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The Batmobile's 15 coolest moments on the big screen
"It's the car, right? Chicks dig the car."
You need a few key ingredients to make a Batman movie work. There's gotta be a committed actor behind the cape and cowl, a compelling villain (or two, or three) to face off against him, an elder statesman of acting to be a formidable Alfred, and of course, plenty of the Caped Crusader's wonderful toys. Everyone's got their favorite piece of Batman paraphernalia, but one absolutely stands above the rest: The Batmobile, the cool car that allows the Dark Knight to jet through Gotham City, running down bad guys and, occasionally, escaping would-be captors.
Much like the comics version of the iconic ride, the Batmobile's been through a lot of changes during Batman's time as a blockbuster star, and those changes have brought both new designs and new abilities for the car itself. But which Batmobile moments are the best, the ones that really show off what Batman's favorite ride is all about. That's what we're here to talk about today. In chronological order, here are the absolute coolest Batmobile moments through every era of big-screen Batman adventures.
Honorable Mention: The Batman '89 Diet Coke Commercial
We know the Batmobile isn't necessarily the star of this ad that you probably saw on your Batman VHS tape back in the day, but it's amazing to think about what the guy at the Gotham corner store did when he saw the car roll up for a can or six of Diet Coke.
It's also amazing to imagine the conversation that led to Batman being the one to go out and get the stuff rather than, you know, his butler. I guess if Alfred doesn't get his Diet Coke, Alfred doesn't steam clean the capes anymore.
1. The big reveal of the car in Batman (1989)
Tim Burton's Batman brought with it a lot of firsts as the launch of the Dark Knight's blockbuster phase, and one of the most memorable is when we finally get to see the Batmobile in action. It comes surprisingly late in the film, as Batman and Vicki Vale are escaping the Joker-occupied museum. They run outside, Batman mentions his car, and...it's glorious. From the wing tips on the back to way the roof kind of looks like a cowl to those Bat-symbol hub caps, it's all a black beauty for the ages that every kid wanted in toy form. Then, a few moments later, we get to see it driving through the forest, stirring up leaves in its wake, and its somehow even more spectacular.
2. Batman raises the "shields" in Batman (1989)
Every Batmobile has its own set of gadgets, and the first one we saw in the Burton era -- not counting the jet engine on the back, of course -- was the car's shields, which come up during a brief moment when Batman and Vicki have to leave the car while fleeing the Joker gang. It's a look that places the car just this side of an H.R. Giger painting, and it only gets cooler when we see what Batman can do with it.
3. The attack on Axis Chemicals in Batman (1989)
Not long after deploying the Batmobile's shields on the Joker gang in Batman, we get to see just how powerful those shields are when the car speeds into Axis Chemicals to wreck Joker's Smilex operation. The shields go up, a spherical explosive pops out, and the whole plant goes boom while the Batmobile speeds away unharmed. Not bad for some retractable plates.
4. Batman’s 360-point turn in Batman Returns (1992)
By the time of Batman Returns, of course, the Burton-era Batmobile had to have a few new tricks up its sleeve, and we got to see one during the car's first outing in the film. Seeing the Batmobile driving in snow was beautiful enough all by itself, but watching the car execute a 360-degree turn with the aid of a handy column built into the undercarriage was pure quirky Burton magic.
5. Launching the Batmissile in Batman Returns (1992)
But wait, there's more! Even the new 360-turning feature isn't the end of Batman's wonderful Batmobile toys in the Burton era. During a chase with police in Batman Returns, Batman also unveils that he's built a "Batmissile" right into the center of the car, allowing him to jettison the sides and narrow the car down to the width of the cockpit alone. It's a very cool trick, but the coolest part is the way the wheels just sort of magically fold into the rest of the frame when it launches.
6. Driving up the side of a building in Batman Forever (1995)
Everything was just a little bit bigger and brighter in the Joel Schumacher era of Batman movies, and that's also true of the Batmobile. The car that debuted in Batman Forever felt a little like a merging of the Burton design with the Batman '66 car, adding a center Batwing to the top and giving the car a slightly more rounded appearance. It also, of course, had new gadgets to go along with the new look, and perhaps the most famous of these came when Batman, on the run from Two-Face, found himself cruising toward a dead end. How does the Caped Crusader get out of that? By unveiling his Batmobile grappling hook and climbing a wall, of course.
