The Road to the Trinity:Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman
From Gilgamesh to Wonder Woman
There are three parts to this post
What the creators said was the influences on the creation of these three characters
A timeline on fictional heroic characters that influenced each other and eventually produced Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman.
From.The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore:
Superman owes a debt to science fiction, Batman to the
hard-boiled pulp and detective stories. Wonder Woman’s debt is to the struggle for women’s rights. Her origins lie in William Moulton Marston’s past, and in the lives of the women he loved; they created Wonder Woman, too. Wonder Woman is no ordinary comic-book character because Marston was no ordinary man and his family was no ordinary family. Marston led a secret life: he had four children by two women; they lived together under one roof. They were masters of the art of concealment. Their favorite hiding place was the comics they produced. The women Marston loved were suffragists, feminists, and birth control advocates. Unknown to the world, Margaret Sanger, one of the most influential feminists of the twentieth century, was part of Marston’s family.
In Detective Comics 500 (March, 1981, “To Kill a Legend” written by Alan Brennert, penciled and inked by Dick Giordano), The Phantom Stranger opens a portal for Batman and Robin to go to a parallel world, where Thomas and Martha Wayne will be murdered in a few day. Batman vows to prevent that.
Dick Grayson goes to a library on that world and finds that “There aren’t any heroic mythology on this world. No Robin Hood, No Camelot, No.Odysseus, Hercules or Gilgamesh.” And if Batman saves the Waynes, no Batman either.
If the idea of a hero had not evoluted through the centuries, in mythology and literature, Superman, Batman and Wonder Woman would never have been created.
If there had never been stories of Achilles, Mercury, Hercules, Samson, John Carter of Mars and the 1920 novel Gladiator, there might never have been a Superman.
Without the circus strongmen of the 1930s, Superman would never have worn pants over his tights or wore a cape.
Without the Scarlet Pimpernel, there might never have been a Clark Kent.
Without the Scarlet Pimpernel, there might never have been Zorro, and hence Batman.
Without the Greek Gods, Hercules and the Amazons, there might never have been a Wonder Woman
What was the ‘official’ influences on creating these characters?
Let’s start with Superman.
Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Jerry Siegal said, “I’'m lying in bed counting sheep when all of a sudden it hits me. I conceive a character like Samson, Hercules and all the strong men I heard tell of rolled into one. Only more so.”
“As a high school student,” Jerry Siegel once recalled, “I thought that some day I might become a reporter, and I had crushes on several attractive girls who either didn’t know I existed or didn’t care I existed. . . It occurred to me: What if I… . had something special going for me, like jumping over buildings or throwing cars around or something like that?”
What led me into creating Superman in the early 30s?"
said Siegel. “Hearing and reading of the oppression and
slaughter of helpless, oppressed Jews in Nazi Germany… seeing movies depicting the horrors of
privation suffered by the downtrodden. had the great urge to help the downtrodden
masses, somehow. How could I help them when I could
barely help myself? Superman was the answer.”
Also Siegel’s father died of
a heart attack in 1932 during a robbery at the family clothing
store, when Jerry was 18 years old.
Jerry Siegal read every Science Fiction story, not so much Pulp Magazines. He must have known of the 1930 novel Gladiator, whose hero had powers identical to the early Superman.
Other influences: writer Jerry Slegel may have loosely based the storyline on the John
Carter of Mars books, a series about a Civil War soldier who
travels to Mars and realizes he is extremely powerful due to the weak gravity there
Also Flash Gordon. He’s in many ways the inverse of Superman. Whereas Superman is an alien who comes to Earth and uses his fantastic powers to perform heroic deeds, Flash is an earthling who goes to an alien planet where he uses nothing but his Bad Ass Normal skills to
perform heroic deeds Moreover, his classic appearance (blond and clad primarily in red with
blue and gold accents) contrasts with Superman’s (dark-haired and
clad primarily in blue with red and gold accents). They also have arch nemeses in the form of a bald egomaniac with a thing for green and purple (Lex Luthor and Ming the Merciless). Both villains view their respective
heroes similarly (Luthor sees
Superman as a challenge to his
narcissistic belief that he is the
ultimate human being, as well as to his control of Metropolis. Ming sees Flash as a threat to his fascist belief in Mongonian superiority, as well as his control over Mongo). Finally, the portrayal of Krypton is similar enough to Mongo (both being neo-medieval, Science-fiction wonderlands) to be seen as an alternate version of the same planet.
In a 1983 interview, Shuster
stated: “Douglas Fairbanks had a stance which I often used in drawing Superman…you’ll
see in many of his roles, including Robin Hood, that
he always stood with his hands on his hips and his feet spread apart, laughing - taking nothing seriously.”
