- "Mmmmmm... You're the only one for me Batman, you know that right? Nobody else even comes close. Not anybody."
- ―Poison Ivy[src]
Pre-Crisis, Dr. Pamela Lillian Isley, a promising botanist from Seattle, was seduced by her botany professor Marc LeGrande into assisting him with the theft of an Egyptian artifact containing ancient herbs. Fearing she would implicate him in the theft, he attempts to poison her with the herbs, which are deadly and untraceable. She survives this murder attempt and discovers she has acquired an immunity to all natural toxins and diseases. FBI eventually found out about those events, but they kept her name incorrectly as Lillian Rose.
Post-Crisis: Life in Seattle and Gotham
Following the merging of realities during the cosmic event known as the Crisis on Infinite Earths, her origins were revised. Pamela Isley grows up wealthy with emotionally distant parents. She later studies advanced botanical biochemistry at a university with Alec Holland under Dr. Jason Woodrue. Isley, a timid, shrinking violet, is easily seduced by her professor. Woodrue injects Isley with poisons and toxins as an experiment, causing her transformation. She nearly dies twice as a result from these poisonings, driving her insane. Later Woodrue flees from the authorities, leaving Pamela in the hospital for six months. Enraged at the betrayal, Pamela suffers from violent mood swings, being sweet one moment and like poison the next. When her boyfriend has a car accident after mysteriously suffering from a massive fungal overgrowth, Isley drops out of school and leaves Seattle, eventually settling in Gotham City.
Taking the costumed persona of Poison Ivy, she begins a criminal career and sets out to show her power over men. Her first scheme involved threatening to release her suffocating spores into the air unless the city meets her demands. The Batman, who appears in Gotham that very same year, thwarts her scheme, and she is incarcerated in Arkham Asylum for the Criminally Insane. From this point on, she has a kind of obsession with Batman, he being the only person she could not control. Over the years, she develops plant-like superpowers, the most noticeable being a lethal toxin in her lips; she is able to literally kill with a kiss.
Poison Ivy escaped from Arkham Asylum again and again, more often seducing her guards in order to make her getaway. She soon became a frequent member of Batman's Rogues Gallery, often committing robberies to fund her cause for preservation of all plant life. Poison Ivy soon came into conflict with many other heroes in her insane quest, such as Superman and Wonder Woman. She fought the Justice League at least once and joined the Injustice Gang to help oppose them.
Poison Ivy also offered her talents as one of the world's leading experts on plant properties to the Secret Society of Super-Villains, although in recent years she appears to have left the team.
She hated all of humanity in many ways for the damage they had done to the world's flora. She allowed herself to temporarily sideline her mission to join the Suicide Squad. Under the direction of Amanda Waller, she served on several missions.
Ivy later took control of a Central American nation, seducing it's dictator and using him as a puppet tool with which she used to rule the country. Amanda Waller had revived the Suicide Squad and wanted her to rejoin the team. On their next mission to free Count Vertigo from another small dictatorship, Ivy realized she could use Vertigo for her own means and could rule the dictatorship herself.
Poison Ivy later stated that she only started a life of crime to attain sufficient funds to find a location to be alone with her plants, undisturbed by humanity. A few years later, she attempts to leave Gotham forever, escaping Arkham to settle on a desert island in the Caribbean. She transforms the barren wasteland into a second Eden, and is, for the first time in her life, happy. It is soon firebombed, however, when an American-owned corporation tests their weapons systems out on what they think is an abandoned island. Ivy returns to Gotham with a vengeance, punishing those responsible. After being willingly apprehended by Batman, she resolves that she can never leave Gotham, at least not until the world was safe for plants. From then on, she dedicates herself to the impossible mission of "purifying" Gotham.
At one point, Batman travels to Seattle to ascertain information on Pamela Isley's life before she became Poison Ivy. Here, Batman states that both of Pamela's parents are dead. When and why they died has been left undetermined.
