Thursday, November 30, 2006

The Batmobile

Stewart mentioned that the Batmobile deserved credit in my Cars With Charisma post, and I couldn't agree more. So this post is dedicated exclusively to the Batmobile in all its glory. The Batmobile as had several incarnations, the most recent from Batman Begins is my absolute favorite; though they are all worthy of mentioning. I can't pretend to be a car aficionado, or even a Batmobile expert. Mostly the car is important for what it represents. Batman was known for his gadgets and the Batmobile was one heck of a gadget. It was a huge extension of Batman's power and resourcefulness. I'm mostly just going to lay out the specs and leave it to the rest of you to try to remember what the car could do and what it represents to you. The original TV Batmobile started out as a concept car called the Lincoln Futura originally built in 1955. Apparently the car weighed 3 tons and was prone to stress fractures, but did we really care? We just wanted to see all the cool stuff it could do. This model was said to have atomic batteries, turbine engines and all sorts of gadgets. And, lest we forget the 60's show also featured a bunch of other vehicles like the Batboat, the Batcycle and the Batcopter. The next Batmobile was the Keaton/Kilmer/Clooney car from the first series of Batman movies. The Keaton version featured a jet engine, aircraft instruments and browning sub machine guns.The Kilmer car had "Powerful interior machinery radiating with blue-white light through a ribbed body, wing and fins rising majestically from the rear of its body, illuminated hubcaps emblazoned with the Bat Ensignia, a powerful engine pulsating beneath the meshed hood, an orange-red flame jetting out of the rear turbine exhaust." What else is there to say? The Clooney version is pretty wild looking, though it doesn't appear to have had much more than the appearance altered having "Goodyear tires with the Bat emblem embossed on the treads; single rear cockpit; independent suspension; illuminated blue hubcaps; pulsing chassis lights...(and) Six flame columns produce a V-shaped exhaust pattern six feet long." Ok then. By far my favorite is the Batmobile from the Batman Begins movie, although it is never actually referred to as the Batmobile in the movie. It is a military vehicle called The Tumbler. This car has: "HOOSIER racetrack tires on front, 4 Rear 44 inch SUPER SWAMPERS, a our wheel drive conversion component, jet burner in rear with vector controls for the jet, back end flaps for quick stops, landing Hook, enabled with front-firing machine guns, built-in safety link for petrol control, built-in fire extinguisher system, front wheels on bolted arms for an axle-less front end, conventional single axle rear end." But mostly it was cool. What also made this car the best was the way you could see Batman adjusting the car to do it's various functions. And watching the uninitiated try to lie on their stomach to drive the car was just plain fun. That's all I really have for now. It's surprisingly hard to find more specifics on the cars, though I thought this was pretty good. I didn't read the comics as a kid so I don't know what may be missing that was featured in those, so if anyone has info on that I'd love to hear about it. So what do you guys remember? And why do you think the Batmobile is so important to the Batman legend? You know you wanna tell me.


Crunchy Carpets said...

I was never a big Batman (comic) fan...but I don't recall the car being that important..or gadgets.

Dug Dark Knight.

I think the car arrived with the cheesy was the golden age of cars was it not?

SQT said...

Hmm, I wonder if the gadgets came up more for the movies and TV?

I don't know though. Guys love cars and I bet most of the comics were written by guys with other guys in mind. I mean, look at how they draw the women. Realistic? Not really.

I'm thinking I'll get some imput from the guys here pretty soon...

Stewart Sternberg said...

Okay. The Batmobile in one form or another was around before the series in the sixties. It was always cool; a sleek sedan, modified so that it slipped through the nice, able to keep pace with any badguy speedster.

In the sixties though, the thing took on a life of its own. Flame roaring out its rear (something that happens to me occasionally), the vehicle was able to rise up on its chasis and do a one eighty to immediately reverse direction; it's online computer allowed it to access an enormous crime databank.

Of course, the real jazz hit with the first of the Batman movies by Tim Burton. There, the Batmobile could turn on a dime by shooting a grappling hook to grab the side of a convenient building; it also had a neat security device that threw shields over the thing to keep away unwanted intrusion. It also came when called.

Joel Schumacher, who tried hard to destroy the franchise by making it idiotic (remember the badguys on iceskates? remember batman and robin clicking their ankles and having the 'batskates' pop out the bottom of their boots), gave the batmobile a new dimension. Under his wise tutilage, the car could drive up the side of a building.

I won't mention its new incarnation. I'll close though by saying...the thing about the Batmobile is that it's cool. That's it. That's enough. Anyone who needs more explanation really wouldn't understand.

SQT said...

Stu, do you prefer the 80's Batmobile over the new one? I liked having the backstory on it; I thought it was fun.

I should've had you write the post. I get the feeling you get into this subject more than I do. All I could really do was look up all the specifications on it and put it out there. But you definitely get into the soul of the subject.

Stewart Sternberg said...

I am not a car nut. In fact, I can't tell you much about them at all. I hear people talking about specs and my eyes glaze over. Mention Nascar and I immediately clap my hands over my ear, close my eyes to avoid looking at the mullet, and go "lalalalalala"

I think the Batmobile of the new film is cool in a different way. It has muscle. It is a ferocious thing that kicks butt and likes it. The Batmobile of the past, including the eighties, was more of a cousin of Bond's Astin Martin. I suspect it was directly influenced by the Bond films. The old Batmobile was sleek, cool, mean, suave. SUAVE.

Sidney said...

I like the '60s version. I guess it's because it was part of my first introduction to Batman back in the day. Watched the series as a kid avidly and waited for the resolution of each cliffhanger. Today the car still seems cool. I'd never read about its concept-car history so I've been doing a little more reading about that.

Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator said...

I grew up watching the Batman TV series, so that was the Batmobile to me. It was special and unique, though I couldn't figure out what they'd do if it rained or snowed.

Then I remember reading a Batman comic as a kid and he let the Batmobile get blown up so he could sneak into the badguy's stronghold and get 'em. I was a bit distraught, thinking why would Batman let his one and only get destroyed. In the final few panels, Alfred laments its destruction and Batman simply says "It's just a car, I'll have another built."

Evidently Batman went through a lot of Batmobiles over the years, you can find a chronology here.

Mother Jones RN said...

I remember the Batman TV show in the 1960s. I was about nine years old. The first time I saw the Batmobile, I thought it was the coolest car I had ever seen. We didn't have cars like that in Iowa. I asked my dad to trade in our old car and buy one. He said he was keeping the Chevy.


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I seen the orignal in the Tv guide when I was young...Asked my mom to buy me one..Well I always was a dreamer...Still a very nice car:)