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Pamela Isley (Batman & Robin)

Pamela Isley (Batman & Robin)

Pamela Isley, commonly known as Poison Ivy, is a fictional character who appears in Joel Schumacher's 1997 superhero film Batman & Robin. Based on the DC Comics character of the same name, she is portrayed by American actress Uma Thurman.

Pamela Isley
Poison Ivy
Joel Schumacher's Batman character
Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy
First appearanceBatman & Robin (1997)
Last appearanceBatman & Robin (1997)
Based on
Adapted by
Portrayed byUma Thurman

Character arc

Dr. Pamela Isley is a botanist, working for Wayne Enterprises' arboreal preservation project in South America. She is experimenting with Venom to create animal-plant cross-breedings capable of fighting back and protecting the world's plants from "the thoughtless ravages of man". However, her senior colleague, Dr. Jason Woodrue (John Glover), steals some of her Venom samples in order to transform a prisoner into Bane (Robert Swenson). When Isely rejects Woodrue's advances, he tries to kill her by shoving her into shelves lined with beakers containing Venom and other animal-plant toxins, transforming her into a poisonous hybrid of human and plant. She kills Woodrue by kissing him with her now-poisonous lips, and vows to establish botanical supremacy over the world.

At a charity ball, she unexpectedly appears in order to get the Heart of Isis diamond necklace. Blowing around a wisp of pheromone dust in order to make the men in the room her willing slaves, she offers the auctioneers a night with her. Batman (George Clooney) and Robin (Chris O'Donnell), also intoxicated by the pheromone dust, begin competing for her affections, straining their partnership. Poison Ivy also uses her pheromones to make Police Commissioner James Gordon (Pat Hingle) fall in love with her in order to get the keys to police headquarters and the Bat-Signal; she then almost kills him with her toxic kiss before changing her mind because he is "too old".

She allies herself with Bane and Mr. Freeze (Arnold Schwarzenegger), and plans to freeze the Earth with a giant freezing cannon, which will destroy the human race and enable Poison Ivy's mutant plants to "overrun the globe". She ensures Freeze's cooperation by pulling the plug on his cryogenically frozen wife Nora, and convincing him that Batman did it. Ivy then lures an infatuated Robin to her garden hideout by altering the Bat-Signal it to a "Robin-Signal". She then tries to kill him with a venomous kiss; the attempt fails, however, as Robin had coated his lips with rubber. A furious Ivy throws Robin into her lily pond and entangles Batman in her vines, but they are able to free themselves when Batgirl (Alicia Silverstone) unexpectedly arrives and traps the villainess in her own floral throne.

After Batman, Robin and Batgirl foil the villains' plan, Ivy is imprisoned in Arkham Asylum with a vengeful Freeze, who now knows that she had tried to kill Nora, as her cellmate.[1]


Demi Moore, Sharon Stone, and Julia Roberts were considered for the role. Uma Thurman took the role because she liked the femme fatale characterization of Poison Ivy. Atsuko Tanaka provided Japanese dubbing for Thurman on the 2000 TV Asahi edition of Batman & Robin.

Screenwriter Akiva Goldsman drew inspiration from Neil Gaiman's revised origin story, Poison Ivy: Pavane, published in January 1989 in Secret Origins #36. In the story, Jason Woodrue turns Poison Ivy into a hybrid of human being and plant when he shoves her into a shelf filled with chemicals and plant toxins. The story also establishes that her real name is Pamela Isley; in the character's prior appearances in the comics, her real name was "Lillian Rose". Poison Ivy's disheveled appearance when imprisoned in Arkham Asylum resembles her comic counterpart's appearance[2] in Secret Origins. Thurman as Poison Ivy wears two flamboyant spandex catsuits, a nod to her appearance in the Silver Age comics.

Connections to the comics

Isley makes her public debut as Poison Ivy at a charity auction featuring Batman and Robin. Batman and Robin's comic book counterparts have also been portrayed attending these kind of social events, such as a beauty contest in "Batman’s Marriage Trap" (Batman #214, August 1969). Meanwhile, the Poison Ivy of the comics, first appeared in "Beware of -- Poison Ivy!" (Batman #181, June 1966) making her debut at a pop art fashion show. Isley's gorilla dance at the fundraiser in Batman & Robin is based on Marlene Dietrich's "Hot Voodoo" number from the 1932 film Blonde Venus.

Later on in the film, Isley disguises herself in the backseat of a car with a wig in order to maneuver in public without being recognized.; a similar scene occurred in "A Sweet Kiss of Poison" (Batman #339, September 1981). Soon afterward in the story, she is able to get close to Bruce Wayne and cast her influence over him. This particular story arc is finally resolved in "Monster, My Sweet!" (Batman #344, February 1982). As was the case with Bane in Batman & Robin, Poison Ivy has a chauffeur (here, named Ivor, who was mutated as part of Isley's experiments to try and create a plant/human hybrid) who is slavishly devoted to her, communicates in short simple sentences, and attacks Batman on command.

Batman #339 featured Poison Ivy sending vines to attack and strangle Batman; this is similar to when Batman and Robin fall into her trap in Batman & Robin. The subsequent confrontation between Poison Ivy and Batgirl in the film showcased the former's skills at hand-to-hand combat, as also shown in Batman #344. This particular issue also shows her using a vine-like a whip and snaring an opponent's ankle, which she also does in the film.


Uma Thurman's performance was largely highlighted upon the film's premiere; the Houston Chronicle remarked that "Thurman [...] sometimes seems to be doing Mae West by way of Jessica Rabbit".[3] A similar comparison was made by The New York Times: "[L]ike Mae West, she mixes true femininity with the winking womanliness of a drag queen".[4] She won a Blockbuster Entertainment Award for Best Sci-fi Actress and was also nominated for Favourite Movie Actress at the Kids' Choice Awards. Thurman was also nominated for a Razzie Award for Worst Supporting Actress, but lost to her Batman & Robin co-star Alicia Silverstone.

See also


  1. Maslin, Janet (June 20, 1997). "Batman and Robin". The New York Times.
  2. "Comic Book references in movies Part IV: 'Batman & Robin'". Gotham Alleys. August 3, 2011.
  3. Millar, Jeff (June 19, 1997). "If you like them busy, this 'Batman' is for you". Houston Chronicle. Archived from the original on March 27, 2008. Retrieved April 29, 2017.
  4. Maslin, Janet (June 13, 2005). "Holy Iceberg! Dynamic Duo Vs. Mr. Freeze". The New York Times. Retrieved April 27, 2020.
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