7. Statue car chase in Batman & Robin (1997)
Batman & Robin brought yet another Batmobile redesign, retaining much of the Batman Forever look while adding even more light effects around the black body. We got fewer toys this time around (because they had to make room for the Batman credit card, which is fine), but we did still get a spectacular Batmobile moment out of the movie. It comes during a pursuit of Mr. Freeze and his gang, when Batman drives out onto one of the gigantic statues that populate Schumacher's Gotham, cruising across the massive bicep before jumping off the statue's fingertips. It's exactly the kind of over-the-top stuff that made the Schumacher films campy fun.
8. The Tumbler racing over rooftops in Batman Begins (2005)
The Christopher Nolan era took a heightened realism approach when it came to telling Batman's new origin story, which meant Bruce Wayne adopted a lot of military tech to make his vigilante career work. Nowhere is that more evident than his Batmobile. Dubbed "The Tumbler" in Batman Begins, it's basically a very nimble tank, and its nimble-ness takes full effect when we see Batman take the Tumbler for a spin across Gotham's rooftops in a stunt that definitely had some Gotham insurance adjusters scratching their heads.
9. Tumbler’s Stealth Mode in Batman Begins (2005)
Because the Tumbler is a military prototype, it's got no shortage of defensive and offensive countermeasures, one of which Batman puts to good use during a chase with Gotham police in Batman Begins. With Rachel Dawes in the passenger seat, because she's been dosed with fear toxin, Batman needs to take a second to check on his precious cargo. So, he activates "stealth mode," which renders the Tumbler briefly completely dark and almost completely silent. It might not work in the light of the day, but on a darkened highway it creates a very cool effect.
10. Gordon takes the car for a spin in Batman Begins (2005)
The Batmobile is Batman's car, but for one shining moment in The Dark Knight Trilogy, it became the Gordonmobile. In the midst of Scarecrow's attack on Gotham in Batman Begins, Batman briefly hands off the Tumbler to Jim Gordon, who proves surprisingly adept at piloting it, despite how scared he is. The GPS calmly announcing directions along the way completes the delightfully mismatched picture.
11. “Loiter” and “Intimidate” Mode in The Dark Knight (2008)
The Tumbler returns, along with Batman himself, in The Dark Knight, and it's clear that the Caped Crusader has come up with even more ways to use it. Near the beginning of the film, Batman breaks up a drug deal by use the Tumbler as a distraction, putting the vehicle on autopilot and setting it to "Loiter" mode in order to draw everyone's eye. Then, he creates chaos by changing the setting to "Intimidate," freaking out the criminals and making them scatter.
12. Taking an RPG like a Secret Service Agent would a bullet in The Dark Knight (2008)
It's clear by The Dark Knight that Batman has developed a much closer relationship with his ride, and that's very apparent in a perfectly choreographed bit of car chase action in the film. While Joker and his gang try to take out Harvey Dent – who's riding in the back of an armored SWAT van – we see the Clown Prince of Crime try various small arms first before reaching for a rocket propelled grenade launcher. Just when it seems like Harvey is toast, the Tumbler leaps over a car and right into the path of the RPG, proving that its armor and its driver are top notch.
13. Launching the Bat-pod in The Dark Knight (2008)
Of course, even the Tumbler has limits to the damage it can take, and shortly after the grenade hits, it crashes so completely that Batman has to ditch his ride. So, he reveals a clever backup plan in the form of the Batpod, a low-riding motorcycle made up of the prone pilot seat from the Tumbler and its front two wheels. It's cool enough that there's a bike in there that can just eject out, but watching it fold into shape for the first time makes it even cooler.
14. Batman’s ultra-violent assault in Batman v Superman (2016)
You might not prefer the methods of Ben Affleck's more brutalist Batman, but there's still something impressive about watching his aggressive Batmobile in action.
In Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman takes on a group of thugs in a high-speed chase that includes him doing everything from blasting his front-facing guns at them to towing a car along behind him and then launching it forward at exactly the right moment. It's a brutal car whose arsenal fits the Batman of this particular moment.
15. R.Bats' Penguin car chase in The Batman (2022)
For much of The Batman, we only see the Batmobile – a customized muscle car with some heavy duty tires – sitting in the background of the Batcave as Bruce Wayne prefers the inconspicuous maneuverability of his motorcycle when he's on various missions. There comes a time when motorcycles just won't do anymore, though, and that comes when Batman has to bring down the Penguin and get information out of him. So, he reveals the Batmobile like a monster in a horror film, roaring from the shadows, before taking it out for a nighttime chase that culminates in a jump through fire.
We can't wait to see what this bad boy can do in the sequels.