Just a few days ago, Batman celebrated its 80th anniversary.
In these 80 years, Batman has become a household name. The greatest crime fighter in the world has fought villains for 8 long decades, solving mysteries and fighting injustice no matter how tough it got.
But the greatest injustice in Batman is a missing person’s case. And the victim is an obscure figure in comic book history by the name of Bill Finger, the long uncredited co-creator of The Dark Knight.
You know Bob Kane, right? The certified creator of Batman. Well, first conceived by Kane, this is how Batman looked!
He told Kane to give the character a cowl instead of a domino mask, a cape instead of wings, adding gloves and removing the red parts of the original costume.
According to SBS, Finger helped create over 1500 Batman strips, contributing to the name Bruce Wayne, Gotham City, Commissioner Gordon, Robin, Catwoman, the Batmobile, the Bat Cave and even The Joker.
Which was the case until 1965 when Finger, while speaking at an early comics convention publicly said that he helped create the Caped Crusader.
Angered by this, Kane wrote an open letter denying all of Finger’s claims and thus, for a long period of time, he was the sole creator of the Dark Knight.
By that time, Finger had already co-created the first Green Lantern (Alan Scott). Martin Nodell and Finger both got bylines for the superhero comics.
He continued working for DC and co-wrote a two-part episode – The Clock King’s Crazy Crimes / The Clock King Gets Crowned of the live-action Batman TV series, which aired on the 12-13th of October in 1966.
It was his first public credit for a Batman story.
By this time, the Batman franchise knew no limits. The character had become immensely popular and it had developed in franchises, be it animation or live-action TV series. Superhero movies were still a long way to go but the comic sales itself had brought in millions.
Finger lived in obscurity and even though he managed to make a living as a screenwriter, he was in abject poverty when he died in 1974 at the age of just 59.
In 1989 we got to see a live-action Batman film in theatres for the first time. It was during this time that Bob Kane publicly acknowledged the immeasurable contribution of Bill Finger in the creation of Batman for the very first time.
This was 15 years after Finger’s death.
BTW, it took another 15-16 years and a very public legal case by his granddaughter and her son to get DC Entertainment to give Finger credit for Batman VS Superman: Dawn of Justice.
So remember every iconic Batman you’ve ever seen- the name, the cape and the cowl, the character, everything about him, every version of him, every crime he’s ever solved and every time he saved the day, remember Bill Finger, the man who made it all possible.