Zack Snyder recently gave the world a sneak peek at the new Batmobile, and suddenly an entire universe of fanboys forgot how much they hate that Affleck guy. Now they’re back in the clutches of Batman fever, even if he’s sharing the screen with Superman.
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While we don’t know enough about the new Batmobile to see how it ranks in the pantheon of Bat-vehicles, that’s not going to stop us from doing an inventory of all the popular Batmobiles of film and TV up to this point.
We intentionally weighed two factors: top speed and sex appeal. We probably unintentionally weighed a number of other factors that may or may not be cited below, including our love/hatred of Chris O’Donnell, pity for George Clooney’s early career, and how advanced the cars were for their time.
How did we ascertain what the top speeds were? Warner Bros. was kind enough to let us go out to the Bonneville Salt Flats to test drive each generation of the Batmobile.
Just kidding. We got the numbers off the Internet, and, as best we can tell, the figures are completely fictional, but rooted in the mythology of Batman (i.e., they’re referenced somewhere in the Batman stories).
5. Batman and Robin – Top Speed: 230 MPH (350 MPH Booster) – Sex Appeal: .5
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While this Batman film is remembered not-so-fondly for being the one with both Mr. Freeze’s puns and the George Clooney Batman suit with nipples, it could also be remembered for featuring the Batmobile that appears as though it was retrieved from Rob Zombie’s nightmares.
The car itself looks more at home in a game of Twisted Metal 2 than it does in a Batman film, but with the widespread vitriol spewed at this film, it’s hard to single out the Batmobile as the source of the problems. Again, I would be inclined to blame the nipples on the Batsuit.
This Batmobile didn’t have a roof or a passenger seat, so I guess even though the film was entitled Batman and Robin, Chris O’Donnell’s character probably had to take the bus (or Uber) to get to the scene of the crime.
As if this design wasn’t impractical and decadent enough, the original plans had the car transforming on-screen into the Bathammer. In case you’re not up on your Batman and Robin trivia, the Bathammer was a flying vehicle that Batman and his nipples used fly around town.
The Bathammer made it into the film, but there was no insinuation that the Batmobile transformed into it. Oh well. At least we have Robin. Right? RIGHT?
4. Batman Forever – Top Speed: 330 MPH – Sex Appeal: 4
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Oh my god? Jim Carrey was in this movie! I totally forgot!
The Batmobiles during the Joel Schumacher era got about as bad a rap as the films did. With Val Kilmer suiting up in Batman Forever, a new Batmobile was needed. This one trafficked in unnecessary illumination, another grappling hook (this one to climb up walls), and some giant winged fins. The chassis was a Corvette, which is cool, but not cool enough.
The most compelling aspect of this car is that it glowed blue from indirect light, allowing it to blend in with the dark neon iridescence that was prevalent in the Schumacher Batman sets.
According to Wikipedia, the quintessential source for superfluous facts about fictional cars, this version also did 330 MPH.
The whole thing was over the top, even by Batman standards, so I don’t think anyone shed any tears when the Riddler blew it up by putting a bunch of explosives in the seat.
Think of it as a mercy killing.
3. Batman and Batman Returns – Top Speed: 330 MPH – Sex Appeal: 7
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Fun Fact: The Burton Batmobile was almost played by Johnny Depp
Despite both Tim Burton film adaptations being huge-budget, blockbuster affairs, the studio decided to only spring for one iteration of the Batmobile. While it wasn’t the flashiest example of the car (it may have been the least flashy, actually), the design does fit in keeping with the look and feel of Burton’s film and set design.
The low-slung car could get to 330 MPH (fictitiously) which is pretty impressive, but it goes from 0-60 in only 3.7 seconds, which, even by late 80’s/early 90’s standards, isn’t that quick off the line. But it’s still a huge increase on the original TV Batmobile (see below).
What it lacked in acceleration, it made up for with a pretty bitchin’ grappling hook. Now, grappling hooks are tough to get excited about, and sticking one on a car seems a little counter-intuitive, seeing as how you want a car to move forward, and a grappling hook prevents just that. However, this grappling hook shot out from the sides of the car, anchoring into roadside objects and allowing the Batmobile to make really tight turns.
The Tim Burton Batmobile was built on a Chevy Impala chassis, which I think we can all agree is pretty boring, but is at least in keeping with a production that imagines Michael Keaton as Batman.
2. Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises – Top Speed: 160 MPH – Sex Appeal: 9
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The Tumbler was originally designed to destroy Mosques
It would be hard to find two vehicles as diametrically opposite as the Batman TV show Batmobile and this one. This first is a fairly contemporary 1960’s Lincoln, and the second looks like it may be capable of boring a tunnel from here to Tokyo.
The Christopher Nolan Batmobile also has a clearer origin story than the other iterations. Wayne Enterprises owned some military contract, including one for a prototype vehicle called the Tumbler. Because Bruce Wayne owned the company, this became the Batmobile.
This version gets bonus sex appeal and functionality points because, in the event of trauma to the vehicle, Batman can eject via the Batpod, which is essentially a covered motorcycle and a pretty sharp vehicle all on its own.
When it’s in standard Batmobile form, the driver can switch to “attack” mode, Here, the driver shifts to the middle of the “car,” and is situated face down. Ostensibly, this is to enable more precise driving and offer the driver more protection, but I think we all know that it’s really just because it looks cool and probably makes Batman feel even tougher than he already is.
1. Batman (TV Series) – Top Speed: 107 MPH – Sex Appeal: 9
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Activate the Bat-Ass Magnet
Yup. You read that right. Our highest-ranked Batmobile was essentially just a modified Lincoln Futura prototype with a some cool bodywork and a really sharp paint job.
The original Batmobile was supposed to be a Cadillac, but when the original customizer wasn’t able to meet production deadlines, the gig went to a new guy, who he had a new plan.
As far as Batmobiles go, this is perhaps the most “stock”, which probably endears some fans and alienates others. Adding to the charm is the fact that the car kept breaking down during filming, and even the engine had to be replaced. A pretty fitting chariot for Adam West’s campy Batman.
This Batmobile had a ton of special features, all of which seem to require the prefix “bat-“ before their name. For instance, there’s the Bat Beam, Bat Smoke Screen, Batphone (like a regular car phone, but, you know, bat-ier), Batcomputer (precursor to the iPad, perhaps?), Batphotoscope (pulls up images from files in the Batcave), and a Bat-tering ram.
The back story and simple elegance of the car more than makes up for the fact that it moves slower than a tree sloth. So congratulations to the campy Batman series. It has the best Batmobile. Deal with it.