|First appearance||Detective Comics #31 (September 1939)|
|Created by||Gardner Fox|
|In story information|
|Element of stories featuring||Batman|
A batarang is a roughly bat-shaped throwing weapon used by the DC Comics superhero Batman. The name is a portmanteau of bat and boomerang, and was originally spelled baterang. Although they are named after boomerangs, batarangs have become more like shuriken in recent interpretations. They have since become a staple of Batman's arsenal, appearing in every major Batman television and movie adaptation to date. Recent interpretations of the Dark Knight finds additional motivation to use the batarang as a ranged attack (alternative to firearms, which he rejects outright due to the circumstances of his parents' murder) and is used primarily to knock guns out of an assailant's hand.
Batarangs first appeared in Detective Comics #31 (Sept. 1939). The earliest depictions were of scalloped, metal boomerangs used to attack opponents, which quickly flew back to the thrower. However, variations of batarangs include those that can fold to fit into Batman's utility belt, those that can be explosively charged, and those that are electrified. A rifle-like grappling gun first appeared in Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns #1. However, the now standard hand-held version of Batman's grappling gun first appeared in the 1989 Batman film. It gradually replaced the batarang and a rope in the comics after artist Norm Breyfogle introduced a grapple gun in Batman #458 in January 1991. That tool became the standard in the subsequent animated series, comics, films, and video games such as Batman: Arkham Asylum.
Other characters and versions
Batgirl also uses batarangs. Nightwing, a former Robin, is known to use his own modified batarangs called Wing-Dings, which are styled after a bird. Tim Drake, the third Robin, also possesses his own 'R'-shaped shuriken. In an issue of Teen Titans (Vol. 3), Drake claims that he hid the costs for shipping a Batmobile from Gotham City to San Francisco in "the batarang budget", which he tells the others is "bigger than you might think". The current version of Batwoman, who was introduced in the 52 continuity, uses a miniature batarang. Catman also uses weapons inspired by Batman's and calls them "catarangs". Like Robin, Anarky, an occasional antagonist of Batman, also makes use of shuriken formed after his own gimmick, the "circle-a".
A Throwing Bird is a roughly bird-shaped throwing weapon used by the DC Comics superhero Robin as a non-lethal ranged attack alternative to firearms. They are similar to batarangs. They first gained prominence in the 1997 live-action film Batman & Robin. The Throwing Birds in that particular film have silver edges with a red design. As with Batman, Robin can launch his weapon with a launcher located on his lower arm.
In other media
In the movie adaptations of Batman, the batarangs shown roughly match the adapted bat logo of the respective movie franchise. Following the backlash against the camp Batman television series, the franchise has avoided falling into the perceived overuse of the bat- prefix, which the 1960s was criticized for. Though shown prominently, the batarangs are very rarely referred to by name, unlike the Batcave and Batmobile.
The television series Birds of Prey also features batarangs. However these versions are circular and bear the Birds of Prey symbol, rather than the traditional bat shape.
The batarang used in Batman was a foldable metal bat attached to a line and was used to ensnare an enemy's legs and manually drag them back. Batman Returns also featured a computerized version that could be programmed to fly after specific targets. Batman Forever featured two types of batarangs: one with a string which catches one of Two-Face's thugs in the Gotham City bank and a "Sonar Batarang" that uses the "Sonar Suit" to destroy the Super Box and the Nygmatech building. Other batarangs are seen in the Batcave, along with the one used in Batman Returns but not used during the movie. Batarangs also appeared in Batman and Robin.
While The Dark Knight uses the batarang in its promotional posters, it is not thrown in the film. As part of Lucius Fox's improvements on the Batsuit, he adds blades on the suit that shoot out of Batman's arm, which are similar to the batarang. To gain leverage over his fight with the Joker, Batman shoots these blades at him, distracting him and giving Batman the upper hand. His true batarangs are only seen once during the film; when Bruce Wayne puts away his Batsuit after deciding to turn himself in to the police, he takes a minute to pick up and stare at one of his batarangs, and then proceeds to put it away with the rest of his gear.
In The Dark Knight Rises the traditional batarangs as seen in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight are not shown but a similar weapon is used. Batman fires miniature bat shaped darts at Bane's henchmen which knock them unconscious.
Batman Beyond, another animated series, which takes place 50 years in Gotham City's future, has a young high school student donning a high tech version of the batsuit to become the new Batman. This suit, among many other features, has the ability to automatically produce batarangs in the wearer's hand.
In the Justice League cartoon series, Batman employed a variety of Batarangs, including explosive Batarangs and electrically charged variants.
In the Teen Titans animated series, Robin uses similar modified batarangs to the adult Nightwing, referred to as birdarangs. The same weapons are used by The Batman's interpretation of Robin. Robin also uses circular Batarang type weapons in the TV series Young Justice. These are mainly used as explosives and have once been used as communication devices.
In the animated series Krypto the Superdog, Robbie the Robin uses comical weapons called beakerangs, which are miniature projectiles that contain a highly exaggerated amount of purple incapacitating foam.
In The Batman, a later animated series, the batarangs are mostly depicted as futuristic throwing weapons lined with fluorescent blue, and making a distinct humming noise while flying through the air. They are also portrayed as sharp enough to slice through metal pipes. The Batman has from time to time also used them in hand-to-hand combat (in one instance, during the fight with Clayface II, Batman attached a rotating batarang to his wrist, making it a makeshift miniature buzzsaw). Despite the regular batarangs, the Batman uses several other variations, including explosion batarangs, that explode after making contact; electrocuting batarangs, that discharge a strong electric current through a person or object; and, batarangs with a special technological virus, that infects and disables a machine or gadget, making it ineffective. Also, the Batman uses a very special remote-controlled batarang, that is a little larger than the other versions, can adhere to any surface, and has a miniature high-resolution camera. Despite them being futuristic, these batarangs have the most boomerang characteristics, and are the only ones shown return to Batman's hand. In The Batman vs. Dracula, Alfred Pennyworth treated some of the batarangs with garlic in preparation of the Dark Knight's battle with Count Dracula.
In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the last Batman cartoon, the batarangs are not shown as high tech futuristic throwing tools like in The Batman, but as simple shuriken/boomerangs that he uses to fight crime (although he has been seen using explosive batarangs, and in the case of the Gentleman Ghost, Nth metal batarangs.) Batman has also been shown to be able to turn his bat symbol into a batarang, as seen the pilot episode, "Rise of the Blue Beetle". Also, Owlman, Batman's parallel universe counterpart, has a similar weapon to the batarang, however, his, instead of spinning at high speeds, fly straight like a glider.
Lego Batman: The Video Game features batarangs (Each with a color), which can be used by four characters; Batman (batarang black and yellow), Robin (batarang red and green), Batgirl (batarang black and yellow), and Nightwing (batarang red and green).
In the Batman Begins video game, Batarangs were only used to interact with the environment, in order to scare henchmen.
In Batman: Arkham Asylum, Batman can wield a single Batarang from the beginning, and the player has the opportunity to unlock multiple as well as remote-controlled Batarangs and Sonic Batarangs, which can be used to attract enemies. In addition, the Collector's Edition of the game comes with a 14" plastic Batarang model (scuffed and scratched to suggest heavy usage) affixed to a display base.
The Batarang also appears in the sequel, Batman: Arkham City, along with the remote-controlled Batarangs and a new type, a reverse Batarang able to loop behind an enemy and attack from behind.