Since he first appeared in 1939, Batman has become one of the most popular and revered fictional superheroes ever created. A big part of Batman's superhero persona has always been his gadgets and vehicles, namely the iconic Batmobile. It's through this car that we can observe how the Batman franchise evolved throughout its 80-year-long history. From the first, bland red convertible, winged Cadillacs, and Tim Burton's intimidating one-seater, to full-blown tanks; there are more Batmobiles than we can count.
And while there's a pattern of each version becoming more impressive and more menacing than the previous, each Batmobile represents the view of the Caped Crusader held by an entire generation. This is why we're dedicating this list to the most recognizable car in pop culture by bringing you the 10 best and most iconic versions of the Batmobile ever created. To the Batmobile!
10 The First-Ever Batmobile
This beautiful '56 Oldsmobile claims the title of the first officially-licensed Batmobile ever created. It was designed by a Batman fan called Forrest Robinson using materials such as fiberglass to achieve the single-fin look of the Batmobiles featured in DC's 1950's Batman comics. The effort was completed in 1963 when it became the first customized, and fully-licensed DC Batmobile to roam the streets.
This is one of the most well-designed and sleek-looking classic Batmobiles ever created, yet it fails to acquire the attention it deserves. The car was auctioned in 2014, where it fetched $137,000 - a small fraction of a price claimed by another classic Batmobile on this list.
9 Batman Forever Batmobile (1995)
Starring Val Kilmer, Batman Forever continues to build upon the success of the 1989 Batman and 1993 Batman Returns. The Batmobile used in this movie was a slight twist, however. After Tim Burton's pitch-black version, Batman Forever introduced a more organic-looking Batmobile with an unusual ribbed design. It also took design elements from the earliest Batmobiles, with a single batwing dividing the car in the center.
The car faired much better with the audience than the movie itself, which was deemed unimpressive by the critics. It was built on a Chevrolet 350 ZZ3 high-performance motor. In the movie, this Batmobile was equipped with many unique features. For example, the jet exhaust could be rerouted under the front of the car to enable it to literally climb walls assisted by grappling cables, while the wheels could each turn up to 90-degrees, allowing for quicker turns.
8 Batman & Robin Batmobile (1997)
The Batmobile featured in 1997 Batman & Robin is even larger and impressive than the earlier version. This was intentional, as it was supposed to be one of the focal points in the movie. Barbara Ling, the film's production designer, stated that the car was inspired by vintage racers such as the Jaguar D-Type. The notion was, perhaps, taken too far, as the movie version was over 30 feet long.
Yet, for all that size, there was not even enough room for Robin in the car, as it was one of the few one-seater Batmobiles ever created. The movie version is said to reach a top speed of 230 mph (350 mph with afterburner active). And although the movie itself did not fare well with the audience, the car remains deserving of a spot on this list for its unique, flashy, and larger-than-life image.
7 Batman: Arkham Knight Video Game Batmobile (2015)
This Batmobile came courtesy of one of the best Batman video games out there - the 2015 Arkham Knight. This is a separate model from the one featured in the older Arkham City game and features a 1,200 horsepower engine paired with an afterburner developed by Wayne Tech. This means that the Arkam Knight Batmobile is basically a performance tank, capable of launching to 60 mph in less than three seconds, with an alleged top speed of 209 mph.
Its armor is designed to withstand 10 tons per square inch, which easily deters even the most aggressive ballistic missile attacks. Although it will probably take a lot more than 1,200 horsepower to move the 120mm-armor-plated Batmobile off the line in less than 3 seconds, it rides beautifully in the game and features enough weaponry to make the player feel unstoppable.
6 Batman v Superman Batmobile 2016-2017
We're including this vehicle for obvious reasons. It's an absolute monster, and perhaps even more intimidating than the Tumbler. This one has no particular name, other than the Batmobile, and it was driven by Ben Affleck's Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. We would have placed this car even further up the list if we had seen it engaged into any real action in the movie, which is unfortunately not the case. This vehicle deserves to be called a tank, weighing at 8,800 lbs and featuring a myriad of heavy-artillery weapons, including a ballistic missile defense system.