While in Arkham, Poison Ivy receives a message through flowers that someone is to help her escape. That night, two women, Holly and Eva, successfully break Ivy out and bring her back to their employer. She is less than happy to discover that it is the Floronic Man, formerly known as Dr. Jason Woodrue, her former college professor that conducted the experiments on her. The only human portion of him remaining is his head, while the rest of his body is plant-based.
After striking a deal with him in the underground tunnels of Gotham, Ivy receives a trunk full of money in return for samples of her DNA. Woodrue intends to combine their DNA to create a "child", all while flooding the streets of Gotham with high-powered marijuana. The purpose of this is to create a world economy run on hemp and to have their offspring control it. Batman intervenes, but is overcome by Woodrue's henchwomen, Holly and Eva. However, Ivy turns on Floronic Man and lets Batman go to fight the intoxicated maniac. In the end, Batman decapitates the Floronic Man, and Ivy escapes with her money.
At times, Ivy demonstrates positive, even maternal traits. When Gotham City is destroyed in an earthquake, rather than fight over territory like most of Batman's enemies, she holds dominion over Robinson Park and turns it into a tropical paradise. Sixteen children who are orphaned during the quake come to live with her, as she sympathizes with them, having suffered a traumatic childhood herself. She cares for them like sons and daughters, despite her usual misanthropy.
That winter, Clayface (Basil Karlo) pays Ivy a visit, hoping to form a bargain with her. This would entail her growing fruits and vegetables, having the orphans harvest them, and him selling the produce to the highest bidder. She wants nothing to do with the plan, and she attempts to kill him with a kiss. Clayface overpowers her, however, and imprisons Ivy and the orphans for six months in a chamber under the park's lake. He feeds her salt and keeps her from the sun to weaken her. Eventually, Batman comes and discovers the imprisoned orphans and Ivy. The two agree to work together to take Karlo down. Batman battles Clayface and instructs Robin to blow up the lake bed above, allowing the rushing water to break apart the mud, effectively freeing Ivy. She fights Karlo, ensnaring him in the branches of a tree and fatally kissing him. She then proceeds to sink him down into the ground, where he becomes fertilizer for Ivy's plants. Batman, originally intending to take the orphans away from Ivy, recognizes that staying with her is what is best for them, and they remain in her care until the city is restored. Also, as part of a bargain to keep her freedom, Batman arranges it so that Ivy provides fresh produce to the starving hordes of earthquake survivors. Soon after, Ivy finds Harley Quinn, who had almost been murdered by the Joker, among the debris of the earthquake and nurses her back to health. The two have been best friends and partners-in-crime ever since.
After Gotham City is reopened to the public, the city council wants to evict her from the park and send her back to Arkham Asylum, as they are uncomfortable with the thought of a "psychotic eco-terrorist controlling the equivalent of 30-odd square blocks". They also mistakenly believe that the orphans in Ivy's care are hostages. The Gotham City Police Department threaten to spray the park with R.C. Sixty, a powerful herbicide that most certainly would have killed every living plant in the park, including Ivy, and more than likely do harm to the children. Ivy refuses to leave the park to the city and let them destroy the paradise she had created, so she chooses martyrdom. It is only after Rose, one of the orphans, is accidentally poisoned by Ivy that the hardened eco-terrorist surrenders herself to the authorities in order to save the girl's life. Batman says that, as much as she would hate to admit it, Ivy is still more human than plant.
Later on, she and other Gotham characters are manipulated by the Riddler and Hush. Her task is to hypnotize both Superman and Catwoman; however, she abandons Catwoman to be killed by Killer Croc, and Batman is able to keep Superman busy in a fight long enough for the Man of Steel to break out of the spell. Soon afterwards, the Riddler, who is being chased and attacked by Hush, approaches Ivy and seeks her protection. Ivy, who is angered by the manipulation, battles the Riddler physically and psychologically. She comes to physically dominate her opponent, humiliating Riddler and temporarily breaking his spirit.
Poison Ivy comes to believe that her powers are killing the children she had looked after, so she seeks Bruce Wayne's help to reverse her powers and make her a normal human being once more. Soon after, she is convinced by Hush to take another serum to restore her powers and apparently dies in the process. However, when her grave is visited shortly thereafter, it is covered with ivy, creating the impression her death would be short-lived.
