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A batarang is a bat-shaped throwing weapon used by Batman. These are the most basic and commonly used items in his arsenal. A vast array sizes and types have been designed, some of them razor sharp. They can also be used as grappling hooks when attached to Batropes. Batman has also been known to use batarangs modified with additional tools and gadgets.

Functionality

In most appearances, Batarangs are throwing weapons utilized by Batman. Depending on the time period and/or creators, they are based either on Aboriginal Australian boomerangs or Japanese shuriken. In all versions, they are made of metal and stylized/shaped in the form of bats. Batarangs are often crafted to fit into the Utility Belt, either through folding mechanics or being small enough to store in its compartments.

Batarangs are mainly used as ranged weapons to subdue or handicap enemies from afar. Though mostly hand-thrown, some have been either fired from devices like Batarang Guns, or used as melee weapons. Early versions would return to Batman and Robin after they were thrown, though this has been gradually lost over time. Batarangs can also be used to break objects, such as glass and pipes. Precisely thrown Batarangs are capable of disarming enemies or disrupting weapons. In some stories, Batman has added sedatives to his Batarangs to incapacitate foes immediately or over time.

The sharpness of Batarangs often changes, with most being depicted as blunt-edged to knock out opponents. However, others are shown to be sharp enough to cut through objects or imbed themselves into opponents. Batarangs have also been used to activate switches and disrupt machinery, though changes in technology have often required Batman to use special variants or other equipment.

Variants

In many stories, Batarangs have often been deployed or combined with technology to implement special features or functions. These include either electrified, explosives, smoke dispensing, and remote-controlled variants. Batman has also used Batarangs in conjunction with his Batrope to navigate Gotham's rooftops, bypass obstacles or ensnare opponents. However, this functionality declined after the introductions of both grappling hooks and, later, the Grapple Gun. During Detective Comics #244, Batman made use of the large Batarang X to launch himself through the air, though this was abandoned as it was deemed "too dangerous".

Members of the Batman Family have had a varied relationship with Batarangs, with some using them whilst others forgoing them entirely in favor of other tools and equipment. The various Robins have made use of Batarangs, though some have made use of either 'R'-shaped shuriken, Throwing Birds or Birdarangs. After becoming Nightwing, Dick Grayson has often made use of of his own modified version of a Batarang, a bird-shaped variants referred to as "Wing-Dings". The various Batgirls, including Barbara Gordon, Cassandra Cain and Stephanie Brown, and Kate Kane as Batwoman have also made use of Batarangs.

History

The batarang makes its debut.

A Batarang first debuted in Detective Comics #31 as new tool in Batman's arsenal. The original concept of the batarang was developed by writer Gardner Fox. As the name implies they were originally just black Aboriginal Australian boomerangs with bat-scallops. Pistol wielding pulp hero The Shadow used yellow boomerangs with bat-scallops years prior, one of many influences used by DC writers and editors. In its debut story, Batman uses his batarang twice: first to attack the Monk and later to free himself from a death trap. In the following issue, he uses it in conjunction with his Batrope to climb out of a pit.

After Batman was forbidden to use guns by editor Whitney Ellsworth, batarangs became one of Batman's most used weapons, often incapacitate foes from distances or disarm them. The earliest versions were of scalloped, metal boomerangs which were used to attack opponents and returned to the thrower. During later comics in both the 1940s and 1950s, writers began expanding to include new variant batarangs with gadgets attached, such as roped, explosive and magnetic Batarangs.

In Frank Miller's Dark Knight comic series, batarangs were depicted as small shuriken that could penetrate the victims' skin or cause serious harm to them. They also lacked a lot of their gadget or rope attachments. Batman also did not use them as regularly as they had, often preferring to use hand-to-hand combat instead. Since the series, Batarangs have become more and more like shuriken with time. The creation of the Grapple Gun has also led to rope-variants not being used as often.

Media Depictions

Batarangs have become a staple of Batman's arsenal, appearing in nearly every major Batman television and movie adaptation to date. A roped Batarang was used in pilot for the ABC television and appeared regularly. Following the backlash against the camp Batman television series, the franchise has avoided the overuse of the "bat-" prefix, other than the Batcave and Batmobile. Though shown prominently, the batarangs are very rarely referred to by name.