Circus strongmen of the 1930s wore “the familiar, faintly disturbing overpants-belt combo” as Grant Morrison describes it. “Underpants on tights were signifiers of extra-masculine strength and endurance in 1938. The cape, showman-like boots, belt and skintight spandex were all derived from circus outfits and helped to emphasize the performative, even freak-show-esque, aspect of Superman’s adventures. Lifting bridges, stopping trains with his bare hands, wrestling elephants: these were superstrongman feats that benefited from the carnival flair implied by skintight spandex. Shuster had dressed the first superhero as his culture’s most prominent exemplar of the strongman ideal, unwittingly setting him up as the butt of ten thousand jokes.” Traveling circuses and fairs once held a prominence that’s hard to imagine now. They were emissaries of the unknown, the otherworldly, the freakish, the tantalizing, the magnificent, the imagined, the stuff of dreams. Superheroes came from these exact realms.
Siegel and Shuster also gave
Superman the mild-mannered
alter ego Clark Kent (who had
glasses a la Harold Lloyd). Alter egos had become popular through stories about the Scarlet Pimpernel, the Lone Ranger, and especially Zorro. And who had helped make Zorro a household name? Why, Fairbanks, of course, whose The
Mask of Zorro had been a huge hit in 1920.
Superman’s alter ego is Clark Kent. Clark Kent’s name was derived from two movie actors: Clark Gable and Kent Taylor. Everyone knows who Clark Gable is-the immortal Oscar-winning actor and star of Gone With The Wind (1939)
as well as many other great
films. But who was Kent Taylor?
Kent Taylor appeared in over 100 movies, mostly in the 1930’s, and mostly as a B-actor. his movie credits include I’m No Angel (1933) with Mae West. (Kent appeared in 14 films in
1932 alone.) In the 1950’s, he
switched over to television,
doing guest spots on The
Rifleman, My Little Margie,
and Bat Masterson. He ended
his career appearing in
“slasher films” in the
seventies, including Hell’s
Bloody Devils, I Spit On Your
Corpse, Satan’s Sisters, and
Brain of Blood. Kent Taylor
passed away in 1987 at the
age of 79.
Clark Kent’s bespectacled,
slightly nervous, insecure
persona, was based, at least
in part, on the classic silent
movie comedian Harold
Lloyd. Lloyd was probably
the movie’s first-ever “nerd”
clumsy, fumbling, insecure
with women, a ne’er-do-wel
who would always redeem
himself in the end.
Writer Jerry Siegel first conceived Lois Lane in 1934,
when Siegel and Joe Shuster were still developing
Superman. One of the major influence on Lois’ characterization was actress Glenda Farrell and her portrayal of the fictional reporter Torchy Blane in a series of Warner Bros. films. The Torchy Blane movies were popular second features during the later 1930s. On the conception of Lois Lane, Siegel
stated in the 1988 Time magazine: “My wife Joanne was Joe’s original art model for Superman’s girlfriend Lois Lane back in the 1930s. Our heroine was, of course, a working girl whose priority was grabbing scoops. What inspired me in the creation was Glenda Farrell, the movie star who portrayed Torchy Blane, a gutsy, beautiful headline-hunting reporter, in a series of exciting motion pictures. Because the name of the actress Lola Lane (who also played Torchy) appealed to me, I called my character Lois Lane. Strangely, the characterization of Lois is amazingly like the
real-life personality of my lovely wife.”
Batman was created by Bob Kane and writer Bill Finger, then Artist Jerry Robinson contributed.
Once Superman was on the scene the pressure was
on to create more superheroes.
If it wasn’t for Superman, there would be no Batman. and the heroes are now two iconic sides of the same heroic coin.
In response, Bob Kane conceived "the Bat-Man.’ Kane
said his influences for the character included actor
Douglas Fairbanks’ film portrayal of the swashbuckler Zorro; Leonardo da Vinci’s diagram of the ornithopter, a flying machine with huge bat-like wings; and the 1930 film The Bat Whispers, based on Mary Rinehart’s mystery novel The Circular Staircase (1908).
Alternatively Batman was said to be inspired by a combination of Sherlock Holmes, Zorro, and a Leonardo da Vinci sketch of a bat- winged flying machine. The creators also too inspiration from Dracula and The Bat, a 1926 silent film.
While not a character, Leonardo Da Vinci’s early designs of a flying device planted the seed for artist Bob Kane. When he set
out to create the character, Kane remembered the images he had seen in his youth of a machine that appeared to have bat wings. Kane dug up the old Da Vinci drawings and knew he wanted his character to be a superheroic Batman.
Like Siegel and Shuster, Kane was most influenced by The
Mask of Zorro in particular. Certain traits of his “BatMan” were more than a little
similar to the rapier-wielding
The Mark of Zorro, with Douglas Fairbanks Sr. Zorro had the dual identity. By day, like Bruce Wayne, he feigned being a bored, foppish count, the son of one of the richest Mexico. By night, he became a vigilante. He would disquise himself, wearing a handkerchief mask with the eyes slit out. He exited on a black horse from a cave underneath his home, and that’s the inspiration for the Batcave and the Batmobile. If it wasn’t for Fairbanks we would never have had Batman at all.
