Give a kid a cardboard tube, and they will turn it into a lightsaber. A glove becomes the Infinity Gauntlet. Some string becomes Indiana Jones’ whip. A Frisbee turns into a batarang.
And why does this happen? (Let’s be honest, not just to kids either. We adults are prone to wrapping-paper tube sword fights, too.)
It’s because these things are embedded in our brains. From the first time Obi-Wan Kenobi hands Luke Skywalker his father’s lightsaber, a weapon from a more civilized age, we were hooked. (Every new lightsaber that’s been revealed in the “Star Wars” universe since has sucked us right back in.)
These weapons, however ridiculous or improbable or impossibly heavy, made us believe that the fantastic was believable, at least in the realms of these films, video games, TV shows and comic books.
With “Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker” in theaters this weekend, we remember the lightsaber, king of the fictional weapons, as well as the other swords, grenades, shells, guns and not-so-easily-described armaments that captured our imaginations.
In an immensely silly sci-fi movie packed full of immensely silly things, the Glaive might be the silliest thing of all. Part ninja star, part switchblade, part boomerang (and probably part a few other things), it’s insanely impractical — seriously, how are you supposed to hold this thing? — but also insanely effective.
Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch (Monty Python and the Holy Grail)
The perfect weapon for blowing thine enemies to tiny bits. Just pull the pin, count to three (
exactly three) and hurl the grenade in the direction of whatever you want to get rid of, be it a killer rabbit or any other manner of foul beast.
Cricket bat (Shaun of the Dead)
When Shaun and his roommate, Ed, learn they can put down zombies by destroying their brains, they try out a number of weapons: a TV remote, a pizza box, a magazine, a throw pillow, a toaster, Shaun’s record collection. But nothing proves more effective than a cricket bat (and also a shovel, but the cricket bat is cooler).
Poké Ball (Pokémon)
Let’s just ignore the ethics of capturing monsters in the “Pokémon” universe and making them fight each other, and instead focus on the power of the Poké Ball … which lets you capture monsters and make them fight each other. OK, yeah, there’s no avoiding the ethics. Simply by throwing the mighty Poké Ball, you can take command of any monster, from the laughably weak Magikarp to the godlike Mewtwo, and make it do your bidding, ethics be damned.
Bull whip (Indiana Jones)
We’ve never wanted to be a college professor more than after watching Indiana Jones traipse through lost cities and discover ancient artifacts. And while he eschews practical archaeological tools for stuff like guns (necessary when you’re racing Nazis to find mystical relics), you wouldn’t expect anyone to pull out a whip. But then you watch Indy use it: taming lions, disarming enemies and, most importantly, swinging over crevices.
Phaser (Star Trek)
Of the many iterations of the iconic energy weapon, the original series’ phaser is the most iconic. And phasers are so cool: You can disintegrate someone, or simply stun them. Need to weld something shut? Phaser. Overload one, and it’ll explode like a grenade.
Portal gun (Rick and Morty)
Sure, it’s not a weapon in the traditional sense. But don’t underestimate the ingenuity of Rick Sanchez, the smartest (and probably most depressed) person in the multiverse. In one escape, he opens portals to dimensions carrying flames, killer insects, tentacle monsters and oil-slicked basketballs to slow down his pursuers. And in another episode, Rick opens a portal inside an alien guard, which … doesn’t end well.
Proton pack (Ghostbusters)
The proton pack is not a toy. Though it looks like a weapon for blasting baddies (and that’s roughly how the 2016 film handled it), the proton pack is a particle accelerator that fires energy out of a wand to help capture ghosts, not destroy them. What a novel idea. Just remember: Don’t cross the streams. It would be bad.
Lightsaber (Star Wars)
It’s a simple concept: A sword that has a laser for a blade. But it’s insanely cool, so cool that there’s a debate about which is the coolest. (Mace Windu’s purple blade? Darth Maul’s double saber? Vader’s iconic black, silver and red?) And only Jedi can wield these effectively. No fictional weapon has ever bested the lightsaber.
Buster Sword (Final Fantasy VII)
The "Final Fantasy" series (and Japanese RPGs in general) is rife with ridiculous, over-the-top weapons (like, say, swords that also shoot bullets). But Cloud Strife's massive, man-sized sword started it all — "FF7" was the first 3D entry in the series, and therefore the first with full-sized weapon models. The series has
only gotten weirder since.
Knife glove (A Nightmare on Elm Street)
As if the melted flesh on Freddy Krueger weren't enough, these four razor-sharp blades attached to a leather glove are utterly terrifying. Why would such a thing be made? Man, Freddy is freaky.
There are as many versions of the batarang as Batman has costumes, and they're all awesome. Somewhere between a shuriken and a boomerang, the batarang is Batman's most prevalent tool, and has variations styled after grappling hooks, explosives and spy cameras.
Blue shell (Mario Kart)
There are three certainties in life: death, taxes and getting hit by a blue shell in "Mario Kart." There is no escape. There is nowhere to hide. If you're in first place and one of your opponents launches a blue shell, it will hit you, and it will ruin your day. It is ... inevitable.
Infinity Gauntlet (Marvel)
Speaking of inevitable ... The MCU is packed with plenty of cool weapons: Cap's shield, Thor's hammer, Spidey's webs, Groot's, uh ... branches? Anyway, they all pale in comparison to Thanos' gauntlet, at least when it's holding the Infinity Stones. A simple snap can wipe out half the universe.
Noisy cricket (Men in Black)
"Men in Black" tries to pass the Noisy Cricket off as a something of a joke — an immensely powerful but also laughably small weapon with insane recoil. (Poor J gets sent flying pretty much every time he uses it.) But it can also blow a hole in a wall or blast off an alien's head, and could probably take down a spaceship if it didn't disappear from the franchise after the second movie.
Wand (Harry Potter)
J.K. Rowling's series takes some ideas we take for granted — duh! Wizards use wands! — and expounds upon them. In the case of wands, she created all sorts of wandlore: what they're made from, how they work, how they're more than simple tools used by witches and wizards to cast spells.
Sting (The Lord of the Rings/Hobbit)
An elven blade found inside a troll's treasure stash, Sting was handed down from Bilbo Baggins ("The Hobbit") to his nephew Frodo ("The Lord of the Rings"). A sword that glows when bad guys are nearby? That's convenient. It defeated the spiders of Mirkwood, wounded a troll in Moria and accompanied the hobbits all the way to Mount Doom and back.
Identity Disc (Tron)
The Identity Disc from the "Tron" films is basically a CD-ROM on steroids — it stores pretty much all information about the person (or program) carrying it. Oh, and it can also be hucked at people like a Frisbee. Hitting someone with an Identity Disc will "derez" them immediately, basically deleting them from the Game Grid that much of "Tron" takes place in.
Chainsaw hand (Evil Dead II)
What, you never saw a guy with a chainsaw hand before? When Ash loses his hand (in more ways than one), he replaces it with one of his most effective weapons: a chainsaw. Groovy.
Power Sword (Masters of the Universe)
Hoist it in the air and declare, "By the power of Grayskull!" You'll instantly be transformed from a goofy prince into the most powerful man in the universe. (And be wearing little more than a fuzzy loincloth, for some reason.) But be warned: A sorcerer with a skull for a face is lurking around and wants the sword for himself.