Ranking the Live Action Batmobiles (that Actually Function)

Around a week ago, Warner Bros. Entertainment’s YouTube channel livestreamed a documentary featuring the Batmobile. Not Batman himself but his vehicle. It may sound silly to not focus on the character driving the vehicle but, if you’re a comic book fan, the Batmobile is almost iconic as the Dark Knight himself. I didn’t get to watch it live but it’s still on YouTube and it was a good watch.

Now, there have been different iterations of the Batmobile. Even the folks at DC Comics have changed the vehicle’s overall design more than once in a while. But a lot of times, the ones that you do see in the comics are just really fanciful vehicles that shouldn’t really work in real life.

Or do they? After all, thank to the character being featured in various live-action, the Batmobile has been brought to life in various occasions with the help of a little movie magic and a lot of money. So that’s what I’m going to be doing this time around. I will be looking at all the live-action versions of the Batmobile, the ones that actually work, to be exact, and ranking each and every one of them.

Now, there isn’t any actual reasoning behind my rankings. It’s just my personal preference. The only qualifier is that the vehicle has to be a working full version and not some CGI model that can’t be driven around in the real world. With that in mind, let’s go look at some Batmobiles!

#7 Batman and Robin’s Batmobile (1997)

Is it just a coincidence that the worst live-action version of Batman also has the worst Batmobile?

The design for the Batmobile in Batman and Robin was… interesting. It still is obviously Bat-inspired with the really big bat-fins on the top. It even has not one, but six jet engines sprouting from the back of the vehicle. However, this is one of the most garish looking Batmobiles to be made.

There are a couple of things that make this the worst Batmobile for me and they both have to deal with the cockpit. For one, this version of the Batmobile can only sit one person! That doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense to be because I would think Batman would always have an extra seat available just in case he, I don’t know, need to save someone? Also, the entire driver’s area is uncovered! This is really dumb because, since the Caped Crusader will surely need to drive into a gunfight once in a while, he would want some protection while he’s charging in the Batmobile!

Oh, and the Bat symbols on the wheels don’t stay in place. That’s just weird especially when he managed to affix them in Batman Forever. Speaking of Batman Forever…

#6 Batman Forever’s Batmobile (1995)

Ribbed for your pleasure!

Joel Schumacher took the reins from Tim Burton for Batman Forever and he decided to return Batman to his more campier roots from the ’60s. Whether you agree with his decision is up to you. What I can can is that I really disagree with the new Batmobile that was made for the film. There are some things that I do like about it. The giant bat-fin on the top of the car actually splits apart, becoming a sort of spoiler when Batman needs to drive really fast. I actually also like some of the light touches, like the glowing tires with the non-moving Bat symbols on the rims.

However, this Batmobile just has some weird design elements that Batman would never make. The biggest one being the exposed engine that you can see through the “ribs” of the hood. For some odd reason, Batman thought it would be a good idea to have the innards of the Batmobile’s engine visible through the multiple slits. Maybe it’s to allow better air flow? Still, even if there was a functional reason, I don’t get why he would want them to glow, making it even easier to see! Not only can a good sniper shoot out the Batmobile’s engine because of the ribs, Batman made it even clearer to see at night because of the neon!

Oh, and it’s kinda phallic looking.

#5 Justice League’s Batmobile (2017)

Oh, there’s are subtle differences between this and the one from Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, which is why they’re getting separate entries.

The Batmobile that was in the 2017 Justice League film was built for war. Not only is it fast and powerful enough to smash through brick walls like they were tissue paper, but it’s also armed to the teeth! This version of the Batmobile is equipped with a variety of gatling guns to mow down Parademons. It also has a giant howitzer cannon right next to the cockpit area. It’s also not as long as than the one seen in Batman v. Superman as the overall length from the cockpit to the front wheels is shorter, making it look more maneuverable for a war zone.

However, the things that do make it different from the one that’s seen in Batman v. Superman are the things that I actually don’t like about it. The abundance of guns is necessary as the situation does call for a lot of weaponry but it definitely makes it look not as sleek looking as before. It’s still a good design but not as good as the one found in…

#4 Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice’s Batmobile (2016)

Why create a totally new Batmobile design when you can copy some of the good ones?

It’s easy to see that the Batmobile that was seen in Batman v. Superman was an amalgamation of other Batmobiles found in the earlier films featuring the Dark Knight. This version of the Batmobile does look like a go-kart on steroids. It’s low to the ground yet has large tires as well as thick armor plating, making it look like it’s super fast and agile but still able to smash through a wall with no problem. It’s also armed with a hood mounted machine gun and missiles to murder criminals. It might seem like an un-Batman-like thing to do. But, then again, he has definitely killed people in most of the other movies, even inadvertently.