Shortly after, Poison Ivy appears briefly in Robinson Park, killing two corrupt cops who killed one of her orphans (although whether this takes place before or after the aforementioned storyline is unknown).
"One Year Later", Ivy is alive and active. Her control over flora has increased, referred to as being on a par with Swamp Thing or Floronic Man. She also appears to have resumed her crusade against the corporate enemies of the environment with a new fanaticism, regarding Batman no longer as a main opponent, but as a 'hindrance'.
After arriving back from a year-long absence, Batman discovers that Ivy has been feeding people including "tiresome lovers", "incompetent henchmen", and those who "returned her smile" to a giant plant which would digest the victims slowly and painfully, like a Venus flytrap. She refers to these murders as a "guilty pleasure". In an unprecedented event, her victims' souls merge with the plant, creating a botanical monster called Harvest, who seeks revenge upon Ivy. With the intervention of Batman, however, she is saved. Ivy is left in critical condition, and the whereabouts of Harvest are unknown.
In Countdown 37, the Piper and the Trickster are hiding out in a greenhouse, picking fruits and vegetables from the plants. They run into Ivy, who is talking to her plants (presumably being told that Piper and Trickster hurt them), to which she reacts by tying them up in vines with the intention of killing them. She is then shown to have joined the Injustice League.
In the "Battle For The Cowl" storyline, she is coerced by Black Mask into joining his group of villains that aims to take over Gotham. She and Killer Croc unsuccessfully attempt to murder Damian Wayne. Shortly after, she escapes from Black Mask's control and forms an alliance with Catwoman and Harley Quinn, leading into the ongoing series Gotham City Sirens.
During Hush's ploy to hurt Batman through hurting his loved ones, Hush kidnaps Catwoman and surgically removes her heart. After being saved by Batman, she is operated on by some of the most gifted surgeons in the world, including Doctor Mid-Nite and Mr. Terrific. In order to get even with Hush, Selina enlists the help of Poison Ivy, Harley Quinn, Oracle, Holly Robinson, and Slam Bradley to track down all of Hush's accounts, pilfer them, and leave him penniless. Selina pays Holly, Harley, and Ivy over $30 million each, hoping that they would use the funds to leave Gotham to start fresh somewhere else. However, Harley uses her money to go on a shopping spree, while Ivy gives her money away to organizations in Madagascar and Costa Rica for reforestation.
After rescuing Catwoman from Boneblaster, a new villain trying to make a name for himself, Poison Ivy takes Catwoman back to The Riddler's townhouse. When there, Catwoman sees that Ivy has been keeping the Riddler under mind control so that she and Harley could use his townhouse as a hideout. Here, Catwoman decides that with Gotham City more dangerous than ever with all of the gang wars and a new Batman, a partnership with the other two women would be advantageous. However, Ivy fears that Catwoman has lost her edge and prowess, and consults with Zatanna on the nature of Catwoman's injuries. Zatanna responds that Catwoman has psychological wounds that would need healing. Ivy resolves that she and Harley would provide Catwoman with "positive female reinforcement". The three then agree to become a team. However, Harley and Ivy have one condition: they demand that Catwoman reveal to them the true identity of the original Batman. Boneblaster then suddenly breaks into the apartment and the three of them have to move after they defeat him.
Eventually, Ivy, Harley, and Catwoman ambush the Riddler at his office (with Ivy using her plants to truss and gag his secretary), telling him that they've been framed for the murder of a young nurse. He agrees to help clear their names, and during the discussion Ivy reveals that she has recently taken up a job at the Gotham division of S.T.A.R. Labs under an assumed name (Dr. Paula Irving). She is eventually kidnapped and placed in a specialized containment unit by a researcher named Alisa Adams, but escapes and turns the table on her captor by binding her with vines. Ivy initially informs Adams that she plans to kill her, but instead decides to let her live after seeing a photograph of Alisa's young daughter. Ivy then threatens the Alisa into keeping her mouth shut about her true identity, telling her that she will change her mind about sparing her life if she reveals the secret to anyone.
