Movie Review: ‘Batman and Bill’
Stories about unsung heroes are always guaranteed to bring out a flood of emotions from people and this is exactly what author Mark Nobleman is aiming for in the documentary Batman and Bill. In his 75 years of history the Dark Knight has evolved from a Golden Age comic hero to one of the most iconic fictional characters, recognized by people the world over. Throughout this time the credit “Batman created by Bob Kane” was attached to everything having to do with the character. But with this Hulu exclusive documentary many will be shocked to learn that this is not entirely true and that a writer named Bill Finger has long been snubbed by history as the creator of Batman.
The documentary follows Nobleman’s attempts to learn all he can about a man only believed to be photographed twice who had his contribution to history covered up. Through interviews and archived footage with the likes of; Kevin Smith, Bob Uslan, Jerry Robinson, Todd McFarlane, Roy Thomas, and many others. A picture is painted mainly of Bob Kane as a self absorbed narcissist who reveled in the fame Batman afforded him all the while the man who truly created the character suffered in poverty. In fact serving as a co-writer on an episode of the Adam West television series would be the only credit Finger ever received on Batman during his life. Nobleman seeks to not only write a book about Finger’s life, but always wages a moral crusade to see Bill Finger’s credit restored to his creation.
Through a dogged investigation he is able to track down the descendants of Finger whom nobody really knew the existence of. From there Batman and Bill tells the story of Athena Finger, Bill’s granddaughter, taking up the fight of her family to see to champion Bill Finger’s cause. It truly is a David and Goliath conflict as Athena has to face the full legal fury of Time Warner, who are trapped by a decades long legal agreement with Bob Kane. Fittingly everything came to a head in 2014 the 75th anniversary of the character, the 25th anniversary of the classic Tim Burton film, and the 100th birthday of Bill Finger himself.
With Batman’s popularity at the highest it has ever been the documentary Batman and Bill is incredibly important. It is the story about the legacy of an unsung hero who finally receives his due credit. The story is aided by beautiful comic book artwork which changes to fit the era that part of the story is told in. In fact it is hard for me not to get choked up at the animated sequence of Bill Finger’s son putting his father to rest on the beach. Batman and Bill is an inspirational film which continues to tell the story of the secretive man behind Batman.