Wednesday, May 10, 2017

What-To-Watch Wednesday - Batman & Bill (2017)

I hadn't planned on spotlighting another film focused on the fantasy genre so soon after last week's review of Atlantis: the Lost Empire, but that was before I watched the Hulu documentary, Batman & Bill, and my original intentions were thrown out the window.  Batman & Bill is a film about Bill Finger, the long unsung co-creator of Batman and most of the elements (including many of the classic villains) now considered essential parts of the Batman mythology.  

Long time comic book fans will no doubt have heard of Finger and his contributions to the Batman character, but proper acknowledgment of Finger's work was never given until very recently.  Like within the last few years, somewhere around the seventy-fifth anniversary of the character.  This film documents the efforts to establish Finger's credit as well as tell his life story, the details of which are heartbreaking and have been largely unknown to comic book fans until now.


At the center of all this is writer and comic book historian, Marc Nobleman.  We follow his research into the life of Bill Finger and how he slowly uncovers the sometimes mundane but often sad trifles of Finger's life.  We learn how Finger became involved in the creation of Batman, how contracts and legalities kept him from obtaining the credit so many saw as rightfully his, and how the remainder of his career played out while he watched Bob Kane, the man historically given sole credit for creating Batman, reap all the rewards and benefits.


I won't go into the specifics, but the revelations about Finger's life and the subsequent effects on his family had me in tears before the movie's end.  Here is a man that co-created one of the most famous and recognizable (not to mention successful) fictional characters in the history of any genre of literature and hardly anyone knows who he is.  The ensuing languor and obscurity of Finger's life while his most famous creation flourished was almost unbearable to watch.


It shouldn't be a spoiler to say there is a happy ending of sorts in that DC Comics is finally crediting Bill Finger with creating Batman alongside Bob Kane.  But, the real power of this film is watching how the events play out in an attempt to make amends for a decades-long injustice.  As a friend recently said to me, it's a story that shouldn't have had to be told, but at least it is getting told.




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