If you were asked to name an iconic superhero, chances are Batman would make your list. Fighting crime and keeping the streets of Gotham City free from the turmoil caused by such villains as The Penguin, The Riddler, and The Joker – it was only natural for Batman to have a pretty sweet ride. Even in the 1940s, his style was admired, and this was before the Batmobile became an international phenomenon.
The Evolution of the Batmobile
Let’s look at the first Batmobile and move through movie and television history to see just what changes were made to the iconic superhero transport.
The 1943 Batmobile – 1939 Cadillac Series 75 Convertible
The simplest Batmobile used to date, the 1939 Cadillac Series 75 Convertible, was featured in Columbia’s Batman movies. Unlike many of the other Batmobile cars in history, this car doubled as a crime-fighting set of wheels and the personal vehicle for Bruce Wayne. Producers determined that the car was in Batmobile mode when the top was up to differentiate between the two vehicles. When it was down, it was Bruce Wayne’s car.
Even though this was one of the simplest Batmobile designs, it holds a big place in the history of the iconic series because it was the one that started it all.
The 1949 Batmobile – 1949 Mercury Convertible
Like the previous model, the 1949 Batmobile came directly off the manufacturing line. The series added the Bat Cave and Wayne Manor during this time, bringing Batman’s universe to life despite not having an actual budget to trick out the Batmobile with cool gadgets and accessories. When the Mercury Convertible took the place of the Cadillac, the producers kept the same signal for Batmobile and Bruce Wayne’s car. During the show’s filming, the car was swapped out six times due to the poor handling of the car around corners and its history of being wrecked.
The 1966 Batmobile – 1955 Lincoln Futura Concept Car
The first real Batmobile on screen is considered the 1966 Batmobile, also referred to as The West Mobile. The first modified Batmobile appeared in the 1966-1968 television series and the 1966 Batman movie. It was this version of the Batmobile that brought all of the gadgets and modifications to life. The design of the car fell upon George Barris, a legendary designer of classic Hollywood cars. He was given a deadline of three weeks. His inspiration for this car would be drawn from the 1955 Lincoln Futura.
The 1989 Batmobile – The Keaton Mobile
The 1989 version of Batman brought a darker tone to the iconic character thanks to the cinematic magic of Tim Burton. With the change in tone, Anton Furst, the designer of this specific Batmobile, majorly overhauled the design. Furst got rid of the red trim and the bright red Batman logo. The Batmobile was completely blacked out. Instead of the cartoon Ferraris and Lamborghinis, the Keaton Mobile was a sleek design that looked more like a drag racer.
Along with its speed and new darker tone, this Batmobile had retractable shielding, was self-driving, and had machine guns incorporated in the vehicle. This Batmobile’s design made it into the following cartoons following the release of the movie.
The 1995 Batmobile – The Kilmer Mobile
Batman Forever brought in a new director and a new designer for the third installment in the Batman movie series. Barabara Ling put her own spin on the Batmobile. The new Batmobile had a more organic feel to it yet still incorporated some of the old model’s design. Ling also incorporated the Batman logo into the car’s design which had not been done in past models. The most noticeable changes in the new design included ribs along the side of the vehicle and bat-like wings attached to the back. Of all the vehicles to be created for the Batman franchise, this design looked almost like a living bat.
The reception of this vehicle by viewers was not what was anticipated. Many thought that the car’s design looked like a plastic car, which it was actually designed with this in mind.
The 1997 Batmobile – The Clooney Mobile
In the final installment of the original Batman movies, Batman and Robin, writers tried to end the series with a bang. They did this to try and make up for the poor reception of the 1995 Batmobile by going back to the drawing board and designing a car worthy of this Batman – George Clooney. The film was considered one of the more questionable films. Ling’s new Batmobile is considered an improvement over the previous model. Her inspiration for this Batmobile took a more attractive approach, taking cues from classic roadsters, like the Jaguar D Type.
The new design features were less flashy, featuring a silver bat in the middle of the wheel and three small exhaust nozzles on the rear fenders.
The 2005 Batmobile: The Tumbler
There was a small hiatus before Batman returned to the silver screen. When the iconic crimefighter came back to the screen, it was at the direction of Christopher Nolan with design help from Nathan Crowley. Together they began the infamous Dark Night Trilogy. Completely refreshing the Batman universe, the two completely redesigned Batman and Gotham. It was only natural that a made-over masked superhero should get a revamped ride.
Sticking to the feel of Gotham and the changes to the character, Nolan and Crowley made a more realistic Batmobile – kind of a Lamborghini-Tank crossover. In fact, The Tumbler (as it was dubbed) weighed in at over two tons but was consistently used throughout the trilogy. The vehicle was even equipped with an ejectable Batpod motorcycle – once ejected, the entire Tumbler self-destructs.
The 2016 Batmobile: The Batfleck Mobile
There is no denying who filled the shoes of Batman in the 2016 movie – Ben Affleck. Even with the inception of The Batfleck Mobile, the movie didn’t receive as much of a reception as the Dark Night Trilogy before the new release. Dennis McCarthy and Patrick Tatopoulos designed the new Batmobile, taking characteristics from The Tumbler and slimming them down for a more visually streamlined appearance. The lighter and more maneuverable version of the Batmobile was also completely tricked out.
The future of The Batfleck Mobile is uncertain, having had cameo appearances in films such as Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice and Suicide Squad there is no guarantee that we will see it in the next major movie production of the iconic caped crusader.
Where Can You Find Three Iconic Batmobiles?
Since previous Batmobiles have entered retirement, it is possible to see three of the most popular versions in one place. The Volo Auto Museum in Illinois gives you access to 1966, 1989, and the 2005 Tumbler. The museum also offers Batmobile Kiddie Rides, giving kids the opportunity to feel like Batman driving one of the iconic Batmobiles. We are all just big kids at heart, right?