Every guy I’ve ever talked to has uttered the phrase that epitomizes male machismo and stupidity at the same time: “I can do that.” And usually they’re not far off the mark, even though “Should I do that?” might be the next logical step. With the upcoming finale to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy coming out this summer, I have heard several guys who have boasted their prowess at all things Dark Knight much like the hockey pad-clad copycats in the second installment. As a self-proclaimed comic geek, I feel (almost) no shame in admitting that at certain points in my life, I have also convinced myself that becoming Batman wouldn’t be so hard after all. Here are the five things that every guy should look into acquiring before launching his own crime-fighting career.
I want to go on record saying that I am not encouraging anyone to start a vigilante career. In fact, I highly recommend that you don’t. That said, here’s what you’ll need for your next… hiking trip, yeah, a nice pleasant hike. *wink*
Number Five: The Utility Belt
Batman’s Gear: Batman keeps an assortment goodies in his belt from smoke cloud pellets to high speed drills for cracking locks in a pinch. Anyone who remembers the Adam West TV show will recall that Batman has everything in that belt (including a miniature bat-phone). The most practical of Bruce Wayne’s uniforms utilized a cargo-style belt with heavy pockets for stashing his necessities. When Dick Grayson donned the cowl, he streamlined the belt into the yellow strap more reminiscent of the 70s and 80s. In every incarnation though, the utility belt is the key to keeping all of your detective gear both close at hand and secure.
For the Batman on a Budget: A modular belt like those used in military and law enforcement is not actually all that hard to come by for around forty dollars. They are most frequently made from polymers and hard woven webbing. They are a great way to secure pockets your miniature surveillance equipment and tracking devices (because you have those already right?). It’s also very easy to switch out pockets for all your equipment. I highly recommend a large pocket for the first aid kit that you are sure to need. You should keep in mind though that even though these belts are fairly light-weight, once full they can weigh upwards of thirty pounds. Also, since they only have a heavy clip on the front instead of a patented Waynetech secure lock, once the bad guy knocks you unconscious, consider your equipment as good as plundered.
Number Four: The Glider Cape
Batman’s Gear: Few people realize that Batman’s cape works as camouflage. Draped over his body, the cape works to conceal his form. Even in low light, the human shape is one of the most recognizable forms there are, so all camouflage experts will undergo extensive training in how to obstruct their shape. The cape does this with classic flare. Batman’s cape also works as a weapon; it’s weighted tips make for good blunt force trauma when whipped at an opponent. But the best use for the cape, as seen in the most recent Arkham video games and Nolan films, is as a glider. By forcing the cape to go rigid, Batman can cover the distance from rooftop to ground while also distancing himself a few blocks from any pursuers.
For the Batman on a Budget: The kind of cloth that goes rigid when you run a current through it doesn’t seem like a good idea for someone who may have to fight crime in the rain on some occasion (that and the technology isn’t really all there). But for those who do think they will need to make a rooftop getaway, the wingsuit is the way to go. Wingsuits give BASE jumpers the ability to cover several hundred feet of horizontal space in the middle of their freefall while also slowing things down just a tad. Its crime fighting application is fairly limited as the suit will certainly restrict movement and should really only be used as a getaway device. It is important to know that wingsuits are designed for use with a parachute, so don’t expect to glide safely to the ground with the suit alone. Also, you will cover over two hundred vertical feet between the time you release the chute and the chute opens using the wingsuit, so don’t forget to increase your opening plane accordingly when planning your jump.
Number Three: The Grappling Hook
Batman’s Gear: No self-respecting crime fighter will patrol in the street where every Tom, Dick, and Harry can mingle with them and distract them. Real patrolling should be done from the rooftops, where you can see anything. After pounding a mugger and leaving him for the police, Batman gets back to work thanks to his gas-powered grappling hook.
For the Batman on a Budget: Most of us figured out at age ten that when you throw a grappling hook it doesn’t wrap around the pole you shot it at three times and secure itself tightly all on its own. You have to test it first, and that’s what younger brothers are for (though you should always establish your self before taking on a sidekick).
An effective grappling hook is broad with sharp points because the hook itself takes the climber’s weight. For a good collapsible version, I recommend “The Grabber,” a Special Forces three-arm hook that can take over 1500 pounds and goes for around $160. The Dark Knight uses his in conjunction with a automatic reel and a secure harness. After all, you don’t want to waste precious energy climbing the rope when you could save it for doing good. We may not have the luxury of the micro-sized reel that is strong enough to lift our Mcgirth, but running the line through a figure eight and securing it through a climbing harness is a must.
Number Two: The Batarang
Batman’s Gear: Whether it’s shaped like a boomerang or a throwing knife, the Batarang is the most effective tool in the utility belt. Batman can incapacitate gunmen before they know he is attacking. He can even use a quick toss to conceal a forthcoming right hook. Bat films and video games have even seen batarangs that can be controlled mid-flight.
For the Batman on a Budget: Remote controlled devices have come leaps and bounds. Many are able to be controlled with iPhones and other smart mobile devices. However, it looks like we are still a bit far away from a remote controlled device that is small enough to be thrown but moves fast enough to deliver the kind of blow that Batman would need. Thankfully, there is a wide variety of throwing knives on the market. On Father’s Day, I was surprised to find that my son had gotten me my very own dual-blade folding knife shaped like the batarang from the Nolan films. It doesn’t exactly work as a projectile and is mostly just for novelty’s sake (mostly). But it certainly looks nasty enough to make someone think twice before trying to boost my wallet.
Number One: The Batmobile
Batman’s Gear: There have been hundreds of Batmobile incarnations. The Tumbler from the Nolan films is the first that was actually built from the ground up and able to perform the stunts in which it appears, blasting around and doing donuts at 80 mph. Whatever model of Batmobile he employs, Batman knows he has the fastest, most durable car on the road.
For the Batman on a Budget: Face it: you’re not stopping criminals in your mom’s SUV. When it comes to real life crime fighting vehicles you are going to need speed. Anything less than a V8 just won’t do. In terms of muscle cars, you just can’t go wrong with a Camaro. You’re going to have to get it off the records, so the best bet is to buy it junked and build it up. When customizing your ride, here are two things you need to do. First, make sure that the (Kevlar-reinforced) tires are filled with petroleum jelly, this will ensure that even if you do have your wheels shot out, you can keep running long enough to lose your tail without going flat. Second, replace all the windows and doors with annealed laminate glass and ballistic armor. Remember that this will drastically increase the weight of the car, so gut anything on the interior that you don’t need, like all those cup holders. When properly done, you are sure to notice an increase of Catwomen in town, so make sure you don’t gut that passenger seat.
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