The Batmobile is the personal vehicle of Batman. It has evolved and appears in many different versions over the years, but is always the vehicle used by the Caped Crusader in his war on crime against the Gotham Underworld.
Batman's first Batmobile was nothing like the one both heroes and villains are familiar with today. There were many prototypes that had been in development at the time, however in 1941, the first "Batmobile" was introduced. It was a red convertible that was based on a 1936 Ford. The traditional Batmobile usually sported a Bat Head on the grill, this version did not. This was the one and only of that era that did not sport the emblem on the hood. The 40's saw a few incarnations based on the cars of the time which were usually very curvy and long.
The 1950's saw similar Batmobile's fashioned like the ones in the 40's. The 50's, however, did introduce a very iconic piece to the car, the bubble dome. This dome would cover both the passenger and driver side seats. The 40's curves however soon began to disappear. Also, the fans in the 50's did not like the fact the the Batmobile appeared to be very simplistic and criticized it. The 1950's featured the removal of the famous on-board laboratory that was heavily used before. The 50's models were used until the early 1960's where subtle changes were added. It wasn't until 1969 that there would be another major change to the iconic vehicle.
In 1969 there were major changes not only for the car, but for Batman himself, including Grayson going to college and moving to the heart of Gotham. The Batmobile changed from a larger-than-life vehicle to a vehicle that became more idealistic. The car was now a coupe with turbo-charged engines. It also features bullet-proof protection on and around the vehicle, including the windows, hydraulic shocks and diplomatic plates. Another addition was the remote guidance system that could serve as a distraction for the Caped Crusader to get out of tight situations.
The 1970's based the vehicle on some of the major sports car look. A significant look was featured in Detective Comics #449. It was a full-sized car that had more armor and had the ability to sustain high-impact collisions.
The 1980's saw more additions/changes to the car. In 1988, Batman was brainwashed, but later saved by Robin and forced to flee for a time. When they returned, they did so with a new Batmobile. This version resembled the one used in Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns. It was a huge vehicle that sported 15-inch balloon tires that were puncture proof. It had advanced radar and a machine gun that was outfitted with tranquilizers that fires 200 rounds per minute (RPM). This car would show up again in the late 90's, 10 years after its initial use.
The 1990's continued the trend of the car's history. It did however, feature a departure. When Bruce Wayne's back was broken, Jean-Paul Valley was given the mantle of the Bat. His Batmobile was redesigned to become a single-passanger vehicle. It had large sweeping fenders and was voice activated.
With most of Gotham reduced to rubble and the Batmobile destroyed in the Cataclysm and Aftershock story arcs, Batman needed a new way to get around. This need was fulfilled by a new type of Batmobile with all-terrain capability. This version sports huge tires (making it look like a monster truck) and higher ground clearance.
Batman opted to equip this with non-lethal weapons, stink guns that fire a mixture of turpentine and guano to disperse unruly crowds. It is still armed with rockets for clearing debris though. Another version shown in some stories resembles a Hummer H1.
The 2000's saw the return of the basic formats used in the 1960's, only they were tweaked to look more modern. The car became sleeker and contained smaller parts. It had a jet engine and had the iconic sliding roof entrance. The tires were Kevlar-lined and they were puncture proof and flame-resistant. It had rear defenses like oil slicks and smoke clouds, and was fully automated and voice activated. It had a GPS and was linked to the Batcave. It also had a sophisticated anti-theft system, with five stages. First, it locked down and made all interior surfaces electrified. Then, poison gas was released while an SOS was sent to the Batcave. Hypersonic trilling spheres were then released, and motion tracking glue nozzles ejected super adhesive foam. The final stage was self-destruction.
The late 2000's and early 2010's saw a new Batman and Robin in a new Batmobile. This time the car had flight capability and had a very curvy appearance, virtually no sharp
angles and has a big red emblem on the front of the car. This version was designed by Bruce Wayne, but finished by Damian Wayne, who made adjustments in order for it to sustain flight.
