What do the Scarlet Pimpernel and Zorro have in common with the Scotsman Robert the Bruce and Superman?
All four played a part in the birth of DC Comics’ Batman, the caped crusader who is an aristocrat with a double identity called Bruce Wayne and who unlike his predecessor Superman, fights crime with a good pinch of sleuthing, intellect, detection and no superpowers.
Batman’s first outing: Wikipedia
Batman appeared for the first time in print on May Day in 1939, in a form that is only vaguely like the Batman of today. Bob Kane and Bill Finger worked on his creation and his early bat wings soon became the cape which was influenced by Da Vinci’s drawing of an ornithopter flying machine.
Leonardo’s ornithopter: http://www.britannica.com
In their own words:
” Bill said, ‘Why not make him look more like a bat and put a hood on him, and take the eyeballs out and just put slits for eyes to make him look more mysterious?’ At this point, the Bat-Man wore a red union suit; the wings, trunks, and mask were black. I thought that red and black would be a good combination. Bill said that the costume was too bright: ‘Color it dark gray to make it look more ominous’. The cape looked like two stiff bat wings attached to his arms. As Bill and I talked, we realized that these wings would get cumbersome when Bat-Man was in action, and changed them into a cape, scalloped to look like bat wings when he was fighting or swinging down on a rope. Also, he didn’t have any gloves on, and we added them so that he wouldn’t leave fingerprints.”
And the rest as they say is history!