The Scarecrow is an overly-obsessive and deranged ex-professor of psychology who uses a variety of drugs and psychological tactics to use the fears and phobias of his adversaries. He does not commit his crimes for wealth, but rather as a form of "research" to further study the effects of fear on humans (later, he does it to satisfy his own psychopathic desires), making the innocent citizens of Gotham his unwilling guinea pigs.
The Scarecrow made only two appearances in the 1940's. Batman writers of the 1960's revived him and he has since consistently appeared in Batman comic books. He was featured several times in the Emmy-winning 1990's cartoon Batman: The Animated Series, where he was first played by Henry Polic II. When the series was revamped and shown together with Superman: The Animated Series, the character was voiced by Jeffrey Combs. In the 2005 film Batman Begins and its sequels The Dark Knight and The Dark Knight Rises, he was portrayed by Cillian Murphy.
Elements of the Scarecrow fear-gas appeared in Batman publications prior to his first appearance. For instance, the idea of fear gas first appeared in Detective Comics #46 in December 1940, in a story featuring Hugo Strange, in which Strange uses a special fear dust in order to scare the police and successfully rob a bank.
In his first appearance in World's Finest Comics #3 during the Golden Age of Comic Books, the Scarecrow is first introduced as Jonathan Crane, a professor of psychology, who turns to crime after he is fired; an expert in the psychology of fear, he had fired a gun in a classroom full of students to illustrate a point. The only thing revealed about his early life is that, as a child, he had liked to frighten birds. Ostracized by his fellow professors for his appearance and reclusiveness, he turned to crime to make himself part of the social elite. His modus operandi is to use his Scarecrow persona and threaten his victims into doing whatever he wants. In terms of his costume, he merely wore a ragged black hat, trench coat, mask, and wielded a Tommy gun.
His first crime involved a businessman named Frank Kendrick being sued by a former partner, Paul Herold. When Herold refused to cooperate upon meeting and hearing his demands, the Scarecrow killed him and became a media sensation. Bruce Wayne, who happens to be a patron and trustee of the university, investigates the matter as Batman and discovers Crane's disturbing behavior and forced resignation, leading him to suspect the professor. In his second appearance, he approached a store owner named Dodge with the offer to rob other establishments, in order to increase his sales. After Batman and Robin learn of the plan and question Dodge, Scarecrow attempts to kill him, but the Dynamic Duo capture him in the nick of time. He is then sent to Gotham State Penitentiary.
Two years later in Detective Comics #73, he escapes from jail and forms a gang of criminals to do his bidding. While he struggles to rob a Chinese antique dealer, Batman and Robin foil the plan, and he and his cronies are sent back to prison. This version of the Scarecrow was much like other gimmick villains in that he based a lot of crimes around nursery rhymes and words that rhymed with "hat." He does not appear from 1943 to 1955, but it is revealed that he developed a hallucinogenic chemical toxin that could be used to invoke deep phobias within those who breathe it in. When Batman tries to intervene, he is affected by the toxin and hallucinates that all of his allies have disappeared. Feeling he has no once else to turn to, he confides in an old enemy, Catwoman, to help him stop Crane, and she is successful in helping stop the Scarecrow and getting Batman over his delusions. Exactly what happened to Crane is not revealed because of the revelation that the Golden Age universe was actually Earth-2, part of the Multiverse.
Throughout the 1960s Silver Age of Comic Books, the Scarecrow was revived to be one of Batman's most recurring rivals. He is a frequent member of the Injustice Gang. Ironically, in this Earth-One incarnation, Crane has a strange fear of birds, even though he has a pet magpie named Craw. Scarecrow also owned a pet crow he named Nightmare.
Post-Crisis, Modern-Age Version
Following the 1986 multi-title event Crisis on Infinite Earths reboot, Crane's origin story was greatly expanded in the 1989 graphic novel Batman/Scarecrow #1, part of the Batman: Year One continuity. In the novel, he becomes obsessed with fear and revenge from being bullied throughout his childhood and adolescence for his lanky frame and bookish nature. He commits his first murder at the age of 18 by brandishing a gun in his high school parking lot during the senior prom. Dressed in the ghoulish scarecrow costume that would later become his trademark, Crane causes the head bully, Bo Griggs, and his girlfriend, Sherry Squires, who had rejected Crane, to have an automobile accident which paralyzes Griggs and kills Squires. From this, Crane discovers a savage delight in literally frightening people to death.
