There’s no denying it, being Batman is a tough job. In a world of super-speedsters, emerald space cops, and aliens wielding the powers of gods, you’ve got to be willing to go further than anyone else just to keep up. Batman’s got the training and the skills to place him head and shoulders above any other human, and a mind that easily makes him one of the smartest people on the planet…but sometimes that’s not enough. And when it isn’t, he turns to his trusty utility belt.
It’s often claimed that “prep time” is the secret that makes Batman such a terrifying threat, and Batman’s utility belt is the prep time shortcut, showing the Caped Crusader is prepared for some of the most unlikely situations. But not every item is as cool as the Batarang, long-range weapon of Batman’s that can be customized for any purpose. Some items are weird, indicating just how absurdly paranoid the Dark Knight can be. And others are just downright gross and a little disgusting when you think about them, for longer than a few seconds. So get ready for a deep dive into some of Batman’s strangest, weirdest, and grossest gadgets in his utility belt!
15 MAKEUP KIT
This is another of those things that made sense in the Silver Age but not as much now. At the time, Bruce used makeup to literally resemble different people in order to help him solve cases or get him out of a jam.
That said, in the real world today we know that no one would mistake someone for a different person because of a bit of makeup.
But then again, looking at what some people can do with contouring…maybe that’s not altogether true. Bruce could totally look up some YouTube videos and bring this idea back. He could probably get away with even more now than he did then, and maybe even get a partnership going between Wayne Industries and Sephora so he doesn’t blow his fortune paying retail.
Many of these items come directly from the Adam West and Golden/Silver Age era of Batman. It’s the same era where the character called Robin “chum” and it was considered acceptable for Batman to carry on a public relationship with the Commissioner of the city’s police department. Along that vein, there was a revival of that era in 2008 when we got the team-up cartoon, Batman: Brave and the Bold.
Though the storytelling was more complex, there was a definite return to a more light-hearted Batman who also kept literally everything either in his suit or utility belt. Including a belt buckle that transformed into a Lightsaber! And yes, it's technically a collapsible sword, but…let’s be honest with ourselves. Bruce used this to do battle any number of times when close combat was a necessity, like battles with robots or his most dangerous foe, Ra’s Al Ghul.
The story in which Batman had to use these made a weird sort of sense at the time. Trapped on a train car by some thieves using a time travel gimmick (long story, but check it out in Batman #149), Batman has to create a makeshift stop sign to stop things from getting messy when the train car heads towards a busy intersection.
This is something you’d figure he wouldn’t carry all the time, even though that panel definitely implied that he did, because sometimes you just have to color something.
Still. Being the Dark Knight is a pretty intense job, and exposure to intense climates is pretty common. Eventually he's going to have to sneak into one of Ra's desert bases and suddenly his belt is looking like a kindergarten painting and a few pockets are glued shut.
12 BAT FEMALE VILLAIN REPELLENT
In 2011, Warren Ellis and John Cassaday did a one-shot crossover featuring their characters from Planetary and the most popular superhero in the world, in a story called “Planetary/Batman: Night on Earth”. During that story, the group wind up in Gotham City trying to take down a criminal that’s causing damage to reality. Some of it brings Batman into their universe, and eventually even starts gradually changing the Caped Crusader into alternate versions of himself.
Eventually, he turns into classic '60s Batman, and sprays Planetary member Jakita with “Bat-Female-Villain-Repellent” spray. This is more a parody of the absurd “Bat Shark Repellent” than anything, but it also speaks to Batman’s paranoia. After all, his villains are usually male. Though then again, the ones that aren’t tend to be major threats: Poison Ivy. Talia Al Ghul. Harley Quinn. Lady Shiva. On second thought, maybe this isn’t as paranoid as we thought.
11 MINIATURIZED COSTUMES
One of the most frequent insults hurled at Batman is how he should use his wealth to do more than just beat up criminals. And that sounds ridiculous, until you realize some of the inventions he’s come up with for the sole purpose of waging war on crime. Like miniature Batman outfits. It’s been used both in the comics and in the Adam West show, so creatives were pretty attached to it.
Somehow, Bruce managed to fit an entire extra costume in his utility belt.
A complete one too, instead of just a hood or something to conceal his identity. In the Adam West series, it activated somehow when water was added. How that makes sense? Who knows, but then Flash used to fit his costume in a ring -- maybe Bruce had a talk with him?
For his birthday, Bruce once gave his young ward Robin a Batpoon. Hearing that, most people’s first reaction might be to call child services on the Dark Knight. You can’t even say the word “Batpoon” without chuckling and praying that it means anything other than the first thing that comes to mind. Of course, it’s just a mini harpoon gun, and more likely than not it got the name because it’s easier to write “Batpoon” in a word panel.
Fortunately, eventually he upgraded this into the Batrope, and all thoughts of Bruce threatening people with his Batpoon became a distant memory. It also might help if he stopped putting “Bat” in front of everything like a megalomaniac, but one supposes he has to stick to the branding now that it’s established.
9 GLUE GRENADES
Featured prominently in the best Batman game ever, Batman: Arkham Origins, this was a device Bruce created after exploring the game’s Steel Mill level. While looking around, he ran into a unique compound that helped him create the binding agent necessary to finish the Grenade.
The item is almost crucial in the fight against the flying villain Firefly, but he also put it to use as a means of stopping multiple criminals at once.
Ugh, just imagine being caught in a bunch of this gunk for hours while waiting on the cops to finally arrive. Worse, just imagine being the cops who have to chip the criminals out of it. Fortunately, the compound was unstable and turned to dust not long after Bruce found it, freeing Gotham’s alleys from being covered in glue every night.
