(Submitted by Mr. Prince Adam…Thanks for helping spread the good word, Bat Buddy! 😉 xoxo)
Who created Batman? Well, if you scroll the reprints of old comic books or watch any Batman animated, or live action film prior to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, it will tell you that Bob Kane is solely responsible for the creation of this enduring and much loved character. However, in the documentary film Batman & Bill presented by Hulu, Marc Tyler Nobleman uncovers a secret and exposes the truth. Shortly after the success of Superman, National Comics, which eventually became DC Comics, went to Bob Kane and asked if he could create a second superhero for them. At that Friday meeting, he assured them he would have their next superhero on their desk by Monday. Over the course of that weekend, Bob came up with an idea and then showed his friend and collaborator on other books what he had. That friend helped Bob tweak his ideas, implementing several suggestions, which improved and fleshed out the character. With both men happy, Bob Kane took the meeting, the publisher loved it and bought the character. Bob and Bill had a verbal handshake agreement, where Bob promised to split some of whatever he earns. However, during the meeting, Bob Kane never mentions that another person was involved in the creation of the character and negotiated a sole creator credit on The Bat-Man and eventually worked out getting a “piece of the pie”, as he put it. I don’t know, nor was it stated in the film, whether Bob Kane shared any money from that sale with Bill Finger. It was stated that Bill Finger was hired as a writer/ghostwriter on Batman later on. Some will say. “Well, at least he got paid for his work later on.” Well that’s all well and good, until you realize just how much of a hand in creating Batman Bill Finger actually had. First, it’s worth noting that Bob Kane came up with the name The-Batman. His version of the character was blonde, wore a red leotard and had a domino mask, akin to something Robin would eventually wear. Marc Tyler Nobleman, consults archives and comic book writers and artists past and present, to reveal that Bill Finger was responsible for the following concepts; the origin, the costume, Bruce Wayne, Dick Grayson, Robin, The Joker, The Riddler, The Penguin, Catwoman, the Batcave, Gotham City and the Batmobile. So, basically, Bill Finger created all the parts of Batman that are cool and make Batman…well Batman! Even when DC Comics discovered the truth, years later, they didn’t do anything about it, for fear of opening up a legal can of worms with Bob Kane. Bill Finger didn’t have funds to fight for his rights legally.
The truth was made public to fans at an early comic con in the 60’s, when a DC Comics editor introduced Bill Finger as the creator of Batman. When he was questioned about it, he clarified what he was responsible for, which is all of the stuff l listed above. What’s great about this document, is that you hear the rare audio clip from this convention. You’re hearing Batman history, as you watch this documentary. A contributor to a Batman fanzine publicized the quote in one of the issues. This was Bob Kane’s first opportunity to set the record straight, finally giving Bill Finger the credit he deserves. Instead, he writes a letter absolutely, flat out denying Bill Finger’s comments, asserting that he was the sole creator of Batman and asks for it to be published in the magazine. As years passed, while Bill Finger struggled to make ends meet and ultimately died alone, Bob Kane enjoyed the fame and part of the fortune Batman brought with it. This miscarriage of justice, is what led Marc Tyler Noble to write this book. To give notoriety and a voice for the often forgotten Bill Finger. Our writer/narrator in this film becomes a detective out for justice for Bill Finger. He essentially becomes a real life Batman for Bill Finger. The detective work Mr. Nobleman does would make Batman proud. First, he goes to wear Bill Finger used to live and from there, discovers Bill Finger had a second wife who was still alive. From her info, he was told that Bill Finger had a niece and nephew. From there, he literally called every Finger in the phonebook until he found Bill’s nephew and niece. Here we learned that Bill Finger had a son. Marc Tyler Nobleman in the documentary excitedly perks up, as this relative could be one of the few that could challenge for creator rights for his father. Sadly, we learned that Bill’s son died of AIDS. Just when it seemed like legal recognition was lost for Bill Ginger, the discovery of his granddaughter is made. This was like an AH HA moment from the Batman ’66 TV show, when Batman and Robin would discover one of Riddler’s clues, or foil one of the Joker’s plots. Marc Tyler Nobleman urges Athena Finger to meet with Warner Brothers to discuss getting a creator credit for her grandfather. The film reveals that WB & DC acknowledged Bill Finger’s contributions but once again, didn’t want to open the can of worms in dealing with Bob Kane’s estate and trying to alter that credit. The documentary features an interview and quotes from the man who co-wrote Bob Kane’s biography, where Bob Kane produced a fake drawing of Batman dated in 1933 where he allegedly formed the concept of Batman. The reason this is known to be fake, is because it looked like the core modern drawing of Batman, with the insignia in the yellow oval etc. The first design, which was crafted by Finger, looked significantly different. In the same interview, recorded on tape and made available for the documentary, Bob Kane admits that Bill Finger was involved with 50-75% of the conception and creation of Batman. Armed with this recording, a lawyer and national attention, thanks to Marc Tyler Nobleman’s book and taking Athena Finger to conventions and spreading this story, Athena meets with Warner Brothers and DC Comics once more. This time. she is awarded with a credit byline, for her grandfather. Starting with episodes of GOTHAM & the release of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Batman’s credit line will read; Created By Bob Kane with Bill Finger.
This documentary fascinated me as it revealed a mystery about Batman’s creation that I and many other fans, weren’t aware of. It made me sad, that for so long, Bill Finger wasn’t credited for his work. Sadder still, that Bill Finger died alone, his son suffered and died from aids and Athena Finger raised her son as a single mom and for so long had to struggle to make ends meet, while another man reaped the rewards both public and monetarily, based on a good portion of someone else’s hard work. Ultimately, I felt uplifted and happy that justice had been done, for Batman’s most influential founding father. This documentary is also unique to watch because it breaks the mold of normal documentaries, by having some scenes drawn as a motion comic book. These scenes had the classic pulpy but noir look of the early Batman comic books. I will always appreciate Bob Kane for his 25-50% contribution, whatever that actually was, to Batman. However, I’m glad justice was done for Bill Finger and I am thankful to him, for creating many of the aspects of Batman I gravitate to and love. For the Finger family, Marc Tyler Nobleman was the hero they deserved and the one they needed. For Marc Tyler Nobleman, the truth wasn’t good enough. He deserved to have his faith rewarded, and it was. If you consider yourself a Batman fan of any kind, it is your absolute duty to watch and spread the word about this documentary.