Why Scarecrow’s Toxin Didn’t Affect Gotham Earlier (Batman Begins Plot Hole?)


If Scarecrow’s fear toxin only works in vapor form in Batman Begins, why didn’t it affect Gotham for weeks after entering its water supply?

Scarecrow and his enforcers were contaminating Gotham City’s water supply with fear toxin for weeks in Batman Begins, leading some viewers to wonder why it didn’t affect citizens before Crane and Ra’s al Ghul’s plans were enacted. The film provides a partial explanation, stating that the toxin is only effective when inhaled, but citizens were presumably vaporizing water in normal day-to-day activities for weeks, seemingly creating a plot hole. A line of dialogue from Scarecrow in act two, however, may explain why there weren’t widespread instances of Gotham citizens being poisoned before the League of Shadows initiated their master plan.

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The Scarecrow, a.k.a. Dr. Jonathan Crane, was a corrupt psychiatrist who developed his signature fear toxin using a rare blue flower previously used by the League of Shadows. Crane intensified the flower’s panic-inducing effects and weaponized it, hiding dispensers of the toxin on his wrists. Working alongside the League of Shadows, Crane planned to unleash the toxin on Gotham, destroying the city by driving its population into a panic-induced frenzy.

Related: Why Ben Affleck’s Batman Doesn’t Use His Cape Much In The DCEU

Scarecrow’s fear toxin was harmless in liquid form, only affecting people when inhaled as a gas. With this in mind, it seems odd that Batman Begins never mentioned Gotham citizens being poisoned by ordinary activities like showering or boiling water for food and beverages. Crane himself may have explained why Gotham wasn’t overcome with panic before Ra’s al Ghul enacted his scheme. After poisoning Rachel Dawes with his wrist-mounted fear toxin dispensers, Crane states that he gave her a concentrated dose, and he presumably gave Batman the same amount of poison during their first encounter earlier. Ordinary activities like cooking and showering likely didn’t create enough of the toxin to fully poison citizens.

Ra’s al Ghul used an experimental device to vaporize Gotham’s water supply using microwaves (without affecting water in the human body). Presumably, this would create enough concentration to fully poison Gotham’s populace. Still, mundane activities might have caused mild effects, such as paranoia and increased susceptibility to panic, but the cases might not have been consistent enough for Gotham’s citizens or police force to suspect that their water supply was tainted.

Another possibility is that there were occasional instances of Gotham citizens going into a panic-induced frenzy or catatonic state due to ordinary activities poisoning them with the toxin. If a citizen were to enter a steam room, it’s quite likely that they’d receive a concentrated dose of the fear toxin. In Gotham City, however, the unfortunate reality is that ordinary citizens being overcome by panic might not be alarming, even before Crane became Scarecrow and the League of Shadows arrived.

Scarecrow and Ra’s al Ghul put a significant amount of time and meticulous planning into their scheme of destroying Gotham City with the fear toxin. They likely accounted for instances of citizens being poisoned during the weeks of water contamination, probably relying on the toxin’s lack of concentration and the city’s indifference to citizens being overcome with panic preserving the secrecy of their master plan secret. While it may seem like a plot hole, Batman Begins subtly revealed why Scarecrow’s fear toxin wouldn’t have affected all of Gotham earlier than planned.

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David Miller
(488 Articles Published)

David Miller is a staff writer for Screen Rant, indie comic writer, and life-long lover of all things Star Wars, Marvel, and DC. He was born and raised in New York and has a degree in English from Rider University. He relates to Peter Parker maybe a little too much.

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