The Legacy of Bill Finger

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“Either you die a hero or live long enough to see yourself become a villain.” This quote became famous in Chris Nolan’s, The Dark Knight, where Harvey Dent foreshadows his downfall as a hero and rise as the villain, Two-Face. Does anyone know where this came from? It came from Bill Finger (his birthday is tomorrow), the co-creator of Batman. Bill Finger, sadly, isn’t well known to most fans, but among Batman fans, he was considered to be the one who gave Batman his signature look and feel. According to IMDB:

Bill Finger was “responsible for the creation of the Joker’s laughing gas and the Penguin’s umbrellas.

Came up with the origin story of the Batman, and also consulted Bob Kane to have white eyes on Batman, instead of just black.

Proposed the look of the batman to Bob Kane, including the gray body and the white eyes.

Bob Kane’s original concept for a super-hero was called Birdman. It was Finger who convinced him to change the design of the character to that of a bat, discarding the feathered wings, opting instead for a cape and cowl.

Was posthumously inducted into the Jack Kirby Hall Of Fame and the Will Eisner Award Hall of Fame.

Drew much inspiration for Batman from Lee Falk’s character “The Phantom”. Like Batman, the Phantom is one of the few heroes not to have super powers.

Created the “Green Lantern” comics with Martin Nodell.

Created, with Bob Kane, villains such as the Penguin, The Joker, Catwoman and Two-Face.

With artist Irwin Hasen, Finger created the DC Comics character Wildcat in January, 1942.”

As one can see, Bill Finger has accomplished a lot. But why isn’t he well known? The answer is that Bob Kane, through some legal magic and paying the writers not to take credit, became the sole credited creator of Batman.

Recently, Marc Tyler Nobleman and Athena Finger (Bill Finger’s grand-daughter) have begun to speak out about this and have been campaigning DC Comics to give Finger his credit alongside Kane’s. Nobleman argues, “When you watch the credits for the Dark Knight, there’s got to be a thousand people on that credit list. None of them would have had that job if it weren’t for Bill Finger. You would not have that movie! That was really hard for me. That’s why I started the effort to have people recognize that with this show “Gotham,” it wouldn’t have a name without Bill Finger.”

Athena reiterates that, “My dad was really proud of his father, so he would tell me stories…He had fond memories of helping him with his stories, going to the museum with him, going to every kind of movie. He would talk about it, but he wouldn’t talk about it very much, because it was painful. Nobody really gave his dad the recognition he deserved.”

DC Comics did give Bill Finger a cover credit when they released 75th anniversary edition of Detective Comics #27 last year. Legally, DC Comics is stuck, but Athena and her supporters hope that the right thing will be done and justice for Bill will happen. Hopefully, it will.

Overall, Bill Finger had a huge impact on the Batman and comics world. It’s sad that he can’t get credit for his help in creating one of the most iconic superheroes ever, Batman! In the end, I hope things work out and Bill Finger finally gets the recognition he deserves.

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