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: 1941Wikimedia 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
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.”
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 BatmobileWikimedia 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 BlackWikimedia 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.