- "There's nothing to fear, but fear itself! And I'm here to help!"
- ―Scarecrow to Rachel Dawes and a boy[src]
Dr. Jonathan Crane was a psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum who conducted experiments on inmates and used an identity known as The Scarecrow. He was portrayed in the Batman Nolan Film Trilogy by Cillian Murphy.
Origin and Early Life
Jonathan Crane attended Gotham City University to study the emotional functions of humanity, and spent his studying time trying to use fossils that were too dense to comprehend its benefits. Most doubted his brilliance, but at age 21, Crane was surprisingly given his doctorate in Psychology by the university's President, Dr. Titus V. Blaney, after he submitted a thesis on the etiology of the fear reflex in primary mammals (including humans). Later hired as the Psychology Professor at the same college, Dr. Crane ensconced in the Psychology Department and developed a habit of annoying his colleagues and generally described his students as "dumber than pond scum". Those bad manners eventually enhanced Crane's mystique as he secretly began to experiment fear etiology on his students by feeding them a hallucinogenic drug that was meant to induce panic. Rumors about that illicit action started to spread on campus, later became facts when Crane formed the drug into a liquid which he called a "party potion" and presented it at a Christmas Eve Party at the school. One of the students who drank it simply tasted the full effect, and she was seen a hour later running through the glass window of a department store at Gotham's local mall and tried to wreck apart a Santa Claus Mannequin once inside. When questioning on the incident later revealed her connection to Crane, the situation got worse for him when a colleague also among the university staff quietly investigated his phobia thesis and discovered the faked activity behind it. Crane was thus called before a university staff meeting, where he explained his conclusions as valid because his insight was so much deeper than that of others and chose not to waste it doing dreary and horrible chores to constitute proof. Blaney tried to overrule the staff's decision to dismiss Crane from the college due to how much he praised him for his "achievements", but soon came to realize that he may have staked his reputation on his student too much and saw him as a "fraudulent egotistical braggart".
After he was angrily fired from the Psychology Professor post at the end of the semester, Crane told Gotham's Public Relations Office at a press release that he reluctantly left the school in order to pursue other opportunities such as research in the private sector. However, academic community members who knew the real story gleefully spread it around Gotham, and, by the time that the news had reached Arkham Asylum, the doctors there didn't get the bad news about Crane in question, who was invited to the asylum and was hired as Chief Administrator. After he was given license to experiment on the insane asylum inmates, Crane set up a Fear Aversion therapy program in which his drug was used to frighten his worst fears and those of his patients, which eventually developed his worsened mystique with a sadistic personality disorder. In addition, Crane discovered that putting on a mask furthered his experiments, and was thus inspired by his childhood fear of crows that gradually developed the "external tormentor" alter ego of "The Scarecrow" with a burlap gas mask that made himself immune to the drug. By then, some fellow psychiatrists indicated that Crane himself was insane, and that he was willing to admit such possibility by clinical standards which he wasn't ready to show were irrelevant to him than they were relevant to most humans. But as he remained Arkham's resident genius, Crane prepared himself to make a grand theory to prove that fear was the basis of all of humanity's errors and "cure" it by ushering mankind with the fear-induction within his hallucinogen into a true Garden of Eden where all of its worst fears came true and were conquered, with him as its benevolent ruler. Crane got the opportunity to do so when the rumors about him came to the attention of the mysterious eco-terrorist, Ra's al Ghul, who was inspired on how well Crane had practiced his experiments on his patients and offered him help test the drug on a cross-section of the human species: Gotham's entire population, for which Crane would be rewarded by anything beyond what money could provide. Crane agreed, only because he believed that Ra's scheme was to hold the city to ransom. While in Ra's service, Scarecrow managed to develop an even better form of his hallucinogen that caused the subject great fear of everything around them, which he dubbed "Fear Toxin", for him and the League of Shadows that used a rare blue flower that grew on the slopes of the Himalayas near the League's headquarters and tested it on the Arkham inmates as usual. Using Carmine Falcone, the head of Gotham's organized crime, to smuggle the Fear Toxin's drug ingredients into the city, Crane, in return, set up his psychiatric credentials into declaring any of Falcone's Thugs insane once they were tried in court. Crane transferred them to his secure wing at Arkham, where they enjoyed more luxurious conditions than in prison.
In League with Ra's al Ghul
- "I respect the mind's power over the body. It's why I do what I do."
