Adding muscle to the Dark Knight’s Batmobile

– NYC – New York – 3/1/22 -The New York Premiere of ” THE BATMAN ” . – Pictured: Robert Pattinson – Photo By: Dave Allocca/StarPix – Location: New York

With eight live-action Batman films, there have been six different Batmobiles, each one representing the personality of The Dark Knight at the time. It is probably the second most important piece of casting.


The Batmobile is Batman’s awe-inspiring signature vehicle. Combining brute force with high-speed ferocity, this staggering feat of engineering provides The Batman with the on-road muscle to chase down his fiercest foes. Also in his vehicular arsenal is the Batcycle, The Batman’s sleekest mode of transport, perfect for allowing the hero to race through Gotham’s streets at breakneck speeds.

Because Bruce Wayne is just into his second year as The Batman, everything Bat is in its early stages as well, and that includes his wheels. The city is decaying around him and the Batmobile reflects this through his hands-on, hand-built, bespoke muscle car, designed to suit his very specific needs.

In the film, The Batmobile gives off a Christine-like vibe. And that is by design.

Production Designer James Chinlund had watched the evolution of the Batmobile, from its early days in the original comics, through the mid-century models of the TV series to the pumped-up sports cars on steroids of the films of the late 20th and early 21st centuries. He and Reeves began thinking about the design of the car even before the script was finalized.

(Courtesy Warner Bros)

“There are certain things you get to do on a Batman movie that you kind of have to pinch yourself,” Reeves says. “You say to yourself, ‘Well, we’re going to need our version of the suit and cowl, and we’re going to need gadgets, and we’ll need our version of the Batmobile.’ Now, as a kid, I loved Batman 66, I loved Adam West and that Batmobile, that concept car? I thought that was the coolest car ever. I loved the fire that came out of the back. So many cool Batmobiles have come out since then, and to me, the Batmobile has to be like the Batsuit: it’s meant to intimidate, it has to be like a monster. And because our Batman is just starting out, I wanted his Batmobile to feel elemental, too.”

Reeves and Chinlund I looked at a lot of cars together. “We both came back to the idea that it was all about function and utility for Bruce in our film,” Chinlund says. “Bruce is single-minded in his mission and his construction of the car is all about function: if it’s useful, he keeps it; if it’s extra, he throws it out. We loved the idea of him using parts of a classic American muscle car as the foundation, and then adding the custom frame, amped-up engine, the armor, and so on. Bruce has built this Batsuit for function but also to instill fear, and we knew we had to deliver that same level of signature look in the car.”

Over a period of two years, the Batmobile took shape with the help of vehicle illustrators Ash Thorp, Benjamin Last, and many others. From the initial designs, the team then moved the concept to 3D with vehicle art director Joe Hiura.

3/1/22 -The New York Premiere of ” THE BATMAN ” . – Pictured: Zoe Kravitz – Photo By: Dave Allocca/StarPix

The end result is a car that has made the long journey to becoming the behemoths-on-steroids moviegoers are used to; The Batman Batmobile is matte black all over, with a design that tips its hat to the original Batmobile from the 1960s TV show via red lighting and wings at the rear. A solid steel bumper is attached to a steel frame that runs through the whole car, enabling it to crash through anything in its path, and the massive engine that powers the car is exposed when the car powers up and the louvers open like gills on a fish.

REELated: INTERVIEW: Robert Pattinson goes beneath the mask

Special effects supervisor Dominic Tuohy and his team had to handle a car made up of over 1,000 individual parts, but the fact that the car is so detailed is one of the things that makes Chinlund so proud. “You can look anywhere in the car and there’s something exciting to see, some sort of mechanism or some detail, such as the thruster that controls the jet, which Batman uses when he needs that extra push; rear-view cameras; a control panel; the leather-wrapped dash; and then traditional muscle car gauges. It’s a stripped-down, function-first design aesthetic.” But that’s not the best part, the designer notes: “The car performs like a dream. It’s just amazing what these guys pulled off.”

Tuohy’s team began work with the physical build of the car, a process that took 12 weeks. Apart from the engine, tires and gearbox, the car is custom-made. For example, the windscreen would not fit a normal vehicle and required specially made windshield wipers precisely placed to ensure functionality when the script called for the car to be driven through artificial rain. “That’s what was interesting about building the Batmobile,” says Tuohy. “We didn’t use a donor car; we built a one-of-a-kind and, in this case, we built four.”

The Batmobile was built around a V8 engine with 700 horsepower and four-wheel drive, including a transfer box inside that would allow the driver to transfer from the front wheels to the rear wheels while driving using a pneumatic system. Tuohy notes, “That is something that they use in the rally car fraternity, because it gives the car dynamics that you wouldn’t normally have and allows the driver to come around a corner with just the front wheels working, and with the push of a button, transfer all the power to the front wheels, or the rear wheels, or both. From previous experience, we know the stunt drivers love that, because they’ve got immediate power where they want it.”

The car also had to be able to jump. “That was part of the remit when we designed the rear suspension of the car,” says Tuohy. “We built the car so it could be put in either general driving mode or jump mode. One of the four vehicles we made had longer suspension and was for the jump. We also had to redesign the front of that car, because the bumper is injected molded plastic, which has a really good finish as well as strength, but we needed it to be as light as possible to go over a jump. So, we re-molded it out of fiberglass, which reduced the weight by nearly 100 kilos.”

For Tuohy, the best thing about the project was that “everything you see the car do is done in real-time,” he says. “There are no computer-generated graphics; what you see on screen is all down to the skill of the stunt team.”

Surprisingly, one of the four Batmobiles Tuohy’s team built was electric—but for a very practical reason. Says Chinlund, “That one was the show car for work on set, and it had the advantage of being totally silent. It also had a pod on top, where the stunt driver was seated while Rob Pattinson was in the driver’s seat below.”

For Pattinson, the Batmobile fit exactly into his incarnation of the character’s aesthetic. “It’s another part of the hand-made nature of everything in this film,” he says. “It’s great that you can see the realistic construction—it’s not alien technology or super high-tech, Bruce has built it himself and we are able to understand that process. Batman has always been an accessible Super Hero, even though he’s a billionaire; the fact that he’s just a guy I think appeals to a lot of people. And when you get closer to that and you see that even the Batmobile looks like something handmade if you had the perseverance and the cash… I think that is appealing.” And incredibly cool. “It sounds unbelievable when you drive it, like you’re driving a jet or something.”

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The Batman opens today, Friday, March 4, exclusively in theaters.