Even Robin superfans admit it: The Batmobile is probably the best sidekick Batman’s ever had. Since its inception in 1941, Batman’s ride has been a character unto itself. From the dashing roadsters of the Sixties to the military-grade tankmobile of the "Dark Knight" trilogy, each Batmobile is a mirror for the generation that created it—just like the superhero at the wheel.

The Comic-Book Original: 1941

Wikimedia Commons / J Greb

Futuristic Gadgetry: Heavily reinforced nose for smashing through walls.

Creator: Illustrator Bob Kane, who based it off a 1936 Cord 812. This wasn't Batman’s first ride, but it was the first to be called the Batmobile.

Color: Red, with only a gold bat hood ornament to distinguish it from the other red convertibles at Bruce Wayne’s country club.


Batman TV Serial (1943)

Wikimedia Commons / Mr.choppers

The First On-Screen Batman: The 1939 Cadillac Series 75 Convertible, designed by Harvey Earl.

Notable: Batman’s first on-screen appearance was in this low-budget wartime TV serial, which featured the Caped Crusader battling Japanese supervillain Dr. Daka. 

Man Behind the Cowl: Lewis Wilson

Driver: Alfred


Batman And Robin Serial (1949)

Batmobile History

Base Model: A maroon 1949 Mercury convertible. Look, it was a low-budget TV serial, okay?

Futuristic Gadgetry: The convertible top. The top went up when the car was serving as the Batmobile; top-down meant it was Bruce Wayne’s regular ride. Probably fooled everyone in Gotham.

Man Behind The Cowl: Robert Lowery

Comic-Book Chrysler (1958)

FlyingBatMobile.com

Designer: Comic-book illustrator Dick Sprang, who based it on a Chrysler 300C

Futuristic Gadgetry: Battering ram (shaped like a bat face), atomic-age fin, bubble top.

Downside: Never left the comic book page, except for toy models. Difficult to drive in a crosswind.

Batman The TV Show (1966)

Futuristic Gadgetry: the iconic rocket-booster tail, “atomic turbine engine” (actually a Ford V8), Detect-A-Scope, Micro-TV camera, Bat-Beam, Bat-Magnet, Bat-O-Meter, and seatbelts. (It was the 1960s).

Man Behind The Cowl: Adam West

Portrayed Unflinchingly: Robin's complete lack of pants.

Holy Atomic Batteries, Batman!

Barcroft Media/Barcroft Media/Getty Images

The 1966 red-and-black edition was the first Batmobile to rocket-boost its way into pop-culture legend. Designer George Barris bought the base model, a 1955 Lincoln Futura, from Ford mastermind Lee Iacocca for one dollar and customized the Batmobile in two weeks. “The car had to be a star in its own right,” Barris said. “It really was the first car of its kind on television.”

Batman (1989)

Futuristic Gadgetry: Remote voice command, “Batmissile” mode, Browning machine guns, side-mounted grappling hook launchers, rotation “foot,” retractable shields, CD player.

Designer: Anton Furst, who built the Batmobile on the chassis of a Chevy Impala.

Man Behind The Mask: Michael Keaton

Batman’s code word to deploy the Batmobile’s shields: “Shields.”

The Greatest Batmobile

Wikimedia Commons / Zachi Evenor and MathKnight

Keaton and the Batmobile reprise in Tim Burton’s sequel, 1992’s "Batman Returns." Furst’s Batmobile captured the classic Batmobile elements but remains ineffably modern; along with Barris’s 1966 version, it is arguably the most popular Batmobile of all time.

The Animated Series (’92-’95)

LetUsNerd.com

Futuristic Gadgetry: Smoke and oil dispensers, tire-slashing wheels, a missile rack, tear gas dispensers, ejection seats.

Also featured in: "The New Batman Adventures," "Justice League," "Justice League Unlimited"


Batman Forever (1995)

The City of Allen Park

Futuristic Gadgetry: Grappling hooks to drive up vertical surfaces, 90-degree wheel rotation, rear-view camera (before it was available on your mom’s Lexus).

Designer: Barbara Ling, who added wings and ribs to make the ’95 Batmobile look organic.

Man Behind the Cowl: Val Kilmer

Batman, on female automotive preferences: “It's the car, right? Chicks love the car."

Batman And Robin (1997)

Jay Brett

Designer: Ling, again, who based the car on racers like the Jaguar D Type and the Delahaye 165. Ling’s final product was 30 feet long and reached speeds of 140 miles per hour.

Man Behind the Cowl: George Clooney

Downside: Although the car itself is pretty awesome, Joel Schumacher’s brand of horndog-kitsch makes Batman and Robin one of the worst movies ever (nipples on the Batsuit? Come on, guys).


Batman Begins (2005)

Futuristic Gadgetry: Front-mounted autocannons, detachable Bat-Pod, prone driving mode

Designer: Nathan Crowley, who directed the 20-person team that built the Tumbler from scratch.

Man Behind The Cowl: Christian Bale

Lucius Fox, on the Tumbler: “Why, you wouldn't be interested in that.”

It Comes In Black

Wikimedia Commons / Leitonmahillo

Christopher Nolan and Nathan Crowley designed and the Tumbler from scratch; only the tires and the engine (a 500-hp, 5.7-liter Chevy monster) were pre-built. Weighing in at 2.5 tons, it reached 60 mph in under six seconds. Although the Tumbler is the least stylized of the cinematic Batmobiles, it was designed with a subtle bat motif in mind.

The LEGO Movie (2014)

Flickr / wolffe 98

Futuristic Gadgetry: As far as we know, the only Batmobile equipped with subwoofers.

Voice Behind the Cowl: Will Arnett

Batman, on his subwoofers: "I CALL 'EM THE DOGS! LISTEN TO 'EM BARK!"

Batman Vs. Superman (2016)

Zack Snyder / Select Game

Futuristic Gadgetry: TBD, but definitely some serious firepower up front.

Man Behind The Cowl: Ben Affleck (Henceforth: “Batfleck”)

Release Date: March 25, 2016. Get excited.