Zack Snyder expects to breathe new life into Batman via the Batmobile. The superhero has been getting grittier and bleaker over the years and Justice League, scheduled for release in November, has focused on the car. It is now armed with something like a recoilless rifle atop the windshield and large-calibre rotary cannon on either side of the hood, which appear to have been borrowed from a gunship. The rig bears a family resemblance to the robot tank in the Japanese sci-fi cult movie Gunhed (1989).
Does Batman really want to be a gunhead? Can he afford to go into action lustfully inhaling the reek of cordite? He was born the orphan of gunplay, when his parents were mugged and killed in a back alley of Gotham City. The rest of his life was a narrative against gun culture, which is enjoying a revival in the US. That’s another reason why Batman might consider going easy on the magnum rotaries. He would not wish to be confused with the xenophobes who are now opening unprovoked fire in the boondocks.
The badass Batmobile released in a teaser trailer this week represents the latest phase in the transformation of Batman. He began life as a crimefighter in an elastic suit who hated guns and gratuitous violence, loved cheesy puns and let his fists and his one-liners do all the talking. He now wears six-pack armourplate, is inclined to bleakness and brooding, and his ride packs military-grade hardware. He doesn’t speak much. He has too much to do. And he is not averse to killing.
Actually, that is precisely what has changed. Bob Kane’s Batman was committed to the sanctity of human life. The character who strides the screen now is a man to whom nothing is sacred, not even his own back story.