Vehicles like the Batmobile and the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier are some of the coolest pieces of technology in all of comics. For characters like Ghost Rider or the X-Men’s Fantomex, their vehicles are fundamental parts of their power sets. For many characters, impossibly high-tech cars and planes give them a convenient way to traverse the globe in a matter of minutes. While comic book vehicles have given comic creators the chance to design the cars and planes of their dreams on the page, they’ve also given filmmakers a way to inject some high-tech style and dynamic action sequences into superhero films.
Sadly, every comic book vehicle can’t be a winner. Now, CBR is counting down some of the most useless vehicles in superhero comics. For this list, we’ll be looking at all kinds of cars, aircraft and other vehicles used by superheroes and villains in comics, TV and film. Even though the superhero genre fully embraces the inherently ridiculous, these vehicles should’ve stayed in the garage. While some of these vehicles actively harmed their owners, others redundantly mimicked their owners’ powers or were just plain weird-looking. Regardless of why they’re on this list, all of these heroes and villains would’ve been better off without these particular rides.
15. WONDER WOMAN’S INVISIBLE JET
While it didn’t show up in the critically-acclaimed Wonder Woman movie, the Invisible Jet is one of the most famous parts of Wonder Woman’s mythology. Unlike most modern versions of the character, Wonder Woman couldn’t originally fly. Created by William Moulton Marston and Harry G. Peter in 1942’s Sensation Comics #1, the technologically-advanced plane was Wonder Woman’s primary mode of transportation for decades.
Even after Wonder Woman gained the ability to glide on wind currents, she still used the Invisible Jet in comics, live-action show Wonder Woman and the iconic cartoon Super Friends. When Diana officially gained the ability to fly in DC’s 1986 reboot, the Invisible Jet was rendered largely redundant. In the 1990s, the plane was reimagined as a sentient, shape-shifting alien crystal and transformed into a floating fortress called the Wonder Dome. While this angle has been dropped, the Invisible Jet still appears fairly regularly.
14. JOKER’S JOKERMOBILE
Even though Jack Nicholson’s Joker famously wondered where Batman “got all of his wonderful toys,” the Joker has had a Jokermobile to play with since 1946. Created by Jerry Robinson in Batman #37, the Jokermobile featured a giant version of the Joker’s grinning face on its grill. While there have been several versions of the Jokermobile, they all usually bear the villain’s trademark garish purple and green color scheme.
Although they’ve never had as many features as the Batmobile, the various Jokermobiles have included extras like machine guns and giant trunk-based boxing gloves. As darker takes on the Joker became more prominent, the vehicle fell by the wayside and was even mocked by some of Gotham’s braver residents. Even though the Joker himself admitted that he thought it was a bit too much, an updated, more stylish version of the vehicle was featured in 2016’s Suicide Squad.
13. THE TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES’ TURTLE BLIMP
While the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles have made Saturday morning cartoons radical for years, even Michelangelo said that the Turtle Blimp was “the lamest vehicle in the history of lame vehicles.”Although it was absent from the Turtles’ first appearances, the Turtle Blimp has been a regular feature of the franchise’s shows and comics since its frequent appearances in the 1980s cartoon Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Created by the team’s resident “machine-doer” Donatello, the blimp is one of the team’s main modes of transport alongside the more practical Party Wagon. Even though the blimp is slow and unwieldy, its open-air base can detach and serve as a self-propelled glider. While the glider is more nimble than the blimp, its distinct lack of proper seating can leave three-quarters of the team hanging on to their shells.
12. PENGUIN’S DUCK CAR
In 1992, director Tim Burton’s second Batman movie, Batman Returns, had the unenviable task of following-up one of the most popular superhero movies of all time. Although the film didn’t make the seismic cultural impact of its predecessor, the dark film shocked contemporary audiences and has a well-regarded legacy today.
In sharp contrast to the film’s gothic tone, Danny DeVito’s Penguin traveled around in a bright yellow Duck Car. Originally part of a ride from the Gotham Zoo, the bizarre vehicle was modeled after a toy rubber ducky and could operate on both land and water. Designed by concept artist Jacques Rey, the Duck was a nod to the giant props that Batman villains used in the 1940s and 1950s. While it made an odd companion to the film’s sleek Batmobile, the Duck was heavily merchandised around the film’s release and was featured in a LEGO set in 2014.
11. SUPERMAN’S SUPERMOBILE
Created by Cary Bates and Curt Swan in 1978’s Action Comics #481, the Supermobile is one of the more rarely used tools in Superman’s arsenal. Since Superman can normally fly and run at supersonic speeds, he only used the aircraft a few times when his powers were compromised in the 1970s. Most notably, he used the Supermobile to single-handedly take down the powerful Justice League villain Amazo in the vehicle’s debut.
