According to Nolan, upon learning that the studio wasn’t mandating the Batmobile, but essentially saying that “it’s going to be disappointing without it”, he decided to take up the challenge. Because it was a challenge to adopt that comic book concept for Nolan’s vision.
The 1989 “Batman” was very different from the Adam West show and other performances, surprising audiences with its grim, dark story and art deco style. Still, he drew tonal and visual inspiration from Frank Miller’s “Dark Knight Returns,” staying squarely in the realm of comics.
But that wasn’t Nolan’s “Batman Begins,” which was never planned as the first entry in a trilogy. Although the film is inspired by the story of many comics, the look of the film is taken from the real world, aiming to offer a more realistic superhero movie. A flashy car with a bunch of guns, that can only be driven by Batman but not pompous enough for someone to find out who bought it, is not easy to find. It also makes sense that Nolan didn’t want to include the Batmobile in the beginning, given that much of the film’s plot takes place in The Narrows, a small, busy part of Gotham without much space for cars.
And yet, Tumbler endured, becoming an integral part of Nolan’s vision of The Dark Knight. As David Goyer says in the same behind-the-scenes documentary, the goal was to have a car that focused on function over form, and one that felt practical. The Tumbler, an all-terrain military tank prototype, was the perfect compromise, a vehicle that felt real even if it wasn’t, served a practical purpose for this more militarized version of Batman, and looked pretty cool too.