The Evolution Of The Batmobile
By: Sam Hoober
Some recent photos have been released of the new Batmobile, ahead of the premier of director Zack Snyder’s “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” film. This will be the latest iteration of a number of vehicles, many of which are adored by fans.
The New Batmobile
A new “Batman” movie franchise means a new Batmobile. For those that haven’t been following the news, director Zack Snyder (“300,” “Watchmen,” “Man of Steel”) is busy working on a “Batman v Superman” film as a followup to “Man of Steel.” The film will feature Ben Affleck as Batman. Snyder is also, according to his IMDB page, tentatively scheduled to helm a “Justice League” film next.
Two teaser photos were released of the new Batmobile and as The Verge points out, it’s a blend between the Batmobiles of the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher era and the Christopher Nolan version, dubbed “The Tumbler,” equal parts jet fighter and military vehicle.
From humble beginnings
The Batmobile in the comics has been diverse, as this handy Jalopnik article demonstrates. Some have been regular cars; the very first was basically a Packard convertible. Others are basically regular cars with wings welded on. Others have been the long, sleek jet-fighter-on-tires variety many are used to.
Back to the Future
The first live-action Batmobile was created by prop car legend George Barris, who built it by modifying the Lincoln Futura concept car – a one-off built by Ford for auto shows. Barris bought it from Ford to lease to TV and movie studios, according to 1966batmobile.com, such as the 1959 film “It Started With A Kiss” that it appears in. He decided to modify the Futura instead of making a car from scratch.
The car became an icon, and Barris sold the original in 2013 for $4.6 million, according to CNN. Licensed replicas can be had for the less-princely sum of $150,000 from a company called Fiberglass Freaks, according to Gizmodo. The jet thruster doesn’t work (it has a Chevy 350), but they’ll put in a propane tank and burner for the visual effect.
The Tim Burton Batmobile was radically different. Designed by film designer Anton Furst, who used a Chevrolet Impala chassis and a hand-built fiberglass body, according to Wikipedia, the fountain of all Internet knowledge. This iteration of the Batmobile was inspired by land-speed record jet cars. It had a turbine engine as the spine of the car, though the cars used in driving shots were actually running a Chevy 350, according to Jalopnik.
The Schumacher Batmobiles were basically built the same way by putting a fiberglass (and later, carbon-fiber) body on custom-built chassis, with drastically exaggerated wings and visual effects.
Does it come in black?
Christopher Nolan’s design team took a different tack, by making the Batmobile a straight-up military vehicle. It was created by designer Neil Crowley, according to HowStuffWorks. Crowley designed it by cannibalizing model car and plane kits until he had it right.
The finished product was constructed using carbon-fiber panels over a steel tube chassis, with a dually rear-axle. The models that drove used a mid-mounted, race-tuned Chevy 350 V8. Since Crowley wanted to use as little CGI as possible, multiple cars were built for different purposes. One was built with propane tanks and a burner for afterburner scenes. Another was fitted with an interior and the necessary hydraulics for scenes where Batman gets in or out of the car. (Cockpit scenes used a set.) There was also a working 1:5 scale model for most scenes where it flies through the air.
The ones that drive have stripped-out race car interiors (fire systems included) and are capable of going from 0 to 60 m.p.h in 5.7 seconds, and speeds up to 100 miles per hour. (Impressive for a 5,000 lb vehicle.) They also use a turning system similar to tractors; hairpin turns are done by engaging the over-sized rear brakes. These models even served as NASCAR pace cars.
The new Batmobile looks like a combination of the previous two generations – part military vehicle and part jet fighter on tires. And hey – this Batsuit doesn’t have nipples!
**UPDATE** – Warner Brothers has officially revealed the new Batmobile for Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. Click Here to see it.