I’m going to rank ten Batmobiles in film and television. Not every Batmobile is going to be here; honestly, this is meant to talk about the evolution of the car and investigate the different approaches the different designs have provided. If your favorite car isn’t on here, it’s not because it isn’t good. It’s because it’s probably not worth talking about.
10. A Car – Batman 40’s serials
So this isn’t actually the tenth best. This is sort of here for posterity because they really weren’t much of anything back in this era. The filmmakers just looked at the Batmobile in a panel and said to themselves, “A Cadillac is good enough. Nobody cares.” Well, I cared.
9. The Schumacher Mobile – Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997)
I just couldn’t resist talking about these Batmobiles either, and they honestly are not the problem with either film. The design actually solves a complaint I have about a lot of these designs: color. Schumacher loved color, and I think the light that shines through the metal on this car really makes it pop in motion. The Forever one looks slightly worse because the pattern for the lights is sort of just… there. The Batman and Robin design actually is of a bat and is just slight enough to complement the car, not conquer it.
I think my favorite part of these movies is when Dick takes the car for a joyride and street races with it. The neon gangs really stand out, and Schumacher’s talent is on display. Too bad the films didn’t really try for, uh, anything else.
8. Does It Bleed? – Batman vs Superman (2016)
This movie has a mediocre Batmobile. I mean, the first thing you notice about it is the giant turret on its hood. If that doesn’t sit right with your idea of Batman, well, buckle up because this film has some brutal chases I actually enjoyed but featured a lot of violent incidental deaths caused by Bruce having a serious case of road rage.
I’m also including the other Snyder-verse vehicles here, like the one that flies and the one that climbs like a lizard. These are creative and fun and have a great movement to them. The lizard, in particular, made a mediocre scene in Justice League (2017) just a little bit better. Batman’s honestly best when he’s driving something in these movies and worst when he’s holding an assault rifle.
7. The Flying Batmobile – Batman Beyond (1999 – 2001)
Normally this is cheating but Batman Beyond takes place in the future where all cars fly. So, it’s still a car. It’s like if a Batwing was designed like the car. So that means it’s a bat-shaped airplane, but it looks cool. The interior has a nice red tone that makes McGinnis’s unique suit stand out in contrast.
6. The Jokermobile – The Brave and the Bold (2008 – 2011), Arkham Knight (2015), and Suicide Squad (2016)
I don’t like to talk about games on here, because my editor gets mad at me, but I couldn’t resist a chance to talk about the Jokermobile and its media incarnations. Tired of seeing Batman have the best wheels in town, the Joker thought he ought to have his own sick ride! The children’s cartoon The Brave and the Bold pretty much match the Silver Age original 1:1 and is really best experienced in the Wacky Races parody episode. There the Joker plays dirty, and, when he finally gets booted out of the race, he starts to have hilarious running commentary.
Arkham Knight involved the Batmobile in its game design, so when a certain nightmare sequence happens you see a version of the Jokermobile; it’s meant to be disturbing in both design and mechanics. The realistic teeth and weapon modes definitely make the design brilliantly evil and memorable.
The most recognized appearance, perhaps, might be Suicide Squad. Here it’s just Jared Leto Joker’s car while he’s going on date night with Harley, and it just says “HAHAHA” on the license plate. Because he’s Joker. Get it? Ugh. The Suicide Squad incarnation is actually a custom car, not a purple Lamborghini. We have to make that clear for the audience because the nation trusted Rick Ross. He betrayed that trust.
5. The Blue Car – Superfriends (1973 – 1985) and The New Scooby-Doo Movies (1972 – 1973)
So for the Superfriends cartoon show by Hanna-Barbera, the design is basically the Adam West car, but with a more friendly blue and yellow instead of the red and black. It works more for the light tone, and the yellow oval shield is so beloved it belongs to at least one car. It’s also the perfect car to house your bat-doggie snacks. Never leave home without them.
4. The Actual Best Car – Batman the Animated Series (1992 – 1995)
So the classic animated television show Batman the Animated Series (BtAS for short) borrowed a lot of artistic direction from the Burton films; the Batmobile is a clear example. This is actually cool in its own way. The Keaton mobile has a grill that intentionally looks like a jet turbine, but this one goes for a more monolithic approach. It has straight edges that feel even more reminiscent of art deco, but the narrow black makes it look like the shadow of a passing bullet in the night. The blue accent is also used as a particular way to shade that makes it look reminiscent of traditional comic coloring and really shows what animation can do that live-action cannot.
Major points deducted for the redesigns as the series went on. The New Adventureskind of mucked up the design, and it got worse from there. It took Beyond for them to make another good one.
3. West’s Ride – Batman: The Movie (1966)
I think when Batman is long dead and buried in the ruins of civilization alongside Mickey Mouse and Elon Musk’s last invention, aliens will find this car and commit it to memory for all eternity. It’s the car that’s the simplest, yet boldest. It’s what made the car matter at all. It came from a Lincoln Futura concept and just looks gorgeous. The red tips give a great sense of speed and depth in contrast to the less colorful options here, but it also has taste. The ‘66 series usually stuck to primary colors, but this particular use of black for Batman makes him sportier and gives him an edge he sorely needs.
Another honorable mention here is West’s awesome helicopter. A Batcopter, if you will. This is probably most famous for having emergency “Anti-Shark Batspray” but honestly, if you don’t care about safety while flying then I don’t trust you as my pilot.
2. The Tumbler – Batman Begins (2005)
Taking direct inspiration from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns (1986), we see a vehicle that can only be classified as an automobile in the very basic sense that it has a transmission and four wheels when it should instead have treads because it’s actually a tank. I think this car made way more of an impact than people would think; it helped establish the tone and brutality of Nolan’s world.
2008’s The Dark Knight had a unique spin on the tumbler, using an ejector seat to become a motorcycle (called the Batpod) that can do a 180 from a wall. This motorcycle led to probably the best action scene in the film and really creates a vehicle for the superhero that leaves him vulnerable yet mysteriously liberated. Instead of being trapped inside a tank the only thing that holds him down is the wind getting in his cape.
1. The Keatonmobile – Batman (1989)
This car has to be number one. It may not be the fanciest, but what it did for the character and identity of the car is impossible to rank. Before this film, the Batmobile was either a tank or in every other thing a car with MAYBE a bat ornament on it. It was from here that creativity became a goal in designing a Batmobile. Burton and his set and prop designers have made an imprint on Batman’s legacy that will exist far beyond Jack Napier and Prince’s soundtrack. This car also best conveys a sense of speed; the edges are curved like wings, and the back probably has the coolest giant speed flame. I assume that’s the technical term for it.
I think it may have been a little too monochrome, but there’s no denying the sexiness of this Batmobile. That sexiness does the movie huge favors because Keaton is not pulling it off with his grandpa glasses and rubber Nikes. Other notable designs from this film include the Batwing, the very same that created the beautiful silhouette in the sky. My personal favorite is when Penguin’s goons try to break into it in Returns. Locking the Batmobile basically means hiding it in broad sight within an indestructible shell.
Again, if your favorite Batmobile isn’t listed here this wasn’t meant to be definitive or comprehensive. Leave a comment down below and we can definitely talk about how wrong I am!