Poor old Batman. When all’s said and done, he’s a deeply traumatized billionaire jumping off rooftops in the middle of the night chasing after supervillains who would happily kill him on sight. It’s a mostly thankless task; Gotham City P.D. always seem to be determined to arrest him (for doing their job), and regardless of the lineup of beautiful women he seems to encounter, none of them seem to stick around long enough to make bat-babies…well, until Damian Wayne (Batman and Son) turned up. But he gets killed, and cloned, and then it just gets confusing.
There are also the constant injuries, including a rather nasty back-breaking incident courtesy of Bane (Batman: Knightfall), and the loss of loved ones such as Robin (Jason Todd, murdered by the Joker in Batman: A Death in the Family) and Rachel Dawes (the Joker strikes again, in 2008’s The Dark Knight) not to mention most of his family (his parents, his son, etc.). His best friend is an ageing butler, Alfred Pennyworth, who doesn’t understand the difference between Tumblr and the Tumbler.
If that wasn’t enough, Batman no doubt has to tolerate the jokes made behind his back by the rest of the Justice League of America (“it’s just a guy in a suit,” “let’s fly – who is carrying Batman?” and “hmm you would need super-strength to open this jar… better give it to Bruce”). So he has superlative detective skills, an impressive IQ and mad fighting moves, but he still has to sit in quiet envy whilst watching Superman heat up his TV dinner with just one look.
But there is an upside: Batman makes up for his lack of superpowers with the coolest vehicles. Wonder Woman has an invisible plane (so best not to use the toilet whilst flying) and Green Lantern has a ring that, if he forgets to charge, has him plummeting through space hoping Superman just happens to be passing by. Clearly, there are advantages to being a slightly insane billionaire with a penchant for gadgets and speed.
We’re all holding our skepticism at bay while we await Ben Affleck‘s Batman, hoping he’ll at least have a super cool Batmobile to outrun Superman in the Man of Steel sequel. Here. we’ve taken a retrospective of some of the best vehicles Batman has had at his disposal throughout his troubled history, pooled from the many forms of media in which he’s appeared since his creation by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939.
10. Flying Batcave: Detective Comics
CLANK! The Flying Batcave was a huge helicopter which featured in Detective Comics. It kind of looked like a Tupperware bowl that had mutated into a blue aircraft and was stocked with useful technology that normally resided in the static Batcave. Unfortunately, due to its unwieldy size, it had to be refueled often and was a sitting duck for any supervillain who just happened to have a shoulder-launching SAM weapon to hand. Which, in the Batman universe, is most of them.
9. Batpod: The Dark Knight
SWISH! When this nifty Batcycle popped out of the Tumbler’s front end there were gasps of “wow,” “cool” and “is that street legal?” emanating from cinema audiences. Appearing in both The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises this fearsome machine with 20-inch tires has its engine inside the wheels and is steered by the operator’s shoulders. Machine guns are on board, as are the obligatory grappling hooks and various other weapons. However, perhaps most importantly, NOTHING makes a wall turn like a Batpod can.
8. Batmobile: Batman: Arkham Asylum version
POWIE! Various incarnations of the Batmobile appear on this list, with this video game version being the first. It is very similar to the Batmobile found in Batman: The Animated Series, encapsulating the power intrinsic to any Batvehicle but with a design style that is a mix of gothic, classic and futuristic all rolled into one crazy car. A custom vehicle, it begs the question as to who actually builds these things for Batman and why they never question the need for it to have shields and automatic weapons.
7. Batcycle with Sidecar: Batman TV series
VRONK! Batman wasn’t always moody and clearly suffering from PTSD. In the 1960s he was a colorful soul who didn’t mind travelling around in broad daylight on a magnificent Harley Davidson with sidecar (although a Yamaha 250 soon replaced the Harley). Although Robin did look somewhat ridiculous stuffed into the sidecar, he was safe in the knowledge that it could be detached and turned into the Batcycle Go-kart. The array of vehicles available to Batman was truly spectacular.
6. Batmobile: Batman (1989 film version)
KAPOW! The 1989 Batman had a lot going for it: Tim Burton in the director’s chair, a surprisingly good Michael Keaton, a wickedly brilliant Jack Nicholson and a simply sublime automobile. With a jet turbine engine capable of speeds approaching 330 mph, there was no way the Joker was going to outrun the Caped Crusader. Grappling hooks assisted with 180-degree cornering and two M1919 Browning machine guns would take care of any would-be assassins. Instantly recognizable, this was the vehicle of choice when Batman wanted to impress Catwoman.
5. The Bat: The Dark Knight Rises
BLURP! Sometimes, in moments of great need, Batman has to utilize something a bit special. When Bane and Talia al Ghul were threatening to destroy Gotham City with a nuclear bomb in The Dark Knight Rises Batman was fortunate enough to have this beast at his disposal. Incorporating a life-saving auto-pilot feature and vertical take-off capability, Batman was able to roam the streets surreptitiously in this aircraft before finally having to reveal it in all its militaristic glory when the threat of thermonuclear disaster was on the cards.
4. Batsub: Detective Comics
SPLOOSH! Many Batboats have appeared in the various media featuring the Dark Knight, including a Batskiboat and the Batstrike. But how many superheroes can boast owning their own personal submarine? Different versions of this underwater vehicle have appeared occasionally, including a silver rocket-shaped one which looked suspiciously like the spacecraft shown in the 1950s television series Flash Gordon. Batman also had a Bathysphere (in case the Joker was hiding in a deep-sea trench).
3. Batwing: Batman Forever
AWK! There are two great things about the 1995 film Batman Forever: First, at least it’s not Batman & Robin, and second it features the Batwing. The Batwing and Batplane have been interchangeable terms in general, but this version is the Batwing that conveniently hangs like a bat from the roof of the Batcave. Little is known about the specifics of this particular Batwing, apart from the fact that if it encounters a crash course with a large body of water, it can handily pop its wings and convert itself into a submarine.
2. Tumbler: Batman Begins
OUCH! The car is the star. Batman Begins was a brilliant re-introduction for Batman to the big screen: an outstanding cast, an intriguing plot and expertly choreographed action scenes. One of the best of those action scenes featured the Dark Knight evading Gotham P.D. in his brutal Batmobile, better known as the Tumbler. A 5.7 liter V8 engine offering 500 hp could push this 2.5-ton monster to a top speed of 110 mph (some sources state 160 mph), even during stealth mode, and it could self-destruct once Batman had activated the cleverly hidden Batpod. Twin machine guns and a trunk full of explosive devices took care of traffic congestion.
1. Batmobile: Batman TV series
SOCK! Sock indeed, as various other Batman-themed superimposed words would fill television screens as Batman and Robin sprinted to their customized 1955 Lincoln Futura. This iconic vehicle with bat-wing fins and bubble-shaped canopies protecting its passengers became the inspiration for much-desired toy versions enjoyed by millions of young fans for decades afterwards. An atomic-turbine engine assisted with speedy 180-degree turns whilst the body sported an eye-catching black and red trim with obligatory bat decals. This 1966 creation sold at auction for a whopping $4.62 million in 2013.
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