6 Big Screen-Bound Batmobiles, From Adam West to Ben Affleck
Film director Zack Snyder — of 300, Watchmen, and Man of Steel fame — set off a flurry of buzz on Tuesday when he teased what has so far been the most complete image of Batman and his Batmobile from the anticipated Batman vs. Superman epic, which is due out in 2016. Immediately, observers began drawing parallels between the vehicle’s new concept and its ancestors, from the mighty Tumbler to the first big-screen car to be adorned with the iconic bat logos.
While much of the Caped Crusader has remained the same, his vehicle has changed dramatically over the last 70-plus years. Batman made his debut in comic book form in 1948, just three years after the end of World War II. Fast-forward to present day, and his franchise is still pulling in record figures under the watchful eye of directors like Snyder and Christopher Nolan, fueled by star power ranging from George Clooney to Ben Affleck to the always entertaining Adam West.
We scanned through the history of the Batmobile (which, if you’re cataloguing those from the comic book series, is remarkably expansive) and found the six vehicles represented on the big screens going back to 1966. Here they are, in order of appearance.
1. Batman: The Movie (1966)
Built by famed automotive stylist and designer Dean Jeffries, the original cinematic Batmobile was based on the 1955 Lincoln Futura concept and helped jump start the franchise that starred Adam West in Batman’s first big-screen debut. Despite its futuristic looks, Jeffries’ Batmobile was probably among the most reserved looking out of all of the Batmobiles to see camera time, since they only got more outlandish and over the top from here.
2. Batman (1989)
Renowned dark comedy director Tim Burton turned his attention to the Batman franchise in 1989, which saw Michael Keaton put on the cape in order to fight Jack Nicholson’s Joker. As you’d expect, the car looked like something — well, like something out of a Tim Burton movie. It was characterized by its enormous turbine engine up front, the gratuitous exhaust intakes, and its sweeping bat wings protruding from its rear fenders.
3. Batman Forever (1995)
Six years later, Joel Schumacher took the reins from Burton for Batman Forever. And while the car certainly looked related to the one seen in Burton’s film, it had some distinctions of its own that set it apart — namely, the rear bat wings grew tremendously, the turbine was replaced with a more conventional hood/front fascia, and it appears to be made up of straps. It was helmed by Val Kilmer, who played the title role, and fought off both Tommy Lee Jones’ Two Face and Jim Carry’s Riddler for this particular revival.
4. Batman & Robin (1997)
Just two years later, George Clooney took the role as Batman, though Schumacher remained in the captain’s seat. Arnold Schwarzenegger played Mr. Freeze and Uma Thurman was cast as Poison Ivy. The car didn’t see a whole lot of significant changes aside from some smoother sheet metal and the new nose, and the bat wings out back grew bigger and out further yet again.
5. Batman Begins (2005)
Christopher Nolan’s rehash of the franchise saw Christian Bale take on the lead as Batman and the Tumbler take on the form of the Batmobile. The Tumbler represented the furthest departure from the original yet, taking on more of a tank appearance than the sleeker, jet-inspired cars from years prior (don’t worry, this one has a jet engine, too). It remained Bale’s vehicle of choice through two follow-ups to Batman Begins, and until Tuesday, it was the most recent Batmobile to see screen time.
6. Batman vs. Superman (2016)
The teaser released by Snyder on Tuesday immediately indicates that for the upcoming movie the Batmobile has returned to its roots, with a cockpit more closely related to Burton’s Batmobile than that of the Tumbler. However, around back, we can see that it has kept the Tumbler’s enormous wheels and beefy rear axle, creating a nice mashup of all the elements seen throughout the Batman movie franchises. Given his past projects, it’s likely that Snyder’s Batmobile will match or beat expectations when it arrives in a couple of years.