Batman saves the day... and gets the girl.
To celebrate 75 years of The Dark Knight, DC Entertainment and producer Bruce Trimm released a beautiful three-minute short that pays homage to the early animated series. The nostalgic video -- titled "Batman: Strange Days" -- features the Caped Crusader fighting off a mad scientist and his henchman in order to rescue the damsel in distress from imminent death.
Whether or not you're a fan of Batman, this short is worth checking out. It's simple in visuals, but gorgeous in its noir style.
Gallery | 8 Badass Superhero Vehicles
- The Batmobile ('Batman,' 1989, and 'Batman Returns,' 1992)
Ah, remember when Batman was kind of light and fun? That was the spirit that Tim Burton and production designer Anton Furst captured with their Batmobile, which featured heavily in the director's two Bat-outings. With a long, sleek, bullet-like nose and batty fins on the back, it was like an art deco missile, like if somebody turned the Chrysler Building on its side and shot it through the streets of Gotham. (The subsequent Joel Schumacher movies tried to capture the stone cold coolness of the Burton/Furst designs, complete with a "ribbed" version that was at least partially conceptualized by "Alien" creator H.R. Giger.) The first film introduced the car in all of its coolness, but the second one showed off all the bells and whistles: its nifty, armadillo-style armor; the way that the cockpit can get shot out as a small, cigarette-shaped bullet (shades of the Batpod in Nolan's Batman movies -- more on that in a minute); a series of "Wacky Races"-style doodads, like the little fins that come out of the side to knock down crazy, stilt-wearing clowns (get a lot of mileage out of that one). Burton's Batmobile probably remains the coolest superhero car ever.
- The Tumbler ('Batman Begins,' 2005, 'The Dark Knight,' 2008 and 'The Dark Knight Rises,' 2012)
For Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, the filmmakers wanted to go with something more realistic. Instead of the sleek sports car that the Batmobile is usually represented as, they went for something clunky and more militaristic, a vehicle that could have existed in the real world (on the battlefield, perhaps, or the moon). Nolan and production designer Nathan Crowley envisioned something that was a cross between a Lamborghini and a tank, and wound up with the hulking, midnight-black Tumbler, explained away in the story as a prototype designed by Wayne Enterprises' largely defunct Applied Sciences Division (lorded over by kindly mad scientist Lucius Fox, played by Morgan Freeman). Much like the Burton movies, in the first Batman movie it just looked cool. In the second one, it showed what it was made of, particularly when, after a damning car crash, it ejected its driver out in something called the Bat Pod, a little motorcyle-ish vehicle that Batman can ride with his cape majestically flowing in the wind. For the third film, they introduced a whole platoon of Tumblers, some in so chic camo, commanded by the evil Bane (Tom Hardy). These were even more menacingly militaristic, with canons and gun turrets and all sorts of things. But by then even Batman had moved on -- to the skies, in his deluxe aerial vehicle called, simply, The Bat.
- The Incredicar ('The Incredibles,' 2004)
Existing in the temporally nebulous world of Brad Bird's "The Incredibles," which seems to liberally mix design aesthetics from the '50s, '60s, and '80s, the Incredicar, which patriarch and one-time big-shot superhero Mr. Incredible (Craig T. Nelson) drives, seems to be a mixture of the original Batmobile (from the '60s TV series), a classic Corvette, a dash of Mustang, and probably the cover of some obscure old sci-fi comic book. The results are, typically, enchanting. Bird worked on the design with Lou Romano, the film's production designer (and also the voice of Linguini in Bird's follow-up, "Ratatouille"), who gave the car its retro-futuristic design. This is kind of an ultimate superhero car -- it can transform, zoom down city streets, and even help Mr. Incredible get ready for his marriage to Elastigirl (Holly Hunter) by changing him out of his superhero duds and into a tuxedo. It really can do it all!
- The Hell Cycle ('Ghost Rider,' 2007, and 'Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance,' 2012)
Sure, it's not exactly a car, but as far as iconic superhero vehicles go, there are few that beat the hog ridden by Johnny Blaze (Nicolas Cage), a man whose corroded soul allows for his motorcycle to be transformed into a blazing bike from hell. The motorcycle ridden by Blaze in the underrated second film, "Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance," is a Japanese-make, which is kind of funny considering how all-American the Ghost Rider character is. There is a lot more of the actual motorcycle in the sequel, before it gets transformed into a whirlwind of fiery pixels, and Cage, a noted motorcycle enthusiast, adds some much-needed realism to a movie whose main character transforms into a flaming skull (who still manages to keep his leather jacket on). "Ghost Rider" also solved the immortal riddle of how to make a motorcycle even more dangerous to ride: light it on fire.
