- "Winged battle flies through the night and finds me ready."
- ―The Joker to his Goons about Batman.[src]
The Batwing was Batman's custom-built air combat vehicle. The craft was fully armed with mini-guns and missiles. It was unknown where the vehicle was stored, but it was presumably kept somewhere near the grounds of Wayne Manor or was in the Batcave.
- "He stole my balloons!! Why didn't somebody tell me that he had one of those... things?!"
- ―The Joker to his Goons about the Batwing[src]
Batman's first known use of the Batwing was after the Joker's rise to power, during his takeover of Gotham City's 200th Anniversary Parade. Batman used it to dispose of Joker's Balloons that were filled with "Smylex" that Joker attempted to use to kill everyone in the crowd. The Batwing flew extremely low down Broad Avenue, which then startled the crowd. Batman then extended a grabbing arm on the nose of the Batwing, used it to grip the wires of the balloons, pulled them above the clouds, and saved a majority of the crowd from Smylex.
After the crowds fled, Joker stood fearless in the middle of Broad Avenue and challenged the Batwing to attack him. Batman took aim at Joker and his floats and fired the Batwing's twin M134 Miniguns. A couple of Joker Goons seemed to perish in collateral damage to the floats. Batman immediately followed up with a pair of missiles that hit the pavement on either side of Joker and Joker still unflinchingly stood with his arms outstretched and dared Batman to kill him. Dismayed that everything had missed Joker completely, Batman pulled his targeting computer back. Joker then pulled a long barreled gun out of his pants, and fired one single shot that scored a direct hit to the front of Batwing. The Batwing was critically damaged and crashed into the steps of the Old Cathedral. Vicki Vale then rushed over to check for Bruce's survival and found an empty cockpit. The wounded Batman hid under some of the burning wreckage and emerged in pursuit shortly after Joker forced Vicki into the cathedral.
- Wingspan: 35ft
- HUD and Targeting Computer
- Two side-mounted GE M134 Mini-guns
- Four wing-mounted missile launchers
- An all-purpose grabbing arm/mouth on the nose of the plane
Behind the Scenes
The name Batwing originated from Sam Hamm's drafts for the film. Tim Burton decided on a new stylized name for the traditional Batplane of the comics, similar to "the car" which was never being referred to as the Batmobile in the film. Originally, the Batwing was written to have a laser weapon, but, as the film was developed, it was diced to focus on artillery instead.
David Russell created several unused Batwing designs early in the process. A completely new approach was taken to the look of Batman's plane; the version that ended up being developed was designed by Julian Caldow. The vehicle was deliberately designed after the oval Bat-insignia. It was Storyboard Artist Michael White's idea to include the moment where the Batwing "victory dances" by silhouetting in front of the moon after Batman's disposal of the Joker Balloons.
At least five models were created of the Batwing at various sizes and scales, with only the wreckage that was constructed in full-scale. The three primary models included an 8ft, fully automated model, a 2ft model and a 1" model. The large scale model had to be constructed an outside studio. Greg Morgan carved the fuselage in Jellutong. A full-size segment of the cockpit was created in front of a blue-screen set for close-up shots of Michael Keaton piloting the craft.
The Batwing's crash sequence was shot on a 1/12 scale miniature set and the aircraft model that was used was created out of pewter to ensure that it would break up on impact.
Although the notion of Batman possessing and flying a Bat-themed aircraft was around in the comics since 1939, Batman first introduced the classification of "Batwing". The film's Batwing was also the first of any Bat-aircraft that was physically shaped after the Bat-symbol to such a degree. Following its appearance, comics and other media began to adopt the classification and eccentric shape of the vehicle onto other Bat-aircraft; usually one-man fighter crafts that were piloted by Batman himself.
- As the Batwing ascended to gain altitude for its strafe-run on the Joker, it briefly "posed" in front of the moon; and created a Bat-silhouette that was similar to the film's logo.
- Sam Hamm's script for Batman II was more of a direct sequel to the first film. A Batman-themed gift shop appeared that sold fragments of the destroyed Batwing.
- In the comics, after he captured Onyx, Red Hood commented on the Batwing's stealth ability as Batman arrived; "You see, Onyx, the Batplane can operate on two levels! When it goes for stealth, it's beyond silent! It actually absorbs and amplifies the natural sounds in its environment! Amazing, right?! But when he wants to be heard, man... he's altered the engines so they run coarse--hard! So, if he's barreling down on you in that bucket. Its sounds like hell itself is dropping out of the sky!" That quote was thought to reference exactly what the Batwing did in the 1989 Film.
- The targeting computer that Batman used in the Batwing was similar in appearance to the targeting computer that the X-wing Pilots used in the 1977 Film, Star Wars: Episode IV - A New Hope. The computer also failed the pilots similarly in both movies.