Kane’s idea did not go much further than a character named Batman. He enlisted a writer named Bill Finger, who had done some uncredited work (“ghostwriting”) for Kane on “Rusty and Pals” to help develop the hero.
An aspiring writer and part-time shoe salesperson, he had met Kane at a party, and Kane offered him a job ghost writing the strips Rusty and Clip Carson. He recalled that Kane had an idea for a character called ‘Batman’, and he’d like me to see the drawings. I went over to Kane’s, and he had drawn a character who looked very much like Superman with kind of reddish tights, I believe, with boots… no gloves, no gauntlets. with a small domino mask, swinging on a rope. He had two stiff wings that were sticking out looking like bat wings. And underit was a big sign … BATMAN.
He was not a scientific detective and he wasn’t named Bruce Wayne.
Finger said he offered such suggestions as giving
the character a cowl and scalloped cape instead of
wings; adding gloves; leaving the mask’s eyeholes blank to connote mystery; and removing the bright red sections of the original costume, suggesting
instead a gray-and-black color scheme. Finger additionally said his suggestions were influenced
by Lee Falk’s The Phantom, a syndicated newspaper comic strip character with which Kane was familiar as well.
So Kane actually came up with
the basic idea of Batman, but it was Finger who came up with his look (as well as much of iconic Batman’s lore).
Bill would add a few more things, namely: Gotham City, the Batmobile, and (with Jerry Robinson) Alfred the butler, the Joker, the Catwoman, the Penguin, and Two-Face. Robin was Jerry’s creation with input
from Bill and Bob.
Finger then came up with
the backstory for the character.
Admittedly, Finger was himself
cribbing much of his idea for Bruce Wayne from Lamont
Cranston, the millionaire playboy alter-ego of the popular pulp fiction character, The Shadow. The first Batman story, was a reworked Shadow story and the character’s second appearance, was written by Finger, while Kane provided the art.
Eventually both would end up taking a lot more from other existing characters, like the Lone Ranger, Doc Savage and The Shadow.
As for the name Bruce Wayne, the name fused Scottish royalty with an American Revolutionar War hero
According to Kane, he and Finger chose the first name after a medieval Scottish king called Robert the Bruce. They
thought it appropriate for a
billionaire to be a descendant of a noble family. As for his surname, Finger took the
name Wayne after the American army officer and statesman “Mad
So who were these two men? Robert the Bruce was a Scottish king from 1306 until his death in 1329. He became one of the best warriors and leaders in Scotland’s history; he led the country during Scotland’s war for independence from England. He won many successful battles, and today he
is celebrated as a national hero of Scotland A legend about
Robert the Bruce suggests a link to the 20th century superhero. Once, while Bruce was on the run, hiding in a cave on Rathlin Island (Ireland), he
watched a spider trying to make a web from one side of the cave ceiling to another. After trying and failing several
times, the spider finally succeeded in weaving its web.
This motivated Bruce to try and fight the English with more
determination. The legend fits
perfectly with Batman’s life. He often fails to defeat his enemies, but that doesn’t stop him from trying. He always returns to the fight, eventually managing to eradicate the evil forces from Gotham.
The other gentleman who
inspired Batman’s surname, Anthony Wayne, was an
officer in the colonial army during the American
Revolution. His bravery
and strategic smarts made him a brigadier general in a very short time. His easilv ignitable
personality earned him the nickname “Mad” Anthony Wayne.
Wayne led troops in several successful battles against the
British forces, including the Battle of Monmouth and
the Battle of Stony Point.
The character now settled, Kane sold the new comic idea to National Comics. The issue was that Finger was workinng
for Kane independently and
thus only Kane had business dealings with National Comics.
The bigger issue was that Kane
later reworked his deal with National during a time when
Siegel and Shuster were in a lawsuit with National for
ownership of Superman (no one knows the particulars of this secretive agreement, but
legend has it that Kane claimed that he was under the legal age to make a binding contract
when he first sold Batman to National, thus nulling and
voiding his original deal with the company). The deal wasmutually beneficial to both
Kane and National Comics. For Kane, it guaranteed him steady, well-paying work on the character for the rest of his life and for National, it guaranteed that they would own the. copyright to Batman completely and without worry of later legal challenges (unlike Siegel and Shuster, Kane was not looking to get the rights to his character back). That deal remained, with modifications in the 1960s, for the rest of Kane’s life.
This contract with National Comics, the future DC Comics,
that signed away ownership of the character in exchange
for, among other
compensations, a mandatory byline on all Batman comics
(and adaptations there of). Finger’s name, in contrast, does not appear as an official credit on Batman stories or films, even the comics he wrote in the 1940s and 1950s.
Kane was the only person given an official company credit for Batman’s creation. Jerry Robinson also did not get credit for creating the Joker.
Thus, if DC Comics were ever to credit Bill Finger as the co-creator of Batman, that would make their deal with Kane void and open themselves up to a lawsuit by Finger’s estate over the Batman copyright.
