It’s safe to say that everybody knows who Batman is. One of the greatest success stories of the 20th Century, Batman’s legacy has endured over 75 years of stories that saw the caped crusader travel the globe, time and space to deal out some justice. And it’s not just in comic books either that you’ve encountered the Gotham vigilante.
Movies, TV series and video games have all been fertile ground for the Batman, media where a character driven by tragedy and redemption has flourished. And whenever you saw the Batman in any form of media, you also saw one name placed there to remind you just who you can thank for the creation of the dark knight: Bob Kane. And that’s true! And also somewhat untrue.
See, here’s the thing: Bob Kane did create Batman. But he did so with some serious help from the very capable writer Bill Finger. Kane’s original vision for Batman was a blonde-haired vigilante in a red suit who glided around town with bat-wings inspired by Leonardo Da Vinci sketches. Which in effect, sounds nothing like the Batman that audiences are familiar with.
Fortunately, Finger helped overhaul the prototype Batman by suggesting a redesigned look and a more tragic backstory. “Bob’s original vision included no story of any kind,” Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of Bill The Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator Of Batman, said to Cracked in a feature that is very much well worth a read to see just how badly Bill Finger got screwed out of the credits for the creation of Batman.
He drew the first sketches, which Bill then completely overhauled, including pointing to ‘bat’ in the dictionary and suggesting Batman’s cowl resemble [an actual bat]. I give Bob credit for initiating the creation of the character. That’s it. In those days, there was no platform from which Bob could reach people regularly (they didn’t do store events or TV appearances). Batman became popular because of the stories.
That injustice (heh) carried on for decades. The man responsible for turning the dark knight into a grim avenger of the night, his tragic origin, Robin the Boy Wonder and the Joker died in poverty while Kane pulled a dick move or several to ensure that he was the only person credited for creating Batman. Said dickery worked wonders, because Kane’s name popped up in everything from the 1989 Batman movie, every comic printed and even the recent Arkham games while he gave Finger the finger from beyond the grave:
But times are changing. Thanks to the crusade of fans and family of Finger, proper credit has finally been restored to the legacy of the Batman. The world is only big enough for one caped crusader, but thankfully the legend himself is more than big enough to share credit with two comic book icons. And that’s an adjustment to the legacy that has been reflected in Batman: Return to Arkham:
Finger’s name also now appears in the rest of the Batman properties, but it’s just refreshing to see that in the end, there is justice for all.
Last Updated: October 24, 2016