The New 52
Ivy has appeared in the new DC Universe as a member of the Birds of Prey. She is initially distrusted by fellow members Katana and Starling because of her connections to multiple eco-terrorist attacks and murders, but gains their trust after retrieving the location of their target's hideout and saving them and Black Canary from an explosion. She appears to be sporting a new black costume covering her body up to her neck that seems to have moss and live plants on it. Her eyes are also different, now being completely black save for her bright green irises. It is revealed in Birds of Prey #5 that Ivy is working with an unnamed businessman in exchange for an unknown substance that glows green.
During the Night of the Owls, Ivy managed to drag the Talon, who had attacked the team, into a refrigerated car where he froze, but Ivy managed to survive, due her plant biology, but she was gravely injured and Black Canary had promised to take Ivy to the Amazon, 'the heart of the green', where she could revitalise and heal if she got seriously injured. But upon arrival, after having their helicopter blown out of the sky, the team were greeted by plant monsters that attacked them and after they were defeated, Ivy takes the team to safety and tells them what those creature really were.
Ivy reveals that these creatures were perennials, after she's fully rejuvenated she tells the Birds that the perennials were under her control and they have poisoned Canary and her teammates, they only have six months to live unless they help her seek vengeance on the people responsible for the destruction of the environment. If they refuse to help her then the infection kills them and the it will pass on to the other members of the human race and eventually wipe them out, allowing the Green to flourish.
The Team state that they would rather die than help her to kill innocents, but Ivy points out they don't have any other option. Black Canary says that they may be forced to help her. But in six months, they will find her.
In Dubai, a week later, she assaults the chairman of an oil company. But when the Birds of Prey arrive the chairman expects them to save him only to find Starling holds a gun to his head and pulls the trigger.
Harley called Poison Ivy after leaving Gotham asking if she wanted to have a girls night and they ended up breaking out every single animal in the local animal shelter. Ivy wakes up from the bed she shares with Harley the next morning and gives her a kiss on the cheek, afterwards flourishing the apartment with grass and a tree for all of the dogs and cats.
Teams and alliances
Poison Ivy joins Two-Face's gang in the Dark Victory story arc. She tries to flirt with Dent, but he coldly rejects her as he still loves Gilda Dent. Ivy kills Lucia Viti on Dent's orders and is part of the group that escapes from the sewers into the Batcave. She is notably the only member of the group to show any reaction to Solomon Grundy's death on Two-Face's orders. This incarnation of Ivy has hair made of vines as opposed to the usual red hair, which she uses as her main weapon.
Poison Ivy is a member of the original Injustice Gang of the World, which fights the Justice League on several occasions.
She joins the Secret Society of Super Villains for a mission against the Justice League. She later joins Lex Luthor's incarnation of the Society.
She is coerced into being a member of the Suicide Squad. During this time, she uses her abilities to enslave Count Vertigo.
She is friends with the Joker's sidekick Harley Quinn. Unlike most villain team-ups, their partnership seems to be genuinely rooted in friendship, and Ivy sincerely wants to save Harley from her abusive relationship with the Joker. Ivy sympathizes with Harley, as Harley is mistreated by the man she loves, just as Ivy was by Jason Woodrue. She has expressed disdain for the Joker, primarily due to his treatment of Harley.
Most recently Poison Ivy has become a member of the all-female heroic organization known as the Birds of Prey.
Despite having different motivations than the rest of Batman's rogues gallery, Ivy is not above forming alliances with the other villains if it suits her goals.
Poison Ivy is also in a group involving Harley Quinn and Catwoman called, "Gotham City Sirens". They once tried to kill off Catwoman but ended off failing.
Powers and Abilities
The dangerous experiments placed a deliberate overdose of plant and animal based toxins into her blood stream that make her touch deadly and allowed her to boost her immunity to all poisons, viruses, bacteria, and fungi. This immunity also includes Joker venom. Some comics have even gone so far as to depict her as more plant than human, breathing CO2 and requiring sunlight to survive.