Hence, Finger did not get any credit as Batman’s creator. Kane, for his part, also made sure never to give Finger credit for the creation of Batman. Only in the last years of his life (Finger passed away in 1974, Kane in 1998) did Kane even acknowledge Finger’s role, noting in his book, Batman and Me, “Bill Finger was a contributing force on Batman right from the beginning. He wrote most of the great stories and was influential in setting the style and genre other writers would emulate… I made Batman a superhero-vigilante when I first created him. Bill turned him into a scientific detective.”
Only from 2015 onwards, acknowledging Bill Finger for his work on Batman for the first time, did Warner Brothers agreed to put on the credits: “Batman was created by Bob Kane with Bill Finger.”
The aesthetic of the Joker was inspired by German actor Conrad Veidt’s role as Gwynplain in the
1928 silent film The Man Who Laughs, which was directed
by the German Expressionist
filmmaker Paul Leni. In the movie, the character is sentenced to have his face surgically altered into an eternal grin.
For Catwoman, the creators drew their inspiration from
actresses Hedy Lamarr and Jean Harlow. Catwoman was also partially inspired by Kane’s second cousin by marriage, Ruth Steel.
Kane hired art assistants Jerry Robinson (initially as an
inker) and George Roussos (backgrounds artist and
letterer). Though Robinson and Roussos worked out
of Kane’s art studio in The New York Times building, Kane himself did all his drawing at home. Shortly afterward, when DC wanted more Batman stories than Kane’s studio could deliver, the company assigned Dick Sprang and other in-house pencilers as 'ghost artists", drawing uncredited under Kane’s
supervision. Future Justice League writer Gardner Fox wrote some early scripts, including the two-part story “The Monk” that introduced some of The Batman’s first "Bat-"equipment.
In 1943, Kane left the Batman comic books to focus on penciling the daily Batman newspaper comic strip. Dc Comics artists ghosting the comic-book stories now included Jack Burnley and Win Mortimer, with Robinson moving up as penciler and Fred Ray contributing some covers. After the strip finished in 1946, Kane returned to the comic books but,
unknown to DC, had hired his own personal ghosts, including Lew Schwartz and Sheldon Moldoff
Wonder Woman was created by William Moulton Marston.
Links The Secret History of Wonder Woman by Jill Lepore
In an October 25, 1940, interview with the Family Circle magazine, William Moulton Marston discussed the unfulfilled potential of the comic book
medium. This article caught the attention of comics publisher Max Gaines, who hired Marston as an educational consultant for National Periodicals and All-American Publications, two of the companies that would merge to form DC Comics,
William Moulton Marston, a
psychologist struck upon an idea for a new kind of
superhero, one who would
triumph not with fists or
firepower, but with love. “Fine,”
said his wife Elizabeth, also a psychologist, “But make her a
Marston introduced the idea to Gaines. Given the go ahead, Marston developed Wonder Woman, whom he believed to be a model of that era’s unconventional, liberated woman. Wonder Woman’s bracelets (which she used to deflect bullets) were inspired by the jewelry bracelets worn
by Olive Byrne, who lived with the Marston and his wife Elizabeth, in a polyamorous relationship.
Wonder Woman debuted in All Star Comics #8 (cover date
Dec/Jan 1941/1942, released in October 1941).scripted by Marston.
Marston was the creator of the systolic blood pressure test, which became one component of the modern polygraph invented by John Augustus
Wonder Woman’s Magic Lasso is a form of a lie detector.
Marston designed Wonder Woman to be an allegory
for the ideal love leader; the kind of women who he believed should run society.
“Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I
believe, should rule the world,” Marston wrote.
In a 1943 issue of The American Scholar, Marston wrote: “Not even girls want to be girls so long as our feminine archetype lacks force, strength, and power. Not wanting to be girls, they don’t
want to be tender, submissive,
peace-loving as good women are. Women’s strong qualities have become despised because of their weakness. The obvious remedy is to create a feminine character with all the strength of Superman plus all the allure of a good and beautiful woman.”
William Moulton Marston was an outspoken feminist, and
firm believer in the superiority of women. He described bondage and submission as a “respectable and noble practice”. Marston wrote in a weakness for Wonder Woman, which was attached to a fictional stipulation that he dubbed "Aphrodite’s Law’, that made the chaining of her “Bracelets of Submission” together by a man take away her Amazonian super strength.
“The only hope for peace is to teach people who are full of pep and unbounded force to enjoy being bound…only when the control of self by others is more pleasant than the unbound assertion of self in human relationships can we hope for a stable, peaceful human society.”
Wonder Woman often ended up in chains before inevitably breaking free. This not only represented Marston’s affinity for bondage, but women’s
subjugation, which he roundly rejected.
