The real Batman is Lion Advocate George Adamson

Since his debut in 1939, Batman has become one of the most recognizable and popular characters not just in the comics but also in television and film. While the caped crusader’s first screen incarnations in the 1960s were family friendly, the darker side of the character came to versatility beginning in the 1970s and by 1979, film rights to the Batman comics were purchased by Warner Bros, one of the leading studios of Hollywood. Ironically, ten years later, the dark knight’s first proper screen persona came with the release of director Tim Burton’s Batman film in (June 23rd) 1989 starring Michael Keaton in the lead role. The success of the film led to a sequel, Batman Returns in (16th June) 1992 again directed by Burton. Despite its success, it was found to be somewhat more controversial than its predecessor.

Due to the controversy generated by the sequel, Warner Bros decided to make the next Batman films more family friendly (like the versions before Burton’s films) which caused an upset and eventually led Keaton to drop the mantle of Batman. This eventuality was also fuelled by Burton being dropped as director. As a result, a new Batman was brought in, Val Kilmer, and the man directing was Joel Schumacher. The film also introduced Batman’s sidekick from the comics, Robin, played by Chris O’Donnell. Released in (16th June) 1995, Batman Forever received mixed reviews but nonetheless led to a sequel Batman and Robin in (20th June) 1997 again directed by Schumacher, although Kilmer, due to scheduling conflicts, pulled out and was replaced by George Clooney as Batman. While this film marked the only film appearance of Batgirl from the comics who was played by Alicia Silverstone, the film was negatively received by critics, and for eight years, the Batman franchise was kept on hold with even a fifth film being ejected due to the failure of its predecessor.

Christopher Nolan took over as a new Batman director and told the story of how Bruce Wayne became Batman with the release of Batman Begins in (16th June) 2005 starring Christian Bale in the title role with no connection (or relation) to the earlier movies. Ironically, (it is believed that) Bale had auditioned for Robin in Schumacher’s films but be that as it may, the film not only revived interest in Batman but also popularised the term ‘reboot’ which is restarting a movie based on a franchise without any connection to a previous film adaptation of that franchise. The success of the movie paved way for The Dark Knight in (18th July) 2008 the success of which was even greater than that of its predecessor. It is the first live-action Batman movie not to use the word ‘Batman’ in its title and make use of what Batman’s label is. Nolan’s Batman story concluded with The Dark Knight Rises in (July 20th) 2012, all three of which have formed a saga known as ‘The Dark Knight Trilogy’. As a result, Bale has become the only actor to have portrayed Batman longer than anyone. Batman like many a superhero, regardless of the fact that he is an anti-villain, is an inspiration to all of us. He has taught us that any one of us can become a hero without relying on another person to do something great for us. In fact Batman himself was inspired by another popular comic character in the late 1910s, Zorro.

That aside, the comics surrounding Batman motivate us to make something big of ourselves and teach us indirectly that we do not need to be in costumes to be heroes even if he appears that way. Burton’s Batman films and Nolan’s Batman films are perhaps more favoured than Schumacher’s movies (which by opinion killed the franchise) although Burton’s films contained little-to-no inspiration at all despite their quirky darkness while Nolan’s films despite depicting a heavy atmosphere, conveyed the lessons of the comics. Even though I have seen both Nolan’s and Burton’s films about the dark knight, I am struggling to be a fan of the character but while a verdict is still to be reached as to whether (or not) Batman will be put into my interests, I realize now that in many aspects of life when it comes to heroism, Batman’s presence can be felt in the world is in every way and this is probably through what Nolan’s films portrayed (more so than Burton’s films). Relying on Nolan’s Batman films, I wish to share with all of ye how I come to believe that there is Batman in each one of us.

As the years have passed however, it came to me as kind of a revelation that even before Batman, we were already inspired by an element that was not human; that was the Lion. Yes, the King of the Animals as we have come to term the Lion has seen this great cat seen as both a hero and a villain although despite our shaky relation with the Lion we tend to see him more as the former than the latter. The popularity of Batman in my opinion has been eclipsed by the popularity of the Lion (and the Tiger) in numerous ways in contemporary, popular and mythological culture since I find the Lion much more inspirable than Batman. There may not be any basis or foundation for this but I have come to believe that Batman actually borrowed inspiration from elements to do with Lions given that both elements concern fear, respect and ultimately admiration. I cannot help but feel that the story of Bruce Wayne’s journey as Batman in Nolan’s trilogy is similar to the story of Lion advocate George Adamson in numerous ways and I wish to share how this may be the case. It may or may not have been somewhat amusing but pointless to go on about Batman at the start of this, but I personally believe that there is a hero stronger than him, the (African) Lion.






