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The Batcave is the secret headquarters of fictional DC Comics superhero Batman, (the alternate identity of billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne), consisting of a series of subterranean caves beneath his residence, Wayne Manor.
According to Who's Who '85 edition the Batcave is located beneath the grounds of Wayne Manor. The cavern was discovered by accident by Bruce Wayne when he fell through a rotted floor in the old manor barn. Wayne equipped the cave with the latest in scientific crime fighting equipment and computers. Within the Batcave are Batman's Batcopter, Batplane, Batmobile, and Bat-boat. Entry to the Batcave from within the manor is through Bruce Wayne's study behind a old grandfather clock. From the comics it's a winding staircase but from the classic Adam West Batman entrance to the cave was by a batpole where Bruce Wayne and Dick Grayson would slide down and be instantly transformed into the Caped Crusaders Batman and Robin.
Batcave image from DC Comics 1985 edition of Who's Who
Originally, there was only a secret tunnel that ran underground between Wayne Manor and an old barn where the Batmobile and Batplane were kept. Later, in Batman #12 (August-September 1942), Finger mentioned "secret underground hangars". In 1943, the writers of the first Batman movie serial gave the Caped Crusader a complete underground crime lab and introduced it in the first chapter entitled "The Bat's Cave". Bob Kane, who was on the movie set, mentioned this to Bill Finger who was going to be the initial scripter on the BATMAN Daily Newspaper strip. Finger included with his script, a clipping from Popular Mechanics that featured a detailed cross section of underground hangars. Kane used this clipping as a guide, adding the crime lab, stalactites, stalagmites and bats. Thus, the Dark Knight's creators introduced the definitive Batcave in the Batman "dailies" on October 29, 1943; and in January 1944, the Batcave made its comic book debut in Detective Comics #83
In these early versions it was just a small cave with a desk, filing cabinets and laboratory. Behind the desk, the Batman's symbol was carved into the rock with a candle in the middle of it. With time the cave expanded along with its owner's popularity to include a trophy room, supercomputer and forsenics lab.
Discovered and used long before by Wayne's ancestors as a storehouse as well as a means of transporting escaped slaves during the Civil War era, Wayne himself rediscovered them when he fell through a dilapidated well on his estate. Much like Superman's Fortress of Solitude, the Batcave serves as a place of privacy and tranquility where Batman can be himself.
Upon his initial foray into crime-fighting, Wayne used the caves as a sanctum and to store his then-minimal equipment. As time went on, Wayne found the place ideal to create a stronghold for his war against crime, and has incorporated a plethora of equipment as well as expanding the cave for specific uses.
Often, Bruce Wayne is depicted as having discovered the cave as a child, falling into it during youthful exploration of the grounds. This was shown in the movies Batman Forever and Batman Begins, as a young Bruce Wayne fell through wood that was covering an abandoned water well.
The cave is accessible in several ways. It can be reached through a secret door in Wayne Manor itself, which is almost always depicted as in the main study, often behind a grandfather clock which unlocks the secret door when the hands are set to the time that Bruce Wayne's parents were murdered, 10:47. Alternately, the study entrance has been shown to be behind a bookcase which slides to the side when a secret button is pushed, revealing the "Bat-Poles", which allow Bruce Wayne and his ward to change into their Batman and Robin costumes en route as they slide down to the cave. There is also an entrance under Bruce Wayne's chair in his office in Wayne Enterprises, as shown in Batman Forever. In Batman Begins, the cave is accessible through a secret door disguised as part of a large display case and unlocked by pressing a sequence of keys on the nearby piano.
Another secret entrance, covered by a hologram, waterfall or a camouflaged door, allows access to a service road for the Batmobile. Another alternate entrance is a dry well, highlighted especially during the Knightfall storyline. At one point, Tim Drake and Dick Grayson use the dry well to get into the cave, which they had been locked out of by Jean Paul Valley during his time as Batman, and Batman used it to infiltrate the cave and confront the insane Jean Paul in the final battle between the two men for the title of the Batman.
The location of the cave is known not only to Batman, but to several of his allies. In addition to the so-called "Batman Family", members of the Justice League and the original Outsiders are aware of the cave's location. Essentially, anyone who is aware of Batman's secret identity also knows the location of the Batcave, much like how people who have knowledge of Robin's identity have knowledge of Batman's; these, unfortunately, include such villains as Ra's al Ghul, who makes occasional visits to the Batcave to confront his long-time nemesis, and David Cain, who infiltrated the cave during the Bruce Wayne: Fugitive storyline when he framed Bruce Wayne for murder.
