A batarang is a roughly bat-shaped throwing weapon used by the Gotham City vigilante Batman as a non-lethal ranged attack alternative to firearms, which he rejects outright due to the circumstances of his parents' murder. The name is a portmanteau of bat and boomerang, and were first referred to as baterangs. The batarang serves as instruments of disarming, distraction, confusion, or it is simply to warn would-be adversaries that the Batman is present.
Some early versions of the Batarang were made of a material different from iron, steel or any other metal with magnetic properties.
The Batarang was first created by boomerang expert, Lee Colins, who helped Batman capture a criminal on the loose. After Colins designed the first Batarang, Batman started developing his own variations of the gadget. These versions were designed and used like boomerangs, as they were used to attack opponents and returned to the thrower.
Though they are named after boomerangs, batarangs are mostly used like shuriken or ninja stars. Variations of batarangs include those which are able to be opened and closed (presumably so they can fit into Batman's utility belt), those which can be explosively charged and those which are electrified. Other varieties include remote-controlled batarangs, sonic batarangs, and even batarangs that freeze people or objects they come in contact with. A grappling hook made out of a batarang and a rope was common until Batman began using an upgraded grappling hook device.
Nightwing uses his own modified version of a Batarang, which he often refers to as "Wing-Dings", shaped after a bird. Batgirl (both Barbara Gordon and Cassandra Cain) and the current Robin also use Batman's batarangs, but the latter also possesses his own 'R'-shaped shuriken. Robin has also referred to his weapons as "Birdarangs" on occasion.
Jean-Paul Valley used his own modified versions of Batarangs, which worked more like ninja starts as they would stab the opponents instead of just stun or disarm. They were fired using the automatic guns concealed in Jean-Paul's power gloves.
Batman has modified versions of the batarang including a smoke grenade batarang that he would use to create a distraction during situations when he finds himself outnumbered.
- Featured in "The 100 Batarangs of Batman"
- Magnetic Batarang: Used to grab evidence or disarm from a distance
- Seeing-Eye Batarang: Batarang attached to a photographic camera for surveillance purposes
- Flash-Bulb Batarang: Used to lighten dark places.
- Rope Batarang: Batarang attached to a rope
- Batarang X: Giant Batarang used to hover above locations and for aerial surveillance
- Featured in "The Blue Bowman"
- Saw-Tooth Batarang: Batarang with sharp edges used to cut.
- Fire-Prevention Batarang
- Spinning Batarang
- Smoke Batarang: Batarang equiped with smoke pellets to create distractions.
- Batarangs first appeared in Detective Comics #31 (Sept. 1939) in the same year the character was introduced. They have since become a staple of Batman's arsenal, appearing in every major Batman television and movie adaptation to date. 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.
- In the movie adaptations of Batman, the batarangs shown match the adapted Bat-logo of the respective movie franchise. Batman Returns also featured a computerized version which could be programmed to fly after specific targets, while the video game Batman: Arkham Asylum and its sequel Batman: Arkham City feature remote-controlled Batarangs which can be steered through the air with a great deal of control, as well as being able to slow down, speed up, and even to perform a 180-degree turn and reverse direction when necessary.
- The 2005 Warner Bros. film, Batman Begins showed Batarangs as bat-shaped shuriken used for distraction rather than as weapons, fitting in with Batman's ninja training.