  1. Fear and Inspiration
    Throughout history, phobias or fears as the feelings that terrify us have come to be known result from things we are unable to understand. Mankind has always held a shaky view of both Lions and Tigers because of how these big cats once hunted our ancestors for food in addition to their staple diet of animals like antelope or zebra. Fortunately as we learnt to protect ourselves from Lions and other big cats, we showed them as long as they did not hurt us, we would not hurt them. Our fear for them transformed into respect and ultimately admiration Similar to the story of the Aesop’s Fable Androcles and the Lion and the Biblical Story of Daniel in the Lion’s Den, however George Adamson was not a cowardly person, especially during his life upon becoming a senior wildlife warden of Northern Kenya and even when thrust into dangerous situations such as confronting animals that could be a threat to people, he always approached the issue with a positive and confident mindset knowing that he could resolve anything.Perhaps a difference in the story of Batman is that as a young boy, Bruce Wayne was terrified of bats and developed a phobia of them which only exacerbated with the death of his parents at the hands of a mugger known as Joe Chill. As he trained to absolve himself of his fears thanks to training under Ra’s Al Ghul and his organisation, the League of Shadows, he decided to adapt the bat as a symbol for himself meaning to terrify criminals in the same way that bats terrified him and in that way, he became one with his fear of bats or in simpler words, no longer bearing a fear for the bat. Ra’s Al Ghul’s involvement with crime boss Carmine Falcone and the corrupt university professor Jonathan Crane who is known as ‘The Scarecrow’ due to dressing as one are all based on fear since much like the League, Carmine and his organisation operate in a way that causes fear in Gotham and Jonathan uses a deadly toxin that causes its receivers to hallucinate about their worst fear. Still Bruce once no longer being affiliated with the League is able to defeat both Falcone and the Scarecrow with the help of his butler Alfred Pennyworth and his father’s old friend and colleague Lucius Fox who contribute to his transformation into Batman while he is also able to successfully defeat Ra’s and the LeagueA mirror image between both is much like George began to learn about Lions when he underwent a dramatic transformation from a wildlife warden to a Lion advocate is when in addition to Lion conservation, he read books like The Wizard of Oz and Tarzan as well as Aesop’s Fables, all of which included Lions, Bruce also started to learn about bats while his transformation into Batman was taking shape



  1. Life changing elements
    George Adamson’s life changed when he adopted a Lioness whom he named Elsa and with his wife Joy trained her to live in the wilds of Northern Kenya where she made her home and had cubs of her own. This inspired George to undergo a dramatic transformation from a wildlife warden to an articulate advocate for Lions in need helping Lions who could not look after themselves and trained them to live in the wild.Bruce Wayne’s impetus in becoming Batman resulted from two life-changing events; his fear of Bats and the death of his parents which he trained to let go of by training with the League of Shadows and its leader Ra’s Al Ghul, also known as Henri Ducard. These events ultimately assisted him in taking the bat as a symbol to terrify criminals in the same way that bats used to frighten him, and striving to prevent what happened to him from happening to others by fighting crime.














