And yet, the Batmobile is an illusion. Like so many other Hollywood props, the Batmobile that you see in the movie does not exist at all.
How can that be? How can something be so real that it can serve as a pace car but also be so illusory that it doesn't actually exist? In this article, we will talk with Nathan Crowley -- the man who designed the Batmobile and brought it to life in "Batman Begins" -- to find out what's going on.
The first thing you have to understand about Batman is that he must have a car. Unlike Superman, who has superhuman powers, Batman is a normal human being who gains all of his advanced capabilities through ingenuity and technology and usually a combination of the two. He can't shout "Up, up and away!" and fly through the air. Batman needs wheels to get around.
The second thing to understand is that, in this movie, Gotham City is portrayed as a highly dysfunctional version of New York City on steroids -- there are surprises and obstacles at every turn. So Batman needs a rugged car.
The third thing to understand is that Batman cannot, realistically, construct the car himself. Ordering all the machine tools and parts and assembling them in the basement would give away his secret identity.
So in the script, they create a mothballed military vehicle built by Wayne Enterprises. Batman requisitions this vehicle for his own purposes and paints it black to match his color scheme. The Batmobile also gains some rather remarkable abilities. For example:
It can go very, very fast.
It has a jet engine that allows it to jump/fly through the air much farther than any normal car could.
It has two driving positions -- one for driving and one for jumping/flying. It has stealth capabilities, and part of the stealth mode is a silent, electric-motor drive. Getting into and out of the car is "unusual" to say the least. There are no doors -- instead, the car "opens" somewhat like a flower. Nathan Crowley is the man who had to take that cinematic vision of the car and bring it to life on film. Now, the thing that you have to understand about Nathan is that he is a very physical guy... .
One of the most interesting parts of the Batmobile when you watch the movie is the way that Batman gets in and out. It is almost like a flower opening -- the roof unhinges, the windshield slides back and the seats in the car actually rise up. To make all of that origami fold and unfold, a separate team built yet another Batmobile.
The car actually has another driver hidden inside the vehicle -- he makes the car stop and start as needed for each shot. When you see Batman inside the car, that is yet another piece of the puzzle. The interior of the car is actually a studio set that can't move at all. It is oversized so that cameras can fit inside, and it has all of the features needed to shoot the "interior shots" -- things like the seat that can move forward, the cockpit controls and so on.
And finally, there is one other version of the Batmobile -- the miniature version. It is a 6-foot-long (2-meter), 1:5 scale model of the Batmobile, complete with an electric motor drive. When you see the Batmobile flying through the air across ravines or between buildings, it is this scale model that does the flying. (But it's the 5,000-pound, race-car version that flies through the waterfall to land in the Batcave.)
So now you can start to see the complete illusion that makes the amazing car known as "the Batmobile" possible in the film.