicles, which are real. Maybe the Batboat's useful in submarine format. Maybe. But really, if Two-Face is underwater, how much harm can he do? They should really have just made the Batboat a submarine to begin with. What's Batman going to do on the surface? Trawl? Batman doesn't trawl.
Grade: D

I think it makes sense that Batman has a pair of handcuffs. Yes, yes, sex bondage, I'm trying to make a point here. There are occasions where you simply must cuff, I understand that. But the Batcuffs are, like so many pieces of Batgear, bat-shaped. That's where I think Batman may have gone a little too far with the visuals. You've caught the guy; you've won. You really can lay off the whole creature-of-the-night theme at that point. If you haven't scared the bad guy into abandoning his life of crime by then, binding his hands with scalloped cuffs isn't going to put him over the edge.
Grade: C-
- - -
Born helpless, nude and unable to provide for himself, Lore Sjöberg eventually overcame these handicaps to campaign against the federal law that requires stories about superheroes to contain the phrase "swing into action."


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