For decades Poison Ivy has been one of Batman’s greatest foils, using her abilities to grow and manipulate plant life at will to aid in her crimes throughout Gotham. But is she really living up to her full potential as a villain? Her particular power set puts Ivy in a position where she could easily – possibly even peacefully – become the head of the entire planet’s criminal underworld. To put it plainly; there’s really no reason why Poison Ivy shouldn’t have a monopoly on the world’s drug trade.
The idea of Pamela Isley dipping her toe into the world of illegal drugs isn’t entirely foreign to comics. In the three issue “Leaves of Grass” storyline from 1996’s Batman: Shadow of the Bat, Ivy was involved in a convoluted scheme involving Floronic Man (aka the Plant Master) and a genetically-altered super weed. But to look at Ivy’s powers through a realistic lens, why would there even be a need to make sure her product is genetically engineered? She could effortlessly make the strongest, most naturally potent pot strains any buyers could ever hope for without so much as batting an eye. Just by touching the earth she can make cannabis plants grow by the thousands, super weed or not.
But marijuana is only the start. Considering Ivy’s history of villainy, it’s not too far of a leap to imagine her being willing to expand her operations beyond pot to stronger, potentially more dangerous drugs. With a snap of her fingers she could make psychedelic mushrooms sprout. With just a thought she could manifest coca plants or poppies to create even harder drugs. Given her powers, there seems to be little to no reason why Ivy wouldn’t be able to easily get a stranglehold on the drug trade across the entire world. If any competitors were to arise, she could simply just wipe their crops out of existence without lifting a finger, essentially giving her a monopoly on all of the global drug trade. If any other gang or cartel on the planet would want to continue in the drug business, they’d have zero choice but to go through Ivy.
Sure, there’d no doubt be factions who would try to take out Poison Ivy and lay siege to her operations, or at the very least return some semblance of balance to the drug trade. But considering her immense powers and how many people – heroes and villains alike – have tried and failed to put her out of commission over the years, that would definitely be an uphill battle. And that proverbial hill would be covered in thorns, poisonous fauna, giant-sized Venus flytraps and whatever else she’d need to insulate herself. A smart criminal goon would quickly align themselves with Ivy, seeing as how that’s clearly the more pragmatic option.
But forget about the illegal drug trade. Say she’s tired of life outside the law and wants to settle down (most likely with Harley Quinn) and stay on the straight and narrow. There’s completely viable options for her there, too, considering that marijuana is being either legalized or decriminalized in more and more parts of the world seemingly by the day. Assuming she could get the required permits and licenses – which, admittedly, would probably be somewhat tricky for a career supervillain – Ivy could just set up a dispensary with a never-ending supply of the stickiest icky on the streets. And if she still wanted to stick to her devious ways, she could also take out that competition as well and start franchising around the world.
The latter option is honestly probably the smarter move. Poison Ivy could conceivably have a perfectly legitimate business and make unspeakable amounts of cash, all without having to worry about a billionaire dressed as a bat punching her in the face every other week. The only issue that could potentially crop up (pun intended) would be Ivy’s potential moral dilemma. Not only can she can control plants, but over the decades, she’s demonstrated a seemingly undying and unyielding love for them. So would she be ok with the idea of creating more plant life explicitly for the purpose of it being smoked, eaten or whatever else? Probably.
Sure, it might make for a difficult decision for her, but at the end of the day, Poison Ivy is still a villain and compromising morals for the sake of personal gain is kind of exactly what villains do. At the end of the day, a villain’s gonna villain. Even beyond the world of weed, Ivy could just as easily have the most epic line of farmer’s market stands in the world, providing customers with fruits and vegetables so good they’d only be possible coming from someone who can manipulate the produce on a molecular level. And that’s just the start.
The tea industry is forecasted to be worth more than $80 billion in the next few years. The coffee industry was valued at $102 billion in 2018. There’s no real reason that Ivy wouldn’t be able to easily corner any and all of these markets and keep all the profits to herself without ever even needing to rob a bank or hire a goon. Chocolate, tobacco, sugar, alcohols; the range of industries that rely on plant growth is truly remarkable and Ivy could rule with an iron fist over all of them. She could even create artificial scarcities in the market, driving prices up before swooping in with a windfall of fresh product. With a little bit of creativity, the possibilities are basically endless.
The world’s illegal drug trade was estimated in 2017 to rake in between $426 and $652 billion. That staggering amount of money could all be pouring into Ivy’s pockets while she just sits around and watches the dividends pay off. Whether through legal or illegal means, there’s literally dozens – if not hundreds – of different avenues to which Poison Ivy could apply her powers to more easily make a buck than robbing the Gotham National Bank with some lilies again.
Poison Ivy is undeniably one of Batman’s most iconic and most formidable rogues, but, frankly, it seems like she’s not truly applying herself as best as she could. With a little outside of the box thinking, there’s really not much standing in between Poison Ivy and having the world under her heel. And if she wanted to achieve that goal legally, there’s not much stopping that either.