Batman is probably the most famous Superhero of all time. The impact Batman has had on pop culture has been extremely significant. Multiple movies, TV shows and Video Games have all been made starring the Dark Knight. But who created Batman? The answer is not as simple as you might think.
The Creator of Batman
If you’re in anyway familiar with Batman comics you’ve probably heard the name Bob Kane before. Bob Kane was credited as the sole creator of Batman from 1939 right up until the year 2015. If you picked up a Batman comic over the course of this 76-year time span you would have seen ‘created by Bob Kane’ on the cover. But there is more to the story than that. Much more.
Today if you look at Batman’s Wikipedia page you will see 2 names credited as the creators of the caped crusader. Bob Kane and Bill Finger. And you can probably see where we’re going with this.
The Origins of Batman
In 1939, Action Comics had a hugely successful character known as Superman. After seeing this success Bob Kane decided he would try to replicate it. Taking inspiration from Zorro, Leonardo Da Vinci drawings and a 1930’s film called The Bat, he came up with a character called The Bat-man. However, this version looked nothing like the Batman we know and love today. He had a red suit, blonde hair, fixed bat wings on his back and a mask that only covered his eyes. It looked more like Robin than Batman.
Bill Finger – The Ghost Writer
It’s fair to say that Kane wasn’t best pleased with his own design. It was at this point that Bob Kane decided to call on the services of a ghostwriter he met at a party just a year earlier to help him. That ghostwriter was Bill Finger. Bill Finger came on board with several ideas on how to improve The Batman’s design. Here is what those ideas were:
- Darken the design. Bright colors worked for Superman but Batman needed to be feared.
- Have the mask cover his face. His identity needed to be hidden from his enemies as much as possible.
- Change the cape design to have it be less goofy-looking and more menacing.
Bill Finger also came up with the name Bruce Wayne. The name Bruce is inspired by a Scottish independence fighter from the 14th century called Robert the Bruce. The name Wayne was inspired by General “Mad Anthony” Wayne, an American statesman of Irish descent. Bob Kane wanted Batman to be a Superhero whereas Bill Finger imagined Batman as more of a detective. Kane would draw and Bill would write.
Once the concept and designs were complete it was Kane alone that brought the character to publishers. Publishers were impressed with the idea and offered Bob Kane a deal. They would publish Batman comics and Kane would be credited as the sole creator of the character. Ghostwriter Bill Finger was perfectly OK with this at the time. Afterall, this is what ghostwriters do. They write without credit for an agreed fee. But in this case, Bill Finger could never have imagined how impactful the Batman character would go on to be.
Lost to History
Bill Finger wrote Batman for many years. He came up with characters like The Joker, The Riddler, Scarecrow, Penguin, Two Face and Robin. Despite this, he received credit for his work only once, which was on a two part special of the Adam West Batman TV series.
Not much is really known about Bill Finger’s personal life. He lived a relatively normal life, in a small apartment in New York and was married twice. In 1974, Bill Finger’s friend and long time writing partner Charles Sinclair found him dead in his apartment. Bill died of a heart attack. Although tragic, it was not all that surprising as Bill had heart attacks on three separate occasions prior to this – in 1963, 1970 and 1973.
DC and Bob Kane denied Bill’s level of involvement for almost 50 years years until 1989 when Bob Kane confessed that Bill Finger had been a huge part of creating Batman. Following this admission fans of Batman around the world demanded justice for Bill Finger. They demanded Bill Finger be credited appropriately for his work.
Many more years passed until a man called Marc Tyler Nobleman really pushed for a change. He contacted Bill’s descendants and with their help he released a book on the topic called ‘Bill the boy wonder – the secret co-creator of Batman‘. Only 3 years later, in 2015, DC announced that Bill Finger would receive credit on all future projects including the upcoming Batman V Superman and The Justice League.
The Creators of Batman
So then, who is the creator of Batman? The answer is Bob Kane AND Bill Finger. Although Bill Finger worked as a ghostwriter for the majority of his life and agreed to write without credit, the facts show that he still played a huge role in creating Batman. Maybe even more so than Bob Kane.
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