Ivy is known to be able to seduce men and women alike, often using pheromones to do so; she is even able to use these to control Superman, although she requires kryptonite for them to work.
She specializes in hybrids and can create the most potently powerful toxins in Gotham City. Often these toxins are secreted from her lips and administered via a kiss. They come in a number of varieties, from mind-controlling drugs to instantly fatal narcotics.
In some adaptations, she can control plants with her mind, create them from plant matter of any size, mutate them into plant creatures and monsters that she can control with her mind, and have a psychic and empathic link to them. She can generate mutated plant chemicals and spores from her plants or her body, which can modify plant traits, be used to attack people, and also control the minds of humans. This mind control is sometimes being caused by fungus-like plants being generated by the plant chemicals and spores reacting to organic matter, or the mutated plant matter growing on or inside a victim of her mind control. For example, while in Arkham, she is able to manipulate and animate plants, using roots to form supports for a tunnel she and another inmate named Magpie are digging to escape, and also spawning glowing fungi to entertain Magpie.
Poison Ivy is identified by the Swamp Thing as a being with an elemental mystical component, who he calls the 'May Queen'. Writers have not referred to her in this way in quite some time.
In Batman: The Animated Series, her only physical power is an immunity to poison, and when using a poisoned kiss, she uses lipstick poisoned by toxins extracted from a plant. She admits to having a "hyperactive immune system" which prevents her from having children. In The Batman, she can even exhale mind-controlling spores in the form of a blown kiss.
She is also shown to be a skilled gymnast and hand-to-hand combat. She manages to defeat Batman with hand-to hand combat at least once through Batman: The Animated Series.
In Other Media
Poison Ivy never made any appearances in other media prior to her debut in the fifth episode of Batman: The Animated Series, "Pretty Poison", in 1992. The series popularized the character to the point of being featured as a main villain in the live action film Batman & Robin in 1997.
Batman & Robin
The Lego Batman Movie
Poison Ivy makes a few cameo appearances in the film alongside other Batman villains voiced by Riki Lindhome. One notable scene has her attempting to kiss Batman and kill him, but she ends up kissing Penguin's penguin army by mistake, much to her disgust. Her appearance is modeled after the Uma Thurman version of the character.
DC animated universe
In the DC animated universe, Poison Ivy was voiced by Diane Pershing. The character's now-bisexual nature goes unmentioned due to the DCAU being for children. The initial character design for Poison Ivy in Batman: The Animated Series was provided by artist Lynne Naylor, who also helped design nearly all of the other female characters for the show. She drew Ivy to look distinctly different from the rest of the female characters, giving her a softer, cherub-shaped face. Bruce Timm mentioned in his audio commentaries that Ivy was meant to look shorter than the other recurring female villains and that her appearance was meant to evoke the image of a "wood nymph".
Batman: The Animated Series
The New Batman Adventures and beyond
In the second series, she was aesthetically revamped to look more plant-like, her skin turning grayish-white. Ivy also became more humorous and seductive in personality, coinciding with her genuinely friendly relationship with Harley Quinn. Her fanatical mindset regarding the despoiling of plants and the ecosphere was also greatly reduced. She supposedly dies in a shipwreck in the episode "Chemistry". She apparently survives the shipwreck and returns in several spin-off series, including Static Shock, and the Gotham Girls web-toon, in which she held a co-starring role. The character also co-starred in the three-issue comic book miniseries Harley and Ivy, and was given her swan song in the critically acclaimed Batman Adventures comic book series, which contains stories about Batman's adventures in Gotham City after a break from the Justice League.
In the episode "A Better World", on the Justice League series, Poison Ivy appears only once, in a lobotomized form in an alternate universe. She is a prisoner at Arkham Asylum, and she is also allowed to work as the prison's gardener. Bruce Timm stated that he had turned down pitches for Poison Ivy episodes on Justice League so they could focus on new characters and storylines, only bringing back a minimal number of villains from previous shows.
Poison Ivy is first mentioned in "The Rise Of Blue Beetle".
