Ever since its first appearance back in 1940, the Batmobile has become a character in its own right. The car for Batman has changed countless times over the decades from a simple sedan to a tank that almost seems able to fly. Countless artists have put their own stamp on the car and often love making it look as flamboyant as possible. A famous Jim Lee shot of the Batcave shows a huge “Ferris wheel” packed with dozens of Batmobiles used over the years. Thanks to his wealth, Bruce Wayne has a fleet of them ready and always prepared to replace a wrecked model with another.
As with so much else, it’s tricky to make a comic book vehicle work in live-action. It sounds easy enough to build a “bat-shaped car,” but the producers need to make it look real and believable driving around. The movies have offered a slew of versions, some looking right off the comic book pages, while others are bigger and more complex. They've showcased some great designs to become so popular that various car fans have tried to replicate them for real. Of course, the actors who play the roles can boast some fun rides themselves, a few of which even give Bruce Wayne a run for his money. Here’s a look at every live-action version of the Batmobile and what the actors drive in real life to remind fans why this remains one of the coolest cars ever created.
17 Batman (1966)
To countless fans, this was the first Batmobile they saw in live-action. The 1960s TV show may have been campy to the extreme but it also introduced the Caped Crusader to a mainstream audience. It makes sense the Batmobile was a unique creation. It was originally a Lincoln Futara concept car that was reworked in just three weeks. Almost every episode began with Batman and Robin leaping into the Batmobile (“Atomic batteries to power…turbines to speed!”) and it taking off with a roar.
In real life, the car was prone to breakdowns due to its age. It looked great though with its open-air seating and plethora of gadgets. Numerous fans have done their best to create their own Batmobiles. The Drew Carrey Show had an episode of Drew winning an original version in a raffle (and losing it for breaking a serious rule) to show how fans still have a lot for the first Batmobile.
16 Adam West
While he often complained of being “trapped” by the role, it was clear Adam West owed a lot to the part of Batman. It made him a famous name for years and still remains his most iconic part. In later years, West embraced his fame, often sending up his image as an egotistical actor in TV shows and commercials. He also had fame voicing himself as the mayor in the hit TV show Family Guy. West was a car buff with a score of vehicles. They included a 2007 Chrysler 300C, a 2008 Chrysler Aspen, a 2006 Dodge Ram and a 2005 Toyota Tundra. His favorite was a 2007 Bentley which he told Motor Trend, “It's a real rocket and I like it.” Passing away in 2017, West is still the Batman most fans think of first, thus firmly establishing his legacy.
15 Batman (1989)
Like much of the Tim Burton films, this Batmobile had an Art Deco influence. Built on a Chevrolet Impala chassis, this car was notable for its long and sleek design dominated by the huge “fan” engine at the front. It was packed with numerous gadgets from twin-mounted Browning machine guns in the front to firing off “Bat-discs” from the sides. Other fun bits included a grappling hook to aid with sharp street turns. Also, it caught in a corner, a hydraulic “foot” could lower to lift the entire car up and spin it around. There was also shielding to protect it from vandals and a mini-computer.
The second movie had the Penguin taking control of the car for a wild joyride. Batman manages to escape by using a secondary mode that fires off the front part of the car like a “Bat-Missile.” Just as with the main character, Burton revitalized the Batmobile into a fantastic vehicle.
14 Michael Keaton
Had the Internet existed in 1988, the Michael Keaton's casting as Batman would have broken it. No one could believe the star of Mr. Mom and other comedies had what it takes to be the Dark Knight. Of course, Keaton would silence all those critics with his acclaimed turn that returned Batman to his darker roots. He bowed out after the second movie but has continued with a terrific career from the Oscar-nominated Birdman to playing the Vulture in Spider-Man Homecoming. While he’s had a few spiffy rides, Keaton is usually spotted driving an Audi S4 Sedan. It’s a far cry from the high-speed rides of Batman but it serves the down-to-earth actor pretty well. Keaton may be older today but he’s still one of the best Batmen ever and deserves some fun rides.
13 Batman Forever
The first Joel Schumacher movie presented a new take on the Batmobile. As with the movies themselves, the car was lightened up with more decorative lighting (which did hurt the idea of Batman as the urban avenger). The “wings” at the rear were raised up and looked far flashier. Plus, you had the bat-logo on the wheels. The wheels could rotate to let it move perpendicular and a famous scene has Batman escaping a chase by firing a tow cable to a rooftop and literally driving up the wall of a building. Some fans criticize the design as it looks too straight-lined and not the assault vehicle the Dark Knight would use. Yet it did stand out for scenes like Dick Grayson taking it for a joyride and even featured in some OnStar commercials to rank as a notable addition to the Dark Knight’s garage.
