One of the most common debates about Batman is “What is his best gadget?” It is a tough call because he certainly has a lot of toys to play with. Some people take a flippant stance, while some are more practical. I definitely agree that his most iconic gadget is the batarang.
But his overall best gadget? I would have to go with Batman’s make-up kit.
I know that seems like an odd choice, so hear me out. Sun Tzu said, “If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles.” Well, he said a lot of things, but most of it can be boiled down to “knowledge is power.” Batman knows this well, and his make-up kit is his best gadget because it allows him to gather intelligence and spread disinformation, whether as Matches Malone or one of his other aliases. His intelligence network is what allows Batman to be so effective.
I bring this up because, like many people, I am spending a good portion of my workday distracted by news updates from Boston. At the time I am writing this post, local police have identified the Boston Marathon bombers as two Chechen brothers. On-the-scene reports of a “Saudi national”, as well as wild after-the-fact speculation by mainstream media and the Internet of varying profiles all ended up being dead wrong.
I understand the need to pitch in, the desire to help set things right again after a tragedy like this. That is why I have taken disaster-preparedness training, became CPR-certified, and donate blood. I am not saying that the mainstream media gets a pass, but they have editors and fact-checkers (presumably) to verify claims. These internet detectives think they are badasses.
But really, they are living in a bubble. Worse, they are in a million little anonymous and autonomous bubbles. It does not take a Batcomputer to know that some of these folks would take things a step beyond identification efforts, and end up harassing an already distraught family. I am positive that some of them, by virtue of proximity, even took it further.
These guys may think they are Batman, but there are three important differences:
- Batman has much better information.
- Batman has much better skills and plans to act on his information.
- Batman is fictional, so even if he is wrong, real innocent people don’t get hurt.