  1. Romance and its fate
    It is often thought that George Adamson was ‘woman-proof’ meaning he almost had little-to-no interest in a married life until he met Frederike Victoria Gessner, simply known as Joy who fell in love with him at first sight when she visited Kenya and was on a safari led by him which resulted in her divorcing her husband and latter after a minor pursuit of George, managed to marry and settle down with him after he realized he loved her too. Despite this, they had countless disagreements and fought regularly (Joy even suffered two miscarriages). Their relationship only kept together when they raised Elsa the Lioness although when she was released into the wild and had cubs of her own there, they were again back to their fights. Eventually after becoming an advocate for Lions, George realizing he could not be with Joy as a result of that was forced to divorce her, especially due to her affair with one of her publishers who was involved in the publication of her autobiography ‘Born Free’ which details Elsa’s life with her and George. George never married again although he and Joy still did share a good relation yet it is known that at times, George seemed to share some level of romantic affection with another friend, Victoria Anrecelli who sometimes visited Kenya. Sadly while this is not entirely proven, Joy was murdered in 1980 by a dissatisfied employee who had stolen from her and believed that he was not being paid fairly by her. He was sentenced to natural life in prison without the death penalty due to being a minor. George after Joy’s death was somewhat a different man and given his age, chose not to find love again in his life given that he was already in his 70s. His assistant Tony Fitzjohn when joining him in Kora national park where he had moved to from Meru for reintroducing Lions since Kora had none was somewhat of a natural flirt and womaniser for he was very experienced with women. Whether or not he spoke to them whenever around them, they were easily drawn to him and after spending the day with a woman would always take her back to George’s camp to spend the night, only for her to run away the next day due to the presence of Lions and George would have to pay his drivers extra to drive her home. Still Tony never understood the real meaning of a relationship during his promiscuity (his first girlfriend, Lindsay even breaking up with him due to his different ideals, although she did visit him in hospital when he was attacked by one of George’s Lions and recovering) with many more women (fortunately none of whom knew he was seeing another without them knowing), he met Lucy Jackson who finally taught him the meaning of a relationship and around the time that he and George were kind of drifting apart when he refused Tony and Lucy’s advice to move his Lions into Tanzania, Tony and Lucy moved to Tanzania themselves where they started the Mkomazi national park and had three daughters and one son.In The Dark Knight Trilogy, The story of Batman’s romantic life as Bruce Wayne is a combination of both George and Tony in different ways. In Batman Begins Bruce’s first love is a character not from the comics, one Rachel Dawes who is his childhood playmate and whose mother is a housekeeper for Bruce’s parents, Thomas and Martha. When they die, Rachel and her mother seek other employment and Bruce loses touch with Rachel until he returns from his adventures around the world and reunites with her except that her new career in law has seen her get into a relationship with her colleague, District Attorney Carl Finch although even before Bruce has knowledge of this, shortly after returning to his father’s company Wayne Enterprises, he beings dating models and becoming known as a playboy despite never getting into a serious relationship with anyone despite Rachel witnessing him with multiple women, although unlike Tony, Bruce is seen with more than one woman. Tony only had different girlfriends from time to time and never understood the meaning of a real relationship until he met and married Lucy Jackson.By The Dark Knight, based on the previous movie, once Rachel finds out that Bruce is Batman, she tells him that they cannot be together until Gotham no longer needs Batman and she begins to date the newly-elected district attorney Harvey Dent who joins forces with Batman and one of his trusted allies, the sergeant/lieutenant turned police commissioner James Gordon to eradicate organised crime beginning with a new threat to Gotham, a criminal known as ‘The Joker’ although in the process, Rachel is killed by the Joker who also disfigures Harvey and causes him to turn into Two-Face upon which Batman is forced to kill him to save Gordon and his family and in order to ensure that Gotham will not be humiliated if people find out Harvey’s crimes, Batman takes the blame of the former district attorney upon himself while he is able to capture the Joker.In the third and final part of the trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, Bruce has been unable to move on from Rachel’s death and is even informed by Alfred based on a note she gave him in the previous movie but he burnt to not break Bruce’s heart that Rachel chose Harvey over him which forces Bruce to tell him to leave because he did not tell this to Bruce in the first place although Alfred returns with Batman’s seeming self-sacrifice in defeating the League of Shadows (as well as their new leaders Ra’s Al Ghul’s daughter Talia and the mercenary Bane) and he finds out that Bruce is alive and in a relationship with Selina Kyle who is also Catwoman. Bruce however has given up his womanising due to being away from the public for so long and this in turn provides the foundation of him getting into a romantic relationship as Selina Kyle who as Catwoman worked with him as Batman and they managed to learn about each others’ true identities proving Rachel’s belief of Bruce not giving up being Batman wrong  By this time, Bruce as Batman has been cleared of all of Harvey Dent’s crimes once the entirety of Gotham know the truth about Dent’s actions. It is known that Tony did have a few fallouts with George over differences in George’s Lion conservation which caused Tony to move to Tanzania where he married Lucy. Perhaps the only difference is George died at the age of 83 as still an unmarried man although he did sacrifice himself to successfully save a group of tourists from poachers yet Tony after years of being promiscuous and not understanding the real meaning of a relationship, finally settled down with Lucy.