12 Val Kilmer
Val Kilmer has acknowledged in interviews he wasn’t the easiest person to get along with in the 1990s. In fact, Kilmer admits he could be a total arrogant jerk. He’s mellowed in recent years, even if he doesn’t act as much as he once did. His turn as Batman wasn’t too bad despite being hampered by a rough script and Schumacher’s direction. In real life, Kilmer has a few notable cars, such as his bright purple Chrysler Prowler, which looks more like a car for the Joker than it does Batman.
Kilmer is a huge fan of 50 Cent and when Kilmer was fighting cancer, the rapper gifted him a $100,000 1965 Chevy Impala. Kilmer shows it off a lot on his social media and is good friends with Cent. Kilmer seems to enjoy his new lease on life and that includes some fun automobiles.
11 Batman & Robin
Ranked the worst Batman movie ever, Batman & Robin had bad casting, terrible writing and other touches that made it a total disaster. The Batmobile was now a one-person vehicle used by Batman when he and Robin gave chase to Mr. Freeze a few times (Robin is on his own motorcycle). It boasted far more lighting on the sides, turning it into a neon sign on the road. The sculpted lines hide the “Bat-mask” at the front as the wings are the biggest of any Batmobile. The gadget stuff is wild from missiles to infrared and dropping mini-bombs. The aerodynamic chassis design helps it stand out as far sleeker than other models and does make sense for high-pitched chases. The open-aired cockpit does take away from the cool factor as Batman would have himself covered up for safety. Much like the movie, this Batmobile is the weakest of the lot.
10 George Clooney
George Clooney always takes “credit” for “killing the franchise” with his turn as Batman. To be fair, it’s doubtful anyone could have saved that terrible movie. Clooney was still known for ER when he landed the role and made a decent Bruce Wayne. Obviously, Clooney is now one of the biggest stars on the planet, an Oscar-winner who also directs and married a stunning humanitarian.
With his huge bank account, it’s no wonder Clooney has a pack of nice cars, many of which are eco-friendly. He actually loves to ride a Piaggio Mp3 250 scooter (which got him into a minor accident in 2018) more than regular cars. Yet Clooney also has a Harley Davidson and a Tango 600 which can look like a golf cart but hits zero to 60 in 4 seconds. Finally, he has a gorgeous brick red Chevrolet Corvette V8 C1 convertible. He may not have been the best Batman but Clooney lives a lifestyle Bruce Wayne would envy.
9 Batman Begins Tumbler
“Does it come in black?” That’s what Bruce Wayne says when he first takes the Tumbler out for a ride. Based on the tank-like Batmobile of the classic The Dark Knight Returns storyline, this massive vehicle fit Christopher Nolan’s reboot of the franchise. It actually looks bigger than it actually is, which is 15 feet long and 9 feet wide. On screen, it comes off as an impressive war machine that can crush obstacles in its path yet still be fast enough to lead the cops on a high-speed chase. It’s used in The Dark Knight for a chase with the Joker’s crew that leads to the reveal of the Bat-Pod. The Dark Knight Rises has Bane using a fleet of them as part of his plot to showcase how dangerous they could be. This Batmobile showcased the amazing power and fighting abilities to make it perfect for a new era of Batman.
8 Christian Bale
Batman Begins was a terrific revival for the series thanks to the casting of Christian Bale in the main role. The Oscar winner was terrific as Bruce Wayne and a tough Batman to revive the franchise nicely. Bale remains an actor in high demand who’s known for altering his body for his roles. So it’s a bit surprising his car collection isn’t that good. His Porsche Cayenne is a nice vehicle and he has been known to hit the odd Lamborghini. But the majority of the time, Bale can be seen in a Toyota Tacoma. Yep, a fantastic rich actor and he drives a beat-up truck. He won’t even spring for a newer model. He also has a Mercedes, that is, a 1999 C43 AMG. In fact, he still has a 1995 BMW 325i that he’s actually driven to red carpet events. He was a terrific Batman but Bale’s real-life car choices leave a lot to be desired.
7 The Bat-Pod
As it’s part of the Tumbler, this should count. In The Dark Knight, Batman is chasing the Joker and his gang on a truck. His Tumbler ends up being smashed and Batman seemingly trapped. Instead, the front of the car breaks off into the Batpod. The massive 20" front and rear tires dominate as the bike is powered by a water-cooled, single-cylinder engine. There’s no exhaust pipe as it’s routed through the framing of the bike. It’s a great sight with cool bits such as when Batman drives it up a wall and then the chassis rotates so he can take off in the opposite direction. It’s a great sight for the stuntwork of the film. It also became notable in The Dark Knight Rises when Selina Kyle uses it herself and looks astounding doing it. It shows Batman can handle any set of wheels.
