Big Facts About Batman to Make You Say "Holy Misconception!"
Today is the 75th birthday of the most popular person on the face of the planet. In fact, if aliens were to gauge importance of various figures in society based only on t-shirt sales, Batman would probably be more popular than several religious deities, and definitely bigger than One Direction, Justin Bieber, or Elvis. Known for his Sherlock Holmes-esque brain, his video-game-meets-Bruce Lee-ability to brawl, and a coolness which nearly every superhero tries to match, but simply can’t; Batman has been the man for 75 years for a reason.
But how much do you really know about him? Here are three essential Bat-Facts to back you in your next super-hero debate, or just to make make the conversation around the Bat-Cake and Bat-Candles a little more lively.
Batman Had Two Dads
Though most Bat-fans will happily remind you that the best and most popular masked vigilante—Batman—was created by Bob Kane, it’s not entirely true. While Bob Kane is credited with the creation of the character himself, the actual look of Batman was refined in collaboration with another writer named Bill Finger. When Kane first brought his ideas about “The Bat-Man” for Finger’s opinions, Bats wasn't wearing a full cowl-yet, didn't have gloves, and had a touch of red to his costume. It was Finger, not Kane, who recommended the darker, more ominous look of Batman that we associate with the character today. Bill Finger also is said to have created a lot of other details, including the Joker, the Batmobile and more. Finger didn't receive public credit for his work, and depending on who you ask, this was either his fault for not asserting himself or Kane's fault for not giving the credit where credit was due.
And while there was a long and contentious relationship between Kane and Finger, after Finger’s death in 1974, Kane did acknowledge in later years that he felt guilty about the bad blood created between the two. These days most sources accept and acknowledge Finger's involvement, and he was even given a cover credit for the first time earlier this year. Anyway you look at it, a very dynamic duo created Batman in the early days, not just one man acting alone.
In His First Year, Batman Shot Guns All the Time
In The Dark Knight Rises, our super-ethical caped-crusader tells Catwoman “No guns, no killing!” but there are numerous instances of Batman committing vigilante murder in his early days. More interestingly, in the 1939, the year of his publishing-birth, Batman still used guns. In an excellent 2012 article for The New Yorker, Jill Lepore details the history of how Batman was forced to stop using guns, and it wasn't Batman creator Bob Kane’s idea. Instead, Batman was forced to drop his gun by 1940 DC editor Whitney Ellsworth. Here, not at the start, did Bob Kane start linking the violent death of Bruce Wayne’s parents to Batman’s anti-gun and anti-murder stance. So, for 74 years Batman has had his big rule about not killing and not using guns, but during his first year, he still did. We’re glad he changed!
It’s 1966, Do You Know Where Batgirl Is?
Though characters named Bat-Woman and Bat-Girl (Kathy Kane and Betty Cane, respective) appeared in pages of DC comics in the late 50’s and early 60’s, the character of Batgirl (no hyphen!) who was also Commissioner Gordon's daughter—Barbara Gordon—didn't show up until late 1966, specifically in Detective Comics #359. Here was the first appearance of the red-haired Batgirl, the version of the character most predominant in all of the Batman canon. And there she is, in an issued dated January of 1967, jumping from the pages of the comic books and into our bat-hearts forever. But wait! A most confusing origin story is yet to come!
Barbara Gordon/Batgirl did first turn up in a January 1967 (released in late 1966) issue of Detective Comics, but this version of the character was not originated for the comic books. Instead, the creation of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl was suggested to DC comics by Batman TV producer William Dozier. The “look” and secret identity of Batgirl, a character were then invented by Julius Schwartz and artist Carmine Infantino (the latter of who also created Poison Ivy). So, Batgirl was requested by Dozier and then incorporated into the comics. Barbara Gordon has proved essential to the Batman universe, but may never have come into existence if it weren't for the kitschy tongue-in-cheek Batman TV show. Yvonne Craig even shot a promotional short minisode for Batgirl in which Barbara Gordon faced off against the same baddie from her comics debut; Killer Moth.
How are you celebrating Batman's birthday?