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The Gadget: Impossible Mission Force operative Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) and his team are betrayed while on assignment. Hunt goes on the run when he is framed for the death of his fellow agents. While trying to plead his case, he meets his boss at a restaurant in Prague where he learns that he is going to be the fall guy for the entire botched operation. Needing to escape and find a way to clear his name, he takes a stick of gum out of his pocket. But this ain’t no regular chewing gum. It has two color-coded components that when mashed, chemically combine and explode. It’s just the trick in making his getaway, and drowning a tank full of expensive fish.
How It Was Ignored: Yes, the gum gets one more appearance at the end of the same film but then promptly disappears in the rest of the franchise. But seriously, when couldn’t a secret agent not use a stick of exploding gum? While certainly a hazard in your pocket, the gum’s advantages are nearly limitless. It has a short delay and therefore can be thrown. It then sticks to its target. Sure, it leaves a mess, but it’s not like Hunt and his teams have been all that tidy anyway. The series uses the mask gag over and over. Seems like using gum that goes boom might have had a few more chances in any of the stories.
The Gadget: Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) is a petty thief recruited by brilliant scientist Hank Pym, who has a suit that can shrink a man to the size of an insect and beyond. A former colleague of Pym named Darren Cross (Corey Stoll) is desperate for the technology and repeatedly fails in replicating the effects with the same stability. Eventually, he perfects his own suit and in an epic showdown, faces off against Ant-Man, who tries to prevent Cross from selling the technology to the military. Yellowjacket, the name of the suit Cross wears, is very similar to Ant-Man’s with one radical difference: it shoots killer blue energy beams like a mini Death Star. Oh, and there are four of them, each with precise targeting and unlimited firing power.
How It Was Ignored: While the United States Navy has already developed a working laser canon (yikes), its beam is decidedly unsexy as it’s invisible. Also, the canon is the size of a bloated African elephant mounted on a giant warship. Meanwhile, bad guy Darren Cross has gone and invented a shoulder-mounted energy firing weapon with four canons that can fire repeatedly and at multiple targets. Seems if he’s trying to sell the military something, this would pretty much get him a meeting with someone.
The Gadget: The 44th Iron-Man suit created by Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), it was co-designed by Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) as a ‘Hulkbuster’ to be used when the Hulk got out of control and threatened innocent people. Hovering in orbit in a special launching platform (called Veronica) that is remotely accessed, the Mark XLIII Armor was crucial in defeating the Hulk after Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) hypnotized the big green Avenger, sending him on a rampage in the streets of Johannesburg.
How It Was Ignored: Sure, it wasn’t exactly ignored. It did precisely what it was intended to do. It defeated Hulk. Now keep in mind that in the entirety of the Avengers film universe, that makes it the only time the Hulk is defeated. Every alien invasion and nemesis, including a demi-god, have failed under Hulk’s seemingly unstoppable rage. If that’s the power behind the Mark XLIII suit, then it should be the one suit Stark puts on every time. And yet, nope. It makes a single appearance where it flies in to contain Hulk and then disappears, even while Ultron is literally about to destroy the world. It looks to be a no show in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War as well, a weapon that pretty much puts the balance wholly on the Stark side of things. Sure, it’s a bit bulky, and might lack a few of the gadgets the regular Iron Man suit offers, but can it not be upgraded?
The Gadget: While cops are chasing henchman fleeing on motorcycles, Batman swoops in on his own Batcycle with an EMP gun at his side. As he whizzes by, the device disables lights and electric motors in the underground parking lot where the chase occurs. He easily overtakes the situation and for the bad guys, literally, out go the lights.
How It Was Ignored: As seen in the film, the device doesn’t even need to be in Batman’s (Christian Bale) hands to work. Weaving through the cars in the chase, the EMP is seen glowing on the back of his cycle, instantly darkening everything in its swath. He is then able to use it as a rifle and aim a precision EMP shot which does the trick and then some. It’s a great opening and reveals another cool trick in the Batman arsenal, except, it’s never seen again. With the ability to take out cameras, cell phones, security system and any electric motor or device, this gadget seems invaluable. And certainly, knowing the resources at Bruce Wayne’s disposal, that tech could eventually get smaller and more powerful. Alas, we’ll never know as the gun makes one appearance and disappears. Maybe it was a rental.
The Gadget: Okay, not so much a gadget as a power, but given that it’s an ability used by Jedi, it has some exclusivity. Jedi have the amazing power to be able to sprint at blinding speed, as seen in the opening of Episode 1 while Obi-Wan (Ewan McGregor) and Qui-gon (Liam Neeson) escape an attack by Droidekas. Part of the numerous Jedi Force Powers all Jedi learn, Force Speed is not limited to running, as any physical action has this potential.
How It Was Ignored: While it is seen briefly as mentioned, Qui-gon uses it one more time while catching JarJar’s tongue and an argument might be made that little Anakin tapped into it while participating in the pod race, it is abandoned throughout the remainder of the film and the series. Sure, it might come at a great cost to the user’s Force Power, but certainly it could have come in handy in a number of situations, most especially when Qui-gon was facing Darth Maul and Obi-Wan needed to run quickly to get into the fight.
The Gadget: Professor Philip Brainard (Robin Williams) is an eccentric inventor who is working on a new formula for an energy source that will save his university from shutting down. This distracts him from his personal life, including his fiancee (Marcia Gay Harden), the president of the college where he works. His assistant is a small robot with advanced AI and an LCD screen that it uses to visually express emotions and information along with holographic projections. And it can float and fly. And fall in love. Wait, what?
How It Was Ignored: In case you missed that above, the robot hovers. It also speaks conversationally and, here’s the kicker, has emotions. Weebo is clearly in love with Brainard and attempts to express that throughout the film. While the quirky scientist struggles to refine his energy substance, he neglects to realize he has created a device unlike anything ever seen before that literally solves at least three major scientific dilemmas, including a sustainable flying machine that doesn’t require thrust and lift, advanced, interview Turing test-compliant AI, and a computer that feels. No doubt that would save his school.