The heroes can't just walk through a door and leap into action — they have to use a secret and special route to reach their Elaborate Underground Base
or Cool Garage
. Extra points if the route somehow engages a Transformation Sequence
optional), or at least changes their clothes for no apparent reason.
Naturally, this is an opportunity for Stock Footage
, especially in animated productions. A close cousin to the Super Multi-Purpose Room
might start to set in if the super-cool
sequence takes so long, the threat they were leaping into action to prevent would have already long been either committed or neutralized by the time they're done actually sliding
down the Batpole.
Not to be confused with To the Batnoun!
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Anime & Manga
- Go Nagai loves this trope. Mazinger Z emerges from a hangar beneath a nearby swimming pool, Great Mazinger rises from the ocean in a waterspout, and UFO Robo Grendizer has its hangar hidden behind a dam. And Duke changes clothes as he is riding to the hangar!
- Grendizer also features the pilot's chair transferring from flying saucer to the Humongous Mecha it transports, with its weirdly arbitrary double half-spin.
- One episode hangs a lampshade by having the villains show some Genre Savvy and attacking during the transfer sequence, recognizing it as a moment of weakness when Grendizer can't fight back.
- The Samurai Pizza Cats had a bank of ovens that slid up to reveal three chutes, down which Speedy, Polly, and Guido (Yattaro, Pururun, and Skashee in the original Japanese version) would slide down, changing into their battle armor along the way before being shipped up to the (hilariously badly-concealed) giant cannon in the building that would launch them into battle.
- The Gag Dub of Mon Colle Knights used its suit-up chute sequence as a short voiceovered skit.
- Oddly, only the children got the clothes changing chutes and the trapeze they used to flip into the cockpit. Rokuna's father, the man who built the thing enters the ship by running into the bathroom, slamming into a wall at high speed, and then falling several feet into his chair. He never fixes this.
- Mai-HiME seemingly spoofed this, giving the cast one episode where they have a rather sentai-esque team launch sequence. Later episodes systematically destroyed such themes (although the finale returned to it).
- Revolutionary Girl Utena ritualizes almost to the point of fetish the Stock Footage of Utena entering the Secret Forest and making her way up to the dueling platform, with her school uniform (usually) transforming along the way.
- Digimon Adventure 02 has a colorful transformation-ish sequence as our heroes go from the human world to the Digital World. The characters introduced that season change clothes on the way, but members of the elder team left over from the previous year stay as they are.
- TK and Kari's shoes do change, however — from their "uwabaki" (indoor "school shoes") to their "outside" shoes.
- The Five-Man Band of Go Lion had to slide down ziplines and then be ferried around the entire planet via a series of underground tubes to get in their lion-shaped super space cars. You'd think Prince Sincline and his Deathblack Beastmen would do a lot more damage, just accounting for travel time.
- Played for laughs in Ouran High School Host Club. A powerful motor rumbles and Renge rises up out of the ground on a slowly rotating platform, affecting a Noblewoman's Laugh. It was weird enough when it happened in Music Room 3, but she apparently has similar rigs set up all over Japan.
- Considering how ridiculous that school building is in the first place, it's not actually all that weird.
- Quite late on in the Excel Saga manga, when Watanabe, Sumiyoshi, Matsuya and Iwata first change into their costumes, they find out about by being dropped through the floor. Later, when Sumiyoshi comes in late for a meeting, he finds the others have already been dropped, and has to lower himself down his own chute, noting "Ah'm gonna break me neck doing this..."
- Definitely played for laughs in the Giant Robot episode of Magical Pokaan as each of the girls has their own entrance. And the sequence is repeated so each girl can be seen changing from clothes to costume.
- Even sillier as one of the girls is invisible until the end of the transformation sequence.
- Daimos has one so drawn-out and completely over the top one wonders if it's meant to be a parody.
- Averted in Watchmen. The Nite Owl's nest is through an ordinary locked door in his kitchen and down a short flight of stairs.
- The Batman comics usually go with the staircase, although there have been variants. The clock is also fairly consistent, with the combination needed to unlock usually being the exact time that Bruce's parents were shot.
- The current comic variant is a return to the 70s, namely a Batcave located underneath Wayne Enterprises. No indication yet how it's accessed.
- A shout-out to the Batman TV series (see below): in the graphic novel Run Riddler Run, a group of commandos — whose leader is a fan of jazz music — gains access to their ready-room by a switch hidden in a bust of Charlie Parker.
- Parodied in an issue of Green Arrow, where Connor tells a bored Ollie of a museum robbery:
Connor: Don't you want the details first?