She later appears in "Chill of the Night!", Ivy appears among other villains in an auction for a supersonic weapon held by arms dealer Joe Chill. When a terrified Chill asks the villains for protection against an enraged Batman, and somewhat admits his role in creating him, Ivy and the others attempt to murder Chill. The villains were foiled by Batman.
She also appears in the unaired episode "The Mask Of Matches Malone".
She has a Cameo in "The Knights Of Tomorrow" in a photo.
She reappears as a cameo in "Joker The Vile And The Villainous".
- Main article: Poison Ivy (Harley Quinn)
Live Action TV
Poison Ivy has appeared in most of the Batman videogames over the years. She appeared as a boss in Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures Of Batman & Robin for the Super N.E.S., The Adventures Of Batman & Robin for the Sega C.D., Batman: Chaos In Gotham City, the videogame adaptation of the movie Batman & Robin, Batman Vengeance, and Batman: Dark Tomorrow. In most of these videogames, Poison Ivy does not fight Batman directly and usually watches in the background while Batman fights one of her plant monsters. In The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega C.D. and Batman: Vengeance, Diane Pershing reprised her role from Batman: The Animated Series. She also has a cameo appearance in Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu, where she appeared as a hallucination along with the Joker, Harley Quinn, and Mr. Freeze if the Scarecrow manages to gas the player. There was also an unlockable 3D Model of her in the Trophy Room.
Lego Batman: The Videogame
Batman: Arkham Series
DC Universe Online
Poison Ivy is portrayed by Cyndi Williams in DC Universe Online.
Personality and traits
Poison Ivy is depicted as being a seductive temptress who is fully aware of her beauty and will use it to get what she wants, aided by the pheromones her unique biology provides for her. Ivy feels it's her duty to protect "The Green" although her methods are often destructive and cause a great deal of pain and death to people around her. A sociopath, Ivy has no qualms about killing people who get in her way, and rarely shows genuine affection for anyone aside from her beloved plants, whom she treats like her own children. She has a particular hatred for men due to her traumatic past, which consistently depicts her as being transformed by a man - most incarnations of Ivy were transformed by Jason Woodrue - and sees them as sexist pigs whom she can manipulate before tossing them aside once they've outlived their usefulness.
The only person Ivy shows genuine affection for is Harley Quinn, though the nature of their relationship varies depending on the universe. In some, they're depicted as best friends, in others they treat each other like family, and in others they are portrayed as lovers. Although their relationship has problems, particularly due to Harley's obsession with the Joker constantly getting in the way, Ivy loves her as much as she is capable of loving any human. Aside from Batman, who does it more out of moral obligation than genuine affection, Ivy is the only person who treats Harley like a real person instead of an object, giving her the affectionate nickname "Harl", and patiently dealing with all the chaos that follows her around. Being the more mature and experienced of the pair, she constantly tries to help and protect Harley, showing the kind of devotion to her that she normally saves for her plants. Harley's more childish personality sometimes enables Ivy to drop her guard and enjoy herself as she essentially reminds Ivy of her own humanity. She is always ready to care for her after one of the Joker's vicious assaults and constantly tries to persuade her to leave him. The only incarnation of Ivy that showed indifference to Harley's wellbeing was the Regime Universe Ivy from Injustice 2, but even that incarnation often had flirtatious banter with her.
Ivy also has a genius level intellect and is fully aware of it due to her egotistical nature. In addition to her powers, Ivy is a brilliant scientist and sees herself as superior to everyone around her. She is often disgusted by the actions of other Arkham inmates, particularly the Joker, as she sees their crimes as being petty and not benefitting anyone but themselves whilst Ivy, as misguided as her attempts are, is trying to benefit the wellbeing of the planet. Hypocritically, Ivy is just as manipulative as Joker and although she is not nearly as cruel to Harley as he is, she sometimes tries to manipulate her just as she would anyone else. The difference is that while Joker manipulates and abuses Harley for his own gain, Ivy manipulates her because she wants what's best for her, although some incarnations have the more selfish motive of wanting Harley for herself.