The Batcave serves as Batman's command center, where he monitors all crisis points in Gotham and the world.
The cave's centerpiece is a supercomputer whose specs are on par with any of those used by leading national security agencies; it permits global surveillance and also connects to a massive information network as well as storing vast amounts of information, both on Batman's foes and his allies. A series of satellite link-ups allows easy access to Batman's information network anywhere in the globe. The systems are protected against unauthorized access, and any attempt to breach this security immediately sends an alert to Batman or Oracle. Despite the power of Batman's computers, the Justice League Watchtower is known to have more powerful computers (composed of Kryptonian, Thanagarian and Martian technology), and Batman does occasionally use them if he feels his computers are not up to the task; on occasion he also consults Oracle for assistance.
The Batcomputer as presented in Batman & Robin is powerful beyond the realm of realistic computer systems, as Alfred is able to program a replication of himself (his "brain algorithms") which is capable of conversation.
Additionally, the cave contains state of the art facilities such as: crime lab, various specialized laboratories, mechanized workshops, personal gymnasium, a vast library, parking, docking and hangar space (as appropriate) for his various vehicles as well as separate exits for the various types, trophies of past cases, a large bat colony, and a Justice League teleporter. It also has medical facilities as well as various areas used in training exercises for Batman and his allies.
The cave houses Batman's vast array of specialized vehicles, foremost being the famous Batmobile in all its incarnations (mostly for nostalgia as well as for contingencies, as all are serviceable and in excellent working condition). The 1990s animated series gave rise to the idea that Batman keeps a fleet of regular cars of various models and utility vehicles such as an ambulance as well when the Batmobile would be too conspicuous for a mission. Other vehicles within the complex include various motorcycles, and various air and watercraft such as The Bat-Wing, a single occupant supersonic jet. Another vehicle found in the Batcave is the subway rocket, debuted in Detective Comics #667, during the time when Jean Paul Valley was substituting for Bruce Wayne after Bane broke his back. It allowed Batman to quickly enter Gotham, and could electronically clear a path via Gotham Rail.
The cave is sometimes powered by a nuclear reactor, but most often by a hydro-electric generator made possible by an underground river.
Later comics, specifically the Cataclysm storyline, suggest that Batman has incorporated safeguards against earthquakes and even a potential nuclear catastrophe, outfitting the cave as a virtual bomb shelter or an enhanced panic room. The city's earthquake redesigned the caverns of the Batcave, with eight new levels now making up Batman's secret refuge of high-tech laboratory, library, training areas, storage areas, and vehicle accesses. It also includes an "island" computer platform (built on the spot where the Batmobiles' hydraulic turntable once was) with seven linked Cray T932 mainframes and a state-of-the-art- hologram projector. With the cave's various facilities spread amid limestone stalactites and stalagmites, Batman built retractable multi-walkway bridges, stairs, elevators, and poles to access its facilities.
What is allegedly the world's last Lazarus Pit was constructed inside the cave, although this has been contradicted by events in the pages of Batgirl and the Black Adam miniseries.
The cave stores various memorabilia items, such as a defunct full-size mechanical Tyrannosaurus Rex, an equally large U.S. penny and a Joker playing card. The origins of these trophies are explained in Batman #256: the T. Rex comes from an adventure on "Dinosaur Island"; the penny was originally a trophy from Batman's encounter with a penny-obsessed villain named the Penny Plunderer (in World's Finest Comics #30, 1947). Other "keepsakes" in the cave include Two-Face's original coin, Deathstroke's sword, the shroud of the Vampiric Monk, and over-sized ten-pins.
There is also a glass case display of Jason Todd's Robin costume as a memorial to him, with the epitaph "A Good Soldier", and remains even after Todd's resurrection. Barbara Gordon's Batgirl costume also remains on display. In the Comico two part crossover, Grendel/Batman II, The skull of Hunter Rose is also put on display in the memorobilia room.
When he lived in the penthouse of the Wayne Foundation building, Batman had a secret basement there equipped as a Batcave as well. The Outsiders were, for a time, based in a Batcave in Los Angeles. After Bane's attack during the Knightfall story arc, Bruce Wayne swore that he'd never be caught unprepared to defend Gotham City ever again. When Dick Grayson assumed the Mantle of the Bat during the Prodigal storyline, Bruce establishes satellite Batcaves (most of which were not caves in the literal sense that the original one was) throughout the city on areas either owned by him, his company, or unknown or abandoned by the city in the event that he needs a place to hide and/or resupply, which were pivotal during the No Man's Land storyline. One such Batcave was given to Batgirl, below a house owned by Bruce Wayne himself, during a point where her identity was compromised and she could not walk around without a mask. The other satellite Batcaves introduced during No Man's Land were:
- Central Batcave: Located fifty feet below the bottom of Robinson Park Reservoir, it is accessible through a secret entrance at the foot of one of the Twelve Caesars statues at the north of the park. This safehouse was put out of commission by Poison Ivy, her "Feraks", and Clayface.
