I'm sorry for being so cryptic with the title, but I would like to save those who haven't seen The Dark Knight yet from a few of the film's big reveals. That said, if you haven't watched the movie yet, I'd suggest not reading this post. Unless you don't care either way, here we go ... spoilers ahead ...

On the phone with Cinematical's Scott Weinberg last night discussing which jewelry we're bringing to Comic Con (I have the perfect, purtiest necklace for the Terminator: Salvation panel!), we got to talking about The Dark Knight. More specifically, we pondered Scarecrow's purpose in this film. Why was he there? Why bring Cillian Murphy on set for one scene with very little to do and then not come back to him for the remainder of the flick?

Now, the purpose of the scene itself was pretty clear: To re-establish Batman's war on crime and to show how the hero's popularity has spawned a number of copycat Batmans. So they bring these two drug gangs together for a secret meeting/transaction, and one of them is run by Scarecrow. And just as business is about to go down, a bunch of Batmans arrive on the scene -- all hell breaks loose -- and the real Batman eventually gets the job done.

Great. Wonderful. So why was Scarecrow there again?

Weinberg actually had a pretty good theory on the whole Scarecrow thing. He thinks Nolan wanted to show how Scarecrow had no choice but to become this lowlife drug pusher, and that establishing him as such early on in the film brings that character's story to an end. I asked Scott for a more thorough quote (because I hate speaking for someone else when that person also writes for the site), and so he gave me this:

"At first I was a bit puzzled by the role played by Scarecrow in the opening scenes of The Dark Knight. My own interpretation is a pretty simple one: That after suffering defeat at the hands of Batman (well, he actually got tazered by Rachel Dawes) the bad doctor has devolved into little more than a street-level drug dealer. The implication is made that drugs are hard to come by in Gotham, so it seems to me that poor Dr. Crane is peddling his "evil spray" to the drug-addicted sleazebags of Gotham City. Kind of a cool way to show how low a "super-villain" can fall, but I kinda wish Nolan had found a way to team the Joker up with the Scarecrow..."

What do you think? Was this why Nolan included the character? Or do you have your own theory?