DC’s Poison Ivy was likely inspired by ‘The Scarlet Letter’ author Nathaniel Hawthorne, according to ‘Batman: The Complete History’

DC and Batman heroes and villains draw inspiration from everywhere. DC Comics has Wonder Woman, who is inspired by the Greek gods, and Superman, who picked up his famous phrase “Up, up, and away” from the radio. And Batman villain Poison Ivy may have taken inspiration from classic literature, namely The scarlet letter author Nathaniel Hawthorne, according to Batman: The Complete Story. While Poison Ivy has branched out (no pun intended) to go on adventures with Harley Quinn and more, her origins may lie in the 19th century.

A cosplayer as Poison Ivy | Ollie Millington/Getty Images

What Nathaniel Hawthorne story was Batman villain Poison Ivy likely inspired by?

Poison Ivy has only appeared in one live-action Batman movie, played by Uma Thurman. While she fought George Clooney’s Batman, which is divisive George Clooney, she has remained a popular comic book character.

According to Batman: The Complete Story by Les Daniels, DC Comics may have based Pamela Isley, aka Poison Ivy, on the Hawthorne short story Rappaccini’s daughter.

“Poison Ivy, whose plants made it poisonous, may have been inspired by the 19th century story of Nathaniel Hawthorne Rappaccini’s daughter“, Batman: The Complete Story page 96 read.

The novella follows Giacomo Rappaccin, a researcher who cultivates poisonous plants, much like the Gotham City villain. However, his daughter Beatrice begins to deal with poisonous plants and eventually becomes immune. She develops a poisonous touch, which can prove fatal to anyone who comes into contact with her.

The similarities between Hawthorne’s story and Batman’s Poison Ivy seem strong. A stage adaptation of the short in 1936 was even titled “The Poisoned Kiss”.

However, they have even more similarities.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s story even included a possible antidote, which Poison Ivy used on Harley Quinn in DC Comics

While Arkham Asylum did a lousy job of curing patients like the Joker, Harley Quinn, or the Riddler, Poison Ivy toyed with an antidote for her own toxin.

In Hawthorne’s story, Professor Baglioni, a rival of Dr. Rappaccin, tries to create an antidote for Beatrice. However, that doesn’t work.

It does, however, draw another parallel to the DC Comics villain. Nathaniel Hawthorne and Poison Ivy’s story looked at creating something to nullify toxins.

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Poison Ivy created an antidote for her toxin, which she gave to Harley Quinn and a few others over the years. Unlike the mix in Hawthorne’s story, in DC Comics the other person must take the antidote to become immune to Poison Ivy themselves.

While some characters like Nightwing of the Teen Titans have questioned the effectiveness of Poison Ivy’s antidote, it generally works without issue.

However, Pamela Isley draws her inspiration from more than the world of literature.

BAtman villain creators Robert Kanigher and Sheldon Moldoff modeled her after model Bettie Page

While Batman villain Poison Ivy likely owes her theme to Nathaniel Hawthorne, she takes her guise from model Bettie Page.

Poison Ivy creators writer Robert Kanigher and artist Sheldon Moldoff based her appearance on the pin-up model, right down to the signature haircut and bangs.

DC even referenced this connection when they launched their DC Comics Bombshells line of action figures in 2011. They modeled Poison Ivy’s look on Bettie Page’s pin-up appearances.

While Robert Pattinson takes cape and bonnet in The Batmanfans are hoping that a new live-action Poison Ivy could return to theaters sometime soon.

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