Batarangs have continued to appear in most media adaptations in one form or another. However, they are almost never thrown at people in live-action. In animations and video games, standard Batarangs are thrown at enemies often. In some adaptations, the batarang are designed match the promotional Bat-insignia of their respective appearance, dropping the traditional smooth, circular boomerang shape and adding two pointed "bat-ears" at the center top. This design trend has spilled over into comics.

Live-Action

Television series and Movie

60s Batman series Batarangs

In Dozier's 1960s series and Batman: The Movie, Batarangs are used are often used by Batman and Robin as grappling hooks for their Batropes. However, several episodes have them used as weapons. A "Special Exploding" batarang is also used in "The Penguin Declines".

1989 Movie

Batman (1989) Batarangs collage with Julian Caldow sketches

Batman rarely uses Batarangs in the Burton films, with him often utilizing other gadgets such as smoke capsules and a spring-action reel with multiple weapon attachments. However, he uses rope-attached Batarang to capture a thug in the film's opening fight.

Batman Returns

A self-guiding, computerized Batarang is used to subdue members of the Red Triangle Gang in Batman Returns. This "Super-Batarang" plays a pivotal role in the plot when it is stolen by the gang and used to wound a beauty queen, in a effort to frame Batman for her murder. A blood stained version of the prop is collected in an evidence bag by Commissioner Gordon.

Batman Forever

Batarangs also appear in the Schumacher films, though Batman rarely uses them. They are shown on display in the opening "suit up" montages with the other chrome gadgets. During Batman Forever, he uses a wired bola variant to subdue one of Two-Face's Thugs and later uses a sonar-guided variant to destroy Riddler's Box matrix.

Batman & Robin

Lined/Roped Batarang and Throwing Bird

The sequel introduced red "Throwing Bird" props for Robin to use. Only the smallest variations are used by the dynamic duo, springing out of their gauntlets as high-tech grappling hooks. Batgirl uses one of the large folding Batarang props built for previous movie, hurling it as a grappling hook to make her ascent up to the Gotham Observatory.

The Dark Knight Trilogy

Batman Begins bat-shuriken

The Dark Knight trilogy features several bat-shaped weapons used by Batman in the films. These include shuriken, which are used to disrupt the environment and intimidate foes. However, these are never as weapons. In The Dark Knight Rises, Batman uses bat-shaped darts to sedate mercenaries guarding Gordon and other GCPD officers. However, it's unclear whether these were fired through a simple blowgun or launched from a advanced device.

Snyder-Era DC Films

The only instance in the live-action film franchise where an ordinary Batarang is thrown at a thug.

In the "Snyderverse", Batman uses shuriken-based batarangs frequently as both ranged weapons and as calling card to his activities. The films also used them in brutal ways, such as being stabbed or thrown into the chests of opponents. In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman hurls a standard batarang to disarm a thug during the warehouse rescue; the first time in a theatrical film. Bruce Wayne also throws one at Barry Allen to test his speed during a pivotal scene in Justice League. One of these appears in the 2019 Shazam movie as part of Freddy Freeman's superhero meromelia collection.

Animation

DCAU Batman Series

Batman: The Animated Series Batarang

Batman and Robin make frequent use of batarangs in Batman: The Animated Series, often to disarm or subdue opponents. They are also depicted as strong enough to break objects, cut or penetrate through materials like wood and metal. Batarangs are also sometimes used to activate machines or switches from a distance. The series also introduces a smaller variant referred to as either "Shuriken" or "Bat Stars", which are small enough to block a gun's barrel and can penetrate metal objects. Batman also makes use of a roped-batarangs to either swing or climb up objects, and a flash-bang batarang during the episode "Mudslide". Batarangs also appear in The New Batman Adventures with the same functionality, though with a sleeker design.

