Spotted in the Wild: The Cars of Comic Con 2012


Superheroes may be the stuff of legends, but where would they be without their cars?

One of the great perks of my day job is that I get to go to all sorts of geeky conventions to promote my current project. As a car lover I’m always surprised at the amount of cars that are present at these functions, the most recent of which was Comic Con which takes place annually in my hometown of San Diego. The amount of cars at this year’s event really had me pondering the importance of cars to the superhero mythos and to the science fiction genre as whole.

Cars have been around a lot longer than superheroes. The cover of the first Superman comic published in 1938 (now valued at about the same price as a Porsche Carrera GT) featured Superman lifting a car. Shortly after that in 1939, Batman drove a car for the first time. Though in its first appearance it was referred to as “his car,” but it shortly after sprouted the signature bat wings from its rear flanks. Since then, and up to its current incarnation as the Tumbler, the Batmobile has always stayed a few steps ahead of the current technology of the day.

Outside of superhero movies, car manufacturers have been quick to jump on the product placement bandwagon to get their badge on the cars of the imagined future. Think Lexus in Minority Report or Chrysler in the upcoming Total Recall remake. I would have taken a picture of the flying Chrysler concept they brought to the show, but there were about a thousand nerds (What? Not me, honest...) clamoring to take a picture of the three-boobed prostitute standing in front of it. Luckily she wasn’t standing in front of these other cars.

Knight Industries Three Thousand

Younger folk may only see a murdered-out 1982 Pontiac Trans Am when they see this car, but children of the Eighties will instantly recognise it as the The Knight Industries Three Thousand, or KITT, as driven by the Hoff in Knight Rider.

Bugatti spaceship from Elysium

Even Bugatti is getting in on product placement. Here we have a crashed Bugatti-branded spaceship from the upcoming Matt Damon movie Elysium.

The Walking Dead Hyundai Elantra Coupe

Call me cynical, but I've been sick and tired of the zombie craze for about three years now. That being said, The Walking Dead is a very good show and I don't think I'd want to be anywhere but in this Hyundai Elantra Coupe if the zombie apocalypse were to actually happen. Which it won't. Everyone stop talking about zombies.

1960s Batmobile

Southern California hotrod legend George Barris was on hand at Comic Con to discuss his creation for the 1960s Batman television series. Though it was based on the Lincoln Futura concept designed by Ghia for the 1955 Chicago Auto Show, Barris originally asked for six months to turn it into the Batmobile. They ended up giving him six weeks, but he still managed to come up with this. This version was even on 2012 California plates!

1989 Batmobile

It seems like every kid I went to elementary school with had on a Batman shirt after Tim Burton's Batman starring Michael Keaton came out. It injected new life into the superhero genre and this car played a huge part in the success of the movie.

1995 Batmobile

Batman Forever was the first of two movies directed by Joel Schumacher and it marked the beginning of the end for the first Batman movie franchise. It also marked a less purposeful look for the Batmobile.

1997 Batmobile

At one time, George Clooney joked that he was the actor that killed the Batman franchise. It probably didn't help that his car was the first open-top Batmobile since the television series, or that his Batsuit had nipples. 

Batmobile 2005: The Tumbler

It took a few years and the genius of director Christopher Nolan to help resurrect the Batman movie franshise. The Tumbler certainly helped, too. It looks totally badass in person and upon close inspection appears very purposeful. The coolest thing about this Batmobile is that it looks like it works. From the back you can see the long travel offroad suspension and the Chevy small block engine just peeking out.

The Tumbler 2012 

Going by what I've seen in the previews of Dark Knight Rises and this Tumbler's desert warfare paintjob, I don't think this is an actual Batmobile. Rather this is a version that has been reappropriated by the new arch villain Bane. We'll have to wait until this Friday to find out for sure.

In case you're wondering what all these Batmobiles were doing in the same place, it's to promote a new documentary coming out about the Batmobile being released in tandem with Dark Knight Rises. Watch the preview below.