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A Cinematic Trip Through Bruce Wayne’s Garage

Updated September 14, 2014

There’s nothing cooler than seeing the Batmobile roar through the streets of Gotham City as The Dark Knight chases down one of the many iconic villains in the DC Comics series’ rogues gallery.

Whether its Adam West’s 1966 customized vehicle that originated as a one-off 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car or Christian Bale at the wheel of the hybrid tank from last years The Dark Knight Rises, nothing gets filmgoers excited as the Caped Crusaders wheels.

Bruce Wayne and James Bond have a lot in common. They’re both orphans, look damn good in a suit and are lethal at the wheel of a motor. Both Batman and Bond are legendary for their cars, and Bruce Wayne’s garage is the only one that has a history that can rival Bond’s. Bear in mind that Bond has made more than one type of car in his 50 year history in contrast to one in the case of Bruce Wayne – although it’s had a fair few incarnations over the decades.

Here we take a historical look though Bruce Wayne’s garage (with Alfred’s kind permission, of course):

The Swinging 60’s Batmobile

1966 Batmobile

The Batman of the TV show that ran from 1966-68 is great bit of camp fan, and many people’s first reference point for the character of Bruce Wayne and his alter ego. The comic book itself has many different incarnations of the Batmobile back to 1939, but the Adam West starring TV show is the first time it appeared on the screen.

There are some very cool gadgets in the TV show ranging from the sublime to the ridiculous (which pretty much sums up the TV show itself) – including ejector seats, Bat phone, Bat-tering ram (pun intended) and many more.

The estimated 1966 value of the Batmobile was around $125,000, but Bruce Wayne is a pretty good investor, as it’s now worth at least $2 million. Holy investments, Batman!

Taking the Batmobile into the Dark for the Late 80’s

Batman 1989

Influenced by the framework of a Chevy Impala, Tim Burton’s dark comic book fantasy that featured in 1989’s Batman and 1992’s Batman Returns turned in a pretty cool Batmobile that complimented the mood and visuals of the film. With gadgets that included machine guns and sphere-shaped bombs that quickly puts paid to the bad guy’s chemical plant in the first movie, this Batmobile took The Dark Knight into the present and all but erased the camp silliness of the 60’s TV show.

The voice-activated shields make the Batmobile bullet proof too; something that’s very helpful when every criminal in Gotham City and arch-villain The Joker are trying to kill you! Without this version of Batman, it’s safe to say we’d never have Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, and without this Batmobile, Bruce Wayne would never have had so many girlfriends.

Bruce Goes Camp in the Late 90’s

Batman Forever Batmobile

The majority of Bat-fans try to block out the years between 1995-1997, when two films called Batman Forever and Batman Forever gave us four hours of celluloid and took away four hours of your life that you’ll never get back.

The Batmobile in the camp mid-late 90’s era became a cross between the 1966 model and Tim Burton’s 1989-92 dark and dangerous version. Although it does look very cool, the fact that it features in those two movies is good enough reason for Bruce Wayne to park it at the back of his garage and cover it with a white sheet. If you can’t see it, Bruce, you can’t be reminded by it.

Bruce Goes Military Style for the New Millennium

The Tumbler

An interesting bit of movie trivia for you: In Christopher Nolan’s 1998 debut Following, the protagonist has a Batman logo on the door of his flat. Was it an eerie premonition or just a cool coincidence? Either way, Nolan saved the Batman phenomenon with 2005’s Batman Begins and the other two chapters in his Dark Knight Trilogy, 2008’s The Dark Knight and 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises.

After the damp squib that was 1997’s Batman and Robin, Nolan took the Bat into the darkness and put Bruce Wayne through a very cool yet harrowing journey from billionaire child orphan to winged crime-fighter. He also reinvented the Batmobile as we’d grown accustomed to it. As the confused cop who sees the Tumbler for the first time communicates to his superiors over his radio in Begins: “It’s a black… Tank?”

The Tumbler is very cool, and in keeping with Nolan’s vision to keep the Batman story rooted in reality – or as close to reality as possible – with its abandoned-military-vehicle design a cross between “a Lamborghini and a tank” according to Production Designer Nathan Crowley. And yes, it does come in black.

Throughout Nolan’s trilogy, the Batmobile – it’s never referred to as the ‘Batmobile’ in Nolan’s three films – is more about raw power and strength than speed and precision, driving through things and driving off rooftops rather than out speeding and out witting it’s enemies. Its weapon system comes in handy over the course of the three films though, its canons blowing up the rails that carry Ra’s Al Ghul’s train and intimidating members of the mob by turning their vehicles into charred steel.

Oh yeah, and It Turns into a Bike!

The Batpod

Sequels are always about upping the ante and raising the stakes, and in 2008’s The Dark Knight, Nolan gave Bruce Wayne’s garage a new addition, although it isn’t until the Batmobile suffers a career ending injury via a rocket launcher attack from The Joker that he needs it. The Tumbler is malfunctioning due to the damage, and after a few shakes and rumbles, the Batpod – a motorbike version of the Tumbler – comes flying out of the wreckage and in pursuit of The Joker.

It is one of the trilogies many highlights, and the vehicle has become as iconic as the Batmobile, with Batman only using the Batpod in the final part of the trilogy (mainly because Bane steals all his Tumblers!).

It’ll be very interesting to see what the next incarnation of Bruce Wayne will have in his garage. Luckily, filmmakers have over 70 years of comic book material to sift for inspiration.

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Chris Riley
About Chris Riley

I have been wrecking cars for as long as I've been driving them but I keep coming back for more. Two wheels or four, I'm all in. GearHeads.org gives me a chance to give something back to the automobile community.

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