The Batcave has collected many incredible items in popular culture. There’s the Batcomputer, the Batbelt, and for fans of Batman’s 1960s movie, Shark Repellent Bat Spray. Most importantly, at the heart of the Cave and always ready to rev into action, is the Batmobile.
Over eight decades, the Dark Knight has patrolled the streets of Gotham in many different iterations of the Batmobile. He’s continually updated them along with his suits and gadgets in his comic book, live-action, and animated fights against crime. His wheels have made such an impression that they’re now one of the most anticipated parts of any new Batman film or series.
In 2022, The Batman will find Robert Pattinson’s vigilante at the start of his career, speeding around the streets in a brand new set of wheels. We’ll have to wait a while to see how this new Batmobile measures up, although the signs from the trailers are good. Whether parked in the fog or bursting through a wall of flame in pursuit of the Penguin, it already looks like this car will claim a firm place in the list of the Caped Crusader’s greatest automobiles.
The latest Batmobile has a solid build from what we’ve seen so far, with an internal combustion engine at the front and a jet booster at the back. The body combines several classic car designs, including a Dodge Challenger, Chevrolet Camaro, and Ford Mustang. It’s not the first time that Batman has driven a vehicle riffing directly from production cars. Since his live-action debut, he’s taken to the streets in everything from convertibles to prototype tanks.
Here’s our ranking of the coolest, slickest, and most effective Batmobiles to have appeared on the screen.
10. Batman Beyond (1999)
One of the most outlandish Batmobiles to make it off the page, Beyond’s future timeline made almost anything possible. Terry McGinnis’ wheels needed to be more versatile than ever, and this was quite possibly the final canonical Batmobile Bruce Wayne had a hand in designing. While it was packed with gadgets and an incredible red interior, it didn’t feature the bat symbols or Batwing tail fins usually found on a Batmobile. The most distinctive feature of this sleek one-seater pod was that it could fly.
9. Batman: The Serial (1943)
Back in 1943, Batman combatted Japanese secret agent Dr. Daka in a Gotham that looked a lot like Los Angeles. A low budget ruled out building a Batmobile, so instead, Batman and Robin were chauffeured around by Alfred in a black 1939 Cadillac Series 75 convertible. In an inspired piece of misdirection, its top was raised whenever it was in Batmobile mode. As ineffective as this may have been during a high-speed chase, they at least had a sleek set of wheels to hand. By the 1949 serial, Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, and Alfred Pennyworth had traded it in for a Mercury Eight.
8. Batman Forever (1995)
After the Batmobile that tore through Tim Burton’s Batman films received almost universal admiration, Batman Forever’s wheels were more divisive. A new Batmobile was inevitable when Joel Schumacher took over as director and steered the series onto lighter, neon-soaked streets. Batman’s new wheels reflected those, with a striking design that might still be the most impractical.
Its skeleton body recalled HR Giger’s biomechanical designs and, despite bat fins, an insect’s carapace. Barbara Ling’s design not only had an underlit engine but huge wheels that kept four illuminated bat symbols upright when driving. Its ribbed hood and nearly 300-inch length certainly made it look intimidating at first glance, but it proved susceptible to just a few Riddler bombs on ludicrously low mileage.
7. Beware the Batman (2013)
Beware the Batman was a short-lived CGI dive into Batman’s early years that came just after the conclusion of the Dark Knight trilogy. The show proved controversial for several changes it made to the mythos⏤including a more action-ready Alfred and a concentration of lesser-known villains⏤but it did well with the Batmobile. A worthy attempt to combine the bulk of the cinematic Tumbler with something a little sleeker.
6. Batman and Robin (1997)
This was the film that wrenched Batman back to the stylings of the 1960s TV series, although on a far higher budget. Much of the film backfired, but its Batmobile improved Batman Forever’s fragile lightbox and, sure enough, referred back to the 1960s black and red design. That doesn’t mean it was subtle⏤it was an incredible 360 inches long.
Despite being road-tested up to 140mph, it shared the unfortunate trait of never looking very fast just as its predecessor had. It’s no wonder that Clooney and Kilmer’s Batmen ran into so many goons when they were out in yachts like these. Oddly, given the film’s title, this Batmobile was a one-seater. Still, the garish giant was production designer Barbara Ling’s best car design for the Schumacher films, with help from Harald Belker. Batman is unlikely to be as extravagant as this again, which is just as well. Details that were hard to notice included bat logos left by its tire treads and an intricate interior.
5. Batman: The TV Series (1966)
In the mid-1960s television series, Batman and Robin’s iconic Batmobile was a converted 1955 Lincoln Futura concept. Its distinctive design came from meticulously hammered panels. It made a statement at the time with a length of 226 inches. And, of course, this was where the rocket thruster began.
4. Batman Begins (2005 – 2012)
The Tumbler was a revelation when it came crashing through the walls in the first film of the Dark Knight Trilogy. Christopher Nolan gave us the most organized and realistic on-screen Batman, and his use of a prototype military off-road tank made perfect sense.
The Tumbler isn’t exactly shapeless or unattractive, but its ruggedness won over aesthetics. There’s no doubt it could tear through the streets of Gotham as much as it tore them down. The Tumbler’s clinical piece in the larger jigsaw of the trilogy became clear in The Dark Knight Rises when Bane turned a battalion of Batman’s vehicles against Gotham. One merciful fact was that the Tumbler came in at a compact 182 inches.
3. Batman: The Animated Series (1992)
The Animated Series remains one of the Dark Knight’s greatest moments, and his wheels didn’t let the side down. Following the neo-art deco design of the series, this sleek slab of a car was a rendered tank that found a route of its own while nodding to the current film version. No other Batmobile has reflected its environment so well.
2. Batman v Superman (2016)
An older, tougher Batman arrived in the DC Extended Universe aboard a vehicle made to match. Like the Tumbler, this beast of a Batmobile was rugged, but it also packed in some great details. Production designer Patrick Tatopoulos drew in a team of artists and directors to craft a car as weathered as its driver. It took a year to build, weighed 8,800 pounds, and was 240 inches long.
The work paid off. It’s the best hybrid yet. It may not be as artistic as some of its predecessors, but its tapered fins and exposed cogs placed it in the Batmobile’s best tradition. The car was controversially upgraded with even more weapons, including heavy machine guns, in Justice League.
1. Batman (1989)
The benchmark for all Batmobiles, this car made an immediate impression when it arrived, bridging Wayne Manor to the Art Deco towers of Gotham. It looked just as good on the leafy lanes leading to the Batcave as tearing through an exploding Axis Chemicals.
Production designer Anton Furst’s design remains unbeaten, with its sleek, pneumatic fender curves and ridiculously brilliant, if inexplicable, hood pacifier (a turbine and not a missile). That distinctive feature alone was wonderfully more mysterious than any Batmobile that followed. On top of that, it had a stunning stop-motion locking shield. At 261 inches, it has to take some blame for the giants that followed. Still, it set the bar for low-slung jet sculpture that no Batmobile has matched since. It’s no wonder that 1992’s Batman Returns kicked off with a showcase for this greatest of all Batmobiles.
Fortunately, you can’t keep a good Batmobile garaged. We can’t imagine that anything else is under the cover in the teaser trailer for Flashpoint.