The New Batmobile Was Inspired By Stephen King's Christine

To the best of our knowledge, Batman has never named the Batmobile. However, if he did name it and if he followed the tradition of other guys with their cars, chances are, he would give it a woman's name — perhaps Betsy, since it sort of slant-rhymes with Batsy, or Kat, since its engine might purr like Catwoman. Maybe there's even an Elseworlds tale to be told in which Batman discovers the sexy thrills of mechanophilia with the Batmobile à la Julia Ducournau's "Titane."

As it is, the new version of the Batmobile, plowing through Matt Reeve's "The Batman," draws inspiration from a car named Christine. That's not just any car named Christine, but rather, the 1958 Plymouth Fury at the heart of Stephen King's 1983 novel, "Christine," which director John Carpenter adapted into a cult-classic film that same year.

As you might expect from a King book, Christine is car that acts of its own volition, sometimes murdering people. She can do it without even having anyone in her driver's seat. If a story of that nature seems like a strange, slightly obscure, and definitely macabre comparison for a DC superhero film, it goes along with what Reeves sees as "the horror-genre aspect" of "The Batman." In an issue of Empire magazine, Reeves explained how King's novel and perhaps also Carpenter's film influenced his approach to "The Batman." "[The Batmobile] has to make an appearance out of the shadows to intimidate," he said, "so I thought of it almost like Stephen King's 'Christine.' I liked the idea of the car itself as a horror figure, making an animalistic appearance to really scare the hell out of the people Batman's pursuing. There is absolutely a horror-genre aspect to this movie."

Batman has decades' worth of Batmobiles in his garage

The Batmobile hasn't always been so scary. In fact, it started out onscreen as more of a simple convertible, perfect for a sunny drive. If Batman were to ever give an "MTV Cribs"-style tour of his Batcave, you can bet he would have a few different versions to show off, just based on all the Batmobiles that have appeared onscreen over the years.

First, there was the Batmobile driven by Adam West in the 1966 "Batman" film and television series. It was basically a black-and-red open-top car with Bat-stylings. Then, there was the all-black Batmobile of Tim Burton's 1989 "Batman" film, in which Michael Keaton got behind the wheel of a rocket-like salt flat racer. This Batmobile drove through the art-deco world of Burton's Gotham City with cocoon shielding, and it could even eject its sides and squeeze through an alley if need be.

In Burton's 1992 sequel, "Batman Returns," the Penguin, played by Danny DeVito, managed to take control of the Batmobile at one point by way of a remote kiddie car. Reeves' 2022 film, "The Batman," flips that script by having Robert Pattinson's Batman chase Colin Farrell's Penguin through the streets in the Batmobile, finally running his car down and flipping it.

In the mid-to-late 1990s, Burton's Batmobile gave way to Joel Schumacher's version in "Batman Forever" and "Batman and Robin." This Batmobile glowed blue and some have even described it as "phallic," in keeping with the rubbery nipple aesthetic of Schumacher's films. In the 21st century, Christopher Nolan's Tumbler in "Batman Begins," "The Dark Knight," and "The Dark Knight Rises," re-envisioned the Batmobile as more of an armored tank with desert camouflage, which Batman would spray-paint black. The Tumbler was a prototype from the Applied Sciences division at Wayne Enterprises, and it held within it the Batpod, a separate, detachable vehicle all its own that Christian Bale's Batman could ride through the streets like a motorcycle.

She runs like a scream

In 2016 and 2017, Zach Snyder's Batmobile, driven by Ben Affleck in "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice" and "Justice League," flattened out the military design of Nolan's Tumbler into something a little sleeker yet still angular in places. A few years later, in October 2021, after the DC Fandome trailer for "The Batman" dropped, we sang the praises of Reeves' new "Christine"-inspired Batmobile, with its muscle-car momentum, powered by a classic turbo booster and "some kind of sweet new Bat-hydraulics." Another trailer for "The Batman" gave us a fresh look at the "Christine"-inspired Batmobile in action.

In the Bat and the Cat trailer, released at the tail end of 2021, the very first image we see is that of the turbo booster firing up, and much of what follows rides the same Batmobile momentum, intercutting imagery of that thrilling chase where Pattinson's Batman comes after Farrell's Penguin like a bat out of hell. The way Reeves frames it — with the Penguin scoping the Batmobile in his side mirror and looking over his shoulder as it bursts through the flames — you can very much see how he might have been going for a horror-movie effect. 

Just imagine the Batmobile as a monster or killer in a slasher movie, relentlessly pursuing the guilty. This goes back to the idea of Batman as a night symbol meant to inspire fear in the "superstitious, cowardly lot" of criminals in Gotham City.

"The Batman" hits theaters on March 4, 2022.