New Documentary Explores Mystery Behind Batman's Secret Co-Creator

Still: YouTube
Still: YouTube

If there’s one name that is synonymous with Batman, it’s Bob Kane. As the series’ original creator, he’s long been seen as the genius behind the Dark Knight. One documentary is shining a Bat Signal on the other man behind Bruce Wayne.

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Batman and Bill is all about Bill Finger, a man long (un)credited as the co-creator of Batman and many of its key characters. Accounts of what happened differ, but the biography that inspired the documentary claims Finger was responsible for 98-percent of the creative work, which was based on Kane’s original character concept. However, Kane took credit for the entire operation.

The story of Bill Finger isn’t unknown nowadays, but for decades it was somewhat of an open secret in Hollywood. Finger died in 1974, and his family spent years fighting for DC to acknowledge his key contribution to the Batman story. Finally, in 2015, DC started crediting him as co-creator on some Batman covers, as well as for Batman TV and film projects. He’s also been inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall of Fame, and the Will Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame. Batman and Bill debuts on Hulu May 6. You can watch the first trailer below.

[YouTube]

Video Editor and Staff Writer at io9. My doppelganger is that rebelling greeting card from Futurama.

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DISCUSSION

alliterator85
alliterator

Just to break it down: Bob Kane came up with the general concept of “the Bat-Man.” He gave Bill Finger a picture of a man in red tights with a red domino mask and bat wings and asked Bill to write a story with him in it. Bill basically came up with, well, everything else. The secret identity of Bruce Wayne? Bill. Commissioner Gordon? Bill. The Batmobile? Bill. Gotham City? Bill. Robin, the Joker, Catwoman, Two-Face, the Riddler? All Bill.

But Bill wasn’t that good at talking to management, so he left that to Bob Kane, thinking that Bob would get them both a fair shake. Bob, however, made a deal behind his back in which he would be solely credited as the creator of Batman. Hell, at one point, Bob even threw Siegel and Shuster under the bus when they were trying to get credit!

Eventually, Bob admitted that he “contracted” Bill to do some work for him, but never admitted that Bill actually co-created Batman or anything else (even though many other artists said that Bill co-created characters with them). In fact, Bob Kane’s tombstone says that Bob was inspired by God himself to create Batman.

In another little bit of trivia, Bill Finger use to carry around notebooks in which he would scribble down story ideas and other information. This became so distinctive that John Broome and Gil Kane decided to create a supervillain who did the exact same thing — and name him after Bill. Thus, William Hand was made.