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When we are first introduced to the Batmobile in Batman Begins, we are told that the Vehicle was built initially as a 'bridging' vehicle to allow ground troops or heavier armour easier access into war-torn areas.

The bridging function didn't pan out, but the heavily armoured stealth vehicle turned out to be exactly what Batman needed.

However, there was no mention of the 'detachable motorbike' capability in the first film. Was this retroactively added to the vehicle? (Either in canon, or by the director) Or was the design for the 'Bat bike' included in the original design for the entire vehicle?

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It is never explicitly stated that the bike was either an original part of the vehicle or an add-on. Nolan has, however, implied in several interviews and DVD special features that he intended on destroying the Batmobile and using the Batpod in Batman Begins. It is possible from that knowledge to surmise that the Batpod must have been an original design feature; he couldn't use it in the first film if it wasn't already part of the design.

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    More interesting part IMO: If it's been part of the initial design, would there have been a second pod for the passenger? If I recall right, there are two seats in there. – Mario Nov 6 '13 at 11:10
  • @Mario seeing as the Pod is made from the two front wheels plus the front axel, I would imagine if there where was a passanger, it would be intended that both ride tandem. Although it doesn't look like there is much extra room on the body for two riders. – Monty129 Nov 6 '13 at 17:17
  • Yep, that's the interesting part. Also considering in that scene (see GIF below) batman initially sits right between both wheels, which I think doesn't really fit an earlier scene in the first movie where they're sitting side by side. – Mario Nov 6 '13 at 19:07
  • The Batmobile's driver seat is capable of moving forward and down, putting it in a position to become part of the Batpod. This happens when Gordon targets the monorail during Batman Begins. – James Sheridan Nov 7 '13 at 7:31
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It's so strange that you've asked this, I inadvertently blew my own mind when I stumbled across the answer in my own question last night!

The Batpod is actually constructed from the two front wheels of the vehicle:

enter image description here

If you watch the gif carefully, you'll see the rear wheel is on some kind of articulated axle which springs round to the back and helps to propel the pod out of the wreckage!

This is brand new to me, too!

Whereas there is probably no definitive answer, I think the fact that this system is in place and the tumbler has not drastically altered in appearance from Batman Begins to The Dark Knight Rises indicates it has been there all along...

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