Review - Batman & Bill
Batman & Bill (2017), NR, 93 minutes - When asked the question 'who created Batman?', the overwhelming majority of people able to answer (including myself) would reply with the following answer: Bob Kane. The thing is, that answer is only half right, but until a couple of years ago there was absolutely no acknowledgement of that in any form ranging from comic books to movies. The other, much lesser known half of the answer is: Bill Finger. This previously little known fact is why this Hulu documentary is so important. Not just to the history of Batman, but to comic books in general. It is quite simply an amazing, unbelievable, sometimes heart-wrenching tale about how a children's author named Mark Tyler Nobleman discovered that the world only knew half of the story, and how he set out to right that wrong.
Bill Finger was a friend of Bob Kane's who collaborated on Batman's original design and is the man who actually wrote the majority of Batman's earliest appearances in comic book form. He also contributed to the creation of a number of other characters (Catwoman, Joker, Penguin, Robin, Riddler, and the Bruce Wayne alter-ego), and Batman-related places and things such as Gotham City, the Batmobile, and the Batcave. For years and years, the sole benefactor of creator credit (and the resulting fame that came with it) for any of these things was Bob Kane, who was Batman's original artist. Kane was the one who first pitched the idea of Batman, never mentioning his friend's contributions, and as such was the only one to reap the benefits of being known as Batman's creator.
In this documentary, Nobleman shares his experiences researching the life of Bill Finger, and the road it led him down which spun into a much larger mystery than he expected, uncovering previously unknown friends and family members, and eventually turning into a full fledged cause: getting Bill Finger proper credit for his contributions to what has become a globally recognized property. Which was no small feet in this day and age due to all of the legal hoops that required jumping through.
Fittingly, this story has a number of heroes, and even a villain or two. It re-writes Batman's chapter in comic book history, and gives credit where it has long been overdue. It's just unfortunate that this story went untold for so long. I remember reading an article a couple of years back when it was announced that Bill Finger was finally going to be receiving co-creator credit moving forward, but I had no idea just how deep this story truly was. I highly recommend this film to anyone interested in Batman, or the history of comics in general. It is a very important look behind the scenes of quite possibly the most recognizable comic book character in the world.
*Stream Batman & Bill now on hulu
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