The Dark Knight has been around for a whopping 76 years, meaning there’s a lot to know about the guy. It’s kind of impossible to know absolutely everything, but as someone who has consistently made best in my state in Batman trivia on QuizUp (a prestigious honor, to be sure), I like to think I know a few things the general public might not necessarily be familiar with. So let’s kick back and I’ll tell you some things you might not know about the old Batsy!
This fact isn’t exactly obscure to superfans, but it’s one the general public really should know, so I think it should be repeated as often as possible. The guy you’ll see credited in all the Batman comics and movies as creating the guy, Bob Kane? He actually did very little in creating the guy. In fact it could be said literally all he created was the name- “Bat-Man”. And he might not have even done that- some sources say that the guy he originally designed was called “Bird-Man.” Which would make sense, since the blonde, red-clad dude in his designs looks a lot more like a cardinal than a bat:
Bob Kane's original concept
That’s when he bought on Bill Finger who came up with the bright idea that a guy called Batman should actually, y’know, look like a bat. But that’s not all- it was Bill who came up with Robin, Bruce Wayne, Gotham City, the Batmobile, Commissioner Gordon, all of the famous villians (including Catwoman and the Joker) and the idea that Batman should just be a regular guy without superpowers. So basically, literally every core aspect of the character. He also came up with the whole “my parents were shot in Crime Alley and I swore eternal vengeance on criminals who are a superstitious cowardly lot” deal. He wrote the first Batman story!
Bob Kane, meanwhile, contributed by…tracing art. Very blatantly.
The story ends really tragically- Bill Finger died in poverty without ever getting credit for creating Batman or any of the stories he wrote. There is a bright spot though- this year, for the first time, Bill Finger is finally being credited as one of the creators of Batman in both print comics and on TV. He’s still (undeservingly) under Bob Kane’s name in the credits, but it’s a start. Bill Finger has been credited alongside Bob Kane as the creator of Batman since Season 2, episode 5 of the Gotham TV series.
He’s also going to be credited in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. And he’s finally been credited in comics like Batman and Robin Eternal too. It’s a lot later than it should have been, but at least it’s finally happening.
You can check out this book, Bill the Boy Wonder, to learn more about Batman's overlooked creator.
No, I’m not kidding around here. In a 1999 issue of Justice League, Martian Manhunter, resident alien shapeshifter and last survivor of Mars, disguised himself as a Japanese woman named “Hino Rei”. Hino Rei happens to be the alias of Sailor Mars, the fiery warrior of passion from the manga and anime Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon. So, Martian Manhunter confirmed for anime trash.
From Justice League
But who else is anime trash? Bruce Wayne apparently. He instantly recognized that “Hino Rei” had to be his friend from Mars, informing him smugly that his name was a dead giveaway. So, unless there were some Sailor Moon based murders in Gotham Bruce had to investigate (admittedly not an impossibility), Batman is a fan of magical girls (and the way he postured about how the name was soooo obvious definitely seems like something an anime addict would do. From experience).
Not only did he watch Sailor Moon, he watched it subbed. No censored English version for our dark avenger! I like to think it was Robin who introduced him, and they would kick back and watch the show together after a long night of crime fighting. Speaking of Robin….
Many people know about the whole deal with Frederic Wertham and the Comics Code. If you don’t, you should definitely read up on it. Wertham was a cool dude in many ways- he was a real critic of Jim Crow laws ( an attitude that was unpopular at the time) and spoke out for people who were unfairly imprisoned on the basis of race, including Ethel Rosenberg. He opened a clinic in Harlem that specialized in helping poor black youth.
Unfortunately, while he was better than the average white dude at the time when it came to race, he was pretty bad when it came to sexuality. As you may know, he became convinced that Batman and Robin were a deviant fantasy that was turning innocent hetero children gay. But I always found his specific reasoning for why Batman and Robin waved a rainbow flag to be hilarious. It wasn’t unintentionally suggestive stuff like this.
No, it was the fact “They live in sumptuous quarters, with beautiful flowers in large vases, and have a butler, Alfred. Batman is sometimes shown in a dressing gown...”
Yep, Batman is gay because he is rich, has flowers in vases and owns a bathrobe. Any of you straights who got any of that going on, I’ve got news. You’re one of us now. Wertham called all of this (along with the fact that Robin shows like, basic human concern when Batman, his father figure, is injured or sad) a “homosexual fantasy”. Only us gays want to be rich and have nice things.
Wertham's ironclad logic successfully convinced DC Comics that they had to introduce wholesome female love interests for Bruce and Dick, stat. And so Batwoman and Bat-girl were introduce in 1956.
Honestly, though, this didn’t really make Batman look any more hetero. He and Robin both constantly rejected the advances of these “silly girls”, claiming that their true love was justice. That…just sort of hammers in the duo’s disinterest in women more than anything