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There is nothing to fear... but fear itself!
~ Scarecrow’s catchphrase
Boo! Aw, having trouble? Take a seat. Have a drink. You look like a man who takes himself too seriously. Do you want my opinion? You need to lighten up.
~ Scarecrow to Batman after exposing him to the fear toxin.
He is the corrupt, sadistic chief administrator at Arkham Asylum, who is secretly working with League of Shadows leader Ra's al Ghul and mob boss Carmine Falcone, who bring shipments of drugs in for Crane to use to create his Fear Toxin, which he later sells as a drug to criminals like The Chechen. He works with the League of Shadows again years later when Bane and Talia al Ghul take over Gotham City, serving as a judge in a kangaroo court for Gotham's wealthy citizens, forcing them to choose between death, exile, or "death by exile".
~ Crane, revealing his true identity to Carmine Falcone.
Dr. Jonathan Crane started off as a Gotham University professor in psychology, specializing in fear and phobias. He took advantage of his position by testing his "Fear Gas" on his students, subjecting them to terrifying hallucinations that literally frightened them out of their minds. During his "experiments", he would wear a gruesome scarecrow mask that also functioned as a gas mask.
He was finally exposed after one of his students jumped through a window to assault a Santa Clause mannequin. Wanting to protect the institution's reputation, the university fired him quietly. It was then that Crane started working at Arkham Asylum, where he subjected the patients to the same treatments.
Crane eventually went into business with crime boss Carmine Falcone, having Falcone's thugs, including Victor Zsasz, declared legally insane and moved into Arkham Asylum in lieu of prison time. In return, Falcone pays him generously and supplies him with a fear-inducing toxin supplied by Ra's al Ghul to use in his experiments.
When Batman appears in Gotham City and begins interfering with Falcone's criminal empire, Crane, as Scarecrow, doses him with Fear Toxin and sets him on fire. Fortunately, Batman is able to recover with help from scientist Lucius Fox, who creates an antidote.
Later in the film, after Falcone is captured by Batman and imprisoned in the Blackgate Penitentiary, he slits his wrists in order to get an insanity plea. When Crane is summoned to evaluate him, Falcone attempts to blackmail him into letting him in on his and Ra's al Ghul's plan to destroy Gotham City. Instead, Crane puts on his Scarecrow mask and gasses Falcone with his Fear Toxin, leaving him in a permanent state of psychosis.
When Assistant District Attorney Rachel Dawes hears about Falcone being moved to Arkham, she personally goes to Arkham to meet with Crane, believing him to be the one responsible for Falcone's condition. Rachel informs Crane that she has arranged for a doctor from County General to have their own evaluation of Falcone that same night, to be on the Judge's desk by the next day. Crane takes Rachel down to the basement level and shows her where his Fear Toxin is created. Frightened, Rachel attempts to escape, but Crane, now wearing his Scarecrow mask, catches up with her and gasses her with a concentrated dose of the toxin.
However, before he can continue experimenting on her, Batman arrives, battles Scarecrow, and gasses him with his own Fear Toxin. Terrified by visions of a monstrous bat, crane tells Batman he is working for Ra's al Ghul. Crane is then put in a straitjacket and institutionalized in Arkham.
Near the end of the film, when the League of Shadows releases Arkham's inmates, Scarecrow is freed as well. When Ra's releases the toxin into Gotham's atmosphere, Scarecrow takes part in the ensuing chaos by killing a mounted police officer and riding his horse through the terrified crowd, who hallucinate that he is a demonic, red-eyed figure riding a monstrous, fire-breathing beast. He attacks Rachel as she protects a small child, but she shoots him with a taser before he can harm them. Scarecrow screams in pain and falls out of the saddle, flailing as his horse rides off wildly into the crowd.
At the end of the film, Batman's ally Lieutenant James Gordon tells the Caped Crusader that Scarecrow is still at large, along with half of Arkham's escaped inmates.
Batman: Gotham Knight
In the animated film Batman:Gotham Knight, which takes place between the first two films. Scarecrow appears in the fourth animated short titled "In Darkness Dwells". In the short, Scarecrow leads a cult of mentally ill homeless people, who worship him as the "God of Fear". To further strike fear into Gotham's citizens, he doses Killer Croc with Fear Toxin and lets him loose in Gotham's sewers, where the mutant criminal kills dozens of people. Scarecrow later invaders a church and tries to kill its cardinal, but Batman, who has defeated Killer Croc, arrives in time to stop him. Batman helps the police apprehend Scarecrow's minions, but Scarecrow himself escapes.
The Dark Knight
Buyer beware. I said my compound would take you places. I never said they would be places you wanted to go.
