By Alex Wiggan (and Ryan the former work experience lad, who owes me big time)
Welcome dear readers to the final part of The Science Of Superheroes and this week you join me and Ryan back at stately Comics Code Manor, on the edge of (not so) sunny Salford. Due to recent events involving Ryan... and some hookers, we’ve been forced to cut short our adventures in science. So for the concluding chapter, in which we look at Batman’s Batcave (including his gadgets), it almost seems appropriate that we have returned home to the manor; my own little Batcave. Now as the location of Comics Code Manor is a closely guarded secret, I can’t divulge the exact details of where all the ‘magic’ takes place, but what I can say is that the manor is situated somewhere beyond Batman & Robin bridge and (what was formerly known as) Batman Begins bridge.
So for one final time in this journey...let’s get going.
WHAT IS IT?
The Batcave is an underground construction (built within a pre-existing cave) that is designed to house an elaborate number of high-tech gadgets and gizmos, along with a selection of vehicles. It’s built below the mansion of a billionaire and its existence is a closely guarded secret. It is divided into different sections so that it can incorporate storage of vehicles, trophies and training areas, as well as the most state of the art technology in the form of a giant computer!
WHO DOES IT BELONG TO?
The Batcave belongs to Gotham City’s Caped Crusader the mysterious Batman, who was created by Bob Kane and first appeared in Detective Comics #27, in 1939. Batman was the masked identity of billionaire Bruce Wayne, a playboy socialite who swore an oath to avenge the death of his parents, who were murdered when he was just a child. The horrific incident had such an effect on the young boy that under the guise of the Dark Knight detective Batman, Bruce took to the streets of Gotham to face the psychotic schemes of the Joker, Two-Face and the Riddler. Although Batman made his debut in 1939, the Batcave didn’t officially make its appearance until five years later, in Detective Comics #83. It did get a (sort of) mention in Batman #12 in 1942, which was then later developed into an appearance in the 1940s Batman serial in 1943, but it was in 1944 that it became official in the comics. Since then the cave has appeared in numerous Batman stories, TV shows and movies and has become as much a part of the Bat-mythology as Batman’s cape and cowl. Over the years the cave has changed appearance (often depending upon the different versions of Batman there have been) but collectively if it housed all of the gadgets and technology from all the various incarnations of Batman’s existence it would be a pretty big-ass museum. Batman is not alone in having a secret base of operations built within his house, just check out the X-Men, who have a whole host of stuff stashed away in their ‘School for Gifted Youngsters’.
SO DID YOU SAY THE BATCAVE WAS BUILT BELOW BRUCE WAYNE'S MANSION?
Yep, the cave sits below Wayne Manor and is the working home for Batman. Amongst the many artefacts and trophies housed within the Batcave (including a giant penny, a dinosaur etc) there are also a whole range of Bat-gadgets, including the Batmobile, the Batwing and Batman’s mighty Batcomputer! The cave is accessible via a variety of different secret entrance points hidden within the many rooms of Wayne Manor, including Bat-poles located behind a bookcase that lead directly into the Batcave (made famous in the ‘60s TV series) and numerous secret staircases, passageways and tunnels.
SOUNDS PRETTY COOL!
The Batcave is extremely cool, but then so is the Batmobile, the Batwing and even Batman’s Utility Belt!
TELL ME MORE.
Well the Batmobile is Batman’s superfast mode of transport that isn’t just a way for Batman to get from A to B, it’s a technologically advanced automobile that is arguably one of the most famous cars in the world. It first appeared in Detective Comics #27 in 1939 and just like the Batcave the Batmobile has gone through MANY transformations, from an ordinary looking car to a battle-ready tank. Take the movies for example there have been almost as many different Batmobiles as there have been live-action Bat-films, with different designs appearing in Batman: The Movie (1966), Batman (1989), Batman Forever (1995), Batman & Robin (1997) and Batman Begins (2005). Although some of these were designed to replace Batmobiles that were damaged in the act of duty in previous films, there are some Batman stories that suggest that Batman has kept all the different Batmobiles in his cave and uses them when the need arises.