Ollie: (off-panel, pulling his son by the shirt) No. Tell me on the way. Expensive works of art are under threat. Time's the essence!
Connor: How about going down the Bat-poles?
Ollie: Screw you.
- In Calvin and Hobbes, Calvin once tried to convince his mother to set out his clothes for the day and breakfast on the stairs so that he could be ready for school simply by falling down the stairs. He failed.
- Superman has his telephone booth. Alas, Technology Marches On...
Films — Animation
- Wallace & Gromit has some direct references to Gerry Anderson and Thunderbirds.
- In A Close Shave, Wallace has a ludicrously complicated set of slides and machines to transport himself from his armchair to his motorbike and get dressed for work. After that, Gromit then simply walks into the garage through a door from the kitchen, rolling his eyes. It doesn't end there - Wallace even uses a mechanical foot to kick-start the motorbike.
- Also, the (fake) fish pond in the front yard flips over to let the bike drive over it, probably referencing the swiiming pool that opens up to let Thunderbird 1 take off and land.
- Another sequence appears in The Curse of the Were-Rabbit; this time Gromit is also involved.
- An earlier example is established in The Wrong Trousers: Wallace apparently begins every day with his bed tilting up and dropping him into a trapdoor from his upstairs bedroom to a chair at the dining room table, with mechanical arms providing a costume change.
- Demolished in the Disney movie The Emperor's New Groove: the antagonists have a clothes-changing rollercoaster (in pre-Spanish South America; go with it) behind one of two switches. Not even its owner seems to remember which switch sends the puller into the moat ("Why do we even have that lever?"). When the good guys ride it later on, they finish dressed in the definitely non-fitting outfits of the bad guys.
- This was then used as a running gag in the series. "Pull the lever, Kronk!"
- Despicable Me. To go into his underground base, Gru gets shifted across the room in a chair, eaten by a cannon which flips around on struts (and apparently dresses him in a suit as well). Then half the floor lifts and the cannon is put on a platform which descends into the ground.
Films — Live Action
- In the 2008 movie adaptation of Iron Man, Tony Stark had him suit up in his Cool Garage with the assistance of mechanized arms reminiscent of a car factory to put on each piece.
- And then the trope is subverted when the same mechanical arms are used to try to take the suit off. Turns out it doesn't work very well with a squishy human being pinched and pulled in lots of different directions by all the equipment as they try to detach all the parts of the armor.
- The problem with the unsuiting actually was that the armor had been battle-scarred so much that the bolts had bent, the metal was dented et cetera, making the suit almost impossible to deconstruct.
- Tony has it perfected by The Avengers with a device on the roof of Stark Tower that easily takes his suit off while he calmly strolls across it.
- Tim Burton's Batman movie has a staircase (the entrance to which is not seen). Batman Returns has a chute disguised inside an iron maiden (although Alfred still takes the stairs). In Batman Forever, there's an electromagnetic capsule that travels at hundreds of miles per hour down a tube leading to the Batcave from Bruce's office at Wayne Enterprises. The entrance to the staircase is also finally revealed - a rotating shelf inside the locked silver closet.
- Batman Begins showed an old elevator hidden behind a bookcase that opened from playing a certain short tune on the nearby piano. The costume was in a wardrobe at the base of the elevator shaft.
- The Dark Knight's (presumably temporary) Batcave was accessed by... unlocking a storage container on a condemned piece of Wayne Enterprises property. To put it mildly, this is the least dramatic thing in the movie.
- Bruce has a hidden door in his penthouse that presumably leads to a sort of mini-Batcave where he keeps a spare costume. A pair of guests see him opening it and assume it's a secret Safe Room (and that he is a massive prick for locking the door right behind himself, leaving them in danger)
- The live-action Casper film has a variation of the Batpole. Casper's father (when he was still alive) equipped an armchair to take him down to his secret lair, along the way shaving him and brushing his teeth - he wasn't much of a morning person. Cat suggested that coffee would have been a simpler alternative.
- The Ghostbusters have a fireman's pole in their headquarters that takes them straight to the lockers where they keep their outfits and equipment. It's not a secret, but it's dramatic and one of the main reasons they wanted to buy the place.
You gotta try this pole!
- Specifically, Ray wanted to buy the place because the pole was so cool and fun to use, and he was the one fronting the money. Egon had been busily explaining to Peter all the ways the the building was grossly inadequate for their needs.
- Egon's deliberately being unenthusiastic in order for the realtor not to think she's got a shoo-in. Ray then ruins it, which is why the realtor smiles triumphantly.
