Logged in to Hulu to watch Batman & Bill, a brilliant documentary about the life and legacy of William Finger—the long-uncredited co-creator of Batman—as well as the tireless efforts of a dedicated fan (Marc Tyler Nobleman, author of Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman and Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman) to get the writer the recognition he deserves.
Even if you’re intimately familiar with Finger’s numerous contributions to the Bat iconography (and it has always been a poorly kept secret, despite Bob Kane’s unwavering claims of sole authorship), this film is still well worth checking out. It explores the compelling conflict between unbridled creativity and cold business acumen, demythologizing the history behind comic books and laying bare the sad truth that the most modest and humble of scribes and artists were often overshadowed by their more flamboyant, self-promoting collaborators (there’s a reason Stan Lee cameos in every single Marvel movie). Once Finger’s heirs enter the picture, it becomes an immensely entertaining underdog story as they petition DC Comics and WB Studios to acknowledge his role in crafting one of the most recognizable pop culture figures of the twentieth century; even knowing the outcome of their uphill battle, I couldn’t help but get caught up in the drama—especially with industry giants like Roy Thomas, Kevin Smith, and Todd McFarlane popping in to voice their support.
[Originally written May 10, 2017.]