Of course when Batman isn’t using his Batmobile he can take to the skies in the Batwing, a high-tech aircraft shaped like Batman’s Bat-insignia. The Batwing first appeared in the 1989 film Batman, where Michael Keaton played the Caped Crusader; but it actually made its debut 50 years beforehand in 1939, when it was known as the Batgyro...and then the Batplane. Just like the Batmobile there have been a few Batwings/Batplanes/Batgyros, but generally speaking whatever the name, shape and design the Batwing has been Batman’s constant mode of aerial transport.
Finally there’s Batman’s Utility Belt, which is the tool Batman relies on the most during his battle against the criminal underworld of Gotham City. The Utility Belt looks like a very robust piece of Batman’s costume, but in actual fact it’s more than just a sturdy fashion accessory, it is Batman’s secret weapon, that acts like a Tardis of tools! Again depending upon which version of Batman it is, it’s often believed that Batman’s belt is capable of carrying almost any handy gadget, as witnessed in the 1960s TV series starring Adam West and the 1997 film Batman & Robin. Amongst the many trinkets kept within the belt, there are grenades, ropes, batarangs (Bat-boomerangs) and there’s even a kryptonite ring, for when Superman goes bad (hey, it happens)! Like the Batwing and Batman himself, the Dark Knight’s Utility Belt first appeared in 1939.
I WANT ALL OF THESE.
Well I’m not surprised Ryan, you always seem to want everything... (shame you don’t pay for it out of your own pocket!), but as I mentioned above these are just some of the interesting items that are kept within the cave.
WHAT ELSE IS THERE?
The Batcomputer, the Batboat, the Batbikes, Bathammer, Redbird, Batsuits with Batnipples, Alfred’s S&M gear....
WOULD IT BE POSSIBLE TO OWN A BATMOBILE?
Yes, there are a number of replica Batmobiles that crop up at conventions and exhibitions all over the world, but let’s say you actually wanted a workable model, you’d probably be better off just buying a really fast car. Of course there are many speedy automobiles, but according to the Guinness World Records, the current fastest legal road vehicle is the Bugatti Veyron Super Sport, which was named after Pierre Veyon, a French racing driver, who drove between 1933 and 1953. If you had this car you could ‘pimp’ the vehicle so that it looks like the sort of car Batman would happily drive and to a certain extent you would have your own Batmobile... of sorts...minus all the cool weaponry the Batmobile carries. As for the rest of Batman’s gadgets, well a similar plan could be applied to aircraft, probably even looking at the Grumman F-14 Tomcat, as discussed in the chapter on the Swat Kats. You could even turn an ordinary belt into a more Bat-like accessory (although The Science Of Superheroes does not recommend adapting your belt into a weapons carrier).
OK, SO WHAT IF I WANTED TO BUILD MY OWN BATCAVE BELOW MY HOUSE; COULD I?
Erm, I think you would struggle to build a secret sanctuary below the foundations of your bedsit Ryan; but let’s say that theoretically speaking you lived at Comics Code Manor and you actually had money (which you didn’t steal from me), then yes, yes you could. In essence the Batcave was just a really big space hidden below a mansion, with some secret entrances; so with enough money a wealthy person (so not you) could modify their house to incorporate this space. However let’s say you don’t have a mansion, then think of things on say a smaller scale and you could even make adjustments to incorporate smaller sanctuaries; like panic rooms. Panic rooms are hidden rooms built into people’s homes that offer refuge in emergency situations. Safe rooms contain communication equipment, emergency supplies (almost certainly a toilet) and are often fortified with concrete walls or a steel construction to make them almost impenetrable. They are designed to be comfortable enough to live in for short periods of time and of course they are also supposed to be a secret compartment within the house. Safe rooms are becoming more and more common, but go back to an even smaller scale and you can easily see that buildings can be modified to create hidden areas within a home. Take stately homes in Elizabethan times that were modified so that they could hide priests during a period in English history when Catholic priests were persecuted. Built in 1580, Harvington Hall in Worcestershire was one of these such homes and it was fitted with seven (yes seven!) small priest-holes built into the building, which were small hideaways that allowed priests to disappear into secret panels within the stately home. Although the priest holes were very cramped spaces if secret hideouts could be built all the way back then, with the modern technology of today anything is possible!
And now you know!
SUPER SCIENCE EQUATION: Ryan + Numerous modifications to his home and his possessions (well if he bloody well had any) = A sort of Batcave
Right dear readers, that was the last chapter, but we’ve still got to conclude this particular journey, so read on... if you haven’t buggered off already!