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The Batmobile in Batman Annual vol. 3, #1
(Jan. 2017). Art by David Finch.
|First appearance||Detective Comics #27 (May 1939)|
|Created by||Bill Finger and Bob Kane|
|In story information|
|Element of stories featuring||Batman
The Batmobile // is the fictional car driven by the superhero Batman in American comic books published by DC Comics. The Batmobile made its first appearance in Detective Comics #27 (May, 1939), where it was depicted as an ordinary-looking, red car. Housed in the Batcave, which the Batmobile accesses through a hidden entrance, the heavily armored, weaponized vehicle is used by Batman in his crime-fighting activities.
The look of the Batmobile has varied over time, but since its earliest appearances, the Batmobile has had a prominent bat motif, typically including distinctive wing-shaped tailfins. Armored in the early stages of Batman's career, it has been customized over time into a sleek, armored supercar-hybrid, and is the most technologically advanced crime-fighting asset within Batman's arsenal. Depictions of the vehicle have evolved along with the character, with each incarnation reflecting evolving car technologies. It has been portrayed as having many uses, such as vehicular hot pursuit, prisoner transportation, anti-tank warfare, riot control, and as a mobile crime lab. In some depictions, the Batmobile is able to be driven unmanned or remotely operated. It has appeared in every Batman iteration—from comic books and television to films and video games—and has since become part of pop culture.
Batman is shown driving a red-colored car in Detective Comics #27, the first Batman story. However, this car was never mentioned by name as the Batmobile, and the concept of a red car was abandoned in subsequent stories. Although the Batplane was introduced in Detective Comics #31, the name "Batmobile" was not applied to Batman's automobile until Detective Comics #48 (February 1941). The car's design gradually evolved in early Batman stories. It became a "specially built high-powered auto" by Detective Comics #30, and in Batman #5 (March 1941), it featured a bat hood ornament and a darker exterior color. Eventually, the predominant designs included a large, dark-colored body and bat-like accessories, including large tailfins scalloped to resemble a bat's wings.
Batman #5 (March 1941) introduced a long, powerful, streamlined Batmobile with a tall scalloped fin and an intimidating bat head on the front. Three pages after it was introduced, it was forced off a cliff by the Joker to crash in the ravine below. However, an identical Batmobile appeared in the next story in the same issue.
The live action television series was so popular that its campy humor and its Batmobile (a superficially modified concept car, the decade-old Lincoln Futura, owned by George Barris whose shop did the work) were quickly introduced into the Batman comic books. But the high camp and general silliness of the television show did not sit well with long-time Batman comic book fans. So, when the series was canceled in 1968, the comic books reacted by becoming darker and more serious, including having Batman abandon that Batmobile. Its replacement for a number of years was a much simpler model with a stylized bat's head silhouette decal on the hood being the only decoration of note. The 1960s TV style Batmobile still appears from time to time in the comic books, most recently in Detective Comics #850 and the issues of Batman Confidential.
In the Bronze Age of Comic Books, the source of the cars was explained in The Untold Legend of the Batman as the work of stunt driver Jack Edison who volunteered to personally construct Batmobiles for Batman after being rescued from a burning wreck.
In mid-1985, a special variation of the Super Powers toyline Batmobile appeared in both Batman and Detective Comics. This design had a full set of front and rear canopies, "Coke-bottle" sides, integrated fins, and generally rounder features, just like the toy. The only difference between this car and its toy counterpart is the nose, which was occasionally drawn to appear longer and more pointed.
Beginning in the 1990s, the number of comics featuring Batman mushroomed with spin-off titles, limited series, and graphic novels. At the same time, there was considerable experimentation with styles of illustration. With different illustration styles in so many different books, there was naturally a corresponding diversity of designs for the Batmobile. This has continued with designs for the Batmobile ranging from conservative and practical to highly stylized to outlandish.
During the "Cataclysm" storyline, it is revealed that Batman has hidden a number of spare vehicles across the city just in case. A Humvee serves as a primary mean of transportation to cross the earthquake-ravaged city during the Aftershock storyline, as most of the Batmobiles are wrecked by the quake. These vehicles are not as sophisticated as the Batmobiles, but some of them are armored to withstand weaponry mounted on military automobile prototypes.
In the "Batman: Hush" storyline, a double-page spread by Jim Lee shows various Batmobiles (from comics, movies, and all TV series) in storage in the Batcave. In addition, some incarnations of the character, such as Batman: The Animated Series, establish that Batman has a large ground vehicle fleet of various makes and models as well as utility vehicles to use when the Batmobile would be too conspicuous. In issue 9 of the third volume of Teen Titans, Robin and his friends use a Batmobile that he shipped out to San Francisco, hiding the expense "in the Batarang budget".
The 2008 book Batmobile Owner's Manual, gives theoretical specifications of the car as if it were a real car. The book states that the Batmobile's five cylinder engine is more powerful than turbine jet engines, and capable of achieving up to 10,000 horsepower (7,500 kW).
In the 2009 series Batman and Robin, a new Batmobile is unveiled. This model is capable of flight, although is not as maneuverable as the Batwing. It can fire 19 types of projectiles, one of which is a flame retardant non-toxic foam, and features a concussive sonic blast device. This Batmobile was designed and constructed by Bruce Wayne. However, its construction was the source of great frustration to him, as mentioned by Alfred. In Batman and Robin #1 it is revealed that Bruce's son, Damian Wayne, solved the problem of its inability to fly.
The Batmobile was redesigned in 2011 when DC Comics relaunched its entire line of comic books, with the Batmobile being given new aesthetics.
In 2016, DC Comics relaunched its comic books once again in DC Rebirth. The Batmobile was again redesigned and given a heavier armor with a worn, gritty exterior.
In Batman: Holy Terror, the Batmobile is depicted on a two-page spread at the end of the story, with Bruce musing that it was provided to him by the remaining members of the underground movement against the religious dictatorship that rules the world in this timeline.
In Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, the Batmobile is presented as a basic open-topped car with a single bat-wing at its rear, similar in design to the original Batmobile in the comics. Batman was forced to abandon the Batmobile after the destruction of Wayne Manor to stop Dracula's vampire 'family' deprived him of a suitable place to keep the car, although Bruce reflects that he no longer needs the car after his transformation into a vampire grants him bat-like wings. However, it is revealed in Crimson Mist- the third novel in the trilogy- that the Batmobile survives in the remains of the Batcave, with Alfred briefly hiding behind it to escape Killer Croc during a chase through the cave.
In Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, the Batmobile has been modified into a tank-like armored riot control vehicle, complete with machine guns shooting rubber bullets, a large cannon mounted on the front, and large tank treads in place of tires. According to Batman's narration, the only thing that can penetrate its armor "isn't from this planet." Batman also mentions that it was Dick Grayson who came up with the name. The tank-like vehicle appears to take up two lanes of traffic on a normal road, evidenced when returning from Batman's initial fight with the leader of the Mutants, and thus is too big for normal land travel around Gotham. In the scenes prior to Batman's last stand with the Joker, Batman uses a motorcycle to traverse the city, using the tank again after the attempted nuclear strike and fires in Gotham, although it is torn apart during Batman's battle with Superman. This Batmobile reappeared in All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder #4, which shows its construction by robots in the Batcave.
In Frank Miller's All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, the car can convert into a harrier jet and a submarine. Dick Grayson comments that the name Batmobile is "totally queer". However, in Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which exists in the same continuity, Grayson was stated as the one who coined the name.
The first car ever publicly toured as a Batmobile was built several years before the Barris Batmobile of the TV series. It was inspired by DC Comics and was created in 1960 and finished in 1963 by Forrest Robinson of Westmoreland, N.H. using a 1956 Oldsmobile Rocket 88 chassis powered by an Oldsmoblle Rocket 324 cubic inch engine and building a handmade custom body.
The car was initially used unpainted for a short time as a daily driver and then later leased by a DC Comic licensee (National Periodical publications then owner of DC Comics licensed the use of Batman characters including the Batmobile to various companies), painted in Batman Colors replete with official Batman decals, and toured as "Batman's Batmobile" in several small towns on the East coast of the United States. It was used as part of an advertising program for All Star Dairy Products which had a Batman dessert product line.
After the TV Batmobile by George Barris was created and replicas were made available for promotional events in late 1966, the first Batmobile was returned to Robinson. Robinson then removed the official Batman decals, repainted it in silver, and again used it as a daily driver for a short time and then sold it. After laying in a field in New Hampshire for almost five decades the very poorly preserved car was sold in 2008 and after going unrestored through a few owners was sold in February 2013.
The Batmobile made a brief cameo at the end of the Looney Tunes Show episode "Reunion". Bugs Bunny drove off in it after seeing the Bat-Signal because, in that show, he is secretly Batman. This Batmobile slightly resembles the Golden Age version.
According to the site BatmobileHistory.com, the Batmobile created for the 1968-1969 Filmation Associates TV series was not strongly based on its immediate predecessor (except for sharing dual rear cockpit canopies with the Barris/Futura Batmobile) or any version in DC Comics publications of the time. Furthermore, Filmation's Batmobile featured a long, black body with what is described as a "Coke bottle" profile, with a large, light blue bat emblem set across the hood, which, when a dashboard control was activated, the metal bat symbol folded its "wings" up at its center, forming a barricade/chain cutter. There were no door-mounted bat symbols.
Another departure from the Barris Batmobile was a single windshield and large, elevated bat-fins. Curiously, the car's underside was colored light blue, and it appeared to conceal the car's chassis except for a motorized panel, from which devices such as the Bat-winch would emerge. It is assumed Filmation's Batmobile used this light blue underside color to make the panel and devices easier to see. Additionally, the cockpit seating was a vibrant red, with a dashboard panel using bat accents around an inset monitor screen, among other details. Filmation's Batmobile used parachutes, inflatable pontoons and, in case of damaged tires, vertical and rear-mounted jets to lift and propel the car — which then essentially caused it to function as a high-powered hovercraft. The Filmation Batmobile from The Batman/Superman Hour was one of the few Batmobiles not to see adaptations to any DC Comics publications or have any commercially available replicas (toys, diecast cars, plastic model kits, etc.).
The Batmobile seen in the early episodes of Super Friends was based on the Lincoln Futura design in the live-action TV series starring Adam West. The main difference with the Super Friends version was that the car's lines were modified substantially for use in animation. The most obvious change was to the car's nose, where the hood received a "V" depression that echoed the lower fascia. This was also the first Batmobile (of any medium) to feature yellow bat emblems on the doors. This particular feature would be quickly adapted by the comics.
Beginning with the Challenge of the Super Friends in 1978, the Batmobile got revamped. This new version was developed to have a more aerodynamic, hard-edged style. In addition, this Batmobile was smaller than its predecessor. It had a sloped nose and flying buttress B-pillars. Features that were carried over from the original Super Friends Batmobile were the Bat-mask, low horizontal fins, twin bubble windshields, and blue coloring scheme.
In 1984, Super Friends revamped its format (first as Super Friends: The Legendary Super Powers Show and then as The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians) to serve as a tie-in to Kenner's Super Powers Collection.
The Batmobile made appearances in the various series of the DC animated universe.
The Batmobile in Batman: The Animated Series combined style elements from various eras to produce a long, low vehicle with square lines, long fins and a blunt nose with a massive chrome grill that could have been from any time from the 1930s to the 1990s. This version of the Batmobile also vaguely resembled the Batmobile from the first two Tim Burton movies. Despite the obvious presence of the jet exhaust, the show frequently used sound effects from a reciprocating engine for the Batmobile's driving scenes. This, plus direct views of the engine (as seen in the episode "The Mechanic"), suggest that the car used a large piston engine for primary power and an auxiliary jet for high-speed acceleration. It also had an armored stationary mode to prevent people from tampering with the car when it was left unattended, though this was not as overt as the "shields" used in the 1989 movie Batmobile. The original Batmobile design had many design variants as well as Bruce Wayne's limousine, as seen in Batman Beyond, which the producers referred to as "an upside-down Batmobile."
The Batmobile was redesigned in The New Batman Adventures with its jet engine being most notably absent. This Batmobile design is re-used in Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited, though it appears somewhat more blue than black in paint color. The vehicle possessed bullet resistant cockpit windows. If the tire were shredded a replacement tire immediately takes over after discarding the previous.
A new flying Batmobile design appears in Batman Beyond used by the new Batman (Terry McGinnis). This version of the vehicle made multiple appearances in the future of the DC Universe as flying cars were shown as commonplace technology in this future. This design is a radical departure from the usual style of Batmobiles, as they usually have a bat motif, from a bat faceplate on the grill, to tail fins resembling bat wings.
This version of the Batmobile is a simple sleek pod with sharp angles and rounded sides. Its interior is a red illuminated single-person cockpit, with computer circuitry and displays visible all around. It is armed with guided immobilizer missiles and grappling cables. Being a "single-seat" by design, it was never meant to carry two people, as shown when Terry's friend Maxine was once sitting behind the seat to great discomfort. According to Bruce, the vehicles top speed is Mach 3; however Terry has never piloted the vehicle at those speeds through Gotham City. It features a drop down hatch; this allows Terry swift exit/entrance from underneath without having to park the vehicle and get out, allowing him to literally get the drop on his opponents. Like Terry's batsuit the Batmobile features a camouflage system rendering it invisible; however another system consisting of holographic projector disguising it as a simple garbage dumpster or random car to keep away prying eyes and potential vandals. The vehicle has built in digital recorders and cameras for collecting audio and visual evidence.
In the animated series The Batman, the Batmobile resembled a sports coupe with multiple jet exhaust slits protruding from the back bumper. In the third season episode "RPM", this Batmobile was wrecked beyond repair, and Batman completed a prototype design that included a Wayne Industries 'EXP' power generator. This Batmobile was longer and had a lower profile with only one triangular jet exhaust coming from the rear of the car resembling the one from Batman: The Animated Series. At the end of the episode, Batman remarks that due to the Batmobile EXP's success, it is a 'keeper'. In the fourth season, the episode "Artifacts" explores Gotham City in the year 2027, looking back from 3027, complete with a new tank-like Batmobile reminiscent of Frank Miller's design for the Batmobile in The Dark Knight Returns.
In the straight-to-DVD animated shorts collection Gotham Knight, the Batmobile makes an appearance in the feature entitled "Field Test". While set in the same continuity as Christopher Nolan's films, it is visually a pastiche of the Batmobile as it has appeared in various films. Also, the Batmobile appears in the feature entitled "Working Through Pain"; wherein Alfred arrives to pick up Batman. The Batmobile appearing in this scene seems to be inspired by its appearance in the 1989 live-action film.
The Batmobile in Batman: The Brave and the Bold takes design elements from the Golden Age Batmobiles and the Lincoln Futura. This Batmobile has the ability to transform into other vehicles. The tie in toyline's Batmobile shares this feature, transforming from car to jet. On at least one occasion, it has converted into a mecha similar to the Bat-Bots seen in Kingdom Come. In the episode "Game Over for Owlman", Batman is forced to use a back-up Batmobile which resembles a Studebaker.
The Batmobile in "Beware the Batman" is a low and flat F1 like car with a single seated cockpit and pointed nose. The car has horizontal fins flanking a pair of jet engines, large wheels with low profile tires, as well as sharply angled canopy. This version, as is common with Batmobiles, seems very durable, with low profile armoring, as throughout the show it has taken shots from rocket launchers without any noticeable damage, stood up to high powered demolition machinery without any visible markings to the point of breaking said machinery, etc. The interior features a voice command system, a video link system, and more, directly routed to the Batcomputer.
In The LEGO Movie a large six-wheeled version of the Batmobile appears equipped with sub-woofers and can also become the BatWing. It was destroyed during the attack on Cloud Cuckoo Land.
In The LEGO Batman Movie, multiple versions of the Batmobile from different Batman adaptations appear. In the film, Batman drives the "SpeedWagon" Batmobile, which appears to take inspiration from previous Batmobiles. This Batmobile also uses "atomic batteries", a feature seen in 1960s depictions. Other Batmobiles appear briefly, including the one from the 1960s television series, Tim Burton films, Batman Forever, the Golden Age, Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, The Dark Knight trilogy, and Batman: The Animated Series.
In the 1943 serial film Batman, a black 1939 Cadillac Series 61 convertible was used by Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson, as well as their secret identities Batman and Robin. (It was driven with the top down as Bruce and Dick, and with the top up when they were in disguise.) Alfred chauffeured the Dynamic Duo in both identities.
In late 1965 20th Century Fox Television and William Dozier's Greenway Productions contracted renowned Hollywood car customizer Dean Jeffries to design and build a "Batmobile" for their upcoming Batman TV series. He started customizing a 1959 Cadillac, but when the studio wanted the program on the air in January 1966, and therefore filming sooner than he could provide the car, Jeffries was paid off, and the project went to George Barris.
What became the iconic Batmobile used in the 1966–1968 live action television show and its film adaptation was a customized vehicle that originated as a one-off 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car, created by Ford Motor Company lead stylists Bill Schmidt, Doug Poole Sr., and John Najjar and their design team at the Lincoln Styling Department.
In 1954, the Futura prototype was built entirely by hand by the Ghia Body Works in Turin, Italy, at a reported cost of US$250,000—the equivalent of approximately US$2 million in 2009. It made its debut in pearlescent Frost-Blue white paint on 8 January 1955 at the Chicago Auto Show. In 1959, sporting a fresh red paint job, the Futura was featured in the film It Started with a Kiss, starring Debbie Reynolds and Glenn Ford.
Barris was trying to get Hollywood's attention with the Futura, which he had purchased from Ford for the nominal sum of $1.00 and "other valuable consideration", but aside from its film appearance, the Futura had been languishing in his Hollywood shop for several years. With only three weeks to finish the Batmobile (although in recent years Jeffries says that his car was dropped because he was told it was needed in "a week and a half", he was quoted in 1988 as saying "three weeks" as well), Barris decided that, rather than building a car from scratch, it would be relatively easy to transform the distinctive Futura into the famous crime-fighting vehicle. Design work was conducted by Herb Grasse, working as an associate designer for Barris.
Barris hired Bill Cushenbery to do the metal modifications to the car and its conversion into the Batmobile was completed in just three weeks, at a reported cost of US$30,000. They used the primer-painted, white-striped car in October, 1965, for a network presentation reel. Shortly afterward, the car was painted gloss black with "fluorescent cerise" stripes. Barris retained ownership of the car, estimated to be worth $125,000 in 1966 dollars, leasing it to 20th Century Fox and Greenway Productions for use in the series.
When filming for the series began, several problems arose due to the car's age: it overheated, the battery died, and the expensive Mickey Thompson tires repeatedly failed. By mid season, the engine and transmission were replaced with those of a Ford Galaxie. The most frequent visual influence of this car is that later Batmobiles usually have a rear rocket thruster that fires as the car starts up.
In November 2012 Barris Kustom and George Barris announced the sale of the Batmobile at the Barrett-Jackson car show and auction held in Scottsdale, Arizona. The vehicle fetched $4.2 million on January 19, 2013. The car then went on sale on JamesEdition in July 2016 and includes batcycle as well.
This Batmobile's gadgets include a nose-mounted aluminum Cable Cutter Blade, Bat Ray Projector, Anti-Theft Device, Detect-a-scope, Batscope, Bat Eye Switch, Antenna Activator, Police Band Cut-In Switch, Automatic Tire Inflation Device, Remote Batcomputer—radio linked to the main Batcomputer in the Batcave, the Batphone, Emergency Bat Turn Lever, Anti-Fire Activator, Bat Smoke, Bat Photoscope, and many other Bat gadgets. If needed, the Batmobile is capable of a quick 180° "bat-turn" thanks to two rear-mounted ten-foot Deist parachutes. The main license plate seen throughout the series was 2F-3567 (1966). Some changes were made during the run of the series, including different license plates (TP-3567; BT-1 and BAT-1), removal of the Futura steering wheel and substitution with a 1958 Edsel steering wheel, and the addition of extra gadgets such as a net in the trunk, remote-controlled driving, a rear-facing camera under the turbine exhaust port, and the Bat Ram.
Barris built two fiberglass copies of the original Batmobile for exhibition on the car show circuit and a third for exhibition drag racing. Eventually, the three copies (and the screen-used metal Futura Batmobile) were covered with a black velvet "fuzz" paint, presumably to hide stress cracks in the fiberglass bodies. Later, all three were restored to their gloss black paint job. The three replicas are all based on a 1965–1966 Ford Galaxie. The #1 Barris-built Batmobile sold at Barrett-Jackson Auctions on January 19, 2013 for $4,620,000,. The three Barris copies all reside in private collections, including the exhibition drag racing version driven by wheelstanding driver Wild Bill Shrewsberry. This car was built with a dual-quad Holman Moody Ford 427 V8 engine, Art Carr-prepared Ford C6 automatic transmission and 5.14 gears in the rear end. Quarter-mile times were in the mid-12 second range, primarily because Shrewsberry would launch the car in second gear and smoke the overinflated rear tires for show down most of the strip. The "rocket exhaust" was made functional via a tank filled with either gasoline or kerosene which was pumped out the exhaust port and ignited electrically.
In October, 2010, DC Comics authorized Fiberglass Freaks in Logansport, Indiana, to build officially licensed 1966 Batmobile replicas. These replicas have been sold to customers in England, Italy, Canada, and across the U.S. One of Fiberglass Freaks' 1966 Batmobile Replicas sold at an R & M auction for $216,000. Fiberglass Freaks' owner Mark Racop has been a 1966 Batman fan since he was two years old, and he built his first 1966 Batmobile replica when he was seventeen.
A replica Batmobile was displayed alongside two of the movie batmobiles at the Cars of the Stars Motor Museum in Keswick, England for several years. In 2011 the collection was sold to the American collector Michael Dezer. for his Miami Auto Museum.
A replica of the Barris-built Batmobile is owned by Andreas Ugland. He bought the Batmobile at a London car auction in 2007. Both Batmobile and Batcycle at the London car auction were replicas. It is displayed at the Cayman Motor Museum.
Tim Burton's live-action films Batman (1989) and Batman Returns (1992) presented a different version of the Batmobile, which reflected those films' Art Deco version of Gotham City, both of which were designed by Anton Furst. It was long, low and sleek, and was built on a Chevrolet Impala chassis. The Tim Burton Batmobile is now housed at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles.
For quick maneuvers, this Batmobile had side-mounted grappling hook launchers and a central "foot" carjack capable of lifting the car and rotating it 180°.
Spherical bombs could be deployed from its sides. An afterburner was housed in the back. Two M1919 Browning machine guns were hidden behind flaps in each fender. Its grappling hook, once hooked on a structure, serves as an anchor to allow the batmobile to make an extremely sharp turn at high speed that its pursuers typically cannot duplicate. It had superhydraulics for course changes, and a batdisc ejector (side-mounted) that could fire precisely 15 Batdiscs in the 1-second pulse. Other gadgets included chassis-mounted shinbreakers, oil slick dispensers and smoke emitters. Inside, the two-seat cockpit featured aircraft-like instrumentation, a passenger's side monitor, self-diagnostics system, CD recorder, and voice-command recognition system. In Batman Returns it is shown to have a secondary mode referred to as the "Batmissile", where the wheels would retract inward and the sides of the vehicle would break off, converting the car into a thin bullet train-like form capable of squeezing through tight alleyways. Obviously, this secondary mode would require the car to be reassembled and significantly repaired.
The Batmobile's shields are made of ceramic fractal armor panels. They explode outward when struck by projectiles, deflecting injurious force away from the car and its occupants. If Batman must leave the Batmobile for an extended period of time, he can, through a voice command spoken into a wrist device (specifically, the word "shields"), activate the Batmobile's shielding system. This prevents anyone from tampering with the vehicle while it is left unattended. Bulletproof and fireproof steel armor plates envelop the body and cockpit entirely. While this armor is in place, the vehicle cannot be driven. In Batman the shields were not fully functioning. In reality, a life-size model was built, and the shield activation sequence was created with stop motion animation technology. In Batman Returns, the shields held the same characteristics. However, the design was slimmer and the special effects were provided by computer-generated imagery. In shield mode, a small but powerful bomb can be deployed.
As the Batman films were handed over to director Joel Schumacher from Tim Burton, the design for the Batmobile updated. Decorative lighting was added to the vehicle's rims, sides and front edge, and the wing-shaped fins reached further into the air. The car had a couple of unique features, such as: being able to rotate its wheels through 90 degrees so that it could move in a perpendicular direction; a grappling hook allowing the Batmobile to drive up walls; the speed to perform large jumps from surface to surface during chases across Gotham City's elevated freeways and gigantic statues.
The Batman Forever Batmobile's ability to drive up walls was displayed as Batman eludes a dead-end provided by Two-Face and his henchmen. Later in the film, Dick Grayson takes the Batmobile for a joy ride without Batman's permission or awareness. Ultimately, it was destroyed when the Riddler deposited a sack full of explosives in the cockpit. Batman Forever is also notable for the phrase uttered by Batman to Dr. Chase Meridian "It's the car, right? Chicks love the car."
The Batman Forever Batmobile had a Chevrolet 350 ZZ3 high-performance motor. The body is made from a vacuum-bagged high-temperature epoxy fiberglass laminate. The wheelbase is 118 in. (118 inches (3.0 m)), the average car wheelbase measures around 103 (USDOT Data 1980–2000) inches. In all, its size was 300 in long and 126 in high. Carbon fiber was used to build the body of this particular Batmobile. The specifications for the Batmobile in this film are:
The Batmobile depicted in Batman Forever (1995) sought to accentuate its intricate lines. To do this, the filmmakers equipped it with engine panels, wheels, and undercarriage that were indirectly lit so that they appeared to glow blue. The Batman Forever car also had a split cockpit canopy, separate fenders, and jet exhaust. The roof fin could be opened into a "V" shape for a more contemporary look, though the only time this was shown is during the scene when Dick Grayson is taking the car out for a joyride through the city. The wheels were made to keep the bat emblems upright when the wheels are turning. The bat-emblem on the hubcaps was a counter-rotating gear that transferred into a stationary point. The two-seat cockpit featured a rear-view monitor, system diagnostics display, and custom gauge cluster. H. R. Giger was chosen to design the Batmobile in the very early stages of production. He left due to creative differences. His designs are on his official website in illustrated and 3D Graphic Art form.
There were two primary avoidance/defense features on the Batman Forever version. First, it had the ability to lock all four wheels perpendicular to its centerline, to allow for quick sideways movement. Second, for more dire circumstances, the Batmobile could reroute the jet exhaust to under its front end and launch grappling cables at overhead anchors. With the nose up and the lines in place, the car could climb sheer vertical surfaces like building walls as if it were driving on flat ground.
A new Batmobile is seen in the 1997 film Batman & Robin. It is prominently featured in one scene in which, as Batman and Robin are in pursuit, Mr. Freeze shoots the underside of the car for several seconds with his freeze-gun, before the car crash-lands. However, in the next scene in the Batcave, the Batmobile is sitting back on its pedestal appearing to be in perfect condition.
In Batman & Robin, the aerodynamic chassis design and "T" axis wheelbase provided the Batmobile counterbalance gyrometric stability, allowing for high velocity 90-degree turns at speeds greater than 70 mph without losing momentum. Initial plans had the Batmobile being able to transform into the "Bathammer" vehicle seen in this film,[A] but were abandoned. The specifications for the Batmobile in this film are as follows:
The second Schumacher era Batmobile featured neither a passenger seat nor a canopy. Like the Batman Forever car, this Batmobile (which was designed by Harald Belker) featured light-up wheels and engine panels. The displays were much more involved with this car, however, with red, orange, yellow, and blue lights, as well as special pulsating lights in the counter-rotating turbine intake.
The nozzles were canted away from the centerline of the car slightly, so the final effect was that the six exhausts made a "V" pattern to keep the car pointed straight ahead. A bat mask was incorporated onto the nose of the car, although the sculpted lines made it somewhat difficult to make out at first. The fins were unmistakable and remain as the largest set ever built into a real-world Batmobile. On the Batman & Robin version the arsenal of weaponry and gadgets is controlled by an onboard voice-activated computer which surrounds the single-seat cockpit. From behind the wheel, the driver has access to a multifunctioning key command response system which delivers immediate weapon activation during attack and defensive procedures. The Batman & Robin version of the Batmobile was equipped with dual-mount, subcarriage rocket launchers, front and rear grappling hooks, multipoint infrared and laser scan tracking units, anterior/posterior wheel-based axle bombs, catapult ejection seat, and disguised central carriage, which detaches to become an emergency road vehicle. The single-seat cockpit featured a two-way videoconferencing screen, radar unit, and Redbird communication switch.
The Batmobile depicted in Christopher Nolan's trilogy of Batman films owes much to the tank-like vehicle from Frank Miller's Batman: The Dark Knight Returns; it has a more 'workhorse' appearance than the sleek automobiles seen in previous incarnations and does not have a front axle. While the films never refer to the vehicle as the "Batmobile", it is still referred to as such in the scripts. The film's production designer described the machine as a cross between a Lamborghini and a tank.
In Batman Begins (2005), Bruce Wayne utilizes the prototype vehicle known as the Tumbler designed by Wayne Enterprises' Applied Sciences Division as a bridging vehicle for the military. It includes weaponry and the ability to boost into a rampless jump. The Tumbler's armor is strong enough to break through concrete barriers without sustaining significant damage. Two full-sized driving versions were used in exterior shots while another full-sized model with hydraulic enhancements was used in jump sequences. A further full-sized, functional version carried propane tanks to fuel the rocket blast out of the rear nozzle. A radio controlled, 1/3-scale electric model also performed stunts in the film including the roof-top chase sequence. Six vehicles were built for the production of the film.
In The Dark Knight (2008), the Tumbler returns and appears twice in the movie: where Batman captures the Scarecrow and in a chase where it's damaged by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by the Joker that causes a terminal crash to which Batman ejects from the Tumbler in the Batpod (a motorcycle formed by the front wheels and struts of the Tumbler) as part of a self-destruct sequence which sees the remainder of the vehicle explode. The Tumbler is also seen in the trailers in a deleted scene, exiting the improvised Batcave.
In The Dark Knight Rises (2012), several Tumblers are seen. Each of these vehicles has the Tumbler's original military camouflage and is stolen from Wayne Enterprises by Bane's gang. The stolen Tumblers are used in Bane's attempt to control Gotham and are notably seen when the mass of police and criminals are about to battle. One of the Tumblers fires at the crowd of police, only for the Bat to intercept the shot. Three of the Tumblers are destroyed by Batman using the Bat and Selina Kyle using the Batpod.
The Christopher Nolan version of the Batmobile has a pair of autocannons mounted in the nose of the car between the front wheels. In "Attack" mode, the driver's seat moves to the center of the car, and the driver is repositioned to lie face-down with his head in the center section between the front wheels. This serves two main purposes: first, it provides more substantial protection with the driver shielded by multiple layers of armor plating. Second, the low-down, centralized driving position makes extreme precision maneuvers easier to perform, while lying prone reduces the risk of injury a driver faces when making these maneuvers. Other devices included:
The new incarnation of the Tumbler was proposed by Nolan after he built a proof-of-concept model design out of Play-Doh - a model he admitted looked "very very crude, more like a croissant than a car". Nathan Crowley, one of the production designers for Batman Begins, then started the process of designing the Tumbler for the film by model bashing based on that shape. One of the parts that Crowley used to create the vehicle was the nose cone of a P-38 Lightning model to serve as the chassis for the car's jet engine. Six models of the Tumbler were built to 1:12 scale in the course of four months. Following the scale model creation, a crew of over 30 people, including Crowley and engineers Chris Culvert and Andy Smith, carved a full-size replica of the vehicle out of a large block of Styrofoam, which was a process that lasted two months.
The Styrofoam model was used to create a steel "test frame", which had to stand up to several standards: have a speed of over 100 mph, go from 0 to 60 mph (97 km/h) in 5 seconds, possess a steering system to make sharp turns at city corners, and to withstand a self-propelled launch of up to 30 feet (9.1 m). On the first jump test, the Tumbler's front end collapsed and had to be completely rebuilt. The basic configuration of the newly designed vehicle included a 5.7-liter Chevy V8 engine, a truck axle for the rear axle, front racing tires by Hoosier, rear 4×4 mud tires by Interco., and the suspension system of Baja racing trucks. The design and development process took nine months and cost several million dollars.
With the design process completed, four street-ready cars were constructed. Each vehicle possessed 65 carbon fiber panels and cost $250,000 to build. Two of the four cars were specialized versions. One version was the flap version, which had hydraulics and flaps to detail the close-up shots where the vehicle propelled itself through the air. The other version was the jet version, in which an actual jet engine was mounted onto the vehicle, fueled by six propane tanks. Due to the poor visibility inside the vehicle by the driver, monitors were connected to cameras on the vehicle body. The professional drivers for the Tumblers practiced driving the vehicles for six months before they drove on the streets of Chicago for the film's scenes.
The interior was an immobile studio set and not actually the interior of a street-capable version. The cockpit was oversized to fit cameras for scenes filmed in the Tumbler interior. In addition, another version of the car was a miniature model that was 1:6 scale of the full-sized one. This miniature model had an electric motor and was used to show it flying across ravines and between buildings. However, a full-size car was used for the waterfall sequence. The scale model scenes were filmed on a massive set built on a stage at Shepperton Studios in England over the course of nine weeks. The full-sized vehicles were driven and filmed on the streets of Chicago. In The Dark Knight, the Batpod ejects from the Tumbler, with the Tumbler's front wheels as the Batpod's wheels; this was rendered using computer-generated imagery when attempts to achieve the separation through practical effects proved impossible.
According to the Warner Bros. Studios lot, the Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Batmobile combined inspiration from both the sleek, streamlined design of classic Batmobiles and the high-suspension, military build from the more recent Tumbler from The Dark Knight Trilogy. They were also inspired by the 1989 Batmobile. Designed by production designer Patrick Tatopoulos and Dennis McCarthy, the Batmobile is about 20 feet long and 12 feet wide. Unlike previous Batmobiles, it has a gatling gun sitting on the front and the back tires are shaved down tractor tires. The Batmobile elevates itself for scenes depicting it going into battle or when performing jumps, and lowers to the ground when cruising through the streets. The Batmobile appears in a flashback for Suicide Squad, when Batman was pursuing the Joker and Harley Quinn before their car crashed into the river, the Joker escaping while Harley was captured.
