So Today I Watched…. Batman & Bill // A Documentary by HULU (2017)
Bill Finger. The name will surely ring a bell for most Batman fans, but the casual person out there doesn’t know who he is. In this world where everything is up for grabs, and unfairness is all around. We get to bury our minds deep in the stories of these fictional characters without knowing that some of them have a dark secret behind them too. Such is the case of Batman and the story of how he came to be.
Batman was designed as a work for hire by Bob Kane in 1939 over a weekend. After getting a grasp of how much money Sieger and Shuster were making out of working on Superman weekly, he wanted into that kind of cash. The couple of Jewish kids of Jersey were making $800 a week in that time and that was a lot of money back then. The problem was that Bob Kane wasn’t as creative as the Superman guys. So he called in an up-and-comer writer who really wanted a crack in the comics business. A man named Bill Finger. Once they sat down to work, the crude concept of Bob evolved into the more familiar visage of the character you know and love.
Bob was quick to go to DC and claim solo ownership of the character. Seeing the willingness of Bill to work with him, he let him tag along as his personal work-for-hire paid out of his pocket. They went to develop Batman for some good 20 years until Bob retired and Bill was fired. As time passed Bob increasingly made his name more related to the character. He had done so since day one: he signed a masterful contract that has never been disclosed to the public granting him sole lifetime credit to the character. And of course part ownership and royalties over everything with Batman’s name on it. Bill faded into obscurity. Struggling to make ends meet he died alone in a tiny department in New york in 1973.
So far you may be asking what the big deal about this is. Bill was a work for hire and he had that clear to a T on his side. But looking your so-called partner grow rich out of your creation, is bound to cause some friction and scars over time. Bill was such a gentleman that he never fought for his rights. he never had the resources to do so either. Given his role in the birth of Batman he was entitled for more. You see, Bill didn’t just create the look of Batman and wrote stories about him for 20 years. Bill also crated the imaginary and names for The Joker, The Penguin, The Riddler, Robin, Alfred, The Batcave, The Batmobile, Commissioner Gordon and even Gotham City. Imagine for a minute that Stan Lee went to every convention and interview telling everyone that he’s the sole creator of Marvel Comics. And didn’t acknowledge Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko. That’s the hand Bill was dealt by Bob Kane. That’s what he had to live with for the rest of his days.
Marc Tyler took it upon himself to make things right. Batman and Bill is a documentary about his journey looking to right one of the biggest creative wrongs made in the creative side of the comic business. Marc Tyler not only manages to find out the truth behind what happened to Bill Finger after his time working at DC. He manages to track down the heirs to Bill and through patience and persistence he achieves what he set out to do. Bill Finger’s story is not a pretty one. It’s filled with sadness and abandonment. It’s a tale about justice being made, not about money being earned. The final fate of the players of this tale will leave you with a sense of closure for Bill. But It will have you wondering why this didn’t happen any sooner.
Bill Finger’s first ever Batman comic credit was in Batman#46 (vol.2) cover dated January of 2016. He was also credited in the film Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and he will remain Batman co-creator until the end of times.