2. Cillian Murphy
Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy – starting with 2005’s Batman Begins – marked the Scarecrow’s live action introduction to the screen. Portrayed by Cillian Murphy, this version is perhaps the most iconic as Murphy captures the essence of Crane as someone who is not physically imposing, but still rather ruthless and sinister. Although the majority of his screen time is in Batman Begins, Murphy’s Scarecrow is the only villain to appear in all three films of Nolan’s trilogy, which is a testament to this iconic incarnation.
While Murphy – who originally auditioned to play Bruce Wayne – doesn’t fully embrace the Scarecrow costume – as he only dons the burlap sack mask instead of the full suit – he captures the wickedness of the character who is obsessed with human reactions to fear.
Nolan and Murphy’s interpretation stays true to the source material as he is introduced as the twisted head psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum who, similar to his comic counterpart, is obsessed with fear and the manipulation of the mind. As he explains to Katie Holmes’ Rachel Dawes, “I respect the mind’s power over the body. It’s why I do what I do.” Similar to the source material, he uses his inmates at Arkham as test subjects for his fear toxin.
While Murphy’s Scarecrow ends up being a cog in a much larger plan by Ra’s Al Ghul in Batman Begins, Murphy is still able to bring a commanding presence to the role of the Scarecrow, which is perhaps why he reappears for the remainder of Nolan’s trilogy.