- Wayne's World had a fire pole revealed by pressing a button inside a bronze bust. Funnily enough everyone but Wayne uses the pole, while Wayne takes the "scenic route," otherwise known as the elevator, to give him time to give the necessary beginning-of-the-movie exposition.
"To the Mirthmobile!"
- There is inexplicably a fire pole in the Harmonia Gardens restaurant in Hello, Dolly!.
- Back in the day in Perry Rhodan, "Emperor" Anson Argyris of the planet Olymp (really the apparently only Vario-500 robot ever built in his favorite biological disguise) had one of the more elaborate examples of the Elaborate Underground Base trope in the form of a planet-spanning underground network of bases and supply depots, all connected by various forms of high-speed transportation and guarded by secrecy and potentially quite deadly traps. What counts as this trope in particular are the stock scenes depicting him using that network's matter transmitters, high-speed transport capsules and whatnot to get where he needed to be quickly and undetected — most commonly to the special room holding his various other masks whenever he needed one for a mission.
Live Action TV
- The Batpole, naturally, from Batman. It was never adequately explained how Bruce and Dick changed into Batman and Robin as they slid down that pole, though at least once, we see that there is an "automatic costume change" switch on the wall behind the poles, which can be thrown as one descends to allow Bruce and Dick to enter the batcave uncostumed.
- The switch to the Batpole doors was hidden inside a bust of Shakespeare in Bruce's study. But why this bit of secrecy when the bust sat next to the clearly visible Batphone?
- As for Alfred, he uses a service elevator instead.
- Similarly to the Puppet Shows examples below, Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's live-action 1970 British series UFO used chutes for pilots launching from both the moon base and the SkyDiver submarine. SHADO's headquarters (hidden under a film studio) is accessed by Straker's entire office which serves as an elevator. Hopefully no-one peeks into the boss' window and wonders why it's sinking into the ground.
- Anderson himself lampshades the latter point on his DVD Commentary for the pilot episode.
- Power Rangers has been around long enough to have tried every superhero trope on for size, this one included:
- Power Rangers Zeo didn't do this with the rangers themselves (although there were a few times when they would descend in their chairs down a long track to be set down in their Zeo Zord cockpits); however, all of their humanoid Zords that season (the Super Zeo Zord, Red Battlezord, and Warrior Wheel,) all entered the battle by being shot out of a cannon.
- Power Rangers in Space has a row of Jump Tubes that the Rangers slide down, suiting them and either teleporting them to the battlefield or putting them on their hover boards.
- These make a return in Power Rangers S.P.D., this time taking the team to their Humongous Mecha. No auto-suiting-up function, though. This one was carried over from the Japanese counterpart Dekaranger.
- In Power Rangers Mystic Force, trees act as batpoles as well as the Portal Network, suiting the Rangers up in their wizards' robes on the way if they're headed to the mystical dimension.
- We've also got the wall panels in the base that turn around a la the old revolving bookshelf trick. They grab their brooms from the wall, rotate, and are then seen leaving the base morphed and on their Mystic Racers (Flying Broomstick meets Star Wars hoverbike.)
- Power Rangers Operation Overdrive's got the standard poles leading from the mansion to the underground base. (And it seems to be a very, very long way down, going by establishment shots.) Suiting up on the way down is optional.
- Power Rangers Jungle Fury tried, possibly a little too hard, to keep to its jungle theme by having the rangers swing on vines through holes when exiting their base. Of course, this causes massive amounts of Fridge Logic, the most obvious being, how has anyone not noticed three huge holes in the side of a pizza parlour? (the second being why couldn't they just use the fire escape?)
- Because that wouldn't be nearly as cool. Oh, and just for fun, we never, ever see just where those holes come out.
- The opening sequence of Get Smart had Max enter CONTROL's underground headquarters through a series of heavy doors that open and close in sequence, then get to a phone booth, dial a number, and drop down to the next level. The film does this as well, showing the entrance to be through Smithsonian Castle.
- The Goodies had their Quick-Change Cabinet, which they would walk through before setting out on the episode's mission, emerging immediately in an appropriate costume (beefeaters, giant mice, etc.)
- Sort-of averted and used in the 60s TV adaptation of The Green Hornet. Apparently The Green Hornet and Kato changed into their "costumes" in Britt Reid's townhouse, but after putting on their costumes they'd go into Reid's garage. There, Kato would actuate a mechanism, and extensions would come out of the bumpers of Reid's day-to-day car while clamps rose from the floor and attached to the extensions. Once Reid's day-to-day car was securely clamped to the floor, the entire floor under the car would flip over longitudinally, and we would see the Hornet's sleek and powerful Black Beauty firmly clamped to the other side of the floor. Kato would activate another mechanism, the clamps would release from the Black Beauty and the doors of the car would open. The Hornet and Kato could then get in the car, perform their "pre-flight checks", and then drive off.
