There cannot be many popular culture vehicles as famous as Batman’s Batmobile. The car is as much a character as the Caped Crusader itself, and it’s the subject of a documentary that’s simply titled The Batmobile that Warner Bros. recently put online. I have to confess I’m a few weeks late for the party because I only found out from the video – which I thought was originally one of the extras on the 2012 Blu-ray The dark knight rises –this morning in our virtual office. And I originally wanted to write this piece as an argument for the only true Batmobile, but actually that would be wrong. Instead, the documentary convinced me that every repetition of Batman’s ride is equally valid in itself.
OK, maybe not the unchanged Cadillac that he used in a production in 1943, but definitely the rest of them. As the character evolved in print, the Batmobile went through a number of changes, usually as the mood of the person drawing it at the time. But for many, the name Batmobil probably conjures up pictures of the TV version of the 1960s. Designed by legendary customizer George Barris and driven by Adam West, I’m currently impressed with how well every Batgadget is labeled.
In the 1980s, director Tim Burton brought the darkness back to live-action Batman, influenced by comics like Frank Millers The dark knight returns and Brian Bolland and Alan Moore The deadly joke. Did you know that the Burton Batmobile’s jet-like canopy was created because the film’s art director forgot to leave room for more conventional doors? Other nice facts I learned today are that the taillights were borrowed from a Ferrari and the fuel filler came from one of the Routemaster buses in London.
Or how about the fact that Joel Schumacher approached HR Giger for ideas when he took over the franchise? Giger drew something characteristically outrageous that could not be transferred to the screen, but you can see its influence on the carbon fiber body that is displayed on the screen.
When filmmaker Christopher Nolan gave the Dark Knight his own shoot, he wanted to combine the profile of a Lamborghini with the robustness of a Lamborghini HMMWV. The result was the tumbler, a vehicle that I always found a fork in – and that was before I saw pictures of the plasticine model that Nolan had built himself, a bulky red thing that looks like it has escaped the next butcher . But the documentary gave me a new appreciation for the technology with which a functioning stunt vehicle was created. At the time of The dark knight In 2008 the tumbler was so fast that its camera car had to be charged in order to keep up.
For fans of Gotham’s vigilante or just for those who like movie cars and the work they do, The Batmobile is worth an hour of your time.