Nolan’s First Batmobile Looked Terrible – But That Was A Good Thing

Christopher Nolan’s terrible first batmobile design highlighted one of the greatest strengths of The Dark Knight trilogy. Imbuing Batman Begins‘ rusty color scheme with The Prestige‘s dusk-esque palette, The Dark Knight gave new life to Gotham and made it look a lot more palpable and grounded in reality. It further pushed this realism by drawing a fine line of morality between Batman and the Joker, and this subtle contrast between the good and the evil gained even more heft with Christian Bale and Heath Ledger’s incredible performances.

Even from a technical standpoint, The Dark Knight did not hold itself back from selling a convincing real-life superhero. Owing to this, what is supposed to be a Batcave hidden deep under the Wayne Manor, became a relatively practical Bat-Bunker. Even the batsuit is not spared from this sense of realism as it comes with a range of high-end military-grade weaponry and a separate cowl that leaves enough room for mobility. More than anything else, however, it is Christopher Nolan’s batmobile, Tumbler, which gives his Dark Knight a genuine tactical edge over most other aesthetically pleasing yet impractical versions of Batman’s vehicle.

As revealed by The Dark Knight trilogy’s production designer Nathan Crowley (via Behind The Scenes of The Dark Knight Trilogy), Tumbler’s initial design was far less impressive than the final product – but that proved to be beneficial for the film’s creators in the long run. To ensure The Dark Knight‘s batmobile fit right into Nolan’s universe, Crowley first tried merging the designs of a Humvee (High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicle) and a Lamborghini Corniche. To his dismay, the result “looked awful,” but ultimately paved the way for the memorable final design of Tumbler that Christian Bale’s Batman drives in The Dark Knight.

Why A “Cooler” Batmobile Would Have Ruined The Dark Knight Trilogy

The fact that Nathan Crowley took enough time to test designs and then come up with a perfect batmobile goes to show why it paid off so well in The Dark Knight and proved to be a great fit for Christian Bale’s Batman. If he had rushed through the designs and settled for something that solely looked visually appealing but lacked Tumbler’s real-life practicality, the batmobile probably would not have been so memorable. The reason why it easily ranks among the best batmobiles is that other than appearing incredibly cool, it comes off as a military-style off-road tank that accommodates a vast array of badass weapons and gadgets. And considering how The Dark Knight establishes that Batman’s gadgets are re-purposed military equipment, it makes perfect sense for him to put the pedal to the metal in Tumbler and not in an exotic supercar.

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With that said, as impeccable as Tumbler may seem in The Dark Knight trilogy, it would not have been that good of a fit for Ben Affleck’s Batman or any other Batman for that matter. Just like there is no right or wrong iteration of Batman — only different interpretations of him in a cinematic multiverse — there is no right batmobile. Tumbler is technically sound and irreplaceable, but that only holds true for Nolan’s The Dark Knight universe.

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