Ranked: The Most Reckless Batman Behind the Wheel

Batsuit. Batmobile. Batbreakdown cover? Bruce Wayne isn’t among Gotham’s best drivers, and could certainly benefit from a solid level of personal cover. But which Batman is the most reckless behind the wheel? Find out the full rankings, from Bale to Batfleck and beyond, below.

Connor Campbell Last updated on 04 March 2022.
Ranked: The Most Reckless Batman Behind the Wheel

Na na na na na na na na… breakdown! Bruce Wayne – Gotham’s hottest bachelor and least insurable man – isn’t exactly known for his road safety.

Crashes, explosions, and the kind of reckless driving that would have him sitting through an educational video on a drizzly Tuesday afternoon. All plenty of justification for the Caped Crusader to take out a comprehensive breakdown cover policy.

But which Batman is the worst behind the wheel? Is Christian a lia-Bale-ity? Clooney the biggest klutz?

Using our patented breakdown cover ‘reckless-ometer’ – where a write-off is worth 5 points, a tow 3 points and roadside assistance 1 point – we have worked out the Bat most likely to go splat when at the helm of the Batmobile. So buckle up!

» MORE: Do I need breakdown cover?

Christian Bale – reckless score of 30

No man has donned the Batsuit more times than Christian Bale. And boy did he cause some chaos with his version of the Batmobile, the $1 million tankish Tumbler.

His grapples with the Joker were no laughing matter. In The Dark Knight alone he would’ve written off the vehicle three separate times: smashing it through a concrete wall, being hit by a bazooka, and flipping it on its back. That gives the 2008 film a reckless score of 15, more than any other single entry in the franchise.

He also incurred a pair of towing incidents in Batman Begins, and, while blighted by Tom Hardy’s Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, managed what no other Batman could: the holy trinity of roadside assistance (for the Batpod), a tow and a write-off in just one film.

That gives Bale – the only Welsh-born Bat – an unbeatable total reckless score of 30.

Thankfully audiences were all in on his dangerous driving: the Tumbler is the favourite cinematic Batmobile, according to our NerdWallet survey of 2,000 UK Bat-fans, winning 28% of the vote.

Clearly Bale’s vehicular mayhem has lingered long in the memory – it helped send car armour (36%) to the top of the list of features fans would most want on their own Batmobile, ahead of stealth mode (31%), a turbo-charged engine (29%) and a rocket launcher (28%).

We didn’t want to leave this up to your imagination, so here is an artist’s rendition of what that dream Batmobile would look like based on our survey results of what fans would most like to see:

Michael Keaton – reckless score of 16

Wearing the cowl twice, in Tim Burton’s 1989 Batman and the 1992 follow-up Batman Returns, Michael Keaton was a smidge more sensible than Christian Bale.

In his first entry, the classic Batmobile – which came second in our fan-favourite poll, with 20% of the vote – escaped relatively unscathed. It would have only needed a tow after it crashed into a truck, thanks to Jack Nicholson’s gun-wielding Joker.

The Batwing, on the other hand, wasn’t so lucky, with the Clown Prince of Crime shooting it out of the sky. Anything with an explosion that big is a write-off.

Batman Returns continued Keaton’s multi-vehicle mayhem, mainly due to Danny DeVito’s ghoulish Oswald ‘The Penguin’ Cobblepot.

The Batskiboat would’ve needed a waterway-towing after crashing on top of DeVito’s Duck, while the Batmobile should’ve been a goner, smashing down two lanes of traffic under the (remote) control of Mr Cobblepot himself.

All in all, that gives Keaton a respectfully reckless score of 16.

Ben Affleck – reckless score of 13

We now get into the realm of one and done Batmen – sort of. Ben Affleck technically only starred in one ‘proper’ Batman film, sharing top-billing with Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

And Batfleck made the most of his minutes, at least when it came to messing up his $3 million military monster Batmobile.

The film’s standard superhero car chase would’ve written off any other vehicle based on the amount of crashes it endured, while when Superman put his foot down, sending the Batmobile spiralling into a building, Bruce probably could’ve got away with a tow job.

Where Affleck’s vigilante really got into trouble was piloting his Batwing, which was laser beamed beyond repair by Doomsday, the monstrous creation of Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor.

That gives Batfleck’s outing a Dark Knight-rivalling reckless score of 13.

George Clooney – reckless score of 8

He of Bat-nipples fame, George Clooney’s sole appearance came in 1997’s gaudy flop Batman & Robin.

It wasn’t just the film’s reception that was chilly. Clooney’s toy-friendly Batmobile got ice-cubed by Arnold Schwarzenegger’s pun-spewing Mr Freeze during an ambitious jump. Unbelievably it still landed safely, meaning it only needed a tow and some time next to the radiator at Gotham’s closest garage.

It does, however, later get shot at by a laser, in an incident that likely wouldn’t have left it road-worthy.

So that write-off, combined with the tow, gives Clooney a cool reckless score of 8.

Val Kilmer – reckless score of 5

Riddle me this: what reckless score did Val Kilmer manage in 1995’s Batman Forever? The answer: just 5, the product of a sole write-off – thanks to Jim Carrey’s Edward Nygma.

The red-topped Riddler drops a bomb into the driver’s seat of the Batmobile, before activiating it with his tricked-out walking stick.

Warners Bros. can’t have been happy – the car cost them $2.8 million to build for the film.

Adam West – reckless score of 1

Pow! Bang! Clank! Not just the fighting fists of Adam West’s original live-action Batman, but the sound of the Batmobile’s Manifold Pressure dropping in 1966’s camp classic.

It’s hardly the most explosive entry on this list. And it gives West a measly – or admirable, depending on how you look at it – reckless score of just 1.

Yet that didn’t stop his 1956 Ford Futura finishing third in our poll, taking 13% of the vote as it beat Val Kilmer’s vehicle on 12%, Clooney’s car on 11%, and Batfleck’s Batmobile on just 7%.

Noticeably, it is also the most realistic set of wheels parked in the Batcave. West’s Bruce Wayne would have legitimately needed roadside assistance to get his car back to its crime-fighting best.

And that apparently matters to the fans. Of those surveyed, 25% wanted the Batmobile to be a recognisable car model, while 32% wanted something that could have been modified in the real world. That compares to the 33% of film buffs looking for a more fictional and fantastical design.

Getting cover if you’re not Bruce Wayne…

Even if his vehicles weren’t essentially indestructible, Brucie has the millions in the bank to get a new Batmobile shipped to his cave whenever he wants.

But you (likely) aren’t a billionaire. Nor are you driving around lawless Gotham City. And we certainly wouldn't condone the kind of reckless driving that is part and parcel of Wayne’s vigilante antics.

In the real world, Batman would need car insurance, on top of breakdown cover, to deal with the costs of damages to both his cars and those belonging to the public.

Luckily, NerdWallet’s breakdown cover and car insurance comparison tools are here to help.

Pick the kind of cover you want then use the comparison tools to find the right deal for you from some of the country’s leading providers.

» COMPARE: Breakdown cover with NerdWallet

Disclaimer: Survey results are generated by market research company OnePoll in collaboration with NerdWallet. The findings are taken from a survey of 2,000 UK adults who have enjoyed two or more Batman films. The survey was commissioned between 22 February and 3 March 2022. OnePoll are members of ESOMAR and employ members of the MRS. OnePoll is an MRS Company Partner.

Image source: Getty Images

About the author:

Connor is a writer and spokesperson for NerdWallet. Previously at Spreadex, his market commentary has been quoted in the likes of the BBC, The Guardian, Evening Standard, Reuters and The Independent. Read more

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