He grows up to become a professor of psychology at Gotham University, specializing in the psychology of fear. The flower pot incident is left intact, but the real reason he is fired is due to injuring a student by accident. After his dismissal, he kills the regents who fired him and becomes a career criminal. Following this, he transferred to Arkham Asylum and became a psychiatrist, where he performed more fear-induced experiments on his patients. He takes the moniker "the Scarecrow", the favorite taunt of the hated bullies, as part of his revenge. The 2005 miniseries, Batman/Scarecrow: Year One, expands upon the earlier origin story. The novels explains that Jonathan Crane is born out of wedlock and also suffers terrible abuse from his fanatically religious great-grandmother. His father takes off before he is even born, and his mother does not show any love or affection towards her son at all. He develops a taste for fear and an affinity for crows when his grandmother locks him in a dilapidated church full of birds. The story also shows Crane murdering his grandmother, and learning that his mother gave birth to a baby girl, causing him to feel great jealousy and grief, reasoning why he is very cold.
During a Batman Confidential story arc, he is shown out of costume at Arkham Asylum still working as a psychiatrist, while planning the renovation of Arkham, and he briefly comes face to face with the criminal who will one day become The Joker.
In the Knightfall storyline, Scarecrow is one of the prisoners that escaped from Arkham after Bane blows it up. He first attacks one of The Joker's henchmen, who tells Scarecrow that his boss is after the commissioner. Scarecrow goes to the Joker and decides to become partners in terrorizing the mayor. Soon they go to the sewers with the mayor, where Batman arrives. Scarecrow gasses him with fear toxin, but instead Batman gets angry. Panicked, Scarecrow floods the sewers. Batman escapes with the mayor but Joker and Scarecrow escape as well. Later, at Scarecrow and Joker's hideout, the Joker savagely beats Scarecrow with a chair after he tries to poison him. He is then sent to Arkham.
In the Shadow of the Bat storyline, Scarecrow escapes and brings together a small group of college students to terrorize the city while he enjoys the chaos. Soon, Batman's successor, Jean-Paul Valley, and Anarky arrive and together they defeat the Scarecrow and save the boys.
In stories written by Jeph Loeb, such as Batman: The Long Halloween and Batman: Hush, Crane is shown to have an inclination to sing nursery rhymes at times. In the Else worlds story Batman: Crimson Mist, Crane is shown to be singing a modified version of "Ding, Dong, The Witch Is Dead", from The Wizard of Oz.
Crane undergoes a major change in the 2004 Batman story arc As The Crow Flies. While working with The Penguin, he is mutated into a monster. He turns into this "Scarebeast" during times of great strain or when it is necessary to defend himself.
Scarecrow rejoins the new Secret Society of Super Villains, and is part of the assault on the Secret Six (Villains United #6). He is caught in an explosion caused by Parademon. He is later seen in Villains United Special #1, alive and well. He is also seen in Detective Comics #820 as part of One Year Later, where he is defeated by the combined efforts of Batman and Robin.
Recently, the Scarecrow has decided to stop using his typical fear gas, as he feared that other Arkham inmates were right that he was nothing without them. Instead relying on his training as a psychologist, he drives two inmates to suicide using only his words, also apparently terrifying the rest of Arkham's inmates. After manipulating the guards into freeing him, Crane embarks upon a string of vicious serial murders, terrifying Gotham without using his trademark gimmicks.
On Green Lantern vol. 3 #27, after Green Lantern Laira murdered Amon Sur, the son of the deceased Green Lantern Abin Sur and a member of the Sinestro Corps, his yellow power ring attempted to reach Crane as his successor in Arkham Asylum due to his mastery of fear, but thwarted by two Green Lanterns Hal Jordan and John Stewart.
On the cover of Justice League of America #13 (Vol.2), it shows Scarecrow as a member of the new Injustice League.