This version of the Batmobile is impressive as I can see Batman driving around with it. It’s something I can see Batman designing for his war on crime. However, the reason why it’s only #4 is because this version just doesn’t feel unique enough. There’s a part of me that actually questions if it’s really that good or it’s only good because it reminds me of the better Batmobiles that were made for the earlier movies.

Specifically…

#3 The Dark Knight Trilogy’s Batmobile (2005 – 2012)

Honestly, even I’m surprised this version isn’t at least #2!

There is just something special and unique about the Batmobile found in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy. While earlier Batmobiles tried to look sleek and fast like a sports car, Christopher Nolan when against the grain and gave us the Tumbler, a tank-like vehicle that was agile enough to make jumping off rooptops and landing on a freeway seem so easy! The first time I saw the Tumbler, I will admit, I had my doubts because of how different it was from the “traditional” vision I had for the Batmobile. But when I saw it in action, I was a believer!

Not only was the Tumbler tough but it still was a incredibly maneuverable vehicle! It was, despite its size, incredibly fast. It was also armed to the teeth but it had a few more tricks to it. The driver would slip into the middle of the cockpit when needing to fire its weapons. Placing the driver in the middle also made it easier for the driver to estimate how much room he actually had to go in-between obstacles. If the vehicle takes too much damage, the driver can also eject using the Batpod, a lithe but very powerful motorcycle!

Ah, but as loaded as Christopher Nolan’s Batmobile was, it has nothing on the OG of live-action Batmobiles…

#2 The campy Adam West Batman’s Batmobile (1966)

It may look strange and old-fashioned when compared to the Batmobiles of today. But there is just something special about the Batmobie that Adam West drove when he donned the cape and cowl for the campy 1966 Batman series. Even today, if you look at it, there is just no mistaking that is it the Batmobile. If you see it driving down the road, you can help but hum the tune in your head!

Speaking of its design, there’s just something incredibly striking about this version of the Batmobile. While it’s still mostly black, the red outlines definitely help make it stand out from other vehicles on the road.

There are some issues with it, of course. The biggest one is the exposed cockpit, which is something I complained about with the Batmobile found in Batman and Robin. However, as this version of the Batmobile is decked out with all sort of trickery and gadgets, I can’t help but think there’s a button for a Bat-bullet proof mist or something.

While the look and design definitely makes it look like a Batmobile, is actually the assortment of ridiculous gadgets it has on board that really sells that it’s something a billionaire genius crime fighter would drive around. It can be remote controlled, parachute for braking, a mobile crime computer to get the guesswork out of fingerprints, self inflating tires if they get a flat, ejector seats and even headlights that can force open doors! It even has a special compartment for a pencil! I’m not kidding!

Honestly, this version of the Batmobile is still iconic even if it is a little too old fashioned. It’s still an iconic vehicle and something that any kid or kid at heart would love to drive around it.

But as good as Adam West’s Batmobile is, it still isn’t as good as…

#1 Tim Burton’s Batman and Batman Returns’ Batmobile (1989 – 1992)

I’m sorry but, when anyone say’s “Batmobile,” this is the thing I still envision in my brain.

Tim Burton had an uphill battle when it came to making the 1989 Batman movie. Thanks to how iconic the campy 1966 series became, the general public associated silliness with Batman. However, he successfully made it so Batman returned to his dark roots from the comics. Even so, he still managed to make a Batmobile that walked the line between silliness and seriousness.

This version of the Batmobile was a super-sick looking vehicle. It still looks cool to this day, in my opinion! It looked more like a stealth fighter than a car thanks to its low profile, very aerodynamic design, sliding cockpit and, oh, a giant jet engine sticking out the front! That last bit definitely set it apart from any other can that was out in the market! The jet engine definitely made it, at the very least, look like it could go supersonic!

Still, Tim Burton managed to trick his Batmobile out with a variety of gadgets. It can launch a grappling hook to make tight turns, fold out two Browning machine guns from the sides, release shinbreakers on the sides to take out thugs without running into them head-on, release oil and smoke to get away from pursuers and use hydraulics at the bottom of the vehicle to turn the Batmobile at a standstill. Also, like the Tumbler, this Batmobile can discard most of its outer shell and become a slimmer vehicle.

My favorite is surrounding itself in armor plating like a cocoon and then dropping a bomb from the side. Now that’s cool!

See, I told you Batman kills in a lot of these movies! Don’t tell me each and every one of the Joker’s henchmen managed to get out of the burning Ace Chemical plant safely!

Anyway, when it comes to Batmobiles, the one found in the Tim Burton films are still the tops for me. It managed to combine the seriousness of tone while still being silly by keeping the ridiculous plethora of scenario specific gadgets it had. Oh, and it’s still cool looking!

What’s your favorite live-action Batmobile? Let me know what it is in the comments section below!

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