26 January 2015

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Tim Burton's Batmobile


Fictionally, one of the most perfect cars is the Batmobile. Admit it, if all of us could have one, we would.

The Batmobile was huge, long, low and sleek. It combined design elements from 1930s coupes like the Bugatti Type 57 and modern racing cars such as the Porsche 962 and was built on a Chevy Impala chassis. 

Each of the Batmobiles was filled with nifty gadgets, including twin retractable browning machine guns hidden behind the flaps in each fender, and small bombs that ejected from the wheels. In addition, the Batmobile had an afterburner in the back, a grappling hook, that once hooked on a structure, it served as an anchor to allow the Batmobile to make an extremely sharp turn at high speed that its pursuers typically cannot duplicate. It had superhydraulics for course changes, a Batdisc Ejector which was side mounted that could fire precisely 15 Batdiscs on a 1-second pulse and a chassis mounted shinbreaker. Finally the Batmobile was even equipped with oil slick dispensers and smoke emitters.

In addition to the above gadgetry, once inside the two-seater cockpit one would see aircraft like instrumentation, a passenger side monitor, a self diagnostic system, a CD recorder, and of course, a voice command recognition system.

In Batman Returns, the Batmobile also had a secondary mode referred to as the "Batmissile", where the wheels would retract inward and the sides of the vehicle would break off, converting the car into a thin bullet train-like form capable of squeezing through tight alleyways.

To prevent tampering, the Tim Burton Batmobile featured an armored "cocoon" mode, a hard layered shell that would cover every inch of the vehicle, including the wheels. The cocoon was made of ceramic fractal panels that exploded outward when struck by projectiles deflecting damage away from the car and its occupants. When Batman (or any driver) exited the Batmobile, through voice command, saying the world "shield" the driver could activate the Batmobile's cocoon, thus preventing anyone from tampering with the vehicle while it was unattended.

The cocoon of the Batmobile used in Batman and Batman returns are slightly different. The cocoon in Batman was not a fully functioning shield, it was animated by stop motion technology on to the life sized model that was built. Stop motion (or frame-by-frame) is an animation technique to make a physically manipulated object appear to move on its own. The object is moved by small amounts between individually photographed frames, creating the illusion of movement when the series of frames are played as a continuous sequence. The cocoon in Batman Returns has many similar characteristics, but the design was slimmer and the special effects were computer generated rather than stop motion technology.

Although we can likely agree that we all at one time or another wanted a Batmobile, it is clear that the Batmobile that roamed the streets of this Art Deco city reflected its environment, Gotham City. The Batmobile roaming the streets of any real street would likely stick out like a sore thumb with or without its cocoon.

Submitted by: Brenda Williams