Most Batman fans know that the Caped Crusader first appeared in 1939. That’s when Bob Kane and Bill Finger’s first Batman story appeared in Detective Comics #27. But what if Batman was an actual historical figure? One whose war on crime actually ended in 1939, after two decades of battling injustice? That’s the premise of the book An Unauthorized Detailed Account of Gotham: 1919-1939. The book contains a photo “history” of the rise of Batman and his rogues in Gotham, as well as the Dark Knight’s allies. And this fictional history has now been turned into a Batman documentary about Gotham City.
The “vintage” photos within the pages of this book have the look and feel of those creepy old Halloween photos from the turn of the 20th Century. So it was only a matter of time until someone took the contents of this “history” to the next level. The YouTube channel The Batfeed transformed the book into a History Channel-style documentary video. Like the book, its name is also Gotham: 1919-1939. The Batman documentary originally had many segments. But you can now watch the entire saga compiled into one epic narrative, in the video above. A perfect watch for a dark and stormy night.
The video essay covers it all, leaving no Bat-stone unturned. You get an early 20th century take on not only Batman’s beginnings but nearly every facet of his history. All four Robins get the spotlight, as well as Batman’s allies like Batgirl and James Gordon. Of course, the criminals of Arkham Asylum each have their histories detailed. No Batman rogue is too obscure. They revise Two-Face’s backstory to make sense for the World War I timeframe, and Bruce Wayne’s personal journey also ties into the Great War. And every image of the Joker is nightmare fuel. And it’s not just the classic villains either. Modern antagonists like the Court of Owls get detailed historical accounts as well. We hope you add this Batman documentary to your to-watch pile. Everyone loves a good Bat-history, after all.
If fans want greater nuance than the video essay can provide, they should delve into An Unauthorized Detailed Account of Gotham: 1919-1939 itself. We wish you well with your studies, Bat-historians. And we can’t wait to read all your papers on the history of Gotham City.