- ―Dr. Crane to Rachel Dawes[src]
While testifying in court that Victor Zsasz, one of Falcone's assassins, was legally insane and should be moved to Arkham for rehabilitation, Crane was approached by the Assistant District Attorney Rachel Dawes, who commented on the high number of Falcone's associates that he had at Arkham and implied that he was corrupt in his assessments. The psychiatrist responded by telling Carl Finch, Rachel's boss, to make sure that she knew what accusations the DA Office had authorized her to make. Crane then met with Falcone to discuss the latest shipment of drugs, and explained that the packets hidden inside toy bears went to the drug dealers, and those that were hidden inside toy rabbits went to his apartment in The Narrows. Crane also explained that the less that Falcone knew, the better. When Falcone was apprehended, Crane visited him after Falcone cut his wrists, and hoped for an insanity plea. Falcone threatened Crane with his unexpected knowledge of Ra's plan and asked to be a part of it. After he knew that Ra's would never trust a criminal like Falcone, Crane donned his Scarecrow mask and doused Falcone with his Fear Toxin, which drove the mob boss insane and left him repeatedly uttering "Scarecrow". Crane attributed that to Falcone identifying the image with a Jungian Archetype.
After he anticipated that Gotham's vigilante, Batman, would find the stash of fear toxin laced into stuffed animals, Crane went to his apartment with two of his thugs with the intention of burning the evidence, but both men ended up knocked out by Batman before they could actually do anything beyond spraying gasoline all over. After he donning his mask again, Crane sprayed Batman with his fear toxin and set him on fire, though Batman narrowly escaped with his life and mind intact, and later acquired an antidote to the toxin that was developed by Lucius Fox. Three nights later, Rachel was furious, yet concerned about Crane's actions on transferring Falcone to Arkham Asylum on suicide watch, and Crane showed her that he had poured his fear-inducing drug into Gotham's water supply. Crane dosed Rachel with it, but Batman saved her by overpowering Scarecrow's Thugs and sprayed Crane with a dose of his own medicine, after he ripped off his mask, which destroyed what was left of his sanity and divulged his real superior: Ra's. But Batman found the identity of Scarecrow's employer impossible since he was trained by the League of Shadows in the Martial Arts and killed Ra's by burning his headquarters down on him when he found out his actual scheme was to destroy Gotham (though he claimed that Ra's was dead because he was oblivious that the "Ra's al Ghul" that he killed was a decoy).
Crane was subsequently arrested by Sgt. James Gordon and Detective Arnold Flass, but later escaped in the mass release of Arkham Asylum's inmates that was prompted by Ra's as part of his plot to destroy Gotham. As Ra's unleashed his pawn's fear gas on Gotham's slums, Scarecrow pursued Rachel and a boy through an alley on a horse that he had stolen from a riot policeman, which dragged the officer's corpse from its stirrups. To the boy, who was affected by the fear gas, Scarecrow appeared as a fiery eyed, deep-voiced monster who rode a fire-breathing horse who stated: "There is nothing to fear, but fear itself - and I'm here to help!" until Rachel shocked him in the face with a taser, which made Crane scream in pain as he aimlessly rode off into the night. After Batman foiled the League's scheme to spread the gas on the entire city via the monorail train, everything in the city but the Narrows started to return to normal, but Gordon informed Batman that Scarecrow and half of the Arkham patients that he freed were still at large.
Crane gathered a cult of mentally ill derelicts and drugged Killer Croc with fear toxin to make him try to kill everyone in his path. He also trained Croc to not fear bats. Batman encountered Croc and beat him, then moved on to find Scarecrow, who was about to slaughter Cardinal O'Fallon. Scarecrow attempted to injure Batman with his scythe, but failed. Batman defeated all of Scarecrow's Henchmen, but Scarecrow escaped.
Recaptured by Batman
- "Buyer beware. I told you my compound would take you places. I never said they'd be places you wanted to go."
- ―Scarecrow to the Chechen[src]
The Chechen, his thugs, Scarecrow, and Scarecrow's Thugs met in an empty parking lot to discuss the negative effects of Scarecrow's drug had on the Chechen's customers, with one in particular who was brought along as an example. The meeting was interrupted by the Batmen (impostors of Batman who wore armor and wielded firearms). Scarecrow easily held his own against the impostor Batmen, until the real Batman arrived. After he scrambled into his van, Scarecrow made a getaway while Batman dealt with the Batmen, the thugs, and The Chechen's Rottweilers. However, Scarecrow's plans went awry when Batman crashed into his vehicle mid-transit. Batman tied up a strangely happy Scarecrow, possibly due to the fact that he felt fear when Batman arrived, and left him for the GCPD with the Batmen.