6 Lamborghini Murcielago LP640, The Dark Knight
This is an offbeat choice but it should count. A key scene of The Dark Knight has the Joker going after a guy who claims to know who Batman is. Bruce Wayne goes to help him with Alfred asking if he’ll take the Batpod. Bruce responds that it’s the middle of the day and “too conspicuous.” Alfred dryly notes “The Lamborghini then. Far less conspicuous.” Cue Bruce racing down the streets of Gotham in a fantastic Lamborghini Murcielago LP640. With its stunning V12 engine, this baby can go from zero to 60 in 3.2 seconds and look beautiful doing it. Bruce fakes a car crash to save the guy from an attack with the police brushing it off as just a rich guy running the red light. It showcases that Bruce Wayne doesn’t need the bat-motif to turn any car into a great ride.
5 Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice
There are complaints over this film being too moody and violent, yet it boasts a pretty impressive Batmobile. It combines the classic cars with the Tumbler design with a 20 foot long and 12 foot wide build. The huge tires make it look like it can tackle any environment with ease and handle any situation. That includes how the main body can be raised or lowered to avoid obstacles and do some major high jumps. Batman uses it to attack some crooks only for Superman to show up in his path. This causes the car to be wrecked with Superman not getting a scratch. This version also popped up in a flashback in Suicide Squad as Batman chases the Joker and Harley Quinn. The movies may not have been what fans wanted, yet it showcased a Batmobile that takes the “war on crime” literally.
4 Ben Affleck
For all its many faults, the DC Cinematic Universe did put to rest the complaints about Ben Affleck as Batman. The actor surprised many by pulling the role off nicely with a gritty attitude and going all out for the action scenes. Affleck is well known to have an enjoyment of great cars in real life. These include a Mercedes GL 350, Audi S8, Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG, Land Rover and a Tesla Model S. For classic cars, Affleck possesses a Dodge Challenger Hellcat with gold wheels, a1969 Cadillac Coupe DeVille as well as a 1966 Chevy Chevelle SS.
Affleck loves to boast these off in public as he can take a luxury car for a drive-thru or a muscle machine for a fancy event. Affleck can bounce between “regular guy” and A-list star while possessing one of the best car collections of any big-screen Batman.
3 Justice League
The major big-screen gathering of DC’s heroes has become infamous due to reshoots that shifted Zack Snyder’s vision into a bit of a mess. The idea of Batman wanting to “step it up” against a cosmic threat makes a lot of sense. Thus, the Batmobile for the big climax is much bigger and armed for war than previous versions. After using a “Nightcrawler” spider-like machine earlier in the movie, Batman breaks out this monster for the climactic battle against parademons invading Earth.
It’s bigger than earlier versions and looks like Bruce slapped a standard Batmobile onto a tank and added massive wheels. It has a slew of weapons but can still achieve high speeds. That includes a memorable moment where Aquaman lands on top of it and laughs at the great ride. The movie may have been poor but it offered a serious Batmobile.
2 David Mazouz
Gotham is about to wrap up its five year run on Fox. This prequel series basically imagines the city transformed into such a mess that Batman needs to clean it up. The show begins with young Bruce Wayne watching his parents fall and then building himself up into a masked avenger. David Mazouz has grown with the show as the now 18-year old is ready to finally take on the mask in the series finale.
Obviously, due to his age, Mazouz hasn’t been driving that long, but as a celebrity still has a few cars in his collection. He works with Chevrolet as part of a “drive safe” campaign which has earned him an Impala that he’s shown in some photo shoots. With the series ending, it’s likely Mazouz adds some more wheels to prove himself as a Batman star.
DC Universe is the brand-new streaming service that offers classic cartoons featuring the characters. It also has some new live-action fare which includes Titans. This series focuses on Robin as he breaks away from Batman and soon gathering a team of young heroes to his side. The Batmobile popped up in the background of an episode where Dick Grayson goes to the Batcave for information. This is a wonderful “retro” take that mixes in elements of both the 1966 original (see the dual cockpit) and the Burton movies. It’s sleek and streamlined yet still looks believably armored for battling crime in Gotham. This version pops up again in the finale in a nightmarish future where Batman has gone rogue and smashing up cops. While fans wish this version had been on screen longer, it still shows the great care taken creating this classic automobile.
Sources: Wikipedia, carbuzz.com, DC Wikia.com