His major contribution to psychology came when he generated the DISC characteristics of emotions and behavior of normal people (at thetime, ‘normal’ had the meaning of 'typical rather than an antonym for 'abnormal). Marston, after conducting research on human emotions, published his findings in his 1928 book called Emotions of
Normal People in which he explained that people illustrate their emotions using four behavior types: Dominance (D), Inducement (), Submission (S), and Compliance ©. He argued that these behavioral types came from people’s sense of self and their interaction with the environment. He included two dimensions that influenced people’s emotional behavior. The first dimension is whether a person views his environment as favorable or unfavorable. The second dimension is whether a person perceives himself as having control or lack of control over his environment.
Dominance produces activity in an antagonistic environment
Inducement produces activity in a favorable environment
Submission produces passivity in a favorable environment
produces passivity in an antagonistic environment.
Marston posited that there is a masculine notion of freedom that is inherently anarchic and violent and an opposing feminine notion based on 'Love Allure that leads to an ideal state of submission to loving
H G Peter most lasting work came when the 61-year-old was the artist on Wonder Woman.
Before that, he did illustration for Suffragettes Magazines. Wonder Woman was inspired in part by Varga Girl centerfolds
in Esquire that Marston viewed as “erotic” and “Cosmopolitan.” Her costume was inspired by Marston’s interest in erotic pinup art, as he wanted her
feminine appearance to help counteract the intense
masculinity of other
comic characters. Wonder Woman was also directly inspired by characteristics and
mannerisms of Marston’s wife and mistress, both of
whom lived with him.
Peter continued with Wonder Woman until his death in 1958.
1400 BCE Stone Tablets Gilgamesh is the semi-mythic King of Uruk in Mesopotamią best known from The Epic of
Gilgamesh written. The great
Sumerian/Ba3bylor poetic work which pre-dates Homer’s writing by 1500 years. The motif of the quest for the meaning of life is first fully explored in Gilgamesh as the hero-king leaves his kingdom following the death of his best friend, Enkidu, to find the mystical figure Utnapishtim and Gilgamesh’s fear of death is actually a fear of meaninglessness and, although he fails to win immortality, the
quest itself gives his life meaning This theme has
been explored by Writers and
philosophers from antiquity u
to the present day. Accordingly, Gilgamesh was a demi-god who was said to haveclived an exceptionally long life (the Sumerian King List records his reign as 126 years) and to be
possessed of super-human
Samson super strength
Daniel vs Goliath
Solomon wisdom, ability to control demons.
Zeus Lightning bolts, Many loves
Mercury Super Speed
Achilles Invulnerable except for heel
Hercules Super Strength
Odysseus The Man of Many Ways, like Mister Terrific
Perseus, son of Zeus, given Gift from Gods. Zeus gave him an adamantine sword and Hades’ helm of darkness to hide.
Hermes lent Perseus winged
sandals to fly, and Athena gave him a polished shield.
Perseus uses these gifts to cut off Medusa’s head. From that act, the winged horse Pegasus appeared and he used Medusa’s head to turn living things, including monsters to stone.
Themiscyra is mentioned as their former capital
Classicist Peter Walcot wrote, "Wherever the Amazons are located by the Greeks, whether it is somewhere along the Black Sea in the distant north-east, or in Libya in the furthest south, it is always beyond the confines of the civilized world. The
Amazons exist outside the narratives.
Once a year, in order to prevent their race from dying out, they visited the Gargareans, a neighbouring tribe. There were two special months in the spring in which they would go up into the neighboring mountain which separates them and the Gargareans. The Gargareans also, in accordance with an ancient custom, would go there to offer sacrifice with the Amazons and also to have
intercourse with them for the sake of begetting children. They did this in secrecy and darkness, any Gargareans at random with any Amazon, and after
making them pregnant they would send them away.
Any females that were born are retained by the Amazons themselves, but the males would be taken to the Gargareans to be brought up
Herodotus mentions that when Greeks defeated the Amazons at war, they sailed away carrying in threecships as many Amazons as they had been able to take alive, but out at sea the Amazons attacked theccrews and killed them. But the Amazons knew nothing about ships so they were driven about by waves and winds and they were disembarked at the
land of the Scythians,
In Classical Greek mythology, Hippolyta was the Amazonian
queen who possessed a magical girdle (a waist belt
that signified her authority as queen of the Amazons) given to her by her father Ares, the god of war. Hippolyta figures prominently in the myths of both Heracles and Theseus. There are many versions of these myth, most of which have Queen Hippolyta acting out of character.
The myths about her are varied enough that they may therefore be about several different women, sometimes with different names…
Most versions of the myth
indicate that Hippolyta was so impressed with Hercules that she gave him the girdle without argument, perhaps while visiting him on his ship.
Then the goddess Hera, making herself appear as one of the Amazons, spread a rumor among them that Hercules and his crew were abducting their queen, so the Amazons attacked the ship. In the fray that followed, Hercules slew Hippolyta, stripped her of the belt, fought off the attackers and sailed away.