The average speed of all Batmobiles is around 250 mph but more recent ones have reached 266 mph. The windows have changed from clear to dark through the years as well. The vast majority of them have had a direct link to the Batcave.
In Other Media
One of, if not, the most iconic versions of the Batmobile appeared in the 1960 television adaption of the famous crime-fighter. The car was based off the Lincoln Futura, a Ford Concept Car that was created in 1954. The car was black with red lining on the car, including the Bat-Symbol. It had two seats and an open roof. It also has bat parachutes that can be shot out of the back by a switch. The mobile also contains a bat beam which the Bookworm once used to bust open a safe. The Batmobile also has ejector seats which were used to eject a bomb placed by the Bookworm into thin air. This version was also featured in the Movie based off the series of the same name. A replica of the car has been sold for $233,000.
Batman: The Animated Series/The New Batman Adventures.
Three versions of the Batmobile have appeared in the DCAU series.
The first version was depicted as as a Batmobile from the 40's, with the traditional Bat Head on the grill of the car. After the Batmobile was beginning to run down Batman sought a new version of the car.
The second version was created by Earl Cooper upon Batman's request. This car featured turbo engines, grappling hooks, seats that ejected and on board Bat-Computers. It also had the famous sl iding roof as it's point of entry. This car was very long, and as seen in the movie, Mask of The Phantasm, appears to be based off the vehicle Bruce saw at Gotham Fair.
The third car was featured in the New Batman Adventures. It was smaller than the previous incarnation, becoming a coupe. It featured many of the same features the other did, grappling hooks, two-seater, etc.
In the Episode "Black Out, " Bruce gives Terry McGinnis, the New Batman, a new Batmobile. This version has flight ability, as the cars in this era all have the capability. The car is very curvy until it's ends where it turns sharp. The interior has the classic thrust throttle. The inside is all computers that link to the Bat-Suit, allowing easier control over the vehicle, also sending a signal to Bruce in the Batcave. It is a single-person cock-pit. It has a cloaking ability and features on board radar and has the ability to reach Mach 3.
The Batman featured 2 main Batmobiles, although there was another featured in an episode set in the show's future.
The first version was a Blue and Black vehicle that resembled a coupe. It had turbine engines, as well as turbo boost capabilities. This was described as
The Batman's vehicle for the first 5 years in his crusade. It would be destroyed in the 3rd season.
The second Batmobile was faster and more traditional in the cartoon universe. It had a Wayne Industries EXP power generator and was much faster than the previous one. It was also larger and longer, it was more low profile.
The Batmobile that was featured in an episode set in the future, resembled Frank Miller's version as well as The one featured in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. It was Tank-Like, with all the traditional gadgetry. Batman appears to heavily rely on this in the series depiction of the future.
In 2005 a Batmobile vastly different from past inarnations made an appearance in Christopher Nolan's Batman Begins.
Formerly known as the tumbler, the new Batmobile was originally designed by Wayne Enterprises for use as a military vehicle and featured desert camouflage, it was re painted black and given some new features for use in Batman's crime fighting escapades.
The Dark Knight
2008's the Dark Knight saw the release of a Batmobile identical to it's 2005 counterpart, but with some slight technical modifications.
The Dark Knight Rises
The 2012 finale to Chris Nolan's Batman franchise featured an alternate design of the Batmobile, a fleet of these new Tumblers were obtained by Bane, the main antagonist of the film.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
A redesigned Batmobile similar to that in Tim burton films appeared in rocksteady's highly acclaimed 2009 'Batman: Arkham Asylum' videogame. Players were not able to drive the Batmobile in the game, but it was still used for multiple cut-scenes as well as serving as a location on the in-game map. The Batmobile did not appear in the sequel to the game, 'Batman: Arkham City'. A miniature toy version of the Arkham Asylum batmobile was later released in April, 2011 by Hot Wheel's.