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Take a ride down Batman lane with the history of The Batmobile's decades of designs

By Jacob Oller
The Batman Batmobile

Robert Pattinson has a new ride, and Batman’s long history of owning the best cars in the world has yet another entry — even if the version debuted by director Matt Reeves is perhaps one of the most realistic and least superheroic of the Batmobiles. This Batmobile, following Reeves’ version of the Batsuit in its grounded DIY aesthetic, is just the latest version of the most iconic car in comics.

Here’s the newest take on the Batmobile from The Batman, courtesy of Reeves’ Twitter:

Mostly a normal car, right? Sure, it’s boasting an engine in the back that would make the Fast & Furious crowd trade both friends and family for, but otherwise, it’s a matte black muscle car that someone like Bruce Wayne might own if they were a gearhead. The fandom has had a lot of responses to the car, some of which were dissecting the exact kind of luxury corollaries this super-vehicle had with the real world:

It’s only natural that an early-days crimefighting Bruce Wayne would have a car like this, which television shows set near the era have similarly explored — as with Gotham’s non-Batmobile Ford Mustang.

Ironically, The Batman’s simplified design makes the car more similar than not to the first live-action Batmobile. The original Batmobile, designed by George Barris and driven by Adam West during the ‘60s show, was a sleek, augmented 1955 Lincoln Futura. The fins, the cockpit, the flashy detailing — it was basically a campy “POW!” graphic in car form. A little throwback, a little silly, but ultimately serving the purpose of translating the heightened reality of comic books to the (slightly more real) world of TV.

Batmobile from the 1966 Batman TV series

When Tim Burton and designer Anton Furst got their hands on it, the hyper-stylized vehicle took a hard left turn into badass Art Deco territory (along with the rest of Gotham). Modeled more on the rounded-out Corvette Stingray, the Batmobile from the transformative live-action film enclosed its cockpit and turned those fins into big wings. The turbine-powered car is shinier, tougher, and more military-looking, with multiple modes (Missile and Cocoon) doubling down on the combative capabilities of the curvy machine.

Tim Burton Batmobile

Basically every other Batmobile took from the Burton design. Batman Forever got even nuttier with the fins and ridges, turning Tim Flattery’s version of the car into a live-action cartoon of itself, while Harald Belker’s Batman & Robin take branded the car even battier than before:

Batman Forever Batmobile

Batman & Robin Batmobile

Both exaggerated and sharpened Burton’s look, while others — like the cartoonishly elongated Batman: The Animated Series version from Shayne Poindexter and the Robin-housing version created for Titans by John Gallagher — smoothed it out. These cars took the main design in different directions — either emphasizing the intimidating length (not to say Batman is compensating for anything) in the case of the former or combining that stealthy submarine-like shape with a more realistic sports car in the case of the latter:

Batmobile Batman The Animated Series

The Dark Knight trilogy's hyper-militaristic, tanky, ATV-esque Tumbler from designers Nathan Crowley and Christopher Nolan was one of the biggest changes the Batmobile has seen, influencing just as many predecessors as Burton’s big overhaul. The highly plated Frank Miller riff wasn’t quite a Bat-tank, but it certainly had more in common with a Humvee than a sports car:

Batmobile from The Dark Knight trilogy

Scary and solid — sporting a combo of swamp tires and racers — The Tumbler was as intense a reimagining as Burton’s Batmobile, simply because it had never had its components seen anywhere else. The entire vehicle was “bespoke” for the trilogy, and the low-riding monster’s specs were unlike anything the series had seen before.

Its tough, gritty design bled over to the DCEU’s take on the Caped Crusader, influencing the crunchy, higher build of designers Patrick Tatopoulos and Dennis McCarthy’s dune-buggy-like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice Batmobile that also made an appearance in Suicide Squad’s flashback:

The Batmobile used in Batman v Superman Dawn of Justice

And as far as Justice League’s crab-tastic Knightcrawler? Well, it looks like it belongs in the Star Wars prequels alongside Batman Beyond’s flying version of the craft — which might as well be an edgy Coruscant airspeeder:

It's almost hard to remember that the Batmobile has a long history being a (mostly) regular car. The Batman steers Bat-fans back to basics on June 25, 2021.