In the Batman: Battle For The Cowl storyline, Scarecrow is recruited by a returning Black Mask to a part of a group of villains that aiming to take over Gotham. He later assists the crime lord in manufacturing a new recreational drug called "Thrill," which caught the attentions of Oracle and Batgirl. The Scarecrow uses his fear gas on Batgirl but she shows enough will to break through it eventually he is defeated by Batgirl and once again arrested.
Scarecrow briefly appears in the fourth issue of the Blackest Nightstoryline. His immunity to fear (brought about by frequent exposure to his own fear gas) renders him practically invincible to the invading Black Lanterns. However, his current status of fearlessness has taken a further toll on his sanity, exacerbated by the long disappearance of Batman: he craves for fear, exposing himself deliberately to the revenant army, but knowing that only Batman could scare him again.
Scarecrow appears again in Blackest Night #6. When Ganthet creates duplicates of the seven Lantern Corps rings, Scarecrow is chosen by the yellow ring because of his ability to instill great fear, and becomes a temporary member of the Sinestro Corps. He was soon elected to be the Sinestro of Sector-2814.
Overjoyed at finally being able to feel fear, Scarecrow gleefully and without question follows the commands of Sinestro. For a time, he willingly did his duty, and even assisted against the Black Lanterns, personally attacking Black Hand. His joy is cut short, however, when Lex Luthor, overwhelmed by the orange light of greed, steals his yellow power ring.
Some time later during the events of Brightest Day, Scarecrow begins kidnapping and murdering college interns working for LexCorp as a way of getting back at Luthor for stealing his ring. When Robin and Supergirl attempt to stop his plans, Scarecrow unleashes a new fear toxin that is powerful enough to affect a Kryptonian. The toxin forces Supergirl to see visions of a Black Lantern Reactron, but she is able to snap out of the illusion and help Robin defeat Scarecrow. He is eventually freed from Arkham when Deathstroke and the Titans break into the asylum in order to capture one of the inmates.
Scarecrow briefly appears in Batman and Robin #25, he was going to gas Gotham with his Fear Toxin but Batman stopped him before he was able to fulfill his plans.
Powers and Abilities:
Genius Intellect: A master strategist and manipulator, Scarecrow’s genius renders him the most intellectually clever and terrifying criminal mastermind that can dive into the minds of his opponents through nightmarish tactics. Crane also expresses a fondness towards literature including those such as Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and James Joyce’s Ulysses, and is shown to be a well-versed individual as demonstrated by his memorization of different poems and often speaks in rhyme.
- Psychiatry: As chief psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum, Jonathan is a walking textbook on anxiety disorders and psychoactive drugs, and has even conducted fascinating research on how fear is the driving force of everyone’s lives and the psycho physiology of phobias. He is highly able to recite the name and description of nearly every known phobia. He even knows how to use words to affect a person's actions, once managing to drive two men to suicide with nothing but words, and uses this insight to find people's mental pressure points and exploit them.
- Chemistry: A true weapon of terror, Crane’s ingenious panicogenic fear-gas was atomized with the use of mixed chemicals including powerful synthetic adrenocortical secretions and other potent hallucinogens that could be inhaled or injected into the bloodstream to amplify the victim’s darkest fear into a terrifying nightmarish hallucination. Its potency has upgraded to an extreme level over the years where it’s now capable of prompting almost instantaneous, terror-induced heart attacks, leaving the victim in a permanent psychosis of chronic fear. His other versions were powerful enough that even the most strong-willed minds like Batman and Superman can even be affected; for a Kryptonian, he would need to mix the kryptonite with his fear-toxin to strike their mentalities. To instill his toxin, he often uses a hand-held sprayer in the shape of a human skull and special straws which can be snapped in half to release it. Scarecrow even managed to concoct the homemade chemical containing wild fowl pheromones from his childhood that would cause nearby birds to attack his opponents.
- Pedagogy: Earned a professorship at Gotham State University.
Weaponry: He is skilled with farming tools so he tends to use pitchforks, sickles, and scythes. Occasionally, he uses firearms. During the 'Blackest Night' event, Scarecrow is temporarily deputized into the Sinestro Corps by a duplicate of Sinestro's Power Ring. He proves to be very capable in manipulating the light of fear to create constructs, until his ring is stolen by Lex Luthor.