In the myth of Theseus, the hero joined Heracles in his expedition, or went on a separate expedition
later, and was actually the one who had the encounter with Hippolyta. Some versions say he abducted her, some that Heracles did the abducting
but gave her to Theseus as spoils, and others say that she fell in love with Theseus and betrayed the Amazons by willingly leaving with him. In any case, she was taken to Athens where she was wed to Theseus, being the only Amazon to ever marry. In some renditions the other Amazons became enraged at the mariage and attacked Athens.
In other renditions Theseus later put Hippolyta aside to marry Phaedra. So Hippolyta rallied her Amazons to attack the wedding ceremony. When the defenders closed the doors on the attackers, either Hippolyta was killed, Theseus directly killed her in the fight, she was accidentally killed by another Amazon, Molpadia, while fighting by Theseus’ side, or was accidentally killed by her sister Penthesilea during this battle or in a separate incident. This killer was in turn slain by Theseus or Achilles. Some stories paint Theseus in a more favorable light, saying that Hippolyta was dead before he and Phaedra were wed, and this battle did
not occur. Further complicating the narratives, the narratives,
A number of ancient writers say the Amazon in question was not Hippolyta at all, but her sister Antiope, Melanippe, or Glauce.
Moreover, there are combined versions of the tale in which Heracles abducts and kills Hippolyta while Theseus, assistedcby Sthenelus and Telamon, abducts and marries
Antiope. There are also stories that Hippolyta or Antiope later bore Theseus a son, Hippolytus.
Melanippe, sister of Hippolyta. Heracles captured her and demanded Hippolyta’s girdle in exchange for her freedom. Hippolyta complied
Heroes from Great Britain
8th to 11th Centuries Beowulf, slayer of Monsters
12th Century King Arthur, living in 5th 6th Century. Arthur appears either as a great warrior defending Britain from human and supernatural enemies or as a magical figure of folklore, sometimes associated with the Welsh otherworld Annwn.
12th Century Robin Hood. fighting against an unjust sheriff and king.
1844 Novel The Three Musketeers features
the lead character d’Artagnan, who was based on the
real captain of the Musketeers
(Charles de Batz-Castlemore
d’Artagnan). D’Artagnan was a
daring, brave, and impetuous
swashbuckler who became a fan favorite early on. He caught the eye of Bill Finger, who wanted to model part of d’Artagnan’s character on
Batman. Finger wanted Batman to be as much a man of action, as he was a man of intellect. It was d’Artagnan’s heroism and
willingness to do the right thing that surely connected most with Finger and readers alike. Today, Batman and d’Artagnan seem
quite different save for their
incessant need to pursue justice, even at the risks of their own lives.
1887 Magazine First Sherlock Holmes story, “A Study in Scarlet” was published Conan Doyle. Bill Finger based Batman mainly on two characters. The first being d’Artagnan, and the second was Sherlock Holmes.Bill Finger realized the value of making Batman a self-made hero, and in order to do that he had to be really smart. Who better to model an intelligent character after than fiction’s greatest detective, Sherlock Holmes? Kane said, “I made Batman a superhero-vigilante when I first created him. Bill turned him into a scientific detective.”
1897 Novel Dracula Bram Stoker
Dracula’s influence on Batman
shouldn’t seem like much of a stretch. After all, the Count is a nocturnal creature who wears a black cape and dark clothing.
Kane and Finger wanted criminals to fear Batman, and for him to seem like a true creature of the night. The
gothic nature of Dracula is the most immediate influence that
stands out. The dark ambiance and mysterious tone of Dracula was something that both creators set to emulate, but with their own heroic spin on it. While Bob Kane and Bill Finger never cited Dracula as a huge inspiration, they did acknowledge their admiration his gothic style and tone. The duality between both characters would fittingly lead to tales of the two battling against each other.
1905 Play then Novel The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Emma Orczy The story starred Sir Percy Blakeney, a British
baronet married to Marguerite -“the cleverest woman in Europe.” Sir Percy is a man skilled in Swordsmanship, disguise, and strategy. During the early days of the French Revolution, he secretly rescues people he considers unjustly sentenced to death by Madame Guillotine. To cover his tracks,.he uses an alias taken from an old family seal, the Scarlet Pimpernel, and recruits nineteen friends as agents in his “League of the Scarlet Pimpernel.” In public, Sir Percy acts like a shallow fop, one who grows faint at the mention of violence and believes that all problems can be solved by luxury relaxation, and beautiful clothing. His wife hates him for what he has become.
We needed The Scarlet Pimpernel before we could figure out how to take things further. Superman debuted in Action Comics #1, published in 1938. There was still the element of a man who pretended to be meek in public so none would suspect he was a hero who protected others from harm and evil. The Scarlet Pimpernel was not a traditional superhero. He was actually the proto-superhero, that first model that eventually led to Superman and the rest. Orczy’s premise of a daring hero who cultivates a
secret identity disguised by a meek or ineffectual manner proved enduring. Zorro, The Shadow, Superman and Batman followed within a few decades, and the trope remains a popular one in serial fiction today.
