He is the terror of Gotham, he is fear incarnate. He is the Scarecrow, and he’s been creeping through Batman’s world for decades with no plans of stopping any time soon. While fans of the Dark Knight might consider the Clown Prince of Crime his greatest foe, an equal argument can be made for Dr. Crane’s eerie alter-ego.
How is a mad scientist in a burlap mask one of the most insidious creatures in Arkham Asylum? Scarecrow isn’t just one of the scariest comic characters of all time, but he’s also one of the most dangerous and complex villains in Batman’s Rogues Gallery.
10 He’s Versatile
Villains like Killer Croc, Poison Ivy, and Firefly all have a typical form and frame that doesn’t change too much across multiple mediums. On the other hand, Scarecrow can be anything from silly and spooky to 100% nightmare fuel.
His personae range from a gaunt and slender psychopath to a masked maniac bent on the corruption and destruction of Gotham. Whether driven by revenge, power, or his own twisted philosophy, there’s a Scarecrow for all seasons.
9 He’s Relentless
Simply put, Scarecrow isn’t the type to go down easy; it’ll take more than guards and fortified stone walls to keep him at bay. A man who steals a horse and literally rides it out of Arkham Asylum has got to win some sort of award for his never-say-die approach.
Along with characters like the Joker, Scarecrow is no stranger to escaping from his cell. Once he gets in contact with his mask and lab equipment, it’s all downhill from there.
8 He’s One Of Gotham’s Greatest Minds
Remember, this is Dr. Johnathan Crane, former head of the psychology department at Gotham University. He’s not just some run-of-the-mill mad scientist whose favorite holiday is Halloween, but a brilliant mind who uses his intellect and innovation for evil.
Phobias and anxieties are psychological phenomena that have been studied for years, usually to aid in their alleviation. Dr. Crane, however, sought only to exploit and experiment with them. Torture in the name of science? Definitely a twisted motivation if there ever was one.
7 His Victim Count
Go big or go home, as the saying goes. Where someone like Mr. Freeze or the Penguin might seek vengeance or wreak havoc against an individual or a group of people, Scarecrow almost always targets the entire city of Gotham.
From spiking Gotham’s athletes and teams to fix their games to poisoning the city’s water supply with a heavy strain of his fear toxin, Scarecrow knows how to rack up the numbers. It definitely makes things harder for Batman when thousands of innocents stand in the crossfire.
6 No One Is Immune To His Toxin
Easily one of the character’s most daunting qualities is how potent his famous toxin can be. Everyone is afraid of something, right? Even the mildest of exposure to his fear gas can render anyone petrified. Even Batman has had a few close calls under its influence.
Taking a page from Ron Swanson, Food, Money, and Fear are three of the world’s greatest motivators, and Scarecrow recognizes the power of a screaming unorganized society. With fear comes control, and he knows how to make it affect everyone he infects with his deadly formula.
5 His Formula Only Gets Stronger
This statement is more in line with the animated series’s version, but it is true to an extent for each new interpretation. From a brief period of hallucinations to a full-on walking nightmare that sweeps the whole city, Scarecrow has only gotten better at perfecting his poison.
Like any true scientist, Scarecrow is constantly looking for ways to improve his technique and technology. In recent years, he’s gone from gas bombs to a Freddy-Krueger-inspired glove with hypodermic claws filled with his fear toxin—and he’s only gotten better with age.
4 He’s An Army Of One
Many of the members of Batman’s rogue’s gallery come with a gang of costumed goons to help carry out their chaos—but who’s on scarecrow’s team. While some Batman stories see him with a mind-controlled mass or in league with mobsters, his best plots are when he works alone.
From terrorizing the Dark Knight with visions of his dead parents to torturing the teaching staff who dismissed him from the university, Scarecrow tends to take a more personal approach with his acts of terror.
3 Chemical And Psychological Warfare
Joker has his killer clown contraptions, but Scarecrow relies on his science and studies to declare chemical and psychological warfare on Gotham and its protector. No massive army of thugs, no assault on Arkham, no massive bomb in the middle of Gotham Stadium, but poison gas is bulletproof.
Scarecrow’s tech and forms of venom can take some major planning to deal with on Batman’s part, and, as seen in Batman Begins, he’s quite effective at unleashing turmoil with his weapon of choice. It doesn’t take much to bring the city to its knees.
2 He Attacks Batman On A Psychological Level
Every member of Batman’s Rogues Gallery has to square up with the Dark Knight one-on-one eventually, and Scarecrow has put up a ferocious fight against him on more than one occasion. From the nightmares created by his animated incarnation to the mass hysteria created in Arkham Knight, he’s shown even Batman has something to fear.
Not only does this provide some nail-biting tension, but makes the great Batman more human, making for a more interesting conflict and story between them.
1 He Always Has An Effect On Batman
No matter how Batman is exposed to Scarecrow or his toxins, viewers/readers are given a look at the inside of his fractured psyche. To quote the Scarecrow himself, “what hidden terror keeps the Batman awake at night?”
Encountering Scarecrow will, at times, force Batman to deal with inner demons and pains of the past, and that’s not always easy despite his reputation. Scarecrow does what the Joker only does on distinct occasions; peel off the mask and make the bat vulnerable.
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