"The Mechanic" is the forty-eighth episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It originally aired on January 24, 1993.
Batman and Robin are pursuing the Penguin's thugs Eagleton, Falcone and Sheldrake in their getaway vehicle. After Falcone sees that bullets bounce harmlessly off the Batmobile's armor, Eagleton takes drastic action to escape, jumping the car off the end of a dividing bridge, to crash into the bed of a garbage scow passing underneath. Batman brakes to a stop, but not soon enough to prevent the front end of the Batmobile going under the bridge and being crushed as it comes back down.
The Batmobile limps to a secret garage operated by Earl Cooper, who designed the vehicle. He says he will need a few days to repair it, and in the meantime gives Batman and Robin two Batcycles to ride.
In his hideout, Penguin is angered that his men have botched the robbery they were assigned to carry out: instead of stealing the rare-edition stamps he wanted, they have stolen much less valuable ones by mistake, which aren't even worth enough to cover the repairs to the getaway car. But then Falcone introduces an acquaintance of his, Arnold Rundle, who works for an auto parts company. Rundle shows Penguin Earl's order. Not seeing where he's going with this, Penguin asks him what the point of this is. Rundle explains his theory that they are for the Batmobile. Rundle says that, based on Falcone's description of the damage suffered by the Batmobile, Rundle has created a list of the kind of exotic parts that would be needed to fix it, and has traced a sale of such parts to Earl's garage—and has been compiling his list for some time. Penguin is delighted, and rewards Rundle with a large check—before bundling him onto a "rubber ducky" boat that vanishes down a raging whirlpool.
Penguin and his thugs invade Earl's garage and take Earl and his daughter, Marva, hostage. At first, Earl refuses to help Penguin, who is intrigued to know why he is so loyal to Batman. Earl explains how Batman saved his life, twice.
Earl was once an engineer for Global Motors. After the company leaders refused to listen to his warnings about serious safety defects in one of their cars, reasoning that they could not legally be held responsible, Earl quit. Fearing he was going to report it, his former bosses sent thugs after Earl, but Batman saved him. The attack prompted Earl to report both the defects and the attack to the police. Several months later, Earl had been unable to find another job due to being proscribed by the auto industry as a whistleblower when Batman appeared again in his run-down Batmobile and asked for Earl to design and build him a new one. After it was completed, Batman kept Earl on to maintain and upgrade it.
Penguin turns his attention to Marva, forcing Earl to cooperate.
Batman and Robin are called in to pick up the repaired Batmobile. With Falcone watching from the shadows, Earl tells Batman that Marva is "down in the basement", and emphasizes that he has fixed the car's air conditioning switch.
As soon as they drive away, Penguin follows in his own car, taking Marva along as a hostage and leaving Falcone to guard Earl.
Earl has been forced to rig the Batmobile with a remote control held by Penguin. Laughing like a maniac, the Penguin has a fine old time sending the car on a crazy ride, with the Dynamic Duo trapped inside and unable to control it. Batman presses the eject button, but it has been disabled. Finally, Penguin decides to end the game. He drives the Batmobile to the roof of a parking structure and prepares to send them off the edge. Batman realizes that Earl was trying to warn them, as "down in the basement" is a slang term in race car driving for crashing. Remembering what else Earl said, Batman presses the air conditioning switch, and the ejector seats fire, launching him and Robin to safety. The Batmobile goes off the edge and explodes, and Penguin believes he has won.
Back at the garage, Falcone answers the telephone and receives the news of the Dynamic Duo's death with jubilation. Unable to contain himself, Earl sprays Falcone with oil and throws three tires on him, then hoists him up in the air. As he is hoisting Falcone, Earl tears up, with the news of Batman and Robin's apparent demise being too much for him.
Meanwhile, Batman glides down and attacks Penguin and his thugs. Penguin tries to get away, dragging Marva along and opening fire on Batman until Marva stomps on his feet. Penguin throws Marva to the ground and prepares to kill her, but Robin swerves down and subdues him, allowing Batman to capture him.
Earl packs up his toolkit, sad that he will have to leave the garage, now that its location has been compromised. Batman assures him that he is setting up an even better one for him. He also adds that, from now on, future parts will be ordered through dummy corporations so no one else can trace him as Penguin did. Earl, feeling no regrets after the incident, launches on an enthusiastic description of the newer, better Batmobile he's going to build.
At Stonegate Penitentiary, Penguin has been put to work in the license plate factory, scrubbing the finished plates clean. He comes across one that reads "1BAT4U", and snaps it in half in a rage.
- In the flashback, one of the sketches on Earl's office wall resembles the appearance of the revamped Batmobile in The New Batman Adventures and Justice League.
- In "The Demon's Quest", Ra's al Ghul reveals that he was able to trace Batman's secret identity through the ordering of specialized equipment, in the same manner as Arnold Rundle does.
- In the feature film Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Bruce Wayne sees a model car at the Gotham World's Fair that resembles the future Batmobile. It is possible that this gave him some ideas on what his new car would look like, and then later help Earl with the design. This is similar to how the real-life 1955 Lincoln Futura concept car was used as the basis for the Batmobile in the 1966 Batman TV series.
Home video releases
- The Adventures of Batman & Robin: The Penguin (VHS)
- The Adventures of Batman & Robin: Poison Ivy/The Penguin (DVD)
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Two (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- Penguin is animated off-model in almost every scene.
- The idea of Penguin taking control of the Batmobile was derived from the movie Batman Returns, as was the large duck that Penguin sends Arnold to his doom in.
- This marks the only time on screen both Batman and Robin have an independent episode with Penguin.
- The license plate Penguin rips in half refers to "Gotham—the Dark Deco State". "Dark Deco" was the term used by production crew to describe the show's art deco style.
- For Earl, Batman conceals his true identity by maintaining that his personal resources come from a group of unseen "backers," rather than from Wayne Enterprises. Earl and his daughter presumably don't know who Batman and Robin really are.
- The truck from which the Penguin's men shoot the tires during the second chase with Batman is the same model as the lorry Batman used to destroy Red Claw's plague in "The Cat and the Claw", right down to the "Flammable" logo on the back.
- Towards the end, the Penguin is knocked down, he tries to reach for his umbrella, but Batman stops him. Then the Penguin begins slamming his fists on the ground. Almost exactly the same thing happens twice in "Birds of a Feather".
- In the 2015 video game Batman: Arkham Knight, across the street from the Bank of Gotham in Chinatown there is an auto shop called "Earl Cooper Auto Repair".
- The car Batman originally drives up in resembles the Batmobile model seen in the 1940s comic run.
|John De Lancie||Eagleton|
|Paul Winfield||Earl Cooper|
Earl: What happened? You've been letting the kid drive again?
Rundle: (heading down a whirlpool) Excuse me! I'm expected back at the office!
Penguin: He's going to help us, aren't you, Earl?
Earl: I was down to my last dime. No money, no job... and no prospects for one. And then he saved my life again.
Penguin: (to Earl) And do take a good long look at your friend, the Batman. After all, you'll be saying adieu to your best customer!
Falcone: (Believing Batman to be dead) Ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-ba-Bat's all, Folks!
(after the Batmobile crashes, presumably killing Batman and Robin)