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Every Batman movie ranked by Batmobile

Including 'The Batman' and, no, 'Batman & Robin' is not last

Alright, let's try this again. After ranking all 25 James Bond films exclusively by their car content, it's time to do the same for Batman. Admittedly, there have been a lot fewer Batman movies. Also, Batmobiles would feature in multiple movies. Also also, I know a lot less about Batman films than James Bond ones. But hey, I'm literally sitting next to a Keaton Batmobile model I've owned since 1992, so I'm not completely bereft of knowledge. 

Now, as usual, some ground rules. In order to break ties (as in, which film with the same Batmobile is better), I've considered other car/vehicle content in the film. Furthermore, again, I'm only considering films. So, no comic books or cartoons, because that would take forever and getting the visuals alone ... good grief. 

1) 'Batman' (1989)

This is the Batmobile. I'm not sure this could ever be topped, honestly. And sure, this was the Batmobile of my youth as evidenced by the aforementioned 30-year-old toy sitting next to me as I type this, but even those editors younger than me concur. OK, so Palmer's out driving some old BMWs and he wasn't polled. Anyway, this car is almost as big of a star in Tim Burton's 1989 "Batman" as Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson. Apologies Kim Basinger. The car is epic, and it makes the scenes it's in epic — and yeah, the iconic Danny Elfman score sure helps in that regard. A few bonus points here for the Batwing and that one awesome shot where it flies up to the moon for no other reason than visual awesomeness. One bonus point removed for it being downed by a really long revolver hidden in the Joker's pants. 

 

1966 Batmobile

2) 'Batman' (1966) 

Yeah kids, there was a movie based on the 1960s Adam West TV show. And it was fantastic. The "some days you just can't rid of a bomb!" scene still makes me laugh after the 148th viewing. Also, "shark-repellant Batspray." Anyway, the Batmobile created for the TV show by George Barris based on the Lincoln Futura Concept car is the second-most iconic Batmobile of all time. It's featured throughout the movie, and is not only driven by Batman but the Penguin and Alfred (in a mask, no less, cause I guess Dick Grayson is old enough to fight crime but not old enough to drive???). We also get to see the Batcopter, Batboat and Batcycle. Holy bonus points, Batman!

 

3) 'Batman Begins'

This would be the first appearance of "the Tumbler," which was used in all the Christopher Nolan "Dark Knight" films. However, this is the film where we're not only introduced to the Tumbler Batmobile, but where it sees the most action. Aesthetically, the Tumbler is quite obviously faaaaar away from the established Bat-sthetic (which is really just the Burton one) and there was quite a lot of controversy and fan-boy hate when pictures of it circulated on the web back in the day. Then everyone saw the movie and didn't care anymore. As we saw then, the Tumbler was an actually functional Batmobile (Jay Leno even drove it), and something that wouldn't actually be a hilarious hinderance to crimefighting (cause yeah, the Burton Batmobile is nonsense). It's a concept that would be revisited more recently, with less successful results.

 

4) 'Batman Returns'

The Tim Burton Batmobile returns along with Michael Keaton. Although less of a star this time around, we do get to see some new features. There's the piling that lowers into the ground to lift the Batmobile up and rotate it as needed. This is obviously a necessity, cause holy rearview camera Batman, can you imagine the turning radius and making a multi-point turn in that thing? There's also the Batmissile function, which strips off the outer wings and leaves the skinny inner jet engine bit just in case Batman needs to shimmy through a narrow alley. Thank god you checked that option's box, Bruce! Besides roasting a few clowns with the afterburner early on, the Batmobile later terrorizes Gotham when the Penguin electronically hacks into it. It's here when we see the Batmobile comes equipped with a DVD burner. Fancy. Again, bonus points here for the Batskiboat (I had that toy too, but sold it on eBay) and the Penguin's motorized duck. We should all be happy that exists. 

 

5) 'The Dark Knight'

And now for something completely different. In what is widely considered the greatest film that happens to include Batman ever, "The Dark Knight" includes plenty of Batmobile action. Once again, it's the Tumbler, and it's mostly featured in a chase featuring the Joker, semi tractor trailers and an unfortunately accurate RPG. Relatedly, we get to see a Tumbler feature not shown in "Batman Begins" (cause they totally hadn't thought of it yet): the Batpod. This motorcyclish thing with in-wheel motors is mighty cool and would return in "The Dark Knight Rises."

