Batman’s car is just as iconic as the man itself. And with each incarnation of The Caped Crusader on film and television, the Batmobile is reborn for better or worse. Today, I finish my in-depth review of these many hallowed vehicles with a focus on their more modern incarnations.
For Part 1, where I cover the vehicles driven in the ‘40s, ‘60s, and ‘90s, click here!
Batman Beyond Batmobile
If you’re not familiar with Batman Beyond, shame on you. The successor series to the iconic Batman: The Animated Series jumps ahead 30 years into the future, where an elderly Bruce Wayne finds his replacement in the teenage Terry McGinnis, who becomes a new Batman for a new age. And along with it came a new Batmobile. This vehicle is almost more Batplane than car, as it can hover and fly wherever Batman wants. It bears little resemblance to anything driven by The Dark Knight before. This is all sharp angles and sleek lines illuminated by red lights against solid black. The appearance strikes a distinct image as it cuts through the nighttime air.
Best Features: Besides being able to go anywhere unrestricted by roads, this Batmobile is far more advanced than any other on film or television. The onboard computer can interface with Terry’s Batsuit in order to be intuitively controlled. Ports on the top and bottom allow Batman to fly in and out of either side, the vehicle has numerous claws to hook onto enemies, and Terry can call the vehicle to him wherever he goes. This thing makes every other incarnation look like a horse-drawn wagon.
The Batman Batmobile
This anime-influence version of The Dark Knight actually featured two versions of the Batmobile. The first was a sports coupe-like vehicle with several jet exhausts in the rear bumper. It’s rounded glass top and exposed inner workings on either side didn’t prevent it from looking rather blasé. In the third season of the show, the vehicle is wrecked beyond repair and replaced by a prototype car with a Wayne Industries EXP power generator. Whatever that means. The result? A Batmobile that is not only faster, but has a far better look with its low, clean profile.
Best Features: The CGI design of the vehicle helped it to stand out in the mostly hand drawn world of the show. The second vehicle would light up when peeling out, showing off its high speed technology. Honestly, both Batmobiles in The Batman were rather forgettable. Much like the show itself.
Batman: The Brave and The Bold Batmobile
In order to match the throwback style and attitude of the show, the Batmobile in Batman: The Brave and The Bold is a mix between Batman’s vehicle in the ‘40s and ‘50s as well as the Adam West Lincoln Futura design. The result is a hybrid car that looks like it comes out of Disneyland’s Tomorrowland circa the 1960s. However, this is also one of the most outrageously high tech versions of the car. Being able to also change into a Batboat, Batcycle, and robotic Bat-Bot exoskeleton, it is the perfect match for this ever-prepared version of The Caped Crusader.
Best Features: This Batmobile is extremely striking. The dual cockpits, red trim, and bat grill are standout visual designs, still catching the eye amongst this brightly colored version of Gotham. Its many transformations are ridiculous, but somehow seem at home in Batman: The Brave and The Bold. With this Batman fighting crime not only in Gotham City, but across the universe, this all-purposes Batmobile is the perfect complement to any story.
Beware the Batman Batmobile
The newest of all the Batmobiles on this list, the vehicle featured in the new CGI animated series Beware the Batman is more akin to an F-1 racer than anything else featured here. It’s low to the ground, angled forward, pointed, and features a single seat cockpit. This Batman is a bit of a loner, so he’s not counting on having much company on his nightly patrols. This series is more focused on creating a realistic vibe, so the Batmobile follows suit. There are fewer gadgets and its animation moves in more of a real world manner, with this version mostly serving as a means of transportation and not a weapon.
Best Features: It’s fast. Greasy fast. This thing rockets around Gotham at a breakneck speed, helping The Dark Knight catch up with his targets in as little time as possible or patrol the city in record time. It helps create a distinct and dynamic look as Batman bombs around town at night, zipping through traffic and showing off those computer animation skills as light and shadow play off his face.
