The Batmobile is Batman's personal automobile and primary mode of transportation. It has appeared in almost every Batman iteration, including comics, movies, and television and has since gone on to be a part of pop culture.
Before the familiar bat-finned cars, the title "Batmobile" was first used on a red convertible in Detective Comics #48 in February 1941. Most of the design was based on the 1936 Cord, though the nose of the car looked more like that of a Lincoln or similar car. The bat mask did not exist yet, but the car did sport a small "bat" hood ornament.
Several "Proto-Batmobiles" had appeared in comics by this point, though this was the first to use the name. It was also the last car used before the now famous Batmobiles with the bat-masks and roof fins.
Though very similar in design to the 1941 car, the progression of the 1950s saw the Batmobile change again for the sake artistic simplicity; hence, the "bubble dome" Batmobile was created.
It retains many of the features of the previous car, with the major exception being the now separate dome over the passenger compartment. The car has also lost many of the curves of the previous car, being essentially a very long, thin box with the dome, fin, and "bat nose" features added. The on-board laboratory was lost, leaving only a two-passenger compartment under the dome. Many Batmobile fans dislike the overly simplified lines of this car, which would last until the next redesign came in the early 1960s.
Another variation of the "Futura Batmobile" appeared in Detective Comics #374, used as Batman tracked down a criminal who nearly killed Robin. Although much of the design followed the standard comic version of the Futura, a few details have been changed. These included wider rockers, larger fins, and, most notably, a separate Bat Mask been added to the nose of the car between the grille openings. 1969 saw big changes in Batman's world. Dick had moved away to go to Hudson University, Bruce and Alfred had locked up Wayne Manor and moved to a penthouse in the heart of Gotham, and the larger-than-life Batmobile became a thing of the past.
In its place was a two-seat coupé outfitted with a turbocharged engine, bulletproof chassis and body panels, hydraulic impact absorbers built into the front end, and a smokescreen generator. To retain a low profile, it had bulletproof one-way mirrored windows and diplomatic license plates. It also represented two Batmobile firsts: gull-wing doors and a remote driving system. The latter was originally developed as a safety measure to get Batman out of tight situations, but was found to be equally effective acting as a decoy and has since appeared in several Batmobiles since then.
Although it is referred to as a "nondescript" design, the yellow-striped paint job and roof accessory still retained a bit of the previous Batmobiles' bravado.
A variation of the 1970 Batmobile appeared in Detective Comics #449. This version was much larger than the sports cars generally used in the 1970s, and looks more like a full-sized car. The only "gadget" used in this particular car is a police radio, which Batman used to keep in touch with Jim Gordon and his officers during a cattle stampede.
Ernie Chan further developed the roadster in Batman #278 by adding a recessed rear window and bringing the roll bar up to the same height as the windshield. The result was a car not unlike the Corvette roadsters of the late 1960s/early 1970s. The "cape" across the rear deck remained, as did the small headlights and yellow oval bat emblem on the hood. It's use in the issue is primarily limited to transportation for Batman and Inspector Clive Kittridge, though an early scene in the comic demonstrates the Batmobile's tough armor plating when it easily shrugs off a collision with a hijacked cargo truck.
In mid-1985, a special variation of the standard Batmobile appeared in both Batman and Detective Comics. Based on the popular Super Powers Batmobile, this design had a full set of front and rear canopies, "Coke-bottle" sides, integrated fins, and generally rounder features, just like the toy. The only difference between this car and its toy counterpart is the nose, which was occasionally drawn longer and more pointed.
In the 1988 storyline "The Cult," Batman faced a new enemy named Deacon Blackfire. As the Deacon created an army from Gotham City's homeless population, he was able to kidnap and brainwash Batman into joining his side. Tortured, starved, and drugged, Batman (with the help of Robin) eventually managed to flee Gotham City as the Deacon declared it his own kingdom. The duo returned a week later to retake Gotham, using an all-new Batmobile.
Borrowing elements from Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, this Batmobile was a behemoth. Built as the ultimate urban assault vehicle, it had 15' diameter puncture-proof balloon tires, 4-wheel drive, heavy duty armor plating, radar, missiles, and 200 RPM tranquilizer-firing machine guns. The only traditional Batmobile features that were retained on this vehicle were a pair of small bat fins and the gunners dome, which was designed much like the domes on the Batmobiles of the 1950s.