- "Very well. Death... by exile!"
- ―Jonathan Crane sentencing Gordon.[src]
When Bane freed the prisoners from Blackgate Prison, Scarecrow was one of the thousands of prisoners who were freed. Once liberated, Scarecrow presided over a "kangaroo court" trial wherein the rich aristocracy of Gotham were persecuted and were given a choice between death and exile. Crane forced Phillip Stryver to go to exile, where he would have to walk across the ice-frozen river that connected Gotham to the other shore, and was away from the city. Stryver, along with presumably everybody else who tried the exile option, fell under the ice and froze to death. In addition, Bane also granted Crane full control of the courts to the extent that even Bane himself would not affect Scarecrow's ruling decision. Commissioner Gordon chose death, but Scarecrow made him have death by exile. Gordon was saved by Batman when he began to walk, however. Scarecrow was presumably apprehended by the GCPD after Bane and Talia were killed.
Weapons and Equipment
Scarecrow used a deadly kind of Fear Toxin. The toxin was a powerful psychotropic hallucinogenic, which caused disturbing images of fear in its victim's minds. When he was still a doctor, Crane used the toxin to experiment on his patients (who were nicknamed Crazies), and was brought into the League Of Shadows for use of his toxin against Gotham. The gas, in large doses, was mentally dangerous and was capable of breaking one's mind. Only Lucius Fox was capable of synthesising a cure for Crane's poison. In The Dark Knight, Scarecrow had managed to create a weapon from the gas, as seen when he used a gas dispenser that was hidden in his sleeve.
Despite the toxin's frightening effectiveness, Crane was quite defenseless once the gas was bypassed, as witnessed when Batman subdued him with little trouble.
Crane wore a mask, that was a seemingly a poorly-stitched burlap sack with a hangman's noose that dangled around the neck. The mask had a built-in re-breather and acted as a gas mask, in addition to enhancing the effect of the hallucinations in his experiments. The mask was put to good use when a victim was poisoned, which made Scarecrow's appearance all the more terrifying to the victim: Batman hallucinated bats crawling out of the "mouth", Rachel hallucinated maggots writhing in it, Falcone saw him moving about in a blur, while a boy saw both Scarecrow and his mounted police horse with fiery eyes, with the horse also breathing fire. Scarecrow wore an unbound straitjacket at the climax of Batman Begins due to his incarceration at Arkham Asylum.
Effects of fear gas
Crane's gas caused each specific victim to suffer from their individual fears based on what caused each person most horror. Notable examples included:
- Carmine Falcone
- Falcone imagined Crane to be a literal 'scarecrow' with tiny lizard tongues, the concept of which was later explained to Rachel Dawes.
- Batman/ Bruce Wayne
- Wayne hallucinated Crane to possess flaming eyes and elongated limbs. He also thought of a flock of bats.
- Rachel Dawes
- Rachel dreamed of Crane's eyes on fire.
- The general population of Gotham
- The people thought Batman to be a winged devil. Crane himself was seen as a scarecrow on a horse with red eyes, and which emitted fire.
- Crane himself
- Confronting Batman in the Arkham Asylum, Crane was himself exposed to his own medicine. He thought Batman to be a horned, winged demon with black eyes and fangs.
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight Rises
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Behind the Scenes
Cillian Murphy as Dr. Jonathan Crane/The Scarecrow: A psycho-pharmacologist who works at Arkham Asylum and has developed fear-inducing toxins. He takes on the persona of the Scarecrow to intimidate others and further his study of fears and phobias. Nolan decided against Murphy for Batman, before casting him as Scarecrow. Murphy read numerous comics featuring the Scarecrow, and discussed making the character look less theatrical with Nolan. Murphy explained, "I wanted to avoid the Worzel Gummidge look. Because he's not a very physically imposing man, he's more interested in the manipulation of the mind and what that can do."
- Scarecrow was the only antagonist who appeared in all three Nolan Films, and was one of only five characters who appeared in all three films (the others being Bruce Wayne, Commissioner Gordon, Alfred J. Pennyworth, and Lucius Fox).