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Ra's al Ghul

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Ra's al Ghul
Rasalghul
Information
Species: Human
Hair: Black
Eyes: Blue
Relatives: Talia (daughter)
Arkady Duvall (son)
Base: Wherever a Lazarus Pit can be found.
Affiliations: Society of Shadows (leader)
Rogue of: Batman, Superman, Batman II
Abilities: Excellent swordsman;
genius intellect;
longevity through Lazarus Pits
Weaponry: Sword
Voiced by: David Warner
Olivia Hussey[1]

"I am he who is called Ra's al Ghul."
"The Demon's Head. I thought you were only a legend."
"I am quite real.
"
— Ra's al Ghul and Batman[2]

Ra's al Ghul (Arabic for "The Demon's Head") was an eco-terrorist who lived for over 600 years through the use of the Lazarus Pits.

Over his long lifetime, Ra's became a master planner, an expert fighter, independently wealthy, and the leader of a powerful criminal organization, which made him one of Batman's most dangerous foes.

History

Past

At some point in his life, that man discovered the Lazarus Pits, which he used to prolong his life over and over again.[1]

Ras egypt

Ra's during an Egyptian expedition in 1898.

Known as "Ra's al Ghul", he founded the Society of Shadows to work toward his goal of reversing all the damage that modern human progress had done to the Earth and restore it to a pure world rid of technology. He also fathered at least two children: Arkady Duvall and Talia.

Using an earlier incarnation of the Society of Shadows in 1883, Ra's and Duvall created an Airship and attempted to destroy the Transcontinental Railroad, and halted the advance of the U.S. and its citizens into the then relatively untouched Western Frontier.
Ra's and Arkady Duvall in 1883

Ra's al Ghul and Arkady Duvall in 1883.

From there, Ra's and Duvall planned on using the airship to attack Washington D.C. and take over the United States. However, Ra’s and Duvall found themselves opposed by Jonah Hex who had been tailing Duvall for some time. Hex managed to put a stop to Ra's and Duvall's plans by destroying the airship and apprehended Duvall, which forced Ra’s to flee and abandoned his son.[3]

Encounters with Batman

Decades later, Ra's al Ghul's presence was first made known to Batman through a rogue splinter group of the Society of Shadows. He orchestrated a series of events to eliminate Vertigo from the picture and acquire a sonic drill, by using his daughter, Talia to carry out his will. Ra's plan was almost successful, but Batman managed to sabotage the sonic drill before it reached him. At that, Ra's was forced to admit that Batman — "The Detective", as he called him — had attained some small measure of victory, but quickly declared that it was not over.[4]

Ra's fighting batman

Ra's al Ghul sword-fighting with Batman

Later, Ra's met Batman right in the Batcave, much to the Caped Crusader's surprise. Ra's requested his help in tracking down his daughter and Dick Grayson as they had both been kidnapped on the same night. However, it didn't take Batman long to realize that Ra's himself had done Talia's and Dick's kidnapping, and the whole thing was part of a plan to make Batman his heir, and carry on his legacy.[5] When Batman refused, a disappointed Ra's chose to speed things up and accomplish his goals in his own lifetime by saturating the planet with the contents of the Lazarus Pits, and kill a high percentage of the Earth's population. Again, Batman thwarted his plot, prevented the cataclysm from happening, and knocked Ra's himself into a Pit.[6]

However, Ra's survived, and returned some months later when he and his servant, Ubu broke into the Gotham Museum and stole the Scroll of Osiris. Batman then went to Gibraltar to find Talia where he learned that the scroll was half of a map (of which Ra’s had the other half) and that map lead to the tomb of Thoth Khepera and that Ra’s was obsessed with finding it. Talia agreed to help Batman apprehend Ra’s and the two of them confronted him at one of his old sanctuaries in Cairo where he told them that Thoth Khepera was thought to had control over life and death and that he wanted that power for himself. Ra’s subsequently denounced Talia as his daughter and then attempted to kill both of them, but Batman and Talia escaped the trap that he had set for them.
Ra's enters the tomb of Thoth Khepera

Ra's al Ghul entering the tomb of Thoth Khepara

After Batman and Talia had caught up to Ra’s at the tomb of Thoth Khepera, they all discovered that Thoth Khepera was actually some form of demon who stole the life energy of those who found her. Talia and Batman managed to save both Ra’s and Ubu's lives, but Ra’s was able to escape as he accepted Talia as his daughter again, which caused Talia to immediately betray Batman. Talia, Ra’s, and Ubu also left Batman stranded in the middle of the desert, although Ubu gave him his water canteen as a way of him for saving his life.[7]

Ra’s resurfaced some months later when he abducted an unidentified man from a nursing home in Gotham City. Batman and Robin found an audio tape in the man’s room left by Ra's. They subsequently rushed to the nearest airport to intercept Ra’s, and on the way, listened to the story that had been recorded on the tape. Recorded on the tape was Ra’s narrating the events that happened in 1883 and once this story was finished, Batman and Robin arrived at the airport, where Ra’s revealed that the man he had abducted was none other than Arkady Duvall. Ra’s said that Duvall had been able to live for so long because his access to the Lazarus Pits earlier in his life, and although he was now too old for the Pit to save him, Ra’s wanted to be with his son during the last days of his life. Batman was sympathetic and willingly stepped aside, and allowed Ra’s to get away. [8]

Aged Ras

Ra's finally succumbing to age.

Ra's continued to come into conflict with Batman, and even attempted to prolong his own life by stealing Superman's powers. At the end of that ordeal, Ra's and Talia were caught in the collapsing cavern. In the aftermath, neither one could be found, dead or alive.[9]

Near-Apocalypse

One way or another, Ra's al Ghul escaped death again, and set into motion the Near-Apocalypse of '09. But in the end, Ra's was left at the brink of death and the Lazarus Pits was unable to repair the damage of his body. Ra's saved himself by transplanting his mind into his daughter, Talia's body. In Talia's body, Ra's was able to keep himself alive throughout the years with the Lazarus Pits, as well as "improve" his image with charities.

Future Exploits

"Ra's al Ghul was a man of many contrasts. Leader, environmentalist--"
"Sociopath. ...Sorry."
"I was going to say father.
"
— Ra's posing as Talia and Terry McGinnis[1]

Since after Bruce Wayne had retired by the 2040's, Ra's correctly guessed that the new Batman was his assistant, Terry McGinnis. Ra's, still posing as Talia, met the elderly Bruce on his birthday and convinced him to take on the Lazarus Pits for himself, after he staged an incident to show how infirm he had become. Bruce initially accepted and allowed himself to be immersed once. However, when he realized how unnatural the process was, Bruce tried to get out of the deal — only to discover that Ra's was not only inhabiting the body of Talia, but he wanted to take on the body of his rejuvenated nemesis.
Talia exudes satisfaction

Ra's in Talia's body

Ra's planned to return to Gotham with genetic and written proof that he was the "long lost son" of Bruce and Talia and use that to gain control of Bruce's company and holdings to fund his underground organization. At the last moment, Terry intervened, interrupted the process, and caused Ra's' lair to go up in flames. As his enemies fled, Ra's desperately tried to save his equipment and extinguish the flames. However, moments later, an exposed wire struck the surface of the Lazarus Pit, and set off an explosion. While no body was found, it could be that Ra's had perished in the blast with the last Lazarus Pit destroyed.[1]

Powers, Abilities and Weapons

"A criminal mastermind more dangerