The evolution of the Batmobile
We’re on the eve of the release of one of 2016’s most hyped blockbusters, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, where the Dark Knight will come to blows with the Man of Steel in a battle that will shake Metropolis to its core.
Not only do we get a new Bruce Wayne/Batman in the form of Ben Affleck, but we also get a brand new Batmobile, and if the new trailers are anything to go by, some slick vehicular action too.
To celebrate the release we are running through the history of the Batmobile on screen and its significance to the character of Batman, and the specs that made it work:
“To the Batmobile Robin”.
The immortal line uttered by Adam West’s camp interpretation of Batman in the original TV series which ran from and featured heavy use of the words ‘Pow, Zap & Wham’ was an unexpected sensation at the time.
Part of the cool factor of the original show was the Batmobile which was designed by legendary customizer George Barras and was constructed from a 1955 Lincoln Futura, and featured a 390 V8 engine and a B&M Hydro automatic transmission, as well as a Bat Ray, Bat-safety belt, Bat-zooka and a Bat-tering Ram!
The Batmobile was a two seater and was able to accommodate The Boy Wonder (Burt Ward) alongside Batman as they raced off to combat crime, and defeat Batman’s eclectic cast of dastardly villains.
“Get in the car!”
The Batmobile took a decidedly more modern and gothic turn in Tim Burton’s 1989 blockbuster, which starred Michael Keaton as Batman and launched an entire franchise, and took the Dark Knight back to his core as a dark avenger of the night.
Designed by production designer Anton Furst, who took his inspiration from fight jets, this edgier take on the Batmobile was inspired by Art Deco design and Salt Flat Racers of the 1930s in the design process.
It featured a colossal jet turbine engine which was capable of 0-100 km/h in 3.7 seconds and could reach speeds of up to 530 km/h if you believe movie physics. In addition the car also featured armored plating, a side mounted grappling hook, and twin mounted machine guns.
This Batmobile really cemented the return of Batman as a dark brooding vigilante, and a force to be reckoned with.
Batman Forever (1995)
“It’s the car right? Chicks dig the car.”
Burton stepped away following 1992’s Batman Returns, and Joel Schumacher took center stage as director for a bigger, brighter and punchier version of the Dark Knight. Val Kilmer now stepped into the role of Batman, and his Batmobile reflected the nature of his own Batman.
Constructed from a high press epoxy fiberglass laminated body, this Batmobile was designed with a Chevy 350 ZZ3 engine and also featured a rocket thruster.
This Batmobile also featured a retractable grappling hook, and with it’s ridged fin like Bat design cut through Gotham like a knife. The Dark Knight was back, and he was going to stop crime in style.
Batman Begins (2005)
“Does it come in black?”
After a lengthy absence modern filmmaking master Christopher Nolan would bring the Dark Knight back to the silver screen with a vengeance.
With a stance dedicated to realism, Christian Bale as Batman/Bruce Wayne utilized the services of technical wizard Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) in the construction of ‘The Tumbler’ a military bridging vehicle that was redesigned for Batman’s purposes.
Taking a length bit of inspiration from Frank miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, The Tumbler featured a massive 5.7 GM engine, and could hit 100 km/h in 5.6 seconds.
The defining feature of the Tumbler was its massive rear wheels which were taken from Super Swampers, and stood at 1.11 meters high.
This new Batmobile was an intimidating beast to behold, and brought plenty of gruntiness to the streets of Gotham for a brand new era.
Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Following on from the global success of 2013’s Man of Steel, visual mastermind Zack Snyder is returning with his own interpretation of Batman, and that comes with a brand new Batmobile.
Legendary production designer Patrick Tatopoulos (Se7en, Independence Day, Underworld) is responsible for this new Batmobile, of which two were designed, and took five months to build. In an interview with DC All Access Tatopolis talked over the build, which included the need for custom reshaped tires.
Tatopolis also mentioned that the production team deliberately made sure that the car had an aged look to it, and that this Batmobile was the keystone off of which all the production design for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was based.