- See the entire sequence here.
- Averted in the Australian TV series Fire, where the fireman can't use the pole because it violates Occupational Health and Safety regulations (i.e. too many people have been injured using it).
- Usually averted in Emergency! with LACFD Station 51 being a one storey building, but occasionally the paramedics pull duty in older multi-floor stations which have firepoles.
- The television shows of Gerry and Sylvia Anderson's production company, which at first were Super Marionation Puppet Shows but later included live-action ones, were the main source concerning entrance into a vehicle. The same Stock Footage was used episode after episode. This meant that the characters always had to start in the same clothes. It also saved any puppet characters from having to walk on-camera, which was never very convincing.
- This trope began in the Sixties with Stingray (1964), a submarine whose crew entered by their base control-room chairs descending down a pole into the open top of the submarine.
- Before that, there was Supercar and Fireball XL 5, neither of which really invoked this trope — unless you count XL5's crew using hoverbikes to board the ship on its launch pad — but used long-ish launch sequences involving the craft rather than the characters.
- The same trope was reused in reverse for Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, whose fighter pilots' chairs rose through the deck of a flying aircraft carrier to enter their planes.
- The Andersons' top example was the famous "rotating walls and furniture" that took the Tracys from the house to the hangars in Thunderbirds. It was this show from which the Stock Footage in Japanese Super Robot anime was derived. This was retained for the live-action Thunderbirds film, which also featured them changing into uniform as they flew down the chutes.
- It should be noted that the full, lengthy launch sequences were normally only seen in the initial episode of each Anderson series (or the first time the craft in question appeared, in the case of Thunderbirds); thereafter, the launches were cut short — Stingray would be shown exiting the Ocean Door, for instance, without any of the preceding shots. Thunderbirds is something of an exception to this in the early episodes, the launches being used as some of the padding needed in a hurry after Lew Grade's Executive Meddling stretched the episodes to an hour long from the original half-an-hour even though several had been filmed.
- The Batpoles are parodied in The Burkiss Way:
Quick, Bay Window
— to the Batpoles! Robin:
Uh, Batman, wouldn't it be quicker to just walk
- StarCraft II shows Tychus Findlay's marine armor being built onto him, complete with welding the seams, in the opening cinematic. How the other characters, who are not sealed in, get into their suits is not shown. One might imagine it's similar.
- Findlay's situation was par for the course for (at least) earlier generations of Marines. The Terran forces tended to use convicts as cannon fodder so removing the armor wouldn't be a concern.
- Elite Beat Agents. Cool Ship. Star-shaped whirlpool in the effing ocean.
- In most of the Sakura Wars games, the pilots reach their secret base under the theatre by sliding down individual chutes. In earlier games these chutes also somehow, magically, change them into their battle uniforms, although Sakura Wars: So Long My Love eschews this in favor of showing shots of the girls changing (albeit tasteful ones).
- The feature-length Sakura Wars film shows the members of the Hanagumi flinging themselves into individual chutes that not only deposit them in front of their mechs, but also change them into their duty uniforms. Just for added style points, the chutes are hidden behind formal portraits of the pilots.
- This is parodied in Cyanide and Happiness when a superhero hears a woman being mugged cry for help, he runs to a phone booth, which drops him into a cave, he then gets into his car, drives three feet, then jumps out in order to fly to the crime. In the time it took him to do this the woman was raped and murdered.
- From the Archer episode The Man From Jupiter
Burt Reynolds: You should get a bat pole.
Archer: Nine thousand bucks.
Burt Reynolds: What?
Archer: Lowest quote I got.
Burt Reynolds: Well that's ridiculous.
Archer: For basically putting a pole where the garbage shoot already is already is. But the co-op board was all like, "where are we going to throw the garbage?"
Burt Reynolds: You can still throw it down the same shaft. And you'll have some garbage to land on.
Archer: If you're coming in hot it's a win win...
Burt Reynolds: And you were going to pay for it. No assessment or anything.
- Batman: The Animated Series has a more understated version: a grandfather clock that slides to one side, revealing a long, dark, winding, probably treacherous staircase leading into the Batcave.
- The Batman uses some kind of magnetic Batpole that Bruce can slide down using one hand and foot without going splat. Oh, and it also goes up.
- Darkwing Duck has a pair of secret door recliners in his living room for himself and Launchpad McQuack. The activation switch is a statue of Basil from The Great Mouse Detective.