1912 Magazine Serial John Carter of Mars. John Carter is a fictional Virginian - a veteran of the American Civil War -transported to Mars and the initial protagonist of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Barsoom stories. As a result of the lesser gravity of Mars, he had super strength and great leaping ability.
1915 Novel Doctor Syn: A Tale of the Romney Marsh by Russell Thorndike. Dr. Christopher Syn, a pirate turned reverend living in Dymchurch (a town in Kent, England) who decided not to simply stand by as his parishioners were victimized by the government and criminal elements. At night, Dr. Syn rode a dark stallion, which he kept in a hidden lair, and donned the costume of a demonic scarecrow. None suspected that the kindly, somber reverend was secretly the terrifying Scarecrow of Romney Marsh, feared even by those he helped.
Syn is a very different character on the surface, but Thorndyke followed many beats from the Scarlet Pimpernel. Similar to Orczy’s hero, Dr. Syn acted
less aggressive in his public life, using tricks to appear older and weaker than he was. While Blakeney had the League of the Scarlet Pimpernel, Syn had a few trusted agents, including a witch.
1919 Pulp Magazine. Zorro was the creation of Finger and Kane’s favorite writer, Johnston McCully. They often admitted to loving the pulp stories and.the film The Mark of Zorro. They even featured the movie in Batman’s origin. Zorro bears so many similarities to Batman. it’s astounding. Kane loved Zorro’s dual.identity and mainly used that to develop Bruce Wavne and Batman The list of Zorro’s similarities to Batman doesn’t end there. Zorro had his
own secret lair, like Batman, and the entrance to his hideout was behind an old grandfather
clock, also like Batman.
Zorro sported a black mask that covered half of his.face and a long black cape. He even
had his own form of a Batmobile; Tornado, his trustynblack stallion. Zorro was also a self.made hero, who trained himself to be the best swordsman the
world had ever seen.
1920s Film Douglas Fairbanks Senior By 1920, Fairbanks had completed twenty-nine films
(twenty-eight features and one two-reel short), which showcased his ebullient screen persona and athletic ability. By 1920, he had the inspiration of staging a new type of adventure-costume picture, a genre that was then out of favor with the public; Fairbanks had been a comic in his previous films. In The Mark of Zorro (1920), Fairbanks combined his appealing screen persona with the new adventurous costume
element. It was a smash success and parlayed the
actor into the rank of superstar. For the remainder of his career in silent films he continued to produce and star in ever more elaborate, impressive costume
films, such as The Three Musketeers (1921). Robin Hood (1922), The Thief of Bagdad (1924), The Black Pirate (1926), and The Gaucho (1927). Fairbanks spared no expense and effort in these films, which established the standard for all future swashbuckling films.
While Fairbanks had flourished in the silent genre, the restrictions of early sound films dulled his enthusiasm for film-making. His athletic abilities and general health also began to decline at this time, in part due to his years of chain-smoking.
1930 Novel Gladiator, a science fiction novel by American author Philip Wylie. The story concerns a scientist who invents an “alkaline free radical” serum to “improve” humankind by granting the proportionate strength of an ant and the leaping ability of the grasshopper. The scientist injects his pregnant wife with the serum and his son Hugo
Danner is born with superhuman strength, speed, and bulletproof skin. Hugo spends much of the novel hiding his powers, rarely getting a chance to openly
1931 Pulp Magazine, Radio The Shadow is the first ever pulp hero, and also the one that had the biggest impact in the creation of the Dark Knight. The Shadow was a dark and mysterious avenger who had the ability to cloud men’s minds (on radio). He would use this ability to blend with the shadows, striking fear in evil hearts everywhere. By day he was. a wealthy playboy named Lamont Cranston (on radio). His persona as the Shadow was completely different from his playboy persona. Kane and Finger took the darkness and gritty tone of the Shadow and applied it to Batman. The Shadow’s New York city is very similar to Batman’s Gotham City. Much of Batman’s brooding and dark nature must also be attributed to The Shadow.
The Shadow has been featured on the radio, in a long-running pulp magazine series, in American comic books, comic strips, television, serials, video
games, and at least five feature films. The radio drama included episodes voiced by Orson Welles
Alter egos Kent Allard (print)
Lamont Cranston (radio,
film and television)
In print, radio, and film:
Expert detective, Skilled marksman, hand-to-hand
combatant, Master of disguise and stealth
In radio and film only:
Ability to make himself nearly invisible to others
Hypnotic/telepathic mental-clouding abilities altering and
reading a person’s thoughts and perceptions
1931 Comic Strip Dick Tracy
We mentioned how much Bill Finger liked Sherlock Holmes and detective pulp characters, but one of Bob Kane’s favorite detectives was Dick Tracy; a
man of action and a great detective in his own right. He
bore a slight resemblance to
Batman’s alter ego, Bruce Wayne Kane always admired Chester Gould’s style of art and tried to emulate that in his Batman artwork as well. One of the most important. influences that came from the Dick Tracy comic strip
was his impressive cast of colorful villains like Flat Top,
Pruneface, Big Boby Caprice, and more. Bob Kane has stated several times that he admired
Gould’s eccentric villains and wanted to create villains
that were as strange and as
interesting as Batman himself.