Martial Arts: He is a manic martial artist with full use of his long arms and legs in “violent dancing,” Scarecrow’s own form of crane-style kung-fu inspired by Ichabod Crane’s dancing skills from The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Despite his scrawny build, he isn’t the type of criminal to be underestimated in hand-to-hand combat whenever forced to fight.
Transformation (formerly): After some genetic manipulation done to him secretly by Dr.Linda Friitawa (also known as the criminal "Fright"),Scarecrow gains the ability to turn into a large monster with greatly enhanced strength, endurance, and a fear gas he naturally emits. However, he has to be under physical strain or duress to transform.
Toxic Immunity: He seems to have formed an immunity to fear, which depresses him.
Anxiety Disorder: Crane once suffered from corvidophobia (fear of crows) after being attacked by a murder of crows at his family aviary. He managed to overcome this somehow and is often seen with a crow named Craw. Since his first encounter with Batman, he developed chiropteraphobia (fear of bats).
Obsession: Motivated by an obsessive need to create fear in others, Scarecrow goes from using the primal emotion as a weapon to the point where he preaches it.
Scarecrow appears in the third and final chapter of the Batman vampire series, Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, where his suit has been adorned with laces of severed fingers from past victims who he slaughters using a hand held sickle knife. His targets have become more specific as he is after the jocks who used to torment him in school. He is about to kill a former football player when vampire Batman appears, brutally noting that Scarecrow is almost worse than him; he now has no choice but to kill, but Scarecrow has a choice and yet he chose to prey on innocents. Scarecrow blubbers that his victims were not innocent and that they tormented him and scared him. Batman grabs Scarecrow's vial of fear gas, crushing it along with Crane's hand, stating that Crane has no idea what fear is as he uses Crane's own sickle to cut off his head.
Crane's fate in the DC animated universe is revealed in the 2010 Batman Beyond comic storyline where it is mentioned that Scarecrow actually retired from a life of crime and spent the last ten years of his life writing out experiments before dying of illness.
Scarecrow was featured in the Batman/Daredevil: King of New York crossover where he attempts to use the Kingpin's crime empire to disperse his fear gas over Gotham, only to be defeated when Daredevil lives up to his 'Man Without Fear' title by proving immune to the gas. He was also featured in the DC vs. Marvel crossover where he temporarily allies with his Marvel universe equivalent to capture Lois Lane before they are both defeated by Ben Reilly.
JSA: The Liberty Files
Scarecrow is featured in part two of the four-part JSA: The Liberty Files story arc. This version of Scarecrow is portrayed as a German agent who kills a contact working for the Bat (Batman), the Clock (Hourman), and the Owl(Dr. Mid-Nite). In a struggle with the Scarecrow the fiancée of agent Terry Sloane is killed. This causes Sloane to return to the field as Mr. Terrific and kills the Scarecrow.
In the Flashpoint story arc, Scarecrow was one of the many villains who was killed by Batman (Thomas Wayne).
Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty
A stand-in for Jonathan Crane named Jenna Clarke/Scarecrone appears in the Elseworlds storyline Batman: Dark Knight Dynasty as a henchwoman/consort under the employ of Vandal Savage. Scarecrone also acts as a stand-in for Two-Face. She has the power to invade a person's psyche and make their deepest fears appear as illusions simply by touching them. "Scarecrone" is actually a separate personality from Jenna Clarke, Vandal Savage requires Clarke to switch to her Scarecrone persona through a special formula that he has made Clarke dependent on. The two personalities are actually extremely antagonistic towards each other. It's revealed that when the formula brings out Scarecrone the right side of her face becomes heavily scarred. This scarring is healed once the formula wears off and the Jenna Clarke personality becomes dominant again.
