Hulu has debuted the trailer for “Batman & Bill,” the upcoming documentary about writer Bill Finger, who for decades went unacknowledged as the co-creator — and, some insist, the dominant creative force — behind the Caped Crusader and many of the hero’s defining elements, including the Batmobile, the Batcave, Robin and The Joker.
Announced in August, the documentary is framed as uncovering a mystery: Why, at least until 2014, was Bob Kane listed as Batman’s sole creator, and what happened to Finger? “The most mysterious man in Gotham City wasn’t in a mask and cape,” Hulu states.
The trailer features filmmaker Kevin Smith, the late artist Carmine Infantino, and author Marc Tyler Nobleman, a Finger biographer who campaigned for years for the writer to receive wider recognition for his role in early Batman comics and, ultimately, co-creator credit. The latter finally came in 2014 and 2015, with Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment now including the line “Batman created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger” in the credits of comic books, films and television series. The footage also features the voice of Finger, who died in 1974, saying, “I was a ghost, I really was.”
Although Finger’s key role in the Batman mythos was widely acknowledged within the industry, the contract negotiated between DC and Kane stipulated that only he receive credit for the Dark Knight’s creation. Kane fiercely defended his position as the sole creator of Batman and downplayed Finger’s contributions, even writing in a fiery 1965 letter to ‘Batmania’ fanzine, “If Bill Finger created Batman, as you wrote, where is Bill Finger’s byline on my strip? It is conspicuous by its absence.” In that same letter, Kane insisted “the truth is that Bill Finger is taking credit for much more than he deserves,” while admitting his collaborator “was influential in aiding me in shaping up the strip.” However, in his 1989 autobiography, published 15 years after Finger’s death, Kane finally acknowledged, “Now that my long-time friend and collaborator is gone, I must admit that Bill never received the fame and recognition he deserved. He was an unsung hero.”
Finger’s role was so unsung in his lifetime that his one-time Batman collaborator Jerry Robinson later established the Bill Finger Award For Excellence in Comic Book Writing in his honor.
“Batman & Bill” premieres May 6 on Hulu.