Today, Batman’s rogue gallery is almost as iconic as its lead character.
1933 Pulp.Magazine Doc Savage is yet another pulp
character that sought to fight
crime and right wrongs. He was raised to be a perfect physical and intellectual specimen. He
possessed great strength and had mastery over several forms of martial arts. What Kane and Finger liked the most was Doc Savage’s scientific mind. The character commonly referred as " the world’s greatest detective", frequently used many specialized gadgets And much like Batman, he relies on them a great deal. While Doc Savage was also a billionaire, you would hardly call him a playboy like Bruce Wayne…
1933 Radio The Lone Ranger
Kane and Finger were fans of
both the show and the pulp magazines that came after it.
The few similarities between Batman and the Lone Ranger that stick out are their strict
codes and the concealing of their identity with a mask.
The mask stood for something more than himself, while also protecting his identity. The Lone Ranger was one of the first heroes to do this. His strict moral code of no killing would eventually become a staple of Batman’s code as well.
1933 Pulp Magazine The Phantom Detective is another
lesser-known hero from the pulps. The Phantom Detective
is the second masked pulp
character to have appeared. His influence on Batman can’t be denied. The Phantom Detective was a rich playboy who was a master of disguise and a brilliant forensic scientist. He became a
master detectivecand used his skillscin the fight against evil. The Phantom Detective had his own secret lab, like Batman, but his most glaring similarity has to be the method with which other do-gooders contacted him. The Phantom Detective had installed a flashing red light atop the
police tower for certain members of the press and law
enforcement to contact him
whenever they needed his help. Batman would soon adopt a similar method and develop the iconic Bat signal.
1933 Pulp Magazine The Black Bat is often considered to be the first vigilante to carry the moniker of Bat anything. The Black Bat was lawyer Anthony Quinn by day and a masked crusader by night. In an origin story eerily similar to DC’s Two Face, Anthony Quinn was
tragically blinded in court when the defendant he was prosecuting threw acid into his eyes. Through an experimental
procedure, Quinn was not only able to see again, but could
now see in the dark.
Think the pulp version of DC’s Doctor Midnight or Marvel’s
Daredevil. He used his newfound abilities to wage war on organized crime. It turns out that Bill Finger liked the spiked fins on the Black Bat’s gloves, and advised Kane to draw them on Batman. Soon after, both companies threatened lawsuits
against each other. They eventually managed to coexist
peacefully, but it’s safe to say that Batman came out on top.
1934 Comic Strip Flash Gordon was the brainchild of the immensely talented artist Alex Raymond. Flash Gordon was one of the first comic strip
spaceman and a huge influence on Superman and Hawkman.
Artists and fans marveled at the detailed art on display in many of the Flash Gordon comic strips. Much of Raymond’s artwork stands up, even today. The high concept look and feel of Flash Gordon dazzled the eye of Bob Kane, who was a huge fan
of Alex Raymond. Kane tried to
emulate the style of Alex Raymond during the early
stages of Batman’s creation. Even Kane’s first Batman
cover, Detective Comics #27, is said to be an homage to
1934 Pulp Magazine
The Bat is a very obscure pulp
character that was only featured in a handful of stories. The Bat was created by Johnston McCuly, who had previously created Zorro. Reporter Dawson
Clade was framed for a murder he didn’t commit. He decided to take on the crooks who framed him and he became a hooded avenger called the Bat. As the Bat he wore a black hooded mask with a white bat emblem on his forehead. Perhaps the most startling similarity comes from a scene where Dawson Clade is trying to figure out his origin. As Clade sits in his chair,
stumped and unable to come up with a name for his new alter ego, a bat flies in through the window. Clade gazes at it and says “That’s it!” Kane and Finger created nearly the exact same scene for when Bruce Wayne figures out his alter ego. Kane and Finger were practically fanboys of Johnston McCully, so it’s hard to imagine this was
1936 Pulp Magazine The Whisperer. If it isn’t obvious by
now, Bob Kane and Bill Finger really liked the pulp magazines. The Whisperer is a forgotten favorite of many pulp fans but
in his heyday, the Whisperer made a major impact on
Kane and, particularly, Finger.
The Whisperer started out as a a police officer who had to go
outside the law to get things properly done. He took no
prisoners and sometimes relished in making criminals
pay. It should be noted that Batman himself was a bit
more bloodthirsty in his first few issues. The most obvious influence the Whisperer had on a Batman character wasn’t Batman himself. The Whisperers true
identity was Commissioner
James Gordon. Kane and Robinson paid homage to the
Whisperer by naming Batman’s greatest ally after him.