Scarecrow is featured in the twelve-part miniseries Justice, as part of the Legion of Doom. He was one of the many villains who turned society against the Justice League through his medical expertise, and is shown injecting a girl with a serum allowing her to walk. He later attacks Black Canary and Green Arrow alongside Clayface, using his fear gas to stall Canary while Clayface attacks Green Arrow. The two are successful in incapacitating the two, but fail to kill them. He is later seen alongside Clayface and the Superman villain Parasite, kidnapping Commissioner Gordon, Batgirl, and Supergirl. When the League launches an attack on the Legion's base, he attacks the JLA once again, but after a long battle, is one of five villains to escape the League. Crane is later attacked by the Joker, who had also been attacking the Legion of Doom as an independent power out of jealously for not having been invited into the Legion in the first place.
In Other Media
Filmations series episode The Great Scarecrow Scare was the character's first appearance in any kind of outside media.
Scarecrow uses a "fear transmitter" to induce a vision of the murder of Batman's parents in The Fear episode. This was the first time the characters origin was shown in any kind of outside media, predating the 1989 movie by four years.
- Main article: Scarecrow (Batman: The Animated Series)
According to Bruce Timm, Scarecrow was meant to appear in Justice League Unlimited as part of the show's version of the Legion of Doom, but due to The Batman (which was set outside the DCAU) Scarecrow, along with the most major Batman villains (Deadshot was the only well-known Batman villain, which mainly obscured enemies who had escaped the ban) were banned from appearing.
Scarecrow was originally going to appear in The Batman as the main villain of the episode "Strange New World", but Hugo Strange was used instead, due to Scarecrow's role in the Nolan Batman films, citing the no-compete clause.
Scarecrow made an appearance in Batman: The Brave and the Bold, and was voiced by Dee Bradley Baker, in the teaser of the episode "Trials of the Demon". He teamed up with Scream Queen in an attempt to cause full panic on All Hallows Eve (more commonly known as Halloween) by placing Fear Gas-filled pumpkins all over town. Scarecrow faced Batman in combat while his pumpkins were all scooped up by The Flash. Scarecrow was defeated when Batman and Flash buried him in a pile of his Fear Gas-induced pumpkins. Scarecrow also made a brief cameo appearance in the episode "Night of the Huntress" among the other prisoners at Blackgate Penitentiary. He was seen wearing a prisoner uniform, yet still wore his traditional mask and hat. He appeared as an inmate of Arkham Asylum under the spell of the Music Meister in the episode, "Mayhem of the Music Meister!"
Scarecrow made cameos in the film alongside the other Batman villains and was voiced by Jason Mantzoukas. He dressed up like a Pizza Delivery Man and breathed Fear Gas onto a security guard in order to break into the Gotham City reactor core.
- Main article: Scarecrow (Harley Quinn)
Live-action TV and film
In the live-action Batman television series episodes The Great Escape/The Great Train-Robbery, Shame and his girlfriend, Calamity Jan used something similar to Fear Gas in their railroad heist. The Scarecrow himself never mentioned nor ever appeared in the show's entire three year run.
Scarecrow was meant to appear in the sequel to Batman & Robin, that was entitled Batman Unchained, as the main antagonist alongside Harley Quinn. Scarecrow's Fear Gas was meant to resurrect the The Joker. Any specific details about Crane, including his motives, appearance, or role in the film were unknown, but, according to Joel Schumacher, actors Nicolas Cage and Steve Buscemi were the most likely candidates for the role. Eventually Unchained was scrapped due to the almost universal negative reviews of Batman & Robin and lack of public interest in the franchise at that point.
Dark Knight Trilogy
- Main article: Scarecrow (Cillian Murphy)
Concept art for Scarecrow was done by Ed Nativid for the Suicide Squad movie. The character was dropped from the shooting script.
That NBT version of Scarecrow also appeared in Batman: Rise of Sin Tzu, a video game that was based on The New Batman Adventures in which he, at the bidding of Sin Tzu, kidnapped Commissioner Gordon and held him hostage at City Hall. Scarecrow wielded Fear Gas Bombs that caused Batman to see apparitions of The Joker, Harley Quinn, Poison Ivy, and Mr. Freeze.
Scarecrow was seen in DC Universe Online and was voiced by Christopher S. Fields, as a boss for the hero storyline. He used Fear Gas to create multiple, smaller, and weaker versions of Killer Croc .
- Main article: Scarecrow (LEGO Video Games)
- Main article: Scarecrow (Arkhamverse)
- Main article: Scarecrow (Injustice 2)