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The Batman Gadget That Might Have Been The Most Useful Of Them All

The newest cinematic incarnation of the Caped Crusader, "The Batman," focuses on a murder mystery that unfolds in corrupt Gotham — one that starts to get a little too close for comfort for Bruce Wayne (Robert Pattinson), the only surviving member of two of the city's founding families. It's a character-focused and crime-focused story that, while less obviously showcasing the coolness of the hero detective's signature gadgets than previous film outings, also upgrades them in fun ways. These tools prove plenty helpful in solving a crime wave plaguing an already-corrupt metropolis.

The Batmobile makes an appearance, as does the batarang, a bat-cycle, a parachute (which doesn't quite work as well as planned during a car chase scene), his grappling gun, green adrenaline shots, and many more. Batman certainly needed the protective qualities of his bulletproof armor to protect him from many bullets headed in his direction, as well, particularly since this less-experienced version of the character has a tendency to walk right into danger rather than being stealthy. 

However, one of the most useful tools in all of the Dark Knight's arsenal isn't a weapon, exactly. It's more of an information-gathering tool that fans haven't seen in a "Batman" movie before, and one of the most high-tech things that Batman — and Catwoman (Zoë Kravitz) — used in the film.

Batman's contact lenses help him get information, but require some time

This gadget in question is introduced early on in the film. After Batman has visited the scene of the first murder at Mayor Don Mitchell Jr.'s home, he goes back to his Batcave and takes contact lenses out of his eye. Clearly, the lenses have recorded everything that happened, allowing him to print out a copy of the cipher the Riddler left behind so he can analyze it at his leisure — and allowing the clever Alfred (Andy Serkis) to put his puzzling skills to the problem as well. 

However, these contacts haven't just recorded video for later analysis. They also provide information in real-time by projecting words and other intelligence onto the eyeballs of the wearer. This provides a sci-fi (and somewhat Iron Man-like) touch to Batman's mission, while still not seeming so high-tech that it messes with the film's sense of realism. 

One Redditor pointed out that the movie did a good job of setting this up, as Batman is criticized early in the movie for staring at people. It's revealed later that the lenses require a certain amount of time focusing on a subject to provide identification based on its facial recognition abilities, which is a good way to demonstrate the limits of his (admittedly very impressive) technology. "So the whole time Batman is actually looking at people to see their identities and making sure he's getting good footage to check on it later," u/monsterpoint said.

The lenses also allow him to see the world from Catwoman's perspective

Later, Batman has Selina Kyle (Zoë Kravitz) wear the contacts into 44 Below, the club-within-a club inside the Penguin's Iceberg Lounge. The contacts allow him to identify — to Bruce Wayne's disbelief — just how many of Gotham's prominent and supposedly upstanding citizens are hanging out there, including half the District Attorney's office. Catwoman, of course — as a woman, an employee of the club, and a working-class person in general — is already well familiar with just how corrupt these people are, but it's a shocking moment for the privileged Wayne, and this dynamic has already turned the club scene into a fan-favorite moment. "The club infiltration gag was a great way to show him evolving," u/Collinsisrollin7 noted, adding, "I love that he realizes how wrong he was about only focusing on punishing criminals."

Also, as Reddit user u/relightit pointed out, it offered a "feminist meditation without being preachy." Selina, unlike Bruce, is uncomfortable staring at men in the club so that the contacts can make an identification, because it makes her seem interested in them. Indeed, D.A. Gil Colson (Peter Sarsgaard) sees her looking at him, and starts talking to her. This doesn't necessarily turn out to be a bad thing, as he invites her to his table where she is able to gather some information, but this scene also gives Wayne's character more depth, since "it's only while looking through the eyes of someone without his privileges that he sees the Gotham elite for who they are," as u/QuirkyGroundhog noted. This makes sense. Selina is the one who realizes — perhaps as a result of his ownership of these high-tech toys, but also maybe because of his ignorance — that Batman must be a wealthy man.

The lenses might have been inspired by previous Batman movies and video games

Fans found the contact lenses interesting for other factors, as well, outside of story reasons. For example, u/AtlanteanDreadHead liked how it made the movie feel more fantastical. "Got really excited when he took off the contact lenses to reveal that they were recording everything he saw ... gave the movie a more comic booky feel even for hour [sic] grounded it all felt." The user added how these lenses paid tribute to the character's cowl in the comics, which famously has white lenses over the eyes (an element that the films have generally avoided, in order to show the actor's eyes).

The contacts also allowed the series to call back to other Batman-related properties, in which Batman has used other types of vision-enhancing gadgets. In "The Dark Knight," for example, Batman used bat-sonar lenses that made his eyes look white (again, as they are in comic books and animated TV shows) although these were attached to his cowl. The Dark Knight also uses contact lenses (presumably, anyway) in the video games "Batman: Arkham Origins" and "Batman: Arkham Knight" from 2013 and 2015 — at least in Detective Mode, which allows him to see usable objects and look through walls. Indeed, based on the way Batman uses these lenses in the film, it's very probable that Matt Reeves was inspired by the fan-favorite video games.