8 FAKE VAMPIRE TEETH
This idea was introduced in Paul Pope’s futuristic Batman: Year 100 comic. Though the character behind the mask is never revealed, whoever it is still seems to count on criminals being a superstitious and cowardly lot. Realistically, it’s hard not to wonder just how many people would be afraid of this. Any idiot can pick up some fake vampire teeth at Party City.
Nobody is being fooled into believing that Batman is really a vampire…except in that one universe where Batman literally is a vampire. Plus, this raises way too many questions. Did this Batman have these teeth screwed in, which means he has no secret identity? Does he keep them in his utility belt until he needs them? If so, hopefully he buys new ones every so often…and cleans out the pocket that he gets them from frequently.
7 SECRET IDENTITY DISC
Across the '50s and '60s you’ll find some of the Batman’s weirdest and most hilarious ideas. Ideas like the one in Detective Comics #185 by David Vern Reed and Dick Sprang, where we learn the secret of Batman’s utility belt. Trapped in a situation where he thought he was about to die, we learn Bruce thought it’d be prudent to have a disc detailing who he really was.
It was a tiny thing, made from asbestos, which should tell you how long ago this was, and when exposed to the right chemicals it would tell whoever found it Batman’s true identity.
The idea was to make it impossible for criminals to impersonate him if he died and no one ever knew who he was. That part of the logic is sold, but…what if it gets stolen…like what happens to his utility belt itself in that very issue?
6 FINGER TASERS
Batman specializes in keeping weapons on him that can incapacitate, but never kill. And he’s expressly not against tasers. After all, Bruce is known to have his cowl give off an electric shock if someone tries to remove his hood in the frankly all too frequent situation where he’s knocked out and someone can take advantage of that (he’s also got a smaller hood under his normal hood, so this suit is easily the hottest costume ever made). It makes a weird sort of sense because mistakes happen.
But tasers in his gloves? They made their appearance in Detective Comics #871 by Scott Snyder and Jock, and they’re one of those ideas that sounds cool…until you think about it. Wouldn't it be much easier to just keep a taser in the utility belt rather than spending what had to be millions of dollars putting them in his gloves?
5 BAT HANDKERCHIEF
Without Alfred around to clean this up, this is as gross as it gets. To be fair, even Batman probably doesn’t know the secret to avoiding allergies, much less the common cold. So it makes sense that sometimes Bruce has to blow his nose. But having an entire handkerchief for it? They’re gross enough as it is -- handkerchiefs are just snot rags. And storing it in the utility belt?
Hopefully it at least has its own pocket, or some criminal is getting hit with a Batarang covered in Bat-germs.
Wonder if it’d be possible to sue for that. Of course, the first time Bruce uses this is when he thinks Catwoman is dead and needs something to dry his tears, but since Batman hasn’t cried since the start of the '80s, this thing is probably just for snot now. Ick.
4 ANTI-BLAST BAT POWDER
Another classic Silver Age invention. During a time when it was still remotely possible for Joker and Catwoman to work together, the two of them planned a heist to steal some gunpowder. The powder would then be used to blow a hole in the local Reserve where they could have an easy method of stealing all the money there.
Setting aside the fact that this would probably draw the ire of the United States military, the plan goes south very early on when a battle between Catwoman and Joker and the Dynamic Duo leads to the gunpowder exploding in the same room as the characters. But somehow, Bruce saved everyone’s life with the use of a powder that canceled out the explosion. You know, people claim to love Batman because he’s a human, but this legitimately sounds like magic powers.
3 BAT FLY SWATTER
At some point or another there seems to have been a Bat everything, but this is just gross. Admittedly, in very specific locations a device like this has to be pretty useful. After all, somewhere in Gotham there’s a swamp that Solomon Grundy occasionally goes back to when he’s not being a pain in the butt to Bruce and the original Green Lantern.
There’s no way going through the marsh this doesn’t feel like a life saver when you need to take out some mosquitoes.
But it also feels like Bruce would forget to clean the thing. Like, he’d take it out and the corpses of flies from five missions ago would still be on the swatter. He barely remembers to wash his outfit, after all.
2 ULTRASONIC BAT BEACON
This made its first appearance in Frank Miller’s legendary "Batman: Year One" storyline, in Batman #406. While dealing with Gotham City’s SWAT Team, Batman used a hidden device in his boot that created a sound that the bats all the way in the cave underneath Wayne Manor could hear. Drawn to it, all the bats created a perfect way for Bruce to escape.
Of course, later on this would resurface in Batman Begins for similar escape-related reasons. And yes, while we’re aware that was one of the coolest scenes in Begins, that doesn’t stop this from being pretty gross. Summoning a bunch of bats seems cool, so long as you aren’t the one who has to deal with all the aftermath stuff. Bat guano everywhere? Ewww.
1 KRYPTONITE RING
It’s easy to see this and believe it’s not weird at all that Batman has this. After all, anyone he would use it on has the power of a god -- they can move faster than we can see, they can move planets with their might. For a guy whose superpower is “super-preparedness”, it only makes sense for him to carry this around, right? But let’s be honest. Zod’s usually in the Phantom Zone and Superman’s a good guy.
Most instances of Superman screwing up occur outside of canon.
But Batman? From creating Brother Eye to keeping everyone out of the loop on Metal until it was too late, Batman’s caused way more trouble than Superman ever has. And it just feels like he carries this ring with him because he’s always ready to start a fight with the Man of Steel.