Evolution of the Batmobile

Sam Bisby

By: Sam Bisby

As one of the most important and iconic vehicles in motion picture history, most were pretty ecstatic to see the Batmobile’s latest guise revealed ahead of the new Batman Vs Superman film.

New Batmobile

Since Batman burst onto our screens in the 1960s, the Batmobile has evolved massively – albeit not always to everyone’s taste – and this new embodiment gives us a great excuse to explore that history.

Batman TV Series – 1966-68                        

The first Batmobile driven by Adam West in the original TV series is perhaps thought of by fans as the most iconic. Designed by Ford stylist Bill Schmidt and featuring a basic shape of the 1955 Lincoln Futura, the 60s car ended up with a black glossy finish with red stripes. The TV Batmobile had special features of a backwards camera, radar, rockets, rockets, car phone, chain cutter, dash monitor, computer and smoke machine. The car was sold for a massive £2.6 million at auction in 2013 – not bad for a car that cost less than £10,000 to create. 

Batman and Batman Returns – 1989 & 1992

Directed by Tim Burton, the first ever big-screen Batman films featured a highly reimagined Batmobile with Michael Keaton at the wheel. The car featured a V8 engine, machine guns, bombs on the wheel nuts, a CD player, an oil slick dispenser, voice recognition system, armour-plated body and a Batdisc ejector. The car was an aerodynamic shape designed by Anton Furst which very much set out to intimidate Batman’s foes.

Batman Forever - 1995

Barbara Ling took on designing the next Batmobile, which was made to look like it had wings and ribs; however, critics stated that the car looked just a bit too phallic. The car featured special gadgets of multi-wheel locking mechanism, grappling cables to mount walls and a jet exhaust. The car met its end at the hands of Jim Carrey’s dastardly Riddler at the end of the film.

Batman and Robin - 1997

Most fans would agree that Batman and Robin was the low point in Batman movie history, not least because of George Clooney’s nipple debacle. However, the Batmobile based on the Jaguar D Type and Delahaye 165 was a highlight of the film. The car featured bladed fins, redbird cut-off switch, two way video chat, and an onboard voice-activated computer.

Dark Knight Trilogy – 2005-12

With a new gritty edge, the Dark Knight series featured the Tumbler which was designed as a cross between a stylish Lamborghini and a fighting tank. The Tumbler features an artillery cannon, V8 engine and missile launcher, as well as an integrated Batcycle in case of catastrophic damage to the main vehicle. The fantastic thing about the Tumbler is that it is real; four Tumblers were built for the film at a cost of $250,000 each, while fans have even had additional models created for private usage.