- The Black Beauty ('The Green Hornet,' 2011)
Nobody is going to remember Seth Rogen's "The Green Hornet," based on the radio drama character that was brought to life in a series of iconic movie serials, comic books, and one very cool television show, but chances are, if they do remember anything, it will be the car -- dubbed The Black Beauty. The Black Beauty is a mint-condition example of a '60s automobile done right, and its existence is explained away by the selfish main character (Rogen) having a rich car-collecting-enthusiast father (Tom Wilkinson). The reason for the car being outfitted with more gadgets than your average James Bond ride is less plausible, but involves Kato (Jay Chou), a kind of Swiss Army knife of a character, who can be utilized for any given scene/scenario. The movie's most electrically alive sequences involve The Black Beauty, whether the superheroes are running down bad guys, or the car is cut in half but still bolting through a newspaper planet or, in the movie's simplest, most pleasurable sequences, the two leads try to sing along to Coolio's "Gangsta's Paradise," which is blasting through The Black Beauty's tricked out sound system.
- Fantasticar ('Fantastic Four,' 2005, and 'Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer,' 2007)
Again, this isn't technically a car -- it's some kind of hovercraft, most likely -- but it still has the word "car" in its name and it's also pretty boss. Developed by genius Dr. Reed Richards (Ioan Gruffudd), who, after getting irradiated with space beams, becomes the super-stretchy Mr. Fantastic. Mr. Fantastic and the other four -- Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman (Jessica Alba), Johnny Storm/The Human Torch (future Captain America Chris Evans) and Ben Grimm/The Thing (Michael Chiklis) -- come together to become a publicly "out" superhero squad, do-gooders who don't hide their secret identity. As such, they ride around in the coolest thing they can come up with: The Fantasticar! Production designer Bill Boes fearlessly adapts the comic book-y look of the Fantasticar, which is sort of like a convertible crossed with a UFO. It might not be the most subtle superhero car, but then again, the Fantastic Four have never been the most subtle superheroes.
- The Herkimer Battle Jitney ('Mystery Men,' 1999)
"Mystery Men" was a flop as baffling as its title -- adapted from an obscure Dark Horse comic book, it had an all-star cast that included Ben Stiller, William H. Macy, Janeane Garofalo, Eddie Izzard, Geoffrey Rush, and Hank Azaria and a singular visual style that envisioned a city as neon-lit as Tokyo but as goofy as a child's fast-food menu. One of the movie's funniest flourishes (in a movie comprised almost solely of funny flourishes) was the Dr. Heller (Tom Waits) character, a mad scientist who specializes in non-lethal weapons for the band of misfit superheroes. The crown jewel in the Mystery Men's nonlethal arsenal was the Herkimer Battle Jitney, a giant, tank-like truck that director Kinka Usher describes as a cross between a train and a WWII tank transporter on the DVD commentary. (Debate still rages online as to whether or not it was a real vehicle -- it was most assuredly not.) Like everything else in "Mystery Men," the Herkimer Battle Jitney is both familiar and slightly off.
- The Red-Mist-mobile ('Kick-Ass,' 2010)
After Kick-Ass (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), an amateur superhero that inspires real change in the least New York-looking New York in cinema history, takes to the streets, he inspires others to join his cause. One of those wannabes is Red Mist (Christopher Mintz-Plasse), whose father is a big-time crime boss and who has an almost unlimited amount of money. It's with this money that he builds the Red-Mist-mobile, a souped-up Ford Mustang (probably 2009 model) that features canons of red mist that fire out of the hood, a modified body design (including, for some reason, what looks like nose rings), and gull-wing doors. What's great about the Red-Mist-mobile is that it's just menacing enough that when the character veers towards the dark side at the end of the film, he's still got a car that can get him there, in style. (It's unknown if the car makes an appearance in "Kick-Ass 2," out next month. Here's hoping!)