Superman built the Supermobile out of Supermanium, the hardest metal in the DC Universe. Designed to protect the Man of Steel from power-draining kryptonite and red sunlight, the heavily-shielded vehicle was fueled by the Man of Steel’s own immense strength. In addition to replicating most of Superman’s powers, the vehicle had two extending robotic arms that he could use to grasp and punch things from the safety of the cockpit.
10. BIG WHEEL’S BIG WHEEL
Appropriately, the minor Spider-Man villain Big Wheel pilots a giant mechanized wheel called the Big Wheel. Created by Marv Wolfman and Ross Andru in 1978’s Amazing Spider-Man #182, Jackson Wheele was a corrupt businessman who was being blackmailed by the skateboard-themed villain Rocket Racer. After hiring the Tinkerer, a criminal inventor, to build him a weapon, Wheele became Big Wheel and fought both the Racer and Spider-Man.
Although the vehicle was fully armed and could climb up walls, Big Wheel was mostly treated as a joke and didn’t appear very often. Although he briefly joined the ex-villain group Vil-Anon and tried to help Spider-Man, Wheele eventually retired to a life of demolition derbies and small-time jobs. After returning to crime, the Big Wheel kept on rolling and has tried to flatten heroes like Ghost Rider and Spider-Woman.
9. CABLE’S CELESTIAL SHIP
For most of its existence, Cable’s Celestial Ship was a perfectly helpful vehicle. In its 1988 debut in Walter and Louise Simonson’s X-Factor #24, the ship was Apocalypse’s Celestial-created headquarters. After the villain’s defeat, the sentient Ship became the headquarters for various mutant teams. When an infant Cable was infected with the Techno-Organic Virus, the Ship merged with him to save his life and traveled with the mutant into the future.
Now known as Professor, the artificial intelligence became one of Cable’s closest allies. After returning to the present, the rebuilt ship was attacked by a race of mechanical aliens called the Phalanx. As a result, the ship formed a humanoid body and renamed itself Prosh. Although Prosh’s new body initially overjoyed Cable, it inadvertently aggravated Cable’s T.O. Virus. In order to save Cable’s life again, Prosh broke his friend’s heart and blasted off into space, alone.
8. BATMAN’S JET-SKATES
With the Batmobile and Batplane, Batman has some of the most famous vehicles in comic book history. That still doesn’t make every vehicle that comes out of the Batcave a winner. Some of the Dark Knight’s more dubious inventions were the Bat-Skates.
Created by Arnold Drake and Sheldon Moldoff in 1958’s Batman #117, the Batskates were rocket-propelled roller skates that Batman and Robin used in one of that era’s typically strange adventures. While being chased by the Dynamic Duo, the thief Eddie Marrow was abducted by the alien thief Garr. With the help of Chief Inspector Tutian of the Universal Police Corps, Batman and Robin tracked the criminals to Planetoid X. After being bombarded with giant fruit, the heroes used the Batskates to zoom through an alien forest and captured the thieves before they could blast off.
7. U.S. ACE’S U.S. 1
In one of Marvel’s more original comics, big rig trucker Ulysses Solomon Archer fought evil in his souped-up big rig, U.S. 1. This licensed title, U.S. 1, was created by Al Milgrom and Herb Trimpe in 1983 to help support TYCO’s line of remote control toy trucks. With the help of a CB radio implanted in his skull, Archer used his high-tech rig to fight criminals like his brother, the evil trucker Highwayman.
At the end of his 12-issue series, Archer became a space trucker after U.S. 1 was modified by aliens. Over the years, Archer adopted the name U.S. Ace, returned to Earth and briefly teamed up with She-Hulk, Deadpool and Rocket Raccoon. While Ace eventually traded U.S. 1 in for a few new rigs, the Highwayman became a slightly more serious villain after a demonic makeover and had a memorable encounter with Ghost Rider.
6. GREEN ARROW’S ARROWCAR
In some of Green Arrow’s earliest adventures, he was heavily inspired by some of Batman’s tools. In addition to adopting a young sidekick, Speedy, and a secret hideout, the Arrow Cave, Green Arrow drove the Arrowcar. Created by Mort Weisinger and George Papp in 1941’s More Fun Comics #73, the various versions of the customized car included catapult seats and fins that gave it a vaguely arrow-like shape.
Although most of Green Arrow’s vehicles were destroyed, one still-functional Arrowcar eventually went up for auction. The second Speedy and a villain called the Scavenger engaged in an online bidding war over the car. Although he criticized his fellow Justice Leaguer for his lack of original ideas, Batman bought the Arrowcar as a gift for his fellow Justice Leaguer. Though shortly after this, the car broke down on the side of the road, and Green Arrow simply blew it up in frustration.
