Of Batman’s many secrets, the Batcave has become essential. But in the beginning, Batman’s Batcave wasn’t so much a cave as it was an old farmhouse with a bunch of pulleys and winches that Batman could use to store his various Bat-vehicles.
In the beginning, it didn’t exist. There was a tunnel that ran from a staircase under Wayne Manor to an adjacent barn, with a winch that Batman and Robin could use to bring up the Batmobile or the Batplane.
As you can see, there was also a lab, along with some other rooms for storing things or running mysterious, high-tech equipment.
In 1942, Bill Finger — the writer who co-created Batman with artist Bob Kane — indicated the presence of “secret underground hangars” at the Wayne property. But in 1943, the new Batman movie serials presented the Batcave for the first time as Bruce Wayne’s main base of operations, featuring a state-of-the-art crime lab, which he accessed through a grandfather clock in the main house. (In Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins — the first chapter of the reboot he’s wrapping up with The Dark Knight Rises this week — you may remember, Wayne gets at the Batcave similarly through a secret door disguised to blend in with a big display case, opened by pressing the right sequence of keys on a piano in the same room.) It was a nice setup, despite being visibly infested by bats.
It wasn’t until 1943 that Bob Kane expanded the idea to create an actual Batcave:
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