This Batmobile (never called that in The Dark Knight Trilogy) is pure aggression. Both form and function are powerful, as this vehicle is meant to go through obstacles instead of around them. Christopher Nolan helped create the look of the vehicle by playing with a lump of clay until it became the vehicle he wanted, but this owes a large debt to the tank-like Batmobile found in writer Frank Miller’s dystopian future tale of The Dark Knight Returns. At 15 feet long, it’s a big vehicle that dwarfs most others on the road, but it looks short and squat, with its axleless front wheels ready to roll over anything in the way. Combined with a jumping ability, powerful jet engine, missiles, and loads of tactical weapons, The Tumbler could probably crush most of the vehicles on this list.
Best Features: The Tumbler was a major component in the statement that Batman Begins made: this is a reboot with no connections to past movies and firm grounding in the real world. The police chase scene in the film is one of the highlights, showing off the real power behind this mechanical beast. It’s destruction in The Dark Knight led to the creation of the Batpod, a vehicle just as cool as any of these Batmobiles and the only Batcycle committed to film. Add to that the fact this The Tumbler is fully functional in real life and this will go down in history as one of the strongest entries to this prestigious collection.
Arkham Asylum Batmobile
The Batmobile on this list with the least amount of screen time, the vehicle in the video game Arkham Asylum still leaves an impression. It’s the first thing seen in Arkham Asylum – rocketing toward the home for the criminally insane with a defeated Joker in the passenger seat. It later appears being vandalized by the criminals that have taken over the asylum. But its best scene comes when Batman remotely controls it to slam into the gigantic Bane, rocketing him into the ocean. The look owes a little to the version in The Animated Series as well as Furst’s design for Batman. It has the classically long bonnet, the back fins, and the sliding canopy – all great factors in making a slick Batmobile.
Best Features: Since it really doesn’t do much, this Batmobile is really all about the appearance. The heavy texturing with nodules on the hood, long grills on the front, and vents in front of the rear wheels make it unique enough to be memorable. The low profile and large fenders make it feel strong. So when it smashes into the 10-foot tall Bane, you believe that it can take him out.
Arkham Knight Batmobile
When Scarecrow and the mysterious Arkham Knight took over Gotham in their final plan of vengeance against Batman, The Dark Knight debuted his latest vehicle in Rocksteady’s Arkham videogame series. This latest Batmobile can transform between its standard version and Battle Mode. In the regular form, the Batmobile is sleek and can reach its top speeds while blazing through the city, but in Battle Mode, additional armor covers the vehicle, wheels are repositioned to reach higher position, the anti-tank Vulcan Gun pops out of the top and the Riot Suppressor gun is mounted, which fires non-lethal rounds at on-foot criminals. That high degree of offensive capability reflects the large amount of vehicle action throughout Akrham Knight.
Best Features: This thing is as heavily armored as any other Batmobile on this list, even more so then The Tumbler. But being able to remotely summon the vehicle to your location for a fast entry and the ability to be launched out of it at top speeds are its greatest assets.
Batman v Superman Batmobile
With a more comic book-like version of Batman gracing the screen in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, its not surprising that The Dark Knight has a more exaggerated Batmobile. Like a mix between The Tumbler of the Nolan films and a Formula 1 racer, Batman’s latest live action Batmobile is an aggressive and modern update on the classic vehicle that has enough elements of past versions to be quickly identifiable as Batman’s go-to ride. But it’s unique and heightened enough to fit in with this larger universe. That front-mounted turret doesn’t feel very Batman unless it only fires rubber bullets, but then again, most film Batmen are less concerned about casualties than the comic book version. It’s also promptly wrecked by an unfortunate run-in with Superman, so it isn’t the sturdiest Batmobile ever seen.
Best Features: This thing looks so sleek and aggressive in all the right ways. As long as its fast and looks cool, that’s all you need in a Batmobile.