When Zack Snyder kept his word about revealing the new Batmobile for the Man of Steel sequel, movie fans were surprised and delighted when he also revealed a first look at Ben Affleck as Batman in the new-and-improved Batman suit. While the new Batman looks awesome and very similar to Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns Batman, the new Batmobile itself looks like a mix between the Tumbler from Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy and the Batmobile from Tim Burton’s Batman movies. Considering its influences, I decided to rank each Batmobile featured in movies and on television from worst to best. Here are the results.
Batman serials (1943)
While producers couldn't afford to create a new Batmobile for the 1940s Batman film serials, a black Cadillac was used as Bruce Wayne's car and Batman's ride. The Batmobile loses points for style, as it was easy for villains to figure out the identity of the Caped Crusader just by looking at his car.
Batman & Robin (1997)
Much like most of Joel Schumacher’s second Batman film, the Batmobile in Batman & Robin is all style with very little substance. With too many fins and hardly any gadgets, this Batmobile only had room for the driver and was the only open-air car in the on-going film series. Although this Batmobile is the worst of all the live-action Batmobiles, there is something to be said about the boldness of its design. But still, this Batmobile is completely forgettable.
The Dark Knight Rises (2012)
While the sting and surprise were taken out with the appearance of the Tumbler in this movie, most of the Tumblers’ action was at the hand of Bane’s gang and not Batman. The Tumblers featured in The Dark Knight Rises were its original camouflaged color scheme and were seen as prototypes kept in storage at Wayne Enterprises’ Applied Sciences Division.
Batman Forever (1995)
“Chicks dig the car.” While the Batmobile featured in Batman Forever was a big change from the ones featured in Tim Burton’s Batman movies, the 1995 Batmobile is very gadget heavy and audacious. The car sports a really big fin at its rear and loads of garish neon colors. Although Batman Forever was a misstep in the film franchise, the Batmobile in Batman Forever is very memorable in a toy car kind of way.
Batman Returns (1992)
Although this Batmobile shares some of the same features from its original movie counterpart, the Batmobile featured in Batman Returns loses points for being far too easy for the Penguin’s gang to take over and sabotage.
Batman Begins (2005)
“Does it come in black?” Christopher Nolan took the Batmobile concept and created a big turnaround for Batman Begins that upset purists upon its release. The Tumbler is not as much as a traditional Batmobile, but rather a military take on the Cape Crusader’s ride. While the tank-like car has the ability to leap from rooftop-to-rooftop, it lacks points in the style category.
Batman: The Animated Series (1992 – 1995)
The Batmobile is front-and-center in the episode “The Mechanic” from Batman: The Animated Series. The episode follows the Batmobile’s backstory and how the Penguin uses Batman’s personal mechanic to sabotage The Dark Knight. While it was clumsy in Batman Returns, The Animated Series takes its time to engage its viewers on how the Penguin came close to killing Batman.
The Batmobile featured on the TV series combines an old school design with high tech gadgets, which makes it one of the best Batmobiles featured in movies and on television. This also includes the Batmobile featured in the animated film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
The Dark Knight (2008)
While the design and concept behind the Tumbler in The Dark Knight remained the same from Batman Begins, it did feature one notable extra that completely surprised and dazzled audiences and fans alike. Christopher Nolan added a very clever feature in the Tumbler, which came in the form of the Batpod, a bad-ass motorcycle that Batman uses as an escape pod.
Batman (1966 – 1968)
The Batmobile featured in the 1960s Batman TV show is still one of the most iconic throughout the franchise. It’s also one of the few that perfectly combines style and substance, as Ford’s Lincoln Futura Concept car. It’s fast and zippy, as it comes equipped with Cable Cutter Blade, Bat Ray Projector, and Batscope. Even when you place this Batmobile against newer and more contemporary Batmobiles, it still shines as one of the most recognizable.
The Batmobile featured in Tim Burton’s first Batman movie gets a great introduction in the latter half of the movie. It’s a car that is bold and yet mysterious, which is a quality that no other Batmobile embodies. While this iteration of the Batmobile is practical and conservative, when compared to the others, it comes equipped with shields, bombs, and machine guns. It’s been almost 30 years since audiences saw a new live-action Batmobile (since the 1960s TV show) and with Tim Burton’s direction and Danny Elfman's iconic score, this Batmobile is timeless, sleek, and worth the price of admission.