  1. Being Orphaned
    George Adamson was not an orphan although when he moved to Kenya to help his father work on a coffee plantation in spite of his father being a trainer for an Indian King’s army, both George’s parents died from unknown circumstances at which he was taken in by a friend of theirs who recommend the world of saving wildlife to George which he excelled at. Tony Fitzjohn too was an orphan and after drifting through both East and Southern Africa finally managed to work for George before becoming an independent Tanzanian conservationistBruce Wayne too was an orphan although his parents were murdered whereas both George’s parents and Tony’s parents were not murdered but died from unknown circumstances. Still at the start of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, after his parents’ death, Bruce is adopted by his butler Alfred Pennyworth whom he goes on to form a close relation with much as George did with so many others like his cook Hamisi








  1. Corruption
    In addition to bandit-poachers, Kora national park where George relocated to in order to reintroduce Lions since Kora had none, Kenya was also infested with corrupt authorities although much like the poachers, George never gave into the threats of these people. This is similar to Batman since Gotham City also bears corruption in authorities and Bruce Wayne seeks to change that by crimefighting as Batman although except for those officials who were willing to support George’s programme there was little George could do against these bandits except not giving in to their threats although Tony and a few of George’s other friends took part in the battle against these poachers
  2. Hope
    Much as George Adamson was seen as a symbol of hope for not just Lions but also Kenya’s wildlife and people who fought for it, Batman is seen as a symbol of hope for the people of Gotham
  3. Attracting positivity and negativity
    As far as mankind’s history with Lions is concerned and continues to this day (with the links between Lions and humans continuing to be popular in both mythology and fact), what attracted people to the land of the Lions was either with the intent to hunt them or to watch them although today it is far more the former than the latter. It was certainly the case with George Adamson since while his work with Lions had its ups and downs receiving more support than not, his work also met negative circumstances due to the poachers he had to confront to protect Lions and the people involved with him. In Christopher Nolan’s Batman films, it is implied that while people look up to Batman to protect them from crime, it is Batman’s (very) presence that seems to attract criminals to Gotham and he must take it upon himself to protect the city from those that threaten it




  1. Co-incidence in production
    Born Free written by George Adamson’s wife Joy that inspired a BBC documentary in 1961 and a feature film in 1966 based on the life of her and her husband in raising a Lioness named Elsa whom they trained for release into the wild, was followed by two sequel books, Born Free and Living Free both of which focused on them attempting to do for Elsa’s cubs what they did for her mother after Elsa died from a tick bite. Thus there is a trilogy in these books known as The Born Free Trilogy.Christopher Nolan’s Batman films are also a trilogy that have come to be known as The Dark Knight Trilogy although while only three films have been made to date about Batman as far as Nolan is concerned, the comics about the character despite continuing are not related to Nolan’s films anymore than Nolan’s films are related (or connected) to the previous Batman films by Tim Burton. The growing popularity of Lions as well as George Adamson not just thanks to Born Free but also to the 1999 film To Walk With Lions has revived an interest in both and stories about even people involved with him as much as Lions have been made through television, film and literature. Oddly enough is while a few characters in To Walk With Lions were created for the movie and certain parts were fictionalised, Batman movies while staying true to the comics also feature characters that were not in the comics at all although Burton’s (as well as Schumacher’s films) did the same thing.The Dark Knight trilogy often received comparisons to Burton’s Batman films but Burton praised Nolan’s work far more and think that he did justice to what the comics were like. Burton’s films were also dark but had humour which Nolan’s films did not do. Each screen story of George be it film or television is vastly different but still sticks to the topic of how he did more for Lions than anyone else ever did. To Walk With Lions however told a more faithful story of George’s later years than what the film based on his wife’s book did when they were raising Elsa and Bill Travers who played George in the first film actually was amazed by how Richard Harris who played George in To Walk With Lions actually resembled George. His wife Virginia McKenna who happened to play Joy in the first film as well also praised the portrayal of her real-life character by Honour Blackman and the couple both agreed that Richard and Honour did a better job in portraying George and Joy. While the score to Born Free was composed by John Barry, the score to Walk With Lions was done so by Alan Reeves. Similarly, Burton’s Batman films were scored by Danny Elfman and Nolan’s were done so by Hans Zimmer.Music that has come to be associated with both George Adamson and Batman have been as popular as their characters are though when it came to different music concerning different films about them, there were interesting comparing reviews. When the soundtrack to Walk With Lions released a music critic loved it but noticed that it had no similarity with John Barry’s Born Free score which was now (considered) a classic. Still he praised the fact that it sounded more Africanised than what the original Born Free score was like.It is known that when a music critic listened to Zimmer’s soundtrack, he loved it but did admit that there was a lack of strong superhero themes and a lack of similarities to the Batman music by Danny Elfman which up to that point had been considered classics.