This Batmobile made another appearance over a decade later, in the "Aftershock" storyline. The heavy-duty 4WD allowed Batman to move through Gotham in the weeks after the earthquake that destroyed much of the city.
During the Legends of the Dark Knight "Prey" storyline, a secondary development showed Batman building his first Batmobile. Early versions of the car (as it was being constructed) suggested a two-passenger design, but the finished vehicle looked more like a jet-powered racing boat than an automobile.
The car would be used several times over the next few years, but details would change occasionally. For example, the nose changed from twin "mandibles" to a smooth curve and back, all in the same issue. No special features or abilities are shown, beyond the heavily-armored body.
Another Batmobile used the concept of the previous car, but was designed to suit Jean Paul Valley's Batman,after Bruce Wayne had been broken by Bane. The Batmobile now had wide, sweeping fenders, pointed wings, and huge intakes on either side of the canopy. The interior was redesigned as well, into a single-person cockpit. Like the bat suit, many of the car's features were voice-activated.
Bruce Wayne finally returned to reclaim the mantle of the bat in 1995, and Jean Paul Valley's Batman and Batmobile were retired permanently. The "mean machine" Batmobile was phased out in 2000 to make way for a newer, sleeker Batmobile design. This car was similar to the 1962 Batmobile in general appearance, but it had been updated and modernized with smaller fins, a jet engine, full roof, and a true bat-mask grill. The Batmobile's typical arsenal remained, as the car was armor plated, and had such features as self-sealing tires, on-board weapons & weapons-detection systems, a heads-up display, and a retractable roof. In the recent Batman & Robin Series, Dick Grayson, who has taken the role of Batman following Bruce Wayne's supposed death, has now begun using a new Batmobile which is capable of flight. The car's design was originally created by Batman, but fully developed by Dick and Damian Wayne. This new Batmobile can shift between flight and land vehicle modes, fire missiles and is apparently voice activated.
Over the many years, the Batmobile has sported many special gadgets and special fixtures cleverly designed by Batman. A few over the years have included:
- Closed circuit television
- Handset with direct hotline to police headquarters
- Direction Finder equipment
- Spare Batman and Robin costumes and utility belts
- Gas masks and breathing apparatus
- Dashboard radar
- Emergency searchlights
- Traveling crime-lab
- Built-in sonic range finder
- Portable first-aid kit
- Fire extinguisher
- Short-wave police radio with microphone
- Geiger Counter
- Traveling research files
- Cloth tool bag with tools
- Asbestos costumes
- Grappling equipment
- Inflatable rubber rafts
- Smoke screen devices
- Emergency Dashboard JLA signal
- Sound-distinguishing Bat-tector
- Hydraulic impact absorbers
- Diplomatic license plates (immune to normal traffic regulations)
- Static Bond Tires
- WayneTech 1200 bhp hybrid power cell
- Nitro methane afterburner
- Electromagnetic ejector seat
- Enhanced intel and recon capabilities
- Ai and remote guidance systems
- Payload: Laser/infrared homing 5gm high explosive cl-20/hmx cocrystal Immobilizer Missiles
- Advanced synthetic fibre composite wheels
- Containment Unit
- Graphene composite High speed hydraulic cylinder Air Brakes with regenerative energy mechanism
- 120mm carbon nanotube aggregate explosive reactive armor plating
- Vulcan Gun 25mm
- 60mm Cannon/high explosive penetrator shells
- Riot Suppressor
- Electroshock Defense
- Hydraulic Gyroscopic Wheels
- Multipurpose grapple claw
In other media
The Batmobile has been featured in most media that features Batman. Here are some variations of the Batmobile from different media:
- Batmobile (1960s series)
- Batmobile (Super Friends)
- Batmobile (DC Animated Universe)
- Batmobile (The Batman)
- Batmobile (Batman Beyond)
- Batmobile (The Brave and the Bold)
- Batmobile (1943 Serial)
- Batmobile (1949 Serial)
- Batmobile (Burton Films)
- Batmobile (Batman Forever)
- Batmobile (Batman & Robin)
- Batmobile (Nolan Films)
- Batmobile (Snyder Films)
- Batmobile (The Batman Film)
- CarInsurance.org put together a complete 70 Year visual history of every Batmobile ever.