This is the second installment in an ongoing series of articles exploring which Batman character Donald Trump resembles most. You can read the first installment here, in which I explain the impetus for this series and compare Donald Trump to Oswald “the Penguin” Cobblepot. Or if you’re interested in reading D. F. Lovett’s fiction, you can buy his books here.
Like many of Batman’s villains, The Scarecrow first appeared in the 1940s. His backstory has gone through some variations, but there are a few universal elements: his weapon is fear, he wears a Scarecrow mask, and he is a disgraced psychiatrist who worked at both Arkahm Asylum and Gotham University before his downfall into crime.
“I am fear incarnate.” – The Scarecrow in Batman: The Animated Series
Unlike most of Batman’s famous villains, Scarecrow had not been seen on film until the Christopher Nolan trilogy. Cillian Murphy portrays Jonathan “the Scarecrow” Crane in all three films, beginning with Batman Begins, in which Scarecrow works with Liam Neeson’s R’as al Ghul to poison Gotham with a weaponized hallucinogen.
One’s first instinct is to think that Trump and Scarecrow are an odd comparison. Trump is a brutish bully with cash, while Scarecrow is a delicate intellectual with a mask. But they have one thing in common: fear.
Both men use fear as their key instrument.
The Scarecrow finds out what you fear, and uses it against you. He does this is many ways. One is to plunge the city into darkness. Another is to use various fear toxins, frightening people to death or leading them to believe that their worst fears are becoming reality.
“He preys on the innocent and instills them with fear. When I chose to wear my costume, it was to prey upon the criminals and instill them with fear.
The irony is not lost on me…”
-Batman, describing the Scarecrow, in Jeph Loeb’s “Fears” (1993).
Trump’s entire campaign is based around fear. He tells people to fear immigrants. Fear refugees. Fear Mexicans. Fear Muslims. Fear ISIS. Fear “The Establishment.” Fear liberals. Fear women.
You either cede power to him because you are afraid, or he is what you fear. Both men have legions working for them, ready to rabidly attacked the next enemy. Scarecrow scares his opponents into not even engaging in a fight, just like Trump’s ability to scare away opponents from taking him on.
Fear is a tool for manipulation in the hands of Scarecrow, just as it is for Trump. Their power grows as they use fear to turn people against one another.
They target the weak.
Trump stokes the fears of ordinary Americans. Similar to the Scarecrow, he targets the poor, the uneducated, the desperate, drawing them into his ranks.
In Batman Begins, Scarecrow’s first victims are the criminal he experiments on. From there, he moves on to targeting Gotham as a whole, and Gotham City’s poorest area (the Narrows) is hit the hardest by the chaos erupting from the weaponized hallucinogens he unleashes on the city. In various comics, you can see him plunging the city into darkness, upon which his henchmen loot poor neighborhoods.
Both men bastardize famous words to advance their own plans.
The Scarecrow speaks in nursery rhymes in many comic books, turning children’s rhymes into threats . In Batman Begins, Scarecrow quotes Franklin Delano Roosevelt: “the only thing to fear is fear itself.”
Trump’s tactics are similar, quoting and misquoting to his own benefit. He tweeted a fake quote by Mahatma Gandhi. And while he doesn’t quote nursery rhymes, he does have some very bizarre speaking patterns, often sounding like a child who is bad at telling stories.
Of course, what Scarecrow and Trump seem to have most in common when it comes to quoting is that they really don’t care who said it first, as evidenced by when Trump retweeted a Mussolini quote or when he bizarrely retweeted a fabricated quote by himself.
A personal immunity to fear.
The only thing that Scarecrow fears is Batman.
Donald Trump appears to fear nothing. He stokes fear in his enemies and his followers, but relishes the idea of sitting down with Putin. Just as Scarecrow seeks fights with Batman for the rush that comes from feeling fear again, Trump seeks increasingly contentious confrontations, whether with Fox News, Glen Beck, Mitt Romney, or President Barack Obama.
Both are failed academics.
Jonathan Crane taught at Gotham University, until he accidentally shot a student while teaching about fear. Donald Trump ran the fraudulent, oft-sued and failed Trump University.
They create hallucinations and nightmares, often causing a break with reality.
Both Trump and Scarecrow succeed when they cause people to see things that are not real.
Scarecrow does this through his weapons. Trump accomplishes it through his words. He conjures up a world where only criminals cross the border of Mexico, where every woman he encounters flirts with him, where polls say what he wants them to say, where facts are whatever he wants them to be. He conjures up a false reality in which you can buy his steaks and his water and his wine, turning a press conference into a nightmarish infomercial for things that no longer exist.
How is Trump different from The Scarecrow?
While they both have fear at the center of their method, these two men do differ in some significant ways.
- Trump is more in control of his campaign than Scarecrow is in control of his. The key difference is that Scarecrow is often a pawn in someone else’s game, whether Ra’s al Ghul, Hugo Strange, the Joker, Two Face, or Bane. Trump is making more of his own decisions than we typically see Scarecrow make. Trump is in control, craving the spotlight and keeping it fixed on himself.
- At one point, Scarecrow tries to take over with a legion of hypnotized college students… which definitely sounds more like the Sanders campaign than Trump’s.
- The endgame appears different for these two men. Trump chases money and power. Scarecrow loots and kidnaps, often seeking money. But it’s hard to imagine a situation in which the Scarecrow would seek to be the first in charge.
- Scarecrow has his quiet, thoughtful moments. It appears that Trump never does.
- Dr. Crane is indeed a doctor, making him one of Batman’s more educated and intellectual enemies. Trump is not uneducated, but few would consider him intellectual.
Trump Resemblance Rating: 7 out of 10
Whether in the Nolan films or The Animated Series or any number of comic books and graphic novels, the Scarecrow’s antics involve attempting to seize power through mass hysteria and power vacuums, turning citizens against one another and fanning the fires of paranoia and fright.
Their method is fear. The question is where it will lead us. As the Scarecrow says in The Dark Knight:
Buyer beware. I told you my compound would take you places. I never said they were places you wanted to go!
The investigation continues with Which Batman Character Does Trump Most Resemble? Part 3: Harvey Two-Face Dent