Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Character Spotlight: Poison Ivy

Batman lands softly on the grass, his cape billowing around him like wings. He begins investigating the area around the chalk outline for clues. The soft park lights hide the slowly encroaching vines until they wrap around his leg and begin dragging him away. 

We can guess who the killer is. 

And Batman is in trouble. 

Poison Ivy is arguably Batman's most powerful villain, with abilities that stretch far beyond having a great tailor and personnel department. She's deadly, beautiful, and is worth talking about before her debut appearance on Batwoman

The Seeds of Evil

Like all comic characters, Ivy's origin has changed depending on the writer and the time. In general, Dr. Pamila Isley was a brilliant botanist with a passion for preserving plant life from human interaction. Then either through accident, some jerk with a syringe full of science, or just because, she gained plant powers and became one of DC's most powerful metahumans. With the ability to control plants  and being herself toxic, she decided to use her newfound abilities to protect the plant life on earth, even if that means killing off all non-plant life to do it. 

Toxic Temptress

The appeal for fans in Poison Ivy is that she's the vixen of the rogue's gallery. Say what you will about Catwoman, Poison Ivy has no qualms about seducing enemies to get her way, then ditching them when she's done. Despite her sexualization, she's never shown as promiscuous, more Jessica Rabbit than Blanche Devereaux. In Batman: The Animated Series she managed to catfish Bruce Wayne with a woman made out of plants, never needing to get her hands dirty but still bilking him for cash. 

Her most famous (or infamous, depending on opinion) was her depiction in the critically panned Batman and Robin movie, where she played by Uma Thurman. Let's not go through the multiple issues this film had with characterization, but the character who came closest to hitting their character's mark. Thurman was a fun scene stealing temptress with outrageous plant-based outfits. Her final fight was extremely anti-climatic, but we'll blame that on direction and not on the actress. Undoubtedly, she's the best thing in that movie. 

The Flower and the Clown

Ivy's most important relationship is with her best friend and my favorite, Harley Quinn. Starting once again in Batman: The Animated Series (Seriously, why don't we talk about this show more on this blog?) Ivy and Harley started as partners in crime which continued into the comics. Her relationship with Joker's Favorite Henchgirl evolved in The Harley Quinn Show, where we also got the most well rounded Ivy in any media. Harley brings the anti-social villain out of her shell and becomes her only friend, and later her lover. Ivy is shown to want to pull Harley away from the Joker, and encouraged her to become an independent woman. This relationship helps enhance both characters, making the relationship one of the better written ones in comics. 

Beautiful but Deadly

Poison Ivy began life as a dangerous and seductive enemy to Batman, but has evolved into a well-rounded and fully realized character throughout the years. Ivy is a dangerous fem-fatale but instead of in the game for money or power she's trying to defend the endangered ecosystem. She seduces men to get her way, but her most significant relationship is with Harley Quinn, with intensity depending on the age the media is written for. She takes control of the situation, is deadly to her enemies and iconic to her fans. 

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