    The first part of Nolan’s Batman trilogy Batman Begins was the only film to use the word ‘Batman’. By the second film, The Dark Knight it became the first Batman movie not to use the word ‘Batman’ in its title which was carried on into the third (and final) instalment The Dark Knight Rises which chose not to use the word Returns in place of Rises since that word was already used in the second Batman movie, Batman Returns

    What is known about everything related to the life and work of George Adamson is that most elements about (or focused on) him always have the word ‘Free’ or ‘Born Free’ whether or not it came to books, movies or television (with the exception of Lord of the Lions in 1989 which was aired a few months after his tragic death at the age of 83 and before that Elsa the Lioness in 1961 hosted by David Attenborough and the BBC as well as Christian the Lion in 1971 about Adamson’s successful efforts in releasing a London-born Lion named Christian into the wild). To Walk With Lion was the first Adamson-related feature film without the word ‘Born Free’ in its title although since then, no new films about George Adamson have been released and his story only continues on television and in literature of course.









  1. Self sacrifice and its outcome
    It is known that following Tony Fitzjohn’s breakoff with George Adamson to move to Tanzania to start the Mkomazi national park and to start a family with Lucy Jackson whom he then married and had three children with, George while continuing to train Lions for the wild once took a group of tourists on a tour around his camp. After a few days, they were heading back to the airport to return home when bandit poachers ambushed them. George heard shots that the poachers fired into the air and drove to the place with two of his assistants, engaging the poachers and allowing the tourists to escape but he and his assistants were killed despite managing to kill a few of the poachers. Following the capture of some of his killers after his death was announced and his burial took place, Kora was declared a national park (it is known that some of the Lions he trained for the wild did gather by his grave following his funeral) and his camp and previous homes were transformed into tourist resorts. Before his death, George seemed to pass his mantle onto Tony although Tony despite dividing his work between Kenya and Tanzania was more based in the latter.In the final part of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, Batman self-sacrifices himself in his plane to save Gotham from a bomb that could destroy the city while it is destroyed in the process although while he is honoured as a hero, only his close allies know that as Bruce Wayne he is alive and well before passing his mantle onto former police officer John Blake in gratitude for Blake encouraging him to return as Batman after an 8-year absence. Thanks to this, Blake takes on the name ‘Robin’ which happens to be his legal name (and a reference to Batman’s friend who appears in the comics and helps him to fight crime). A mirror image to the story of George Adamson is George’s camps and former homes were passed into the ownership of the Kenyan government following his death and became tourist attractions and he was honoured as a hero of Kenya yet no new Lions have been released in Kora since his death but there are attempts to reboot the programme. After Bruce Wayne retires as Batman, as a tribute to his late parents, he transforms his house Wayne Manor into a home for the city’s orphans and it is left in the entirety and care of his butler Alfred



  1. Popularity
    The popularity of Lions (as well as Tigers) seems to be older than that of Batman given the historical ties (and seeming frictions) between both Lion and man. Batman personally seems to have borrowed inspiration from man’s relationship with big cats in terms of fear, respect and admiration as well as inspiration and embodiment which is how as man we have come to view big catsThat does not belittle the popularity of both through books, movies, and even special events although unlike events regarding Batman, events regarding Lions are meant to raise awareness of how important it is to protect the Lion. Unlike Batman however, the popularity of Lions also extends into spirituality and touches the notion of a higher power, placing the Lion in a similar status as God. Batman too is viewed in that way but not as a direct God unlike the Lion. Also unlike Batman, there are places around the world while still selling his stories seem to be more popular for the Lion-related elements with examples like not just Kenya but Singapore as well. In the end, it is important to remember that Batman Still popularities in both Lions and Batman keep their famousness and love by all kinds of fans going although it is probably the Lion that is more popular than Batman


The End

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