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Batman '89's Scarecrow Design Shows One Of DC's Biggest Missed Opportunities

The world of Tim Burton's "Batman" films is getting a new sequel comic book series from DC Comics, with both familiar and previously unseen iconic characters starring in a new miniseries, "Batman '89: Echoes." 

Tim Burton directed two "Batman" films, 1989's "Batman" and its 1992 sequel, "Batman Returns." The live-action movies starred Michael Keaton as Batman, who took on some of his most iconic villains, including Jack Nicholson's Joker, Danny Devito's Penguin, and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman. The two installments in the "Batman" franchise helped pave the way to put superhero films back in focus for the general public, with Burton's dark direction and blend of humor creating a version of Batman that's still being emulated today. 

However, following a middling box office return for "Batman Returns," Burton was replaced on a potential third Batman film by Joel Schumaker. But in DC's "Batman '89" comic book series, Burton's Batman world continued and brought concepts left on the cutting room floor to life. Now, readers are getting the chance to see what the villain Scarecrow would look like fighting against Keaton's Batman with a new miniseries introducing the iconic foe of the Dark Knight.

Meet Batman '89's Scarecrow

"Batman '89: Echoes," by Sam Hamm and Joe Quinones, will see the residents of Gotham City rise up against crime after the disappearance of Batman. Quinones shared a design sheet featuring Jonathan Crane's Scarecrow, revealing the classic Batman villain's look in the Tim Burton-inspired world.

Scarecrow gets a terrifying redesign, with the design page showcasing multiple looks for the villain. Crane, who appears to be based on actor Jeff Goldblum, can be seen in his normal clothes, with long gloves, a vest, and a bow tie. The images transition Crane into a mad scientist in his second look, as he's seen wearing a World War II-style gas mask, a straight jacket from Arkham Asylum, and a mechanism attached to his body allowing him to shoot fear gas from his hands in the proto-Scarecrow outfit. 

The main costume for Scarecrow makes his persona literal as he wears a canvas face stretched over his gas mask, with branches coming from his hat. Perhaps the most creepy detail comes from his mask, where Scarecrow's eyes are made of buttons. The look is capped off by a ghoulish mouth which looks like it's smiling. The redesign captures the spirit of the villain while giving him an appearance that feels like a natural part of Burton's Batman films. In fitting fashion, Crane wields a giant scythe, which, while probably impractical, is the perfect weapon for the new version of the character.

It would have been fun to see Burton's version of Scarecrow come to life in the films. But Quinones really nails what he might have looked like, as his aesthetic perfectly fits into the world the legendary director built.

What other characters Batman '89 has introduced

Tackling a continuation of Tim Burton's two Batman films was always going to be a daunting task, regardless of who tackled them. But with "Batman" and "Batman Returns" screenwriter Sam Hamm returning for the comic book series and artist Joe Quinones spearheading the project, the story ends up being a worthy companion to the films that came out more than 30 years prior.

Part of the reason why the "Batman '89" comic is so well done is it brings in elements that were intended for future films that never came to fruition after Burton wasn't brought back for a third installment in the franchise. The six-issue miniseries sees the introduction of Barbara Gordon, who works for the Gotham City Police Department and is in a relationship with Harvey Dent. Dent, who appears in "Batman" and is portrayed by Billy Dee Williams, is brought back for the comic, where he finally appears as the villain Two-Face.

Meanwhile, readers see Marlon Wayans' Robin — Wayans having been cast (and even paid) to play Batman's sidekick in "Batman Returns" but ultimately never appearing — come to life in the comic and get an all-new backstory, making the character more important than ever before. The comic allows Hamm and Quinones to give Gordon, Two-Face, and Robin all-new backstories and origins. "Batman '89: Echoes" will continue adding fan-favorite heroes and villains to the growing roster of the comic book.

More redesigns are coming in Batman '89's sequel series

Batman gets his own redesign in "Batman '89: Echoes," with Quinones sharing a new design sheet featuring Michael Keaton's Caped Crusader getting a unique ensemble, technology, and features throughout his Batsuit. One of the coolest details is the suit unfurling from his Batman emblem and a suitcase delivery system for the outfit. 

Besides Scarecrow, the comic will also see the debut of another popular face in the world of Batman, with Harley Quinn being seen in stunning cover art from Quinones, featuring her, Batman, and Jonathan Crane in his villainous persona. The look for Harley Quinn appears to be based on singer and actor Madonna, who was once rumored to be taking on the role in live action. The rumored storyline would have seen Quinn take on Batman in a world where she wasn't the Joker's punching bag and partner but instead his daughter. Check out the cover art followed by the text synopsis for the first issue below.

"The Batman '89 sequel arrives, reuniting Sam Hamm and Joe Quinones! You wanna get nuts? Let's get nuts! After Harvey Dent's crusade against Gotham and Batman, the Caped Crusader has disappeared without a trace. In his place, ordinary citizens have taken to the streets to root out crime. As innocents get hurt, the question on everyone's mind is the same: Where is Batman? Sam Hamm, screenwriter of the 1989 Batman movie, and Joe Quinones reunite for another tale in Gotham!"

Readers can see the introduction of Scarecrow and Harley Quinn to the "Batman '89" universe when the first issue of "Batman '89: Echoes" arrives at comic book stores and online retailers on November 28, 2023.