Batman Beyond

Batarangs used in Batman Beyond

Batarangs are also frequently used in Batman Beyond by Terry McGuinnis. Now held in the Batsuit, they can be deployed to Batman's wrists to be thrown or fired from an launcher. McGinnis also makes use of both electrical and explosive variants in several episodes.

DCAU Justice League series

Batarangs are also deployed by Batman in the DCAU Justice League cartoon series. As well as default versions, Batman makes use of electrified and explosive variants in several episodes. In the episode "Starcrossed", Batman uses a set of batarangs fitted with ultrasonic bat beacons to fend off attacking Thanagarians. Batarangs also continue to feature in the sequel series, Justice League Unlimited.

The Batman

Batman throws Batarangs used in The Batman

In The Batman, Batman uses futuristic Batarangs as both ranged and melee weapons. Depicted as futuristic neon weapons, they are depicted as both traditional boomerangs (returning to Batman's hand after throwing) and modern shuriken. In one episode, Batman attaches them to his gauntlets to spin them around like buzz saws. The series also features explosive, electrified, remote-controlled, tech-virus and camera variants, some of which only appear once in the series. Batman also uses garlic treated Batarangs in the tie-in film The Batman vs. Dracula.

Video Games

Batarangs from Justice League: Heroes

Batarangs are frequently featured in Batman video games as basic projectile weapons. Some games also allow them to be used to interact with the environments, such as the Batman Begins tie-in game using them to intimidate enemies. In fighting games, Batarangs are keyed to Batman's special moves and can be used in combos. Special batarang variants feature rarely, often as a method of inflicting higher damage or incapacitate multiple enemies.

Batman: Arkham Series

Arkham City Batarang

In Batman: Arkham games, Batarangs are essential for numerous tasks. The basic variant can be used to activate switches, cut ropes, and stun or distract enemies. Batman can also use them quickly in combat to harm enemies by tapping the "Prepare Gadget" button and they can be used to prepare ground-takedowns in Invisible Predator sections. However, they cannot be used to disarm enemies or cause damage without setting up combos. In later games, Batman can chain up to three quick-use Batarangs.

Along with a basic Batarang, Batman can also use twin/multi-Batarangs to target multiple objects, a remote-controlled variant that can be guided around obstacles or cause distractions, and a sonic batarang used for distracting hostiles. During several segments in Batman: Arkham Knight, Batman also uses a variant called the Bat-Scanner to scout or monitor areas of Gotham. The "Cold, Cold, Heart" DLC for Batman: Arkham Origins also features Heated Batarangs, which can be used to destroy ice structures.

LEGO Games

In the LEGO Batman video game series, the Bat-Family makes use of either Batarangs that return to the user after use. Their design is either black and yellow (for Batman and Batgirl) or red and green (for Robin and Nightwing). They can be used by holding the attack button and aimed with the movement controls. Using them, the player can target destroyable LEGO objects, foes or progress-based items out of reach. In later games, they can be used to activate special boomerang switches.

In LEGO Batman: The Videogame, several suit upgrades will also upgrade their Batarangs to special variants, such as freezing for Robin's "Scuba Suit" or heated for Batman's "Heat Protection Suit". In later games, they will be replaced by other throwable or ranged weapons when equipping a suit, such as Robin's Staff for his "Acrobat Suit" or a Sonar Gun for Batman's "Sonar Suit". In LEGO DC Super-Villains, Batman can make use of Sonic Batarangs to destroy glass LEGO objects or Explosive Batarangs to destroy silver LEGO objects.

Telltale Batman Series

Batman: The Telltale Series Batarang

Batarangs feature prominently in both Batman: The Telltale Series and Batman: The Enemy Within. Depicted as large metal shuriken, Batman often uses them in combat to subdue or disarm foes in fights. They are sharp enough to damage objects, cut through wires and ropes, and being able to be imbedded/stabbed into people and objects. The batarangs are also used in hand-to-hand combat, often as to non-fatally stab opponents. Should the Vigilante Joker be created, the character also uses his own versions called Jokerangs. Gadget variant batarangs also feature in the tie-in comic-book series Batman: Sins of the Father, though do not feature in either Telltale game.

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