SO MUCH IS so right in “The Dark Knight Rises,” from the special performances to the special effects, that I was riding a Zimmer-scored, IMAX-ed cinematic high at a Tuesday screening till about Minute 163 1/2. That’s when the credits were rolling.

And that’s when Batman snubbed his great co-creator. Yet again.

In “Dark Knight Rises” (opening tonight), the end credit acknowledges only one person as the creator of the Bat-man. That, of course, is Bob Kane, who signed a sole creator contract in the ‘30s with DC Comics’ precursor. In doing so, Kane did not share credit with the creative partner who helped define Batman’s entire look — from cowl to scallopped cape — as well as the Dark Knight name.

Once again, more than 70 years later, Batman is still giving the finger to Bill Finger.

Even as comics-industry awareness continues to grow in honoring the contributions of legends like Jack Kirby , Warner Bros. and DC Comics and even the Kane estate still can’t seem to find a way to fully, rightfully, legally credit Batman’s long-silent partner — the talent for too long unmasked.

“Dark Knight Rises” writer-director Christopher Nolan is so faithful to so many moments from famed Batman books (including — semi-spoiler — the “Knightfall” image of Bane breaking the Caped Crusader’s back). The pity, though, is that Nolan — like all the Batman film directors in all of Hollywood’s Batman screen projects — must also be legally faithful to how the credit appears in the comics, with Kane cited solely as creator.


FATHER FIGURE AND SON: If only Bill Finger had had a corporate Alfred J. Pennyworth (played by Michael Caine) look after his business affairs. Finger co-created Batman (played by Christian Bale in the Christopehr Nolan trilogy). (WARNER BROS./PHOTO BY RON PHILLIPS)

So did Bill Finger really earn the credit we seek for him?

(Detective Comics/via AP)

Plus, in his 2011 autobiography Joe Simon: My Life in Comics,” the late Captain America co-creator — in noting the talented but overlooked DC staffer Whit Ellsworth — wrote: “The loudmouths there like Bob Kane would say they had done everything, and then people [internally] would give most of the credit to Bill Finger.”

In his excellent new biography “Bill the Boy Wonder: The Secret Co-Creator of Batman” (invitingly illustrated by Ty Templeton), Marc Tyler Nobleman tries to help shine a Gotham-worthy klieglight on Finger’s contributions.

“Every Batman story is marked with the words, ‘Batman created by Bob Kane,’ “ Nobleman writes in his book. “For almost thirty years, fans did not suspect otherwise. But that is not the whole truth. Bob Kane himself said so. A Finger had a hand in it, too.”

The book also cites the support of former DC publisher/artist Carmine Infantino, who considers Finger “the Father of Batman.”

So does Nobleman believe Finger, who died in 1974 at age 59, deserves a screen credit?

“I do, strongly,” the author tells Comic Riffs. “I even asked [former DC president/writer] Paul Levitz to include Bill’s name in [Nolan’s film] ‘The Dark Knight’ and thought my strategy was sound. But I was politely turned down.

“There is little chance of Finger being credited as anything other than a writer as long as the Kane ‘sole creator’ contract stands.”

Comic industry pros acknowledge Finger’s accomplishments, even presenting the annual Bill Finger Excellence in Comic Book Writing Award — a honor spearheaded by Robinson — at last week’s Eisner Awards at San Diego Comic-Con.

If only Batman could be as creative in acknowledging a parent who, to too much of the world, is still a masked and unknown creator.


The new illustrated biography helps unmask some of Batman’s creative history. (Marc Tyler Nobleman and Ty Templeton / CHARLESBRIDGE 2012 )