How many times have we seen James Bond pick up some incredibly useful new technological gadget that ends up saving his life, only to completely forget it exists in his next movie? But it isn't just Bond -- action heroes do this all the time. Some cool new technology is introduced for the sake of one scene, then dumped in a basement and never mentioned again.
If you stop to think about it, it turns out that a lot of these gadgets and inventions wouldn't just make the lives of our heroes a lot easier -- some of them might even change the world.
#5. The Paralyzing Device in Iron Man Is a Bigger Deal Than the Suit
When the bad guy of your film is Jeff Bridges with a Lex Luthor haircut and the good guy is a genius in a rocket-powered war costume, you know you're going to have to level the playing field a bit. One of the ways the first Iron Man movie does that is by giving the villain a little electronic device that emits a high-frequency sound that paralyzes whoever hears it for 15 minutes.
Obadiah Stane (Bridges) uses this twice in the film: once to defeat some terrorist guy, and the second time to freeze his business partner Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in order to steal the heart battery that keeps him alive and powers his Iron Man suit. According to Obadiah's Bond-villain rant, the device was created by their company and rejected for use by the military, so presumably he just pocketed a prototype and has been using it as his own version of Rophynol since then.
"Did you honestly think this was just a beard war, Tony?"
Holy shit, Obadiah is right, the Army should have totally jumped on that. It's a freaking nonlethal way to totally immobilize enemies, resulting in no apparent side effects. Sounds can be amplified, right? Load one of those into a tank and give your soldiers those nifty earplugs Obadiah uses, and war has just become 100 percent easier. In fact, you know what else that would look great on? A fucking crime-fighting robot suit.
"Look, I only had enough room for that or the porn. I made the right call."
Tony's entire objective in this movie is stopping his company from building things that kill people. As Iron Man, he deals constantly with situations where civilian casualties are an issue -- we see him dealing with hostage takers in this film by utilizing a sick multi-kill sharpshooting device from his shoulder. It's wicked boss, but probably not as boss at the whole "not killing people" thing.
But hell, that instant-immobilization device would actually be a hell of a lot more useful to an army than that super-expensive Iron Man suit. Even in the films, there's no conflict that couldn't benefit from this device. Every villain that Iron Man has fought so far was a person who had ears, and that means they were all susceptible to this.
"Mind waiting for me there for 15 minutes while I get something to drink?"
And how about the new Avengers film? Does this work on Norse gods? Even if it doesn't, it certainly could have taken down Hawkeye when he was all possessed, not to mention Loki's countless human henchmen, as well as the out-of-control Hulk. Tony could have solved the entire movie by himself without having to calling in the other guys if he hadn't completely forgotten that this revolutionary technology existed.
#4. Batman's Bat-Calling Signal in the Dark Knight Trilogy Is Used Exactly Once
At one point in Batman Begins, the Caped Crusader finds himself cornered in the city asylum with a SWAT team moving in on him. He needs a nonlethal but still badass-looking escape -- the solution? Bats. Lots and lots of bats.
Every one of those cops died of rabies.
Batman triggers a small device hidden in his Bat-boot that almost immediately calls thousands of bats, all apparently attracted to the signal emitting from this handy little gadget. The swarm pretty much puts the cops on their asses as Batman disappears in a cloud of winged rodents.
This one scene is the entire history of Batman's amazing Bat-swarm device. The thing never, ever shows up again in Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, despite how effective it proved to be and how easy it was to carry. It fit inside the sole of Batman's boot, so it's not like it would have used up any room in his utility belt. Did we miss the scene where Batman swears off using this device for moral reasons?
You know, to respect the privacy of bats.
How is this not useful ever again? Like later in Batman Begins, when Batman is overrun by crazed citizens and nearly beaten to death -- why not disperse them painlessly by siccing hundreds of bats on them? Or in The Dark Knight, when he ambushes the mobsters and gets bitten by a dog in the process: He could just call on the bats and catch everyone while they're busy freaking out. And while we don't want to spoil anything for those of you who haven't seen The Dark Knight Rises, we can think of at least four different scenes where a big-ass flock of bats swirling around and confusing the bad guys would have made things a hell of a lot easier.
In fact, if we were Batman, we'd just keep that shit on all the time. He should be returning DVDs to Redbox in the form of a cluster of bats.
"... pick me up a copy of Jack & Jill, and don't shit on it this time."
Seriously, think about it: Batman is all about image. It's the entire reason why he has those pointy ears on top of his cowl and why he shapes all his boomerangs like bats and so on. He wants to be seen as more than a man, as a mythological creature that punches bad people. If his whole deal is to strike fear into the hearts of the wicked, he should use this even when he's stopping street muggings and convince everyone that he's literally made out of bats. You know, like some sort of ... Man-of-Bats or something.
So screw clean energy -- bat-calling devices were the real missed opportunity here.
#3. The Mission: Impossible Agents Should Use Face Masks All the Time
One of the staples of the Mission: Impossible film series is the characters' tendency to use extremely realistic rubber masks to hide their identities -- M:I2 probably still has the world record for the movie with most scenes where one character takes off his face and turns out to be another character.
In this universe, all you have to do is take a few stills of your mark's face, stick it in some magic box and BAM: rubber mask! It can be done on the go, and you can even imitate the other guy's voice using a special chip. Obviously these are pretty useful for frame-ups, but they have also been used to fake peoples' deaths, as well as trick the bad guy out of a confession or two. On top of that, they also make fantastic sex toys.
"Yeah, just like that ... now, show me the money ..."
Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol goes to great lengths to answer the question "Why aren't they using face masks for this particular mission?" by showing their face-making machine breaking down in the middle of the movie. We think a better question would be "Why aren't they using them for everything else?"
There's no reason why the Impossible Mission Force agents couldn't have masks on all the time. Almost every time things go all screwy in these films, it's because some terrorist they've confronted decides to make things personal -- a situation that could easily be averted if the IMF operatives didn't walk around with their real identities out.
"Uh ... sir, our security footage shows Doris Day rappelling from the ceiling."
For instance, in the third film, there's a scene where Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) grabs the movie's villain and hangs him out of the plane to interrogate him. This happens after the guy threatens to come after Hunt and everyone he loves, and the incident does nothing to change the guy's mind. So ... why couldn't Hunt have been wearing a mask during that? Not just to avoid retribution -- how awesome would it be to whip a bad guy while wearing his own face?
At the end of the fourth film (spoilers ahead), Ethan looks at his wife from afar, after going through the trouble of faking her death and not seeing her in months or maybe even years, knowing that he can't go near her without putting her life at risk. Well, um, why not just put on another dude's face and have lunch with her? Hell, give masks to both of them to be extra careful -- make it a meeting between an elderly Chinese man and Tom Cruise in a Martin Lawrence "Big Momma" fat suit.
Unless, of course, the next movie reveals that Ethan has actually been wearing a mask all along, and that he really looks like Jonah Hill.