In Batman: Arkham Asylum, a version of the Batmobile appears with a design heavily influenced by the one used in Batman (1989 film) and Batman: The Animated Series. In the game, it is vandalized by Harley Quinn and the Blackgate prisoners. Batman later controls the Batmobile remotely using his utility belt to take Bane into the sea along with it. In Batman: Arkham City, the Batmobile appears in the Batcave Predator Challenge Map and was back under re-construction following its tussle with Bane, thus explaining its absence in the rest of the game. In Batman: Arkham Origins, a prototype of the Batmobile was seen in the Batcave and was under construction by Batman, under the working title "Urban Assault Vehicle" and when scanned in Detective Mode its description: "Armored to resist direct collisions and small arms fire. Multiple LTL armaments. Shield tracking profiles reduced thermal/radar footprint. 1.200BHP. 7MPG. Status: Under Maintenance." After Bane destroyed the Batcave, the prototype fell off the ledge, destroyed, with Alfred under the rubble. The destroyed remains of that early Batmobile could still be seen on the ledge.
In Batman: Arkham Knight, a different version of the Batmobile retains its classic-shape and designs; but is heavily influenced by The Dark Knight Trilogy Tumbler. The car is heavier than a tank, its ability to absorb impact makes it nearly indestructible, and affected anything it collided with in similar fashion. It can be called to Batman instantly with the press of a button and can eject Batman hundreds of feet in the air to instantly begin gliding. Batman can also control the Batmobile remotely using his Batmobile Remote gadget and it can even support Batman while he is fighting free flow combat via a Batmobile assisted Special Takedown. Like the Batsuit and gadgets, the Batmobile can be upgraded and even has its own alternate skins (such as one based on the Batmobile from 1960 TV series). The game also features Batmobiles from the 1960 TV Series and the films appear as DLC and are used in special Racing AR Challenges.
The Arkham Knight Batmobile has two modes between which it can transform: pursuit mode and battle mode.
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Pursuit Mode is used for driving around the city and tackling race tracks that the Riddler has set up. It contains boost and jump mechanisms, non-lethal missiles used to immobilize getaway vehicles and an EMP taser unit to stun criminals and enemy vehicles.
Battle Mode transforms the Batmobile's appearance into a tank-like form; widening its suspension and its LED headlights go from blue to red. In battle mode a remote controlled turret rises from the top of the vehicle with an array of weapons for anti armor, anti air and non-lethal anti personnel.
The driver is positioned centered—faced down; this position offers greater protection to the driver during combat, while reducing any chance of injury whenever Batman uses the ejection seat. The bulletproof Batmobile can be summoned to the player's location while on foot or, if the player is airborne, sent to meet Batman as he lands. The vehicle features the ability to perform jumps, speed boosts, rotate on the spot, smash through objects like barricades and trees, and fire missiles that can immobilize enemy vehicles. Batman can eject from the Batmobile and immediately begin gliding around Gotham City.
Some enemies will run away at the sight of the vehicle, eliminating the need for Batman to fight them, and enemies attacking the car can be subdued by its automated taser defenses. Like Batman, the Batmobile can be upgraded with new abilities. The Batwing is used in conjunction with the Batmobile to deliver upgrades. Riddler challenges also feature objectives requiring the Batmobile, such as timed races in tunnels beneath Gotham City, where the environmental obstacles change during each lap, and invisible question marks that must be revealed using the Batmobile's scanner.
The Batmobile has two modes, which can be switched at any time: Pursuit and Battle. Pursuit is for moving from area to area and completing specific driving challenges. In Battle mode, the Batmobile becomes more tank than car, allowing a full 360-degree range of movement, including strafing in any direction, while revealing the multiple weapon systems on board, including a Vulcan chain gun for quick damage, a 60mm hypervelocity cannon for fire support, anti-tank guided missiles for wide-ranging damage against multiple targets, and a non-lethal riot suppressor.
Additional upgrades to the vehicle include an EMP device, which releases an electric pulse used to temporarily stun enemy drones; and the "drone virus", which allows the player to override the weapon systems of enemy vehicles and cause them to attack each other. The Batmobile can also be controlled remotely, driven in indoor locations, and used in solving the game's puzzles, such as lowering an inaccessible elevator with its attached winch.
The Batmobile is copyrighted under United States law by DC Comics, a status often thought to usually be reserved to sentient fictional characters. This was established in court when a mechanic making Batmobile replicas roughly based on the '60s Adam West version of the Batmobile was sued by DC Comics in 2011. The mechanic had argued that the Batmobile was a "functional" element of the show and thus ineligible for copyright; however, the court ruled that the Batmobile was an "automotive character" with its own style, backstory, and theme that remained consistent across versions: a "bat-like appearance" and "always contains the most up-to-date weaponry and technology".
^ In Batman & Robin, Batman uses the "Bathammer" to battle Mr. Freeze and his henchmen through the frozen streets of Gotham City. The Bathammer is, in essence, a Batmobile for travelling on icy surfaces. It is 33 feet (10 m) long and 6 feet (1.8 m) high. The top speed is 100 mph on ice. The Bathammer can move over enormous skids underneath. It also carries vertical stabilizers (3 m long) that can be directed upward in an emergency and used as shield.
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