~ Scarecrow in The Dark Knight.
Scarecrow briefly appears at the beginning of The Dark Knight, still at large a year after the events of the first movie. He sells his Fear Toxin to Gotham's drug dealers to sell to their unsuspecting clients, who suffer psychotic breakdowns as a result. He goes into business with crime lord The Chechen, who becomes disenchanted with him after too many of his customers suffer from side effects. He meets with Scarecrow intent on killing him, but they are interrupted by a group of gun-toting Batman impersonators. The real Batman eventually shows up, and Scarecrow attempts to escape in a van. However, Batman catches up to him and apprehends him, leaving him, the Batman impostors, and The Chechen's men tied up for the police.
The Dark Knight Rises
Death or exile?
Very well! Death... by exile.
In The Dark Knight Rises, set eight years after the previous movie, Crane once again appears as a minor antagonist, following Bane's takeover of Gotham City. (Crane is also allied through Bane with Ra's al Ghul's daughter Talia, but it is not revealed whether he knows this.) After being set free from Blackgate Penitentiary, Crane serves as a judge for mock trials against Gotham's rich and powerful citizens. He offers them the choice between death and exile, with the latter choice leading to the prisoner's death anyway when they fall through the thin ice surrounding Gotham into the freezing waters below. He makes one such ruling for Philip Stryver, a wealthy banker and Bane's former minion, who falls through the ice to his death.
He holds one such trial for his old nemesis Gordon, now Gotham's police commissioner, who defiantly chooses death. Crane replies, "Very well - death by exile!", and sends Gordon out to walk the thin ice. Fortunately, Batman and Detective John Blake are able to save him.
After Bane and Talia al Ghul are defeated and democracy and order are restored in Gotham, Crane is presumably put back in Blackgate.
Crane with Rachel Dawes.
Scarecrow vs Batman.
Dr. Crane incarcerated.
Scarecrow on horseback.
Scarecrow in The Dark Knight.
Scarecrow as The Judge.
Batman Begins (3 6) Movie CLIP - The Doctor Isn't In (2005) HD
Batman Begins - Walkthrough Part 17 - Arkham Underground Part 2 (Scarecrow Boss Fight)
In the novelization of Batman Begins by Dennis O'Neal, Scarecrow is even more evil than his movie counterpart as he's well aware of the League of Shadows' plan to drive Gotham into wiping itself out in fear-induced insanity, and looks forward to using the millions of civilians as a "test" for his gas-unlike in the film where he thinks they're just going to blackmail the city for ransom.
The book's sequel novelization of The Dark Knight also includes an additional scene where he tests his Fear Toxin on a junkie, and murders him before deciding to sell the compound as a hallucinogen.
The video game adaption of Batman Begins, like the novelization, also expands on Crane's heinousness. It is revealed that he drove many of his patients mad with his toxin to the point where they became homicidal. He keeps them chained up and uses them as "attack dogs". Once Batman tracks him down to his lair, which is up in flames, Crane tries to leave his patients to burn to death, but releases two of them to attack Batman. He also threatens to kill the brother of one of his henchmen if he fails him in his plans. Once The League of Shadows infects the Gotham river with the fear toxin, Crane plans to lower the bridge into the river to infect innocent civilians.
His fate is also changed in addition to some of his crimes, seeing as to how he falls into the Gotham river upon fighting Batman in his plans to lower the bridge. Though Batman claims he most likely survived.
It was because of this incarnation of the Scarecrow that the Scarecrow wasn't allowed to appear in the Cartoon Network television show The Batman, as the Bat-embargo didn't wish to confuse the viewers even though the design was going to not look similar at all with this Scarecrow.
Scarecrow was one of two main villains in The Dark Knight Trilogy who didn't die, the other being the Joker.
Scarecrow was the only villain that appeared in all three of Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight Trilogy. Some viewers believe that maybe he was featured in the three films as one of the trilogy's core themes is fear.
He appears also in one of the short films in the short film collection Batman: Gotham Knight, which is supposed to be canon with Christopher Nolan's films. However, given the many tonal and content-based inconsistencies with Nolan's films that are in Gotham Knight, just how canon or compatible with Nolan's films Gotham Knight is remained ambiguous.
Cillian Murphy auditioned to play Batman but Christopher Nolan instead gave him the role of Scarecrow.
Although the Scarecrow's fate was left ambiguous at the end of The Dark Knight Rises, Cillian Murphy believes that Scarecrow survived the film's events and is still out there. However, as The Dark Knight Trilogy ended with that film and is disconnected from the recent Batman films, it's highly unlikely that we will see the Nolanverse's Scarecrow ever again.