 

6) 'The Batman'

I have not seen this movie. Was too busy watching "Star Trek: Picard" last night, but colleague Jeremy Korzeniewski did, so I'm turning things over to his best Batjudgment here ... "Robert Pattinson's role as The Batman introduces a very different Batmobile along with a very different take on the comic book hero. In this fictional Gotham City, a young Bruce Wayne is clearly drawn to older cars. He has a thing for Corvettes, it seems, along with driving a Batmobile that's clearly inspired by vintage muscle cars. It's sort of a Safari-esque take on the theme, though, and it somehow works very well on film. With the exception of one very unbelievable scene in the movie — and I will admit to being unsure if the engine actually powers the wheels — I think this new Batmobile ought to hollow out a nice little niche in Batman lore."

 

7) 'Batman: Mask of the Phantasm'

Yep, there was a movie released to theaters based on the fantastic "Batman: The Animated Series." And yes, I've recently rewatched some of that series, and it's still pretty fantastic. Anyway, the Batmobile of that show and this movie pretty much took the overall idea of the Burton Batmobile and adapted it to the show's distinctive Film Noir and Art Deco aesthetic that producers dubbed "Dark Deco." It's a cool Batmobile and, as I recall, a pretty good movie.

 

8) 'The Lego Batman Movie'

I guess I'm counting this as a Batman movie. I know lots of people do and have great fondness for it. To be honest, though, I haven't seen it. Apologies. But an extensive search on YouTube just now revealed some fun scenes featuring it, and a pretty agreeable aesthetic that somewhat blends Tumbler elements with some Burton flair and, well, Legos. It also seems to have been featured in its film more than our next animated entry, so it gets the nod here. 

 

 

 

9) 'Batman Forever'

"It's the car right? Chicks love the car." Sorry Val, not this one. Frankly, if this Batmobile didn't excite me when I was an 11-year-old boy who actually liked "Batman Forever," I can't say it holds a stronger place in my heart now. Admittedly, it had a very tough act to follow, but the problem with this Batmobile is the same aesthetic problem that plagued the two Joel Schumacher Batman movies: it was too ridiculous. While the Burton Batmobile had two fins, this one had three, including the giant dorsal one that split in two for a reason. The car was also extensively lit up in decorative neon (like the whole damn movie), which is something that seems a bit incongruous for a guy called The Dark Knight. Worse, my colleague Byron Hurd points out just how slow the film's car chase is: The car itself wasn't strong enough to go any faster. "It was shameful how sad that car was," he notes. "It flexed and flopped around every time it moved." That it could climb up walls like Adam West and Burt Ward of old was kind of interesting? No, that was dumb too. 

 

10) 'Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice'

I haven't seen this movie, so I'm turning the ship over to colleague and bigger Batman fan than I, Erik Maier: "I wish I could forget watching 'Batman v. Superman.' The only thing I remember about the car is that it's a complete murder-mobile with turret guns and all kinds of crazy stuff that's very un-Batman." It would also appear briefly in a flashback scene in "Suicide Squad," which isn't a Batman movie, but does feature Batman. So it doesn't count.

 

11) 'Batman & Robin'

And Batman just got shot in the face. Take the insane proportions of the Burton Batmobile and exaggerate them further. Take the neon lighting of the preceding "Batman Forever" Batmobile and add even more neon lights. Make it a one-seater, cause I guess he'll never need to drive around with Vicki Vale again. And finally, remove the canopy so Batman's just driving around with his head poking out the top like a 1:1-scale Happy Meal toy. This Batmobile makes the Adam West one look like the Tumbler. It's so ridiculous, it makes you angry. Just like the movie it's in.

 

12) 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Here you go, the only Batman listicle in the world where "The Dark Knight Rises" falls below "Batman and Robin." The reason? The Batmobile is not in it. "But but but but ..."  Nope, sorry, it isn't. Oh, multiple Tumblers are in the movie, but those were un-Batified Tumblers hijacked from Wayne Enterprises. They also aren't driven by Batman. Therefore, there is no Batmobile in this movie and therefore it finds itself at the bottom of this list of Batman movies ranked exclusively by their Batmobiles. A few bonus points do go to the Batpod and the Bat flying contraption, for whatever that's worth.

 

13) 'Justice League'

Is this a Batman movie? Batman is in it extensively, right, so I'm counting it. That said, there is no Batmobile in it. There's something called the Knightcrawler, I guess, which could be cool maybe(?), but it is literally not a Batmobile. So some points, I guess, but not more than the Batpod and the Bat got up there, so it gets the basement. 


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