Batman & Bill
I've been really looking forward to watching this documentary once I heard it was being produced. I had heard the stories of Bill Finger and his contributions to Batman over the years. I did liken it to the whole Siegal and Shuster story for Superman and hoped that a time would come when Finger would get the credit he deserved.
The film opens with writer and documentary producer Marc Tyler Nobleman speaking to a group of children as he begins to tell them the story of Batman. It's a nice touch as it reminds us where our love for Batman begins. It's interesting to note that he points out how children don't realize the selfless nature of heroes as kids, but I'll argue otherwise. Most children are selfless as they are discovering self and because of it, they attach themselves to the selfless nature of the hero.
He proceeds to give us a little background on himself and why he is producing this film. From there, we get the story of how Bob Kane essentially creates the Bat-man, but it's not the hero we know today. With the aid of Bill Finger, the character morphs into our familiar hero, but instead of giving him credit, Kane went on to take sole credit.
From there, Kane was able to make himself wealthy from his co-creation, thanks in large part to the Batman 66 series. There is a moment though where Finger, not ever getting a credit in the comics at that point, got to write for the TV series. His co-writer of the Clock King episode, Charles Sinclair, relates how they got to watch the episode in color at the ABC offices. There's an irony in all this as DC Comics was always trying to get their writers on Batman and the only one who made it was the one who never got the credit in the comics.
The documentary is filled with commentary from comic notables like Carmine Infantino, Kevin Smith, Todd McFarlane, Travis Langley, and Arlen Schumer. Schumer's commentary is most notable as he not only adds to the story, but takes a stand on his feelings towards Kane, something many will feel after watching this documentary.
In addition, there is some great audio from the first Comic Con convention in New York with Bill Finger as well as audio interviews he conducted. These audio clips are supplemented with animated comic illustrations.
Once this all is set up, the documentary turns to Nobleman's quest to find justice for Bill Finger and he does it by pointing out how he needed to be a detective like his hero, Batman. And in doing this, we see this is more than the story of Bill Finger, but of his family from his son to his granddaughter, Athena, who is featured in the documentary.
Have to admit, when I first saw the 90 minute note for the documentary, I had to wonder how much of a story could this be to take up so much time. Well, there is and it's a doozy and Nobleman does a great job of keeping the story moving along with great visuals to supplement the story.
I've had Hulu for a couple of years now, and I could say that it's worth having for all the great programming they have to offer but now we have this incredible documentary, and that alone should be a reason to give the streaming service a try.