Riddle me this. Why was one Finger so important to creating Batman?
Those with a knowledge of the caped crimefighter will mention Bob Kane. It’s Kane whose name appears on so many of the early issues of DC Comics featuring Batman and who has long been regarded as the creator of the iconic comic book figure.
Holy misconception. That’s only partly true. Thanks to a crusade by comic book fan Marc Tyler Nobleman, the truth behind the creation of Batman has changed. Nobelman’s efforts to show that Bill Finger, a struggling writer, was the key figure in creating elements of Batman from concept to costume in 1939, is told in the documentary “Batman & Bill” debuting Saturday, May 6, on Hulu. Launch of the special is timed to air on national Free Comic Book Day.
It sounds like some kind of twisted plot by Joker in that Finger was instrumental in the creation of one of the biggest comic book characters in Batman but Kane has always been given the credit.
“Creatively, it was 98 percent Bill and 1 percent Bob and the rest is in the ethos. It was so much more Bill from the get-go creatively,” Nobleman says. “A lot of it has to do with the times. This was a different era where often comic strips and sometimes comic books were created by a team of people, but one person got the credit, the person who started what they call the shop or the studio.
“But there are exceptions to that. Superman was one of the big ones. (Jerry) Siegel and (Joel) Shuster had their names on the property from the beginning, so it isn’t like that was the only way that things had to be done. So part of it was that Bob Kane at the beginning was more dominant in a business sense.”
Nobleman’s quest came out of his lifelong passion for superheroes. When he started his career as a writer, Nobleman turned to the comic book world for story ideas. He saw that Kane’s version of the story had been told for six decades and felt that was wrong. That’s when he started doing research that included interviews with nine people who were around when Kane and Finger were working on Batman.
One person always knew Finger was the real man behind the cape and cowl. Athena Finger, the granddaughter of the man behind Batman, never doubted the stories her father would tell her about the family history with Batman. Her father had always talked about his father’s contributions to Batman but the conversations got more intense when the 1989 feature film, Michael Keaton’s “Batman,” was released. Kane never mentioned Finger when doing interviews to promote the movie.
When she was younger, there was no social media to investigate her grandfather’s part in the Batman history. Because she had no physical proof, Athena Finger stopped talking about her grandfather’s connection to Batman.
The research Nobleman did gave her the proof she needed.
“I was really surprised on how many people in the comic world really knew the true story about what Bill had contributed to the Batman mythos. That was an amazing thing for me because it really allowed me to talk about my family and not have this concern that people were going to question whether I was telling the truth or not. So that was a big one for me,” Athena Finger says.
Nobleman and Athena Finger are delighted the truth has been revealed. This is big step but Nobleman would like to see one more tribute to Finger and that would be a memorial for Bill Finger in New York City. He wants the fans to have a place where they can pay their respects to the man behind Batman. And they aren’t talking about Robin, Alfred or Commissioner Gordon.
Batman & Bill
- 12:01 a.m. Saturday, May 6.