Poison Ivy: 7 Great Depictions Of The DC Villain In Batman Movies And TV Shows
The most irresistible screen depictions of DC's most irresistible villain.
There is not a single member of Batman’s rogues gallery whose threatening nature should ever be taken lightly (OK, maybe Condiment King, at least). However, Poison Ivy is one DC villain who has proven to be quite a challenge for the Dark Knight time and time again - not just for her supernaturally hypnotic abilities, but her naturally seductive appeal, as well.
The question is, which depiction of the half-woman, half-plant formerly known as botanist Pamela Isley, outside of the comics, has managed to win over DC fans the most? Well, to be honest, I have no interest in awarding supremacy to any one of the following seven actresses who played Poison Ivy in Batman movies and TV shows in the past, but would like to give them each a proper moment under the sun, starting with her earliest moment on television.
Diane Pershing (Batman: The Animated Series)
On a TV show that most Batfans consider to be the definitive depiction of the Dark Knight (as voiced by Kevin Conroy), it is no surprise that it is also remembered for having one of the most definitive depictions of Poison Ivy (as voiced by Diane Pershing). In her debut appearance on a 1992 episode of Batman: The Animated Series called “Pretty Poison,” the eco-terrorist seeks revenge on Harvey Dent (before he was Two-Face) for breaking ground on a field of wildflowers to build a new prison, by making him fall ill with a toxic kiss after asking her to be his wife.
Her devious plans would only continue to blossom into much creepier territory, such as Batman and Robin discovering her seemingly reformed and newly married self was growing plant-based humanoid creatures in her garden.
Piera Coppola (The Batman)
Rino Romano’s Bruce Wayne is the one who succumbs to Poison Ivy’s hypnotic control on the mid-2000s animated TV reboot, The Batman, which leaves it up to Batgirl (voiced by Danielle Judovits) to save the day. As voiced by Piera Coppola of Warcraft video games fame, this Ivy has everything that made the BTAS depiction great, but ups the ante in terms of when she bests the Caped Crusader in combat. Unfortunately, his fists are no match for her vines and branches, which are strong enough break full-sized columns in half and throw them across a room like pieces of chalk.
Katee Sackhoff (Batman: The Long Halloween, Part Two)
An even more brutal display of man vs. plants could be seen in the second half of the 2021 adaptation of Jeph Loeb’s seminal graphic novel, Batman: The Long Halloween. After the concerningly long absence of Bruce Wayne (the great Jensen Ackles) and his alter ego, Catwoman (the late Naya Rivera) finds him hopelessly under Poison Ivy’s spell, convincing him to sign away his company to mob boss Carmine Falcone. Catwoman claws her way through the vegetation surrounding Wayne Manor, which telepathically harms Ivy and puts an end to the one-sided affair. While her time in the film was brief, Katee Sackhoff’s Poison Ivy owned one of the character's memorably nightmarish moments.
Clare Foley, Maggie Geha, And Peyton List (Gotham)
Camren Bicondova’s Selina Kyle actually became friends with Poison Ivy when she made her live-action TV debut on Fox’s Batman prequel series, Gotham, as a young, orphaned girl named Ivy Pepper, played by Clare Foley...at first, that is. Mutagenic compounds caused a growth spurt that makes her look like Maggie Geha and gives her deadly powers, such as causing poisonous plants to grow within her enemies with one scratch. She became even more demented when she was reborn once again as Peyton List, who would charm the likes of Bruce Wayne and Lucius Fox to do her bidding.
Bridget Regan (Batwoman)
On Season 3 of Batwoman, it was Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena, reprising her role from the Gotham cast in Season 1) who became charmed by Pamela Isley until her transformation into a mutant eco-terrorist tests their relationship. The Gotham City police officer had no choice but to render her girlfriend comatose with a dehydration serum developed by Bruce Wayne, but they were able rekindle their relationship after she was revived and rehabilitated.
Reinventing Poison Ivy’s story as an LGBTQ+ tragic romance was a wonderful way to differentiate Bridget Regan’s portrayal from previous interpretations, but I also give props for a costume design that is slightly similar to her look in the Batman: Arkham video games.
Lake Bell (Harley Quinn)
It was more fun, however, to see the unusually level-headed Poison Ivy’s story reinvented as an LGBTQ+ rom-com on Harley Quinn. After a season’s worth of “will they, or won’t they,” she (Lake Bell) and the titular Clown Princess of Crime (Kaley Cuoco) finally admitted to each other (and themselves) that they meant more to each other than as just BFFs at the end of Season 2. Granted, Harley and Ivy’s romance is borrowed from the comics, but done in such an endearing way on the HBO Max animated series that Season 3 cannot come quick enough so fans can see more.
Uma Thurman (Batman & Robin)
I realize that, by including this particular portrayal, I could be putting myself at risk of being met with some intense backlash, much like the backlash that Batman & Robin was met with in 1997 and continues to be haunted by to this day. However, for the same reasons I still enjoy the 1960s Batman show with Adam West, I have come to look back on director Joel Schumacher’s egregiously cartoonish film in a somewhat more appreciative light - especially for Academy Award nominee Uma Thurman’s performance as Poison Ivy, which calls to mind the iconic femme fatales of film noir classics from the 1940s.
Love this movie or hate it, I do not blame you either way, but Thurman gives 100% as Pamela Isley and deserves to be recognized for it in a more positive light.
I will say, however, that I would not be surprised if it was because of Batman & Robin that we still have yet to see Poison Ivy on the big screen again, which is a shame, because there are so many actresses with amazing potential to nail the role. Maybe there is a chance she could show up in a sequel to Matt Reeves’ The Batman or even in the DCEU. Margot Robbie has already expressed interest in exploring Harley Quinn and Ivy’s romance in live-action and there is no reason not to go for it at this point.
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Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children's story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
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