- Filmations Ghostbusters would run into the "Skelevator", which would take them into another dimension full of conveyor belts and other gadgetry (skeleton- and bone-themed, naturally) that would change them into their uniforms and deposit them into the Ghostbuggy. And it did all this with a really trippy background.
- Hong Kong Phooey made the change to hero from his janitor alter-ego by jumping into a filing cabinet. A Running Gag in the series was the ability of his sidekick, Spot the cat, to produce the filing cabinet from out of nowhere whenever trouble arose. Another Running Gag was the former's tendency to become stuck inside until Spot gave the cabinet a good whack.
- A straighter version of the trope within the same cartoon is that Penry has to go through a vending machine which doubles as a secret door with his janitor's cart.
- Dexter's Laboratory made active use of this. Dexter sometimes even dried and dressed after coming out of the shower butt naked using batpoles, with one particular occasion where he stated that he "hates this part."
- Another episode has Dexter trying to get DeeDee out of his lab once and for all by completely sealing up every possible entrance to his lab there is. They get quite ridiculous.
- Of course The Simpsons have done their own spoof. In one episode, while house sitting for Mr. Burns, Homer comes across a large device designed to dress you in formal wear. He gets in, there's a lot of painful sounds and he comes out with all the formal clothes ripped, battered or misplaced. "Now I'm ready to hit the town."
- And in "Last Exit to Springfield," Burns and Smithers go through a ludicrously elaborate sequence to get to the master control room for the power plant... which is also accessible by a broken screen door through which a dog has wandered in. "Oh, for god's sake!"
- The Jetsons had numerous variations, mainly involving a just-barely-awake George going through a carwash-like assembly line of automated morning hygiene and dressing, often with the wrong buttons pushed for comedic results, such as winding up in his wife's makeup.
- In Code Lyoko, reaching the Hacker Cave where the virtual action starts involves skateboarding (or riding a scooter in Jeremy's case) through a sewer, rappelling down ropes in an abandoned factory, taking an elevator locked by impressive blast doors... and finally being dematerialized in high-tech scanners with the obligatory Invocation. It certainly fits.
- Parodied in SpongeBob SquarePants in which SpongeBob and Patrick (who have been zapped to piles of dust by Mermaid Man and Barnacle Boy's nemesis Man Ray) slide down the pole to the invisible car. On the way (after being obscured by a bar for a brief moment) they get their bodies back and are also wearing superhero outfits.
- Robot Chicken parodies this trope when a maid accidentally activates the secret trap door in Bruce Wayne's office. Hilarity Ensues.
- Danger Mouse's couch doubled as an express elevator down to his car. Despite taking the ride nearly every episode, Penfold never got used to it.
- Ralph Wolf had an Acme-engineered device that propelled him out of bed, through a shower, feeding him breakfast, and out the door, to clock into work just ahead of Sam Sheepdog.
- The Totally Spies! are warped to WOOHP (or as they call it, "WOOHP'd") by a trapdoor (or some other hidden entrance) magically appearing wherever they are.
- Phineas and Ferb's Perry the Platypus has a different entrance to his lair every time. Some of them are really silly.
- Tiny Toon Adventures parodied the old Batman series once with Plucky and Hampton playing the roles of Batman and Robin. Unfortunately, when they went to the Batpoles, they found out too late from the maid (Elmyra) that they were out of order and ending up falling all the way to to the cave.
- The Incredibles: Mr. Incredible's car has a gizmo that "scans" him into his costume. He presses the button; the driver's seat lays him flat on his back; and a machine drops down and wsshht! puts on his costume over whatever he's wearing. Another two machines covers his hands and pops his gloves on immediately thereafter. (Never mind that Mr. Incredible fighting crime in a tux would have looked ten times more awesome...)
- After the intro, once superheros are put into forced retirement, he has to make do with a "man cave" accessed by a simple door. His costume is kept in a display and there doesn't seem to be any "scanner" (he isn't supposed to be wearing it anyway).
- Played straight in the Emergency! cartoon spinoff ''Emergency+4", despite the live-action show normally not having a firepole.
- Fire houses have a fire pole so that the fire fighters can leap into action whenever there's an emergency. (Note, however, that fire fighters are never completely out of uniform while at work so that they can just throw on whatever equipment they need before zipping down the pole. No Rube Goldberg-esque technology at work here.) The fire pole is iconic of the firefighting profession, and the inspiration for this trope.
- However, some jurisdictions have made a point of phasing firepoles out wherever practical; they're a lot safer than trying to jog down a flight of stairs, but there's still a pretty good chance of someone losing their grip and spraining an ankle. Most new fire stations place the crew ready-room on the ground floor.