One of the most iconic, if not the most iconic, cars in all of pop-culture is the Dark Knight’s badass Batmobile. For over 75 years, the Batmobile has been racing across the pages of Batman comics and cementing its place comic history, but it didn’t just live in those pages. Unlike many other vehicles in comics, the Batmobile went on to make not just small screen appearances, but big screen appearances as well. Across various mediums, the Batmobile quickly became one of the most revered and intimidating vehicles of all-time. Along with its amazing designs, it was given plenty of backstory and gadgets to go along with all amazing adventures it was used for.
Here is Screen Rant’s 12 Things You Need To Know About The Batmobile!
Red Hot Origin
For a hero known for his stealth and predisposition for a black and grey color scheme, it may seem odd that the first Batmobile was actually a red hot hot rod. Introduced in the Batman’s very first appearance, Detective Comics #27, this Batmobile had no special pieces on or in it. While the car that it was drawn after was known to be a faster model car, the Batmobile itself had no actual modifications, absent of any ‘bat’-inspired features or emblems.
While the Batmobile appeared in the first comic, it didn’t actually receive its name in this issue. Seen several times again, it wasn’t until Detective Comics #48 that it was christened with the name, the Batmobile. In fact, the first vehicle named after Bruce Wayne’s alter-ego was the Batplane.
1968: Year Of The Bat
1968 was a year of major change for the Batmobile. While the 1960s television model was used not just on-screen but in comics, this version was still not very bat-inspired. It wasn’t until 1968 when the comics reinvented Batman as the “Dark” Knight he was that they began adopting a more bat-centric design and a sleeker look. This was of course in the form of the black and grey coupe Batmobile with a giant bat’s head on the grill of the car.
The changes made to the Batmobile weren’t just cosmetic in nature; there were also additions made in the form of gadgetry and safety. While the Batmobile from the infamously campy Adam West series had its share of fun gadgetry, this newer version added a remote control ability that would allow Batman to man the car from afar. There were also modifications made to the wheels, panels, and windows of the car, making it virtually impervious to bullets. On top of all of this, the engines were turbocharged and beefed up even more than before.
From Tanks To Sports Cars
In the pages of Batman comics over the years, the Batmobile’s design has varied drastically, from concept cars to sports cars, with a few tanks thrown in for good measure. Regardless of each one’s popularity, bat-emblems, or efficiency, they are all an integral entry in the vehicle’s storied history. Even though some of these cars have only been used or seen in Elseworld’s stories (and are therefore not a part of the official Caped Crusader’s canon), they all still left their mark on the Batman mythos.
Some of the most memorable, unique Batmobiles includes Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns tank, Batman: Cataclysm’s monster truck, Batman Reborn: The Domino Effect’s flying/amphibious Batmobile, and Legends of the Dark Knight: Legends of the Dark Mite’s long, train-like Batmobile. While there are dozens of different Batmobiles, each one maintains its own sense of uniqueness. Even the cars Batman has used that resemble regular vehicles have made a stamp on the history of the Batmobile.
The Batmobiles used in the live-action versions of Batman have been just as impressive as their comic book counterparts. Needing to actually perform, not just as a vehicle but as a set piece, these cars are nothing short of marvels. The men and women who built these magnificent cars used many different methods to do so, oftentimes repurposing parts from other cars. The 1989 Batman film actually utilized the chassis of a Chevy Impala, while the Tumbler from Christopher Nolan’s trilogy used a chassis from a P-38 Lightning plane. The 1960s Batmobile was built from a Lincoln Futura, a concept car at the time. The build for this first live-action Batmobile was much less labor intensive thanks to the team’s repurposing of the entire Futura, but they were met with many more difficulties along the way. The Futura’s parts would prove unreliable, and the team would later have to replace parts of the car with parts from a Ford Galaxie.
Almost all of these cars, as unique as they are, were all inspired from previous incarnations of Batmobiles, with the Futura being the most independent in its design and uniqueness. For instance, the 1989 Batmobile had taken inspiration from the sleeker, darker designs of the Batmobiles that came in the early ’70s and late ’80s. The Tumbler was said to be inspired from Frank Miller’s tank (obviously) as well as the 1989 Batmobile. Even the most recent Batmobile that will be featured in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice is inspired from the Tumbler and other military vehicles. With its long and slender design, it could have drawn inspiration from the 1989 Batmobile, or even the Animated Series car.
The Dark Knight’s Black Beauty
With The Green Hornet’s Black Beauty opening the floodgates for superhero vehicles stocked full of gadgets and devices to aid them in their crusade against injustice, the Batmobile replicated the idea and created an even more advanced vehicle. With the Batmobile’s expansive history and multiple incarnations, almost each version had some new or special gadgetry added to the vehicle. The entire, comprehensive list is far too long to tick off here, but we’ll give you some of the most notable and useful gadgets featured inside the Batmobile over the years.
The Batmobile is well known for its varying lethal and non-lethal rounds of ammunition. Obviously, Batman uses the non-lethal ammunition primarily when directly taking down enemies, but the missiles can be used for entry into an area. Batman doesn’t use the missiles to take down enemies, but rather to manipulate the environment to his advantage. The Batmobile is also stocked to the brim with separate gadgets, not usable by the the car itself. For instance, there are spare costumes for both Batman and Robin, extra utility belts, gas masks, hazmat suits, and even rafts.
Being a supercar in the truest sense of the word, Batmobile obviously has some very enhanced specs that allow it to perform the way it does. Not only is the engine highly-advanced, but there are added booster capabilities and an enhanced suspension. The engine itself is a particularly powerful beast, one that can easily reach speeds of over 100 mph in just seconds. With just the engine alone, the Batmobile has been said to be able to reach up to 230 mph. However, with the added turbo boosters, the Batmobile has clocked in at speeds between 330 and 350 mph. These boosters are not always the same, but they all have very similar results of increased speed.
