Taking Superhero Vehicles for a Spin

Would you drive the Batmobile down Rodeo?

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As Comic-Con draws superhero fanboys and girls to San Diego for the weekend, a question occurred to us: why are there so few L.A.-based superheroes? (The less said about Marvel’s Champions of Los Angeles, the better.) The most obvious reason for our city’s lack of caped crusaders? Traffic.

Not all heroes can fly or run fast, so if there’s crime afoot, the hero has to get there in an SUV (superhero upgrade vehicle). Quickly. But Angelenos know it can take two hours to get from Crescent Heights to Beverly Hills when taking Sunset. Chances are, if crime happens on a Friday afternoon, the bad guy is getting away.

Would any superhero vehicle fare well in Los Angeles? Let’s take a look at five of the best and examine the pros and cons:

The Batmobile

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Even though the 1960s television Batman’s hideout was filmed in the Bronson caves of Griffith Park, the fictional Gotham City was based on New York City. However, the tricked out Lincoln Futura, designed by custom car hall of famer George Barris, is the most recognizable vehicle in the superhero world. Fire blasting and wheels screaming, the Batmobile can both top speed limits to get a hero to the scene of the crime, as well as turn heads when cruising Rodeo Drive.
Pros: Fast, sleek and stylish.
Cons: Can still get caught in traffic.
Verdict: This iconic ride is more about style than substance. The perfect Hollywood car.

Ghost Rider’s Hell Cycle

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Stuntman Johnny Blaze, more formally known as Ghost Rider, sold his soul to Satan. In return he got a sweet supernatural chopper made from bone and metal, flames burning off of it as it drives. Modeled after the Harley Davidson, a brand known for its own Hell’s Angels, Johnny’s hog could blast through gridlock on the centerline, hopefully dodging that Prius trying to change lanes for the tenth time in two minutes.
Pros: Maneuverability, and hellfire prevents theft.
Cons: No noise suppression, loss of eternal soul.
Verdict: You’ll get there faster, but that roaring engine will alert the bad guys of your presence long before you park.

Tank Girl’s Tank

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Everyone’s favorite post-apocalyptic punker had one major thing in common with southern Californians: she lived in her car. Not just in terms of daily traffic—she literally camped out in her vehicle. But unlike those conversion vans under the overpasses along Sepulveda, this mobile home was pimped out with high-tech weaponry and other toys. Plus, it was fast and indestructible, which would be convenient when trying to merge onto the 101.
Pros: Can easily change lanes, no chance of getting totaled in a hit and run.
Cons: Impossible to park on the street, unsafe to leave keys with the valet.
Verdict: It’s very tempting for highway use, but the tank’s size will prevent you from being able to park anywhere near that cool downtown gallery pop-up.

Green Goblin’s Goblin Glider

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This winged rocket sled would probably be popular with the surfer boys who could cowabunga this baby all over town—electromagnetic footpads mean no wipeouts. Industrialist Norman Osborn (also known as the Green Goblin) designed the glider to whip in between the buildings of downtown New York, but sometimes you just want to zip above rush hour.
Pros: Avoid traffic on both the streets and the sidewalks.
Cons: Wind plays hell with that $200 haircut.
Verdict: Yeah, you can make it from Los Feliz to Santa Monica in half an hour, but you’re standing the whole time—ouch!

Fantastic Four’s Fantasticar

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Mr. Fantastic Reed Richards came up with a lot of great inventions, but nothing tops this sectioned flying car. Designed so that each of the four team members can split off and still soar above traffic, the Fantasticar can sail across town at phenomenal speed. Drop the invisible bulletproof screen, and—boom—it’s a convertible.
Pros: The true L.A. dream: ten minute commute.
Cons: Dodging helicopters. Come on, there’s traffic wherever you go—even the sky!
Verdict: The best option if you can drop a few million.

Photgraphs courtesy (1) wikipedia, (2) blogspot.peeteespalace, (3, 4) facebook, (5) comicvine.com

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