Three versions were made by the production crew: one featuring a fully-designed interior, while the other two were used for dangerous stunts. The real car, which was driven by Ben Affleck, was actually the real deal, fully drivable, and not just a digital reconstruction.
5 Night of the Owls Batmobile
We're taking this one straight out of the comics, as it's one of the most badass and Batman-like Batmobiles ever conceived. It was designed by Greg Capullo and draws inspiration from the classics, such as Tim Burton's Batmobile (also on this list) and the first Batmobiles to air on screens.
However, the New 52 Batmobile fuses these classic design features with futuristic themes and aggressive lines for an even more menacing appearance. This one was first introduced in 2011 and remained the designated Batmobile for the remainder of the New 52 comic book releases.
4 Batman TV Series Batmobile
Based off of a 1955 Licoln Futura concept car, this was the first real-life Batmobile to appear on the screen. It was designed by George Barriss, and features a stylized black-and-red exterior with a customized windshield. It's also equipped with numerous Batman gadgets. The car occupies a special place in any Batman enthusiast's heart and was driven by the very first, and one of the most beloved, Batmans to ever wear the suit - the late Adam West.
The show aired between 1966 and 1968, and in that time, it garnered immense popularity and help made the batman franchise what it is today. Naturally, when the car was finally auctioned in 2013, it fetched a staggering price of $4.6 million.
3 Batman: The Animated Series Batmobile (1992-1995)
For all those '90s kids out there, this was THE Batmobile. This animated series was ahead of its time, and offered a new dark and dramatic view on Batman's adventures, irrefutably cementing Batman as we know him today. The image is taken from the iconic opening sequence of the series, where the Batmobile is first seen lighting its jet turbine exhaust before shuttling through the Batcave tunnel accompanied by dramatic music - a scene that will forever stick in the minds of millions of young Batman fans.
The show presents an extremely sleek and elongated version of the Batmobile, featuring an exaggerated hood with fins decorating the back. The gadgets showcased in the series included wheel slashers, smoke dispensers, a missile rack, and ejectable seats.
2 The Tumbler Batmobile (2005)
Dubbed The Tumbler, this Batmobile was one of the many innovations of the critically-acclaimed 2005 Batman Begins, which set the table for the successful future Batman sequels. It was featured in the three Batman movies, in all of them driven by Christian Bale. The Tumbler moves away from the traditional Batmobile by assuming a tank-like design boasting impenetrable armor and huge, 44-inch Super Swamper tires. It was designed by Nathan Crawley and allegedly cost $250,000 to build. The production crew endeavored to make the Tumbler fully drivable, and not just a movie prop. Hence, they fitted it with a 500-horsepower Chevy 350 V8, which allowed the Tumbler, weighing 5500-ish lbs to reach 60 mph in less than 6 seconds, while being able to handle jumps of up to 30 feet.
It also boasts an impressive assault arsenal and is able to detach itself into what is essentially a motorcycle dubbed the Batpod. While in assault mode, Batman assumes a horizontal position in the Tumbler - an optimal body position for aggressive maneuvers such as jumps. Today, this has become one of the most popular and utterly badass Batmobiles to ever appear on the screen.
1 Batman 1989 Batmobile
One of the most beloved versions of the Batmobile, this one famously designed by Tim Burton and first featured in the 1989 movie Batman, making a second appearance in the 1992 Batman Returns. The styling of the car was completely innovative and like nothing before it. At 260 inches, it was freakishly long, decorated with menacing bat wings and an exposed jet turbine engine in the back.
In the movie, this Batmobile was allegedly capable of a 330 mph top speed, with only 3.7 before it hit 60 mph (without afterburner). Tim Burton's Batmobile was actually built on a Chevy Impala chassis, while the body was taken from a 1970 Corvette. The skeptics can rest assured that all the gadgets on this 1989 Batmobile are fully functional, even the rear "jet turbine" afterburner would spit flames on command. Tim Burton's Batmobile is arguably the most recognizable, and despite being 30 years old, many fans still consider this to be Batman's best and most ideal ride.