The Batmobile’s suspension and chassis are also usually completely custom-built, or at least heavily customized. Due to the high speeds and incredibly sharp turns within the city, the suspension is modified to keep the weight of the Batmobile distributed in such a way that decreases the chance of tipping over. It also allows Batman to take those sharp Gotham turns at high speeds so he can keep up with the bad guys. The chassis used for the vehicles often have modified axles that let the wheels move more freely and with a larger range of motion. With all of these fascinating specs, it’s no wonder why the Batmobile is such a beast not only with its beefy engine, but it’s incredible maneuverability.
Batman Doesn’t Just Use ‘The Club’
Hands up if any of you remember “The Club.” It was the red, metal pole that you would put on your steering wheel to keep your car safe from thieving criminals. Luckily, Batman not only has more money to spend on an advanced security system, but has the creativity to make something better than a simple piece of metal. Most of the Batmobiles have some sort of device that can be activated either remotely, from within the car, or even automated that keeps those trying to damage or enter the Batmobile from accomplishing their goals. We’ve seen it’s outer shell electrocute thieves and send them flying from the sheer amount of electric shock.
Beyond this, the Batmobile has also been shown to have built-in fireworks that can be lit upon request, scaring would-be thieves away from the vehicle. In The Dark Knight we see Batman using “Intimidation Mode” to shoot missiles at a nearby structure in order to scare potential thieves away. The Batmobile can also use several of its onboard, non-lethal gadgets to deter villains as well. For instance, Batman can remotely activate the knockout gas or even access the gun used for the non-lethal rounds. No matter which it is, all of these measures are great deterrents to keep not just petty thieves but also larger-than-life villains from taking control of one of the greatest (and most dangerous) vehicles in existence.
A Lab and Computer On Four Wheels
Not only is the Batmobile stuffed with extra supplies and useful gadgets, but Batman somehow manages to fit an onboard lab and supercomputer inside the walls of the Batmobile. While the lab was later replaced by just pieces of useful medical equipment and smaller CSI lab kits, the mobile lab was actually one of the first useful tools installed in the Batmobile. It allowed Batman to assess crime scenes in the moment and get fast results, so that he may quickly move on to the next area of need.
The Batmobile is nothing short of a supercomputer on wheels. It not only has it’s own onboard capabilities, but the advanced computations that Batman performs while on the go are aided by a link-up to the Batcomputer back in the Batcave. This onboard computer is crucial to Batman’s active duty operations.
A Car With Character
With new artists and writers creating Batman comics every couple of years, the Batmobile sees similar changes in design and tone with each new change. While the Batmobile evolved with its growing arsenal of gadgets and weaponry, the artist also would change the design, color scheme and emblem locations to further enhance the vehicle alongside not just Batman but Gotham.
With there being so many different eras of Batman incarnations, it’s obvious to think that the Batmobile would change to suit its current Batman to a tee. For instance, the 1960s Batmobile had the very stylish and campy look to it, fitting of its more rambunctious and campy Batman. Frank Miller’s tank-like Batmobile suited the huge, grizzled Batman seen inside the pages of The Dark Knight Returns. Even more recently, the Tumbler was like an extension of the military-centric Batman seen in Nolan’s trilogy. These adaptations and reinterpretations help to make sure that the Batmobile has just as much character as the man behind the wheel.
Tour de Gotham
Do you love the live-action Batmobiles and wish you could see what the insides look like up close? Well Warner Bros. Entertainment did a cross-country tour with all the cinematic Batmobiles, allowing fans an up close look at these legendary vehicles. They not only displayed these vehicles but gave fans in-depth specs for each of them. They described how fast each one was, but also provided some amazing insight to the history of each vehicle.
All of these Batmobiles have interesting backstories about their production and conception. The teams that kept the vehicles looking sharp and running functionally certainly had their work cut out for them. The creative and technical minds that went into building each Batmobile produced some truly spectacular (and for the most part, completely functional) feats of automotive engineering. While the WB tour is done for now, there are still individual vehicle tours going on that you could attend. There is also a documentary called The Batmobile that takes you behind the scenes of not just the tour but the productions of each vehicle. Be sure to check it out if you’d like to learn more about each of your favorite live-action Batmobiles.
Batmobiles Don’t Fix Themselves
The maintenance of not just the live-action vehicles but the comic Batmobiles is a very difficult and time-consuming job. Luckily, the live-action vehicles have a huge team of mechanics and engineers that help conceptualize and maintain the cars over the years, but in the comics, the team is much smaller. In most iterations, Batman and Alfred are the two only people who maintain and build the Batmobiles. They repair the Batmobiles with precision and efficiency to ensure Batman can get back on the streets as soon as possible. However, there is a lesser known character who actually had a very close relationship with the Batmobile named Harold Allnut. Batman’s go-to mechanic once upon a time, Harold was a engineering genius who would maintain and tweak each Batmobile. With the complexity of the Batmobile, it was an exhilarating challenge for Harold to constantly work on them. Harold’s work and love for the Batmobile will forever be connected to this iconic car.
For a collection of cars over 75 years old, the Batmobiles continue to be the definitive superhero vehicle in comics and on screen. With all of the gadgets, interesting designs, engineered complexity, and its rich history, the Batmobile has cemented its place in not just comics history but pop-culture at large.
Be sure to let us know which fact you found most interesting, and if we left off something, let us know what we missed in the comments below.
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