Another of the great batman villains….
Right, I’ve covered most of the major villains, Joker, Bane and Riddler, and now were starting to delve a little deeper. Scarecrow is by no means a small time villain, but he is what i would call second class, aka: powerful, respected, popular, but doesn’t pop up much and when he does, it’s not always a must see/read appearance. I like him, don’t get me wrong and for me he is boarder line first class but, i just don’t think he’s that good. Won’t effect my rating of him though.
First off, the character. Scarecrow is the alter ego of Jonathan Crane, a university professor of psychology, specifically the study of phobias. As a child, Johnathan was haunted with visions of bats, his phobia, and this lead to a troubled childhood of teasing coupled with mental instability. At his prom he dawned his mask for the first time and caused terror when he shot a gun in the sports hall where the prom was taking place. Later in life as a professor, he pulled out a gun in one of his lectures and fired it, inadvertently hurting a student. This was the incident that forced him to go on the run for the first time, to pursue a life of crime.
Scarecrow himself has always interested me as a bat villain. He was powerfully written in a way that makes you question his sanity and that of other characters around him. The lure of an intelligent yet unstable mind who devoted his life to the study of fear, becomes a villain. He studies psychology yet he can’t see how far he has gone mad. This, like the Riddler leaving clues, is paradoxical and contradictory behavior. I love it!
As for writing, he may be a powerful persona of a character, but he was never meant to be a headliner. His power was always written as limited, as was his comic image and costume design. He began wearing a green skin suit like those old pajamas. You know, the ones with the button flaps at the back, with the straw mask and that was it. His weapon was an hallucinogenic in a spray bottle…. That sound scary?
Well, the writers didn’t think so either, so they made a dramatic change to his costume to make him far more scary….. They changed the color from green to red…..
That was the costume used for most of his appearances in the batman t.v. series. They did use green in a few episodes, but this apparently caused confusion between him and Riddler. How; not a clue. The best part was, they only let him wear his straw mask in a few episodes for only a couple of minuets at a time because it was considered too scary! Meanwhile adults of the age are being treated to the movie phenomena “Psycho”….
Not sure how that works….
Finally, after the t.v. series, and realizing there fear villain didn’t install much fear in readers, the Scarecrow got a makeover. They kept him tall and skinny, but changed his clothes to burlap sacks over a skin tight black suit. The mask eyes were made large and black and the spray bottle was replaced with a wrist mounted spray gun. The weapon of choice…. Fear Toxin! Now what i would consider the true Scarecrow is born.
Only, he is still written as a second rate villain. Why is simple, he almost never appeared in a comic running his own show. Here is a list of villains he’s worked for:
- Harley Quinn
- Two face
- Black mask
- Hugo Strange
- The Falconey crime family
Yeah, he was never made to be a villain strong enough to support his own story line. This is until the 20th century revamp.
Firstly, he is given a crucial leading role in the movie Batman Begins. The scarecrows first movie appearance was meant to be in the fifth movie of the Tim Burton series, Batman Triumphant. The whole movie and supporting villain roles were to be played around him, but due to the terrible reception of the previous movie, Batman and Robin, Batman triumphant was cancelled. I’m actually thankful for this because it meant there was no silver screen preconception of what Scarecrow should be like. This freedom lead to the creation of a beautiful piece of acting by Cillian Murphy displaying the Scarecrows psyche believably.
Later we see Johnathan Crane as a judge in The Dark Knight Rises, and to my utter disappointment not wearing his mask, but the Scarecrows nonperformance in this movie was a good decision as it would have just confused things and diverted the viewer from the main story.
Secondly, he is in the very popular game Arkham Asylum. Here, they reverted to the popular classic dress of burlap clothes over a black skin suit, but you won’t have failed to notice the multitude of needles on his arm. Five, one for each finger and the thumb, ready to inject his victim’s blood directly with his fear toxin.
The battles with Scarecrow fought in Scarecrows world made in Batman’s mind is great in the game. The encounters with him add suspense, there unnerving, unpredictable and fear inducing. They did an amazing job creating Scarecrows world and thinking up this way to make his character all that more serious and threatening. Plus, he looks scary. I mean, imagine meeting this in a dark ally….
The noose around his head is a nice touch…..
Finally; he is taken seriously, probably because of the rise of the real life villains known as terrorists. He seeks to use terror as power just as they do and that makes him a very valuable tool to the writers to get in children heads the dangers of terrorists through this character in the new series of the brave and the bold.
By now, his costume is still little improved, except for in Arkham Asylum, but his weapons have. He now wields a Scythe and has straws he can beak under peoples noses to give them a concentrated does of his perfected fear toxin. He also has little jackal lanterns that will explode and disperse there contained fear gas, though this idea doesn’t seem to be catching on. I’m not sure why as it’s great for scaring large groups of people….
They have kept the jackal lantern grenades and the scythe but lost the straws. His costume is now actually very scary. He is now portrayed as 8 feet tall with wide shoulders but still deadly thin. He wears his mask as always, now with a wide straw hat to cast a shadow over his face. He has a loose noose around his neck with the string just hanging down from it. His now wears a moldy old black suit with tie and shoes and has long, bony white fingers on his pale hands.
So now that his comic and T.V. personalities are scary and after his fear toxin attack on Gotham, his revealed links to Ras Al Gaul and his very scary game counterpart, I like this new Scarecrow! He being taken seriously, running his own show, and some other villains in the brave and the bold series, as well as all but his own henchmen are either scared or terrified of him. It was his fear attack that originally drove the Falconey crime family out of Gotham. Admittedly they came back, but still, that’s gotta be an achievement!
So what shall i rate him? Well, he is the most successfully revamped character in the last 20 years of the Batman series. He went from a weak, insane fear obsessed, mad professor and straw mask wearing spray bottle for hire to probably the scariest of all the Batman villains to ever grace the pages of the comics; and he did it pretty much overnight to. So, given his current status, but not ignoring his origins either….. I shall score him:
That Other Guy