One of the best things about Batman as a superhero is that he actually has a need for a car. Superman just doesn’t need one, Spider-Man is too broke, Aquaman has the wrong address, Wonder Woman has that invisible jet, and on and on. Batman is unique in his need for a Batmobile, which is why it’s such a shame so many have been so stupid. I’m here to fix that.
Batman has always been the most plausible of the popular superheroes. He’s just a somewhat crazy (or very crazy, depending on the version you’re taking on) rich guy with a fetish for authoritarianism. If Donald Trump wasn’t such a doughy bag of custard, or if Elon Musk gave two shits about petty crime, there could be a Batman in our own world—hypothetically.
Most of the well-known Batmobiles, though, have been anything but plausible. The famous Lincoln Futura-based Batmobile from the ‘60s TV show was fun and flashy, but low, open-topped two-seater really isn’t the best choice for fighting urban crime.
The Batman movies of the ‘80s and ‘90s kept with the traditional comic-book motif of the dramatic-looking, long-hooded, bat-winged two-seat sports car, but they grew even more exotic. Tim Burton’s 1989 jet-turbine powered Batmobile looked cool and seemed to have a bunch of gadgets, but it got compromised at least once, and any amount of thought would have made it pretty clear that such a complex, cramped, and low vehicle makes no sense.
I mean, a turbine engine? All The Joker would have to do is fling a handful of food wrappers into that big front intake, and once they get sucked into the engine, that’s it for the Batmobile.
This basic design of the sleek, low, long, high-tech two-seat sports car Batmobile persisted for years, until Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns introduced the idea of the tank-like Batmobile.
This one makes much more sense on many levels: it can get through pretty much any terrain or obstacle, it’s heavily armored, and inside it’s actually useful, with a medical bay and room for more than one other person.
But it’s still huge. And Batman works in a city. Gotham isn’t known for its broad, open vistas, it’s a cramped filthy concrete rabbit warren of roads and crime-filled alleys given imaginative names like “Crime Alley.” It’s no place for a tank.
The more recent movies have continued with this tank-like concept: the Tumbler, from 2005's Batman Begins brought it to the movies, and the new Batman v. Superman movie has a Batmobile quite similar in concept. (There’s also a giant gun up front, perplexingly, but the car is the least of that movie’s problems.)
If we’re going to pretend Batman could really exist, in our world (at least in a Gotham City in our world, that pretty much plays by our basic rules) his Batmobile would have to be much, much different. Here’s what it would have to be.
First, it needs to be based on something common enough that Bruce Wayne could buy a bunch of them without raising too many suspicions. He’s going to want a bunch because if you’re going through the effort to build a Batmobile, you’d be crazy to just build one. Build at least three.
The one thing you can be sure of about a Batmobile is that if it’s getting used like it should be, it’ll be taking a shitload of abuse, and having a reserve Batmobile or two is what will keep Batman Batmanning.
It’ll need to be fast, but it doesn’t need to be insanely fast. It’s not running drag races, it just needs to keep up with most cars out there, and it’s going to be doing most of it’s driving in a fairly dense city, so maximum speeds are never going to be able to get too high.
It’ll need to be rugged, and, unlike so many of the sleek, torpedo-shaped Batmobiles, it needs a lot of ride height and suspension travel. A Batmobile may reasonably be expected to drive over curbs and up and down stairs and over fences and ditches and construction sites and playgrounds and God knows what. It needs a good 4x4 platform.
It can’t be just a two-seater. That makes no sense. A Batmobile that’s worth anything needs some room inside. A Batmobile is Batman’s mobile Batcave, and, as a superhero that is so heavily reliant on his equiPment and gadgets and machinery, he needs a place to carry tools, equipment, a place to repair things, prepare, and so on.
A good Batmobile should offer Batman some shelter and a place to regroup, or heal if needed. Batman’s job is fairly demanding, physically, even when groups of Juggalos aren’t shooting at him. He gets injured, and he needs medical equipment close by.
Plus, under the mask, Batman is Bruce Wayne, a human being. A Batmobile where he can shelter and take a little batnap or maybe change his very soiled tights after a solid 34 hours of crime-fighting would probably be very, very welcome. He needs a place to eat, clean up, refresh, and you can’t do that in a cramped seat in one of those other Batmobiles.
A plausible Batmobile also needs to be very heavily armored, much like an armored bank car, because most of a Batmobile’s interactions with the criminal population will involve the Batmobile being shot at, a lot.
Oh, and it should be autonomous-capable! I mean, why not? That technology is just about here, and a Batmobile that can drive in a holding pattern for Batman or come pick him up, or haul his ass home when he’s half-dead seems like a pretty useful capability to have.
So, with all that in mind, here’s what I’m thinking: The base platform would be a Ford Raptor, that overpowered off-roading demon of a performance truck. They’re pretty fast, they’re rugged, they have great ground clearance and suspension travel. I’m thinking that with all the weight we’re adding, the basic 450 horsepower of the engine will likely be upgraded, probably to something around 650 HP or so.
If you’ve ever driven a Raptor, you’ll understand not much more is needed, and the engine needs to be reliable as much as powerful. Fuel economy is probably a factor as well, since the more range the Batmobile has, the better. You don’t want to have to stop mid-chase for gas, even if it is super cheap right now.
Plus, Raptor parts can be gotten from any of Gotham’s fine Ford dealerships without much trouble at all, and that means the Batmobile stays on the road.
The body would be heavily modified from the Raptor. I’m thinking Bruce Wayne could hire a company that makes armored bank car conversions to build a heavily armored van-like body on the Raptor platform. Inside the rear, there’d be a table-like unit on one side that can be a bed, a medical stretcher, a restraint system for some captive, a bench for multiple people to sit in, a work table, and so on.
Sure, the huge tank-like Batmobile had this, but it was just too damn big to be of any use in the city. If it’s too big for most roads or to get into a parking garage, what’s the point? Plus, anything so huge it causes lots of property damage is just going to get people even more pissed at Batman, and trust me, he doesn’t need that headache.
The ability to carry more than one person seems huge. Batman may have to get a handful of people to safety. He may capture some villan, and need a way to privately interrogate them, or ferry them to the police. How has he not had this before?
The other side would have a computer setup, with equipment for electronic eavesdropping, research, some basic analysis of clues and evidence, and so on. Why should he have to trudge back to the Batcave to do all this stuff? Gotham traffic is awful; better to have a way to do it on site.
This idea isn’t new to Batman, either. One of the Batmobiles from the 1950s included a little internal lab setup, though it looks like it would have been incredibly cramped. Here, look:
The more I think about this, the more stupid all those other Batmobiles seem to be. Why would some crazy flashy two-seat, low, road-hugging sportscar ever have been a good idea? How many times has Batman limped back to his Batmobile, ribs broken, bags full of evidence that needs analysis, adult diaper straining under its considerable load, a pebble in his boot, and looked at his low, cramped Batmobile and just thought Man, fuck this stupid black-wheeled coffin.
This is the only Batmobile that makes any sense. It’s the right size, has the right capabilities, it’s plenty fast, it uses the most readily available parts, and likely costs way less than almost any Batmobile in recent memory.
You’re welcome, Batman.