5. SPIDER-MAN’S SPIDER-MOBILE
As Spider-Man himself put it, the Spider-Mobile was quite simply a “fiasco.” Created by Gerry Conway and Ross Andru in 1974’s Amazing Spider-Man #130, the Spider-Mobile was introduced at the urging of a toy company representative who contacted editor Stan Lee. Like Spider-Man, the customized dune buggy could shoot webs and climb up walls.
In the Marvel Universe, Corona Motors and the advertising firm Carter & Lombardo paid Spider-Man to use the Spider-Mobile to help them promote green energy engines. After building the vehicle with the Human Torch, Spider-Man used it during a handful of adventures before wrecking it. A replica of the original Spider-Mobile ended up in New York’s Smithsonian Design Museum, and an alternate-reality version of the car was used by Hawkeye and Wolverine in the storyline “Old Man Logan.” More recently, Deadpool repainted the original Spider-Mobile and renamed it the Dead Buggy.
4. FLASH’S FLASHMOBILE
As the Fastest Man Alive, the Flash doesn’t really have a need for any kind of vehicle. But in the 2003 Justice League episode, “Eclipsed,” he proudly revealed his brand new Flashmobile. In one of the DC Animated Universe’s lighter moments, the Flash showed off the van’s hydraulic lifts, sun roof, lava lamp, TV and couch to an aggravated Green Lantern. The Flash even offered to take Green Lantern on a cross-country road trip in the vehicle, which also had a spare tire cover that read “Wild Thing.”
Although the van itself was played for laughs, the Flash’s actions were highly criticized. In order to pay for the vehicle, the Flash used his public status to become a paid spokesman for Lightspeed candy bars. This drew the attention of the outspoken talk show host “Glorious” Godfrey, who briefly turned public opinion against the Justice League.
3. GREEN LANTERN’S SPACESHIP
Green Lantern rings give their users a number of fantastic abilities, including the ability to fly through space on their own power. That’s part of why it was so strange that Green Lantern Abin Sur flew a spaceship in John Broome and Gil Kane’s Showcase #22. In that 1959 tale, Sur’s ship crashed on Earth, which fatally wounded him and paved the way for Hal Jordan to become the new Green Lantern of Sector 2814.
Although Green Lanterns are chosen for the ability to overcome fear, it was later revealed that Sur used a spacecraft because he was afraid. In Alan Moore and Kevin O’Neill’s Tales of the Green Lantern Corps Annual #2, Sur was told that his death would come after his ring failed at a critical moment. As a precaution, Sur started traveling through space with a ship, a decision that ultimately led to his fatal crash landing.
2. ROBIN’S BATSKIFF
To put it mildly, Joel Schumacher’s film Bamtan and Robin has some faults. One of the many criticisms against the 1997 film is that it essentially felt like a feature-length toy commercial. This was especially apparent in the movie’s final battle, where Batman, Robin and Batgirl took on Mr. Freeze. Instead of using famous, previously seen vehicles like the Batmobile and Robin’s Redbird motorcycle, the heroes used three new vehicles that were built to operate on ice.
While Batgirl used an ice-worthy Batcycle and Batman operated the Bathammer, a Batplane-esque rolling vehicle, Robin drove the Batskiff. Propelled by a giant fan, the Batskiff looked like an ill-advised cross between an airboat and a snowmobile. While it was capable of traveling through an iced-over Gotham City, the Batskiff’s awkward triangular frame cut a distinctly odd profile. Although the Bathammer and Batgirl’s Batcycle both became toys, no Batskiff toys were ever produced.
1. THANOS’ THANOSCOPTER
After years of build-up, Thanos is finally set to fully unleash his wrath on Marvel’s heroes in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. Even though he’s one of the most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe, he had to use the Thanoscopter to get around in Spidey Super Stories #39, by Nick Sullivan, Michael Siporin, Jim Salicrup, Win Mortimer and Mike Esposito.
In that kid-friendly 1979 story, the Thanoscopter was a regular yellow helicopter with the villain’s name painted on both sides of its tail boom. In an adventure that saw Thanos beaten by a child and put in handcuffs by the NYPD, Thanos used the chopper to chase Patsy Walker’s Hellcat and find the reality-warping Cosmic Cube. Although the Thanoscopter appeared in the 2016 video game LEGO Marvel’s Avengers, Thanos will probably have to find another way to travel on screen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Stay tuned to CBR for your comics and pop culture fix. Let us know what your favorite lame vehicle is in the comments below!
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