- Batcave South: A broiler room of a derelict shipping yard on the docks across from Paris Island. This safehouse is accessible through a number of false manholes planted throughout Old Gotham streets.
- Batcave South-Central: Located in the Old Gotham prototype subway station, a four-block stretch of track sealed in 1896 and forgotten.
- Northwest Batcave: This safehouse is located in the subbasement of Arkham Asylum. Batman secretly stocked it with emergency rations, all-terrain vehicles, and battery-powered communication equipment.
- Batcave East: An abandoned oil refinery owned by Wayne Enterprises. It fell out of use during a gasoline crisis when the company moved all its holdings offshore decades ago.
Another was introduced in 2002's Fugitive story arc, this time in the form of an abandoned submarine.
The Batcave first became part of the Batman mythos in the 1943 15-chapter movie serial Batman starring Lewis Wilson. In this version, as later in the comics, it was just a small cave with a desk and filing cabinets. It also contained bats and Batman used an enemy's phobia for them to make him talk.
It also featured in the 1949 serial Batman and Robin starring Robert Lowery.
Batman TV series
Main article: Batman 1966 TV Series
The 1966 Adam West TV series featured the cave extensively, and portrayed it as a large but well lit cavern filled with all sorts of computers and devices. In this incarnation, it primarily serves as a crime-lab and garage for the Batmobile. Perhaps the most famous aspect of this Batcave is that it is accessed, from Wayne Manor, via the two "batpoles", which are hidden behind a bookcase that can be opened by pressing a button hidden inside a bust of Shakespeare. When Bruce and Dick slide down these batpoles, they are instantly outfitted in their costumes.
Batman (1989 film)
Main article: Batman 1989 Movie
The cave is present in Tim Burton's 1989 Batman feature film, and is shown to house the Batmobile, which is parked at the edge of a large chasm, as well as the Batcomputer and a large vault for Batman's costume.
Main article: Batman Returns
The cave is once again seen in Batman Returns, and Bruce gains access to it via a tube/elevator like passage from Wayne Manor, the entrance to which is hidden in an iron maiden, and is activated by throwing a small switch hidden on a small replica of Wayne Manor in the bottom of a fish tank. Alfred also confirms, in a throwaway remark, that there is a stairway to the cave. The most notable revision to the cave after the first film is a large room with a supply of spare Batsuits.
Main article: Batman Forever
In this film, the Batcave is accessed through a rotating wall in Wayne Manor's silver closet, the only room in the mansion that's kept locked. The cave can also be reached via a secret tunnel system from Bruce Wayne's office at Wayne Enterprises.
In addition to the standard housing of the computer and equipment, the cave was originally intended to play a larger role in this film. Alfred would reveal a second level to the cave, and an amnesia stricken Bruce Wayne would explore the cave to jog his memory after an attack by Two-Face. These scenes, however, were cut from the final film. The cave is also shown to have a canal inside of it, which provides access to the sea for water-based vehicles.
Main article: Batman Begins
In Batman Begins, the cave is still unfurnished, and the only things inside are a small storage space for the Batsuit and its accessories, and the Batmobile. The entrance and exit for the Batmobile are on a cliff, behind a waterfall. Alfred reveales to Bruce that during the Civil War, the Waynes used the vast cavern system as part of the Underground Railroad. Near the end of the film, when Bruce and Alfred are rebuilding the burnt-down main section of Wayne Manor, Alfred suggests they "improve the foundation", which may mean improving and furnishing the cave as they rebuild the mansion. Due to this, The Batcave has been temporarily relocated to part of Bruce Wayne's apartment in the sequel, as shown in the trailer for The Dark Knight.
In the Batman: TAS episode "Beware the Gray Ghost", the Batcave is revealed to be an exact replica of the lair used by the Gray Ghost, a fiction-within-fiction character and idol to Bruce Wayne. The Batcave gets introduced in this series as a large underground cavern. Bats are seen flying freely in the cave, with large naturally elevated platforms on which his sidekick Robin practices his balance. Batman often utilises the Batcomputer, impressive technology during the time the series was produced (early to mid '90s), to research information on villains, from an anti-venom to Poison Ivy's plant poison to newspaper articles on the origin of Killer Croc. Batman's numerous crime-fighting vehicles are seen parked in an adjacent compartment to the Batcave, with an adjoining not-so-secret subterranean garage which stores Bruce Wayne's mammoth collection of vintage and luxury cars.
In the episode "Almost Got 'Im", Two-Face uses a giant penny in an attempt to either crush Batman or kill him from the impact, whichever side the giant coin landed on. Batman managed to free himself from the coin by slicing open the ropes. While telling the story of this to other Batman villains, Two-Face commented that Batman got to keep the giant coin. It is seen later in the series, in the Batcave. This story was later retconned as the official comic origin of the penny.
The New Batman Adventures
In the 1998 episode "Mean Seasons" from The New Batman Adventures, Batman and Batgirl are forced to fight a giant mechanical T-Rex. The comic book tie-in to the Justice League Batman - Batman Adventures #12 - features a short called "The Hidden Display" which tells how a young Dick Grayson persuades Batman into keeping a robot T-Rex early on his career, which eventually leads to the Trophy Room of the Cave. Either one of these tales could be how the animated Batman obtained the dinosaur.
This future Batcave of Batman Beyond includes not only replicas of Batman's most famous enemies (both as wax dummies and robot combat trainers), but also a display case with the many permutations of costumes of Robin, Batgirl, Nightwing, and Batman himself. Other items which have been shown to be in the Cave include the Freeze Gun of Mr. Freeze, Harley Quinn's costume, the puppet Scarface, and a 'shrine' to Bruce Wayne's childhood TV hero, the Gray Ghost.
In the Justice League Animated Series, the members of the League seek refuge in the Batcave during the Thanagarian invasion. Later, they also confront Hawkgirl in the cave, and use the Batcomputer to track her movements. When the Batcave comes under siege from the Thanagarians, one attempts to use Mr. Freeze's Freeze Gun on Superman; Superman repels the attack with a gust of wind, freezing the soldier. Flash also tips the infamous giant penny onto some of the attacking Thangarians
The Batman the Animated Series that debuted in 2004, features a much more high-tech Batcave, with large computer displays and flashing blue lights. Among these displays are the "Bat-Wave" warning signals, an alternate way of calling upon the Caped Crusader before the Bat-Signal went into service. Bruce Wayne is seen mostly without his Batsuit or with his cowl removed while in the cave, unlike in the earlier animated series. The elevator system is featured quite a bit as well. A similar trophy room, this time storing memorabilia seen in earlier episodes such as The Riddler's giant hourglass and The Joker's giant playing card trap, appears in the series. The series also shows that it was Alfred who started the museum, hoping it would be useful if the city of Gotham ever fully accepted Batman, somewhat like the Flash Museum.
Unlike in many previous incarnations of the Batcave which show only one exit/entrance, the Batmobile and other vehicles exit the cave through a variety of concealed dead-ends and disguised construction sites scattered around Gotham City.
The cave was also the location of Season 3's climatic finale, in which the villainous robot D.A.V.E. attempts to kill Alfred using an array of trophies garnered by the Batman, allowing the Dark Knight to choose to reveal his secret identity instead. However, even the Batcave isn't impervious to damage. In one episode, a loose raccoon causes a short circuit and subsequent blackout of electricity in the cave. In the direct-to-video film The Batman vs. Dracula, it said that Batman's cave is in fact part of a series of Catacombs under Gotham City.
In the Season 4 episode "Artifacts", archaeologists from the future unearth the Batcave. It's titanium supports are printed with binary code, as the computer information would not survive that long. The archaeologists theorize that Thomas Wayne was Batman and that Bruce Wayne was Robin. In another segment of the episode, set in 2027, Babara Gordon (as the Oracle) is shown at the Batcomputer in the Batcave. Her wheelchair is also uncovered in the cave by the archaeologists, who believe that it was Alfred who used it.
Batman also established a series of satellite Batcaves across Gotham on the show. Various episodes show the Batmobile emerging from disguised tunnels made to look as if they were under construction. Batcave South-Central debuted on the episode "Strange New World". In the "The Joining, Part One", it is revealed that Lucius Fox helped the Batman in constructing the Batcave, and all of the Dark Knight's other secret safehouses throughout Gotham. Another satellite Batcave debuted on the episode The Batman/Superman Story, Part One, under Wayne Industries.