Batman’s always had a ride as iconic as he is. And each unique design reflects its respective version of Batman, whether it’s the campy, fun, Barris-designed Batmobile from the ‘60s or the noirish, Art Deco Batmobiles from the early ‘90s Batman: The Animated Series and 1989’s Batman. As we’re probably all aware, Matt Reeves revealed images of The Batman’s new Batmobile yesterday. It looks incredible, marrying the aesthetic of a muscle car with a sports car, and influences both fictional and real. And it might even tell us about Reeves’s take on the Dark Knight.
First off, we should give credit where credit’s due: this new Batmobile was designed by concept artist Ash Thorp, who scaled back on the militarism of Nolan’s and Snyder’s predecessors with his iteration. It’s not another tank or a dune buggy - it actually looks like a car. Back in the 1980s, production designer Anton Furst wanted to give Tim Burton’s Batmobile a “knight in armor” look and outfitted it with armor plating. But it wasn’t overtly militaristic, unlike Ben Affleck’s Batman v Superman ride, a Dark Knight Returns-inspired tank that had machine-gun turrets.
The new Batmobile is more scalpel than hammer. Unlike Affleck’s and Bale’s battering rams on wheels, this one looks like it was made to race. For one thing, it has an exposed rear-mounted engine. (For the uninitiated, race cars and sports cars have rear-mounted engines because it makes a car more powerful and quicker to accelerate.) It looks like the engine could be a V8, but it’s more likely a V10 with two massive turbochargers on each side, all ensconced in a roll cage. The third brake light is a nice safety feature, and it’s nice to know that Batman is complying with the law and preventing rear-end collisions. More importantly, though, it illuminates the engine with a hellish glow. (And if you look at it long enough, as I have, the engine starts to look like a monstrous face or a skull.) In short, this Batmobile is built for racing and going fast, and looking metal as hell while doing it.
Thorp’s design also seems to borrow from other cinematic vehicles. It evokes Max Rockatansky’s Interceptor and the DeLorean, and its most recent fictional relative is Dominic Toretto’s Ice Charger from The Fate of the Furious. There’s a little 1960s Batman in its DNA, as well as the Burton Batmobile. And Thorp and Reeves may have drawn inspiration from the comics, specifically Neal Adams’s iteration of the Batmobile. Adam West’s ‘60s Batmobile was a Lincoln Futura concept car that George Barris customized with all kinds of gadgets, whereas Adams’s Batmobile resembled a modified Corvette - it wasn’t a showy Batmobile, but looking low-key was the whole point. All of its cool features were concealed, including the armor, self-driving abilities, and reinforced wheels.
Of its real-world influences, the new Batmobile looks like ’70s and ‘60s muscle cars, particularly a late ‘60s Chevy Camaro, an early ‘70s Dodge Charger, and the Plymouth Barracuda. The Burton Batmobile was probably Frankenstein’d together in much the same way as this new Batmobile: built on a Chevy Impala chassis, made from a modified ’70 Corvette body, fitted with a Chevy V8 engine, and inspired by the look of the Corvette Stingray and jet aircraft. Essentially, the new Batmobile looks most like a muscle car, but its profile is not unlike Burton’s Batmobile (especially the rear fenders), a Lamborghini Miura, and Corvette’s Mako Shark II or Manta Ray concept designs.
The Batmobile needs to look menacing, but some of the most beloved Batmobiles were also sleek and beautiful, and that’s exactly what this new Batmobile is. The design especially makes sense if Bruce Wayne’s just getting the hang of the whole superhero thing, and this is his first ride. (And rumor has it the film will be about his second year as the Caped Crusader, so this tracks.) It looks like he could’ve actually made it himself, or had it customized for him. Anton Furst said it best when he said the Batmobile was “a pure piece of expressionism.” The new Batmobile is rooted in reality, but it preserves the essential fantasy.
Basically, the Reeves Batmobile rules, and I can’t wait to see it racing down the streets of Gotham next year.