In 2005, eight years after Batman & Robin brought the Batman film series to a grinding halt, the franchise came back with a vengeance thanks to Batman Begins. Among the movie’s most notable aspects was featuring the first theatrical appearance on Jonathan Crane, a.k.a. The Scarecrow, played by Peaky Blinders star Cillian Murphy. While his role as the Batman villain introduced him to moviegoers who may not have seen 28 Days Later or Cold Mountain, it also led to a running joke between him and director Christopher Nolan that continues to this day.
Because Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy provided a more grounded take on the Batman mythos, Cillian Murphy’s Jonathan Crane didn’t wear the full Scarecrow getup from the comics. Instead, his Scarecrow guise was reflected through a gas mask that looked like a burlap bag, and Murphy and Nolan can’t help but joke about having to wear a bag of some sort again for other movies they do together. When asked by THR if he was relieved not to have to wear a bag for 2017’s Dunkirk, Murphy responded:
Every time I see Chris or every time we talk about doing something, we have a laugh about whether or not I’m going to be wearing a bag over my head at some point in the story. So it is a gag that has developed. I don’t know why he insists on doing that. (Laughs.) But yeah, there was nothing on my head in Dunkirk.
It’s good to see Cillian Murphy and Christopher Nolan can still have a laugh over Scarecrow’s mask more than 15 years after Batman Begins’ release. And yes, his time wearing that particular bag came to an end a long time ago, but Nolan could certainly find away to put a more generic bag over the Murphy’s head. Luckily for the actor, that didn’t happen on Dunkirk, where he played the Shivering Soldier. In addition to that World War II tale and the Dark Knight trilogy, Murphy and Nolan also worked together on 2010’s Inception.
Funny enough, Cillian Murphy didn’t have to wear the Scarecrow mask for the entirety of his tenure as Jonathan Crane. After being driven insane by his own fear gas in Batman Begins, Crane kept the mask on for his criminal persona for the rest of that movie and The Dark Knight, but during his cameo in The Dark Knight Rises, it was nowhere to be seen. I guess when you’re presiding over a kangaroo court established by Bane in the “liberated” Gotham City, looking like a demented mannequin isn’t necessary.
Cillian Murphy originally auditioned to play Bruce Wayne/Batman, and while that role ultimately went to Christian Bale, it’s probably safe to say that Murphy being cast as Scarecrow worked out in the long run. He was the first actor to play the Caped Crusader adversary in live-action, with Charlie Tahan and David W. Thompson portraying the character the Fox series Gotham. Mad Men alum Vincent Kartheiser will appear as Crane in Titans Season 3.
Should Scarecrow be brought to the big screen, be it in Matt Reeves’ The Batman film series or the DCEU, we’ll let you know. Cillian Murphy fans can see the actor playing Emmett in A Quiet Place: Part II, which is now playing in theaters.