Why the Batmobile from Batman Begins was Nolan the Dark Knight’s Secret Weapon

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Batman: The Beginning was the first chapter of the Dark Knight trilogy, and the design of the unique Batmobile was the key to Nolan’s reboot in Batman. After the disastrous reception of “Batman and Robin” called into question the future of the Batman movie franchise, Warner Bros. I considered many different options for where to take the character next. Several scripts were written, including an adaptation of Darren Aronofsky’s “The First Year” and the film “Batman Beyond” starring Clint Eastwood, but in the end the studio was defeated by Christopher Nolan’s idea of Batman.

Nolan started making a name for himself in the industry with Memento, but the director was far from a safe choice to reboot one of Warner Bros.’ most important IP projects. David Goyer, who previously worked on Marvel’s Blade films, joined Christopher Nolan on a mission to create a Batman movie that could make viewers forget about Batman and Robin and revive the Batman franchise. Nolan and Goyer decided to delve into Batman’s origins to such an extent that they had to create a story about Bruce Wayne’s “lost years” featuring the seemingly immortal Ras Al Ghul.

Related: Why Christopher Nolan Avoids Using Computer Graphics So Much

Although Batman: The Beginning was inspired on some levels by Frank Miller’s The First Year, the film was essentially a new take on Batman, especially in terms of movies. To sell this darker, more realistic version of Batman, Christopher Nolan knew he needed to develop a Batmobile before anything in Batman Begins, as he recounted in a special short for the release of the Dark Knight trilogy on Blu-ray. The director had a very specific idea of a modern approach to Batman, and the new Batmobile was supposed to be the embodiment of this idea. In many ways, Tumbler, which went from a simple model made by Nolan to a one-year effort to create a real car, was the director’s commercial proposal for both the studio and the audience as to what his Batman relaunch should have been: an informed look at Batman relying on military technology to explain everything realistic Batman’s gear.

How did Christopher Nolan’s Batmobile differ from others

All the previous Batmobiles were very stylized, more comical cars with details that ranged from bat wings attached to its back to glowing wheel caps with the Batman symbol applied to them. While Burton and Schumacher’s versions of the Batmobile were easily recognizable cars from films that were subsequently sold by thousands of toys, an attempt to reproduce those in Batman: The Beginning would immediately doom Nolan’s Batman reboot. The director was disassembling Batman and creating a new version from scratch, and the Batmobile had to portray this. This strategy eventually turned out to be correct, as many of the conversations leading up to the release of Batman: The Beginning were around this strange, tank-like Batmobile. Christopher Nolan continued to develop realistic versions of Batman’s costume, gadgets and villains, but the Batmobile gave viewers a first look at what they could expect from this newly born Batman franchise.

“The Dark Knight” was an important milestone in Nolan’s career, if not superhero movies in general, and his iconic interpretation of the Joker and Two-Face would never have worked if “Batman: The Beginning” failed to sell a realistic Batman. Part of this success was the Tumbler Batmobile, which, despite a more realistic approach, became the star of an intense chase in the movie Batman: The Beginning. Batman will still use the Batpod motorcycle, as well as an aircraft called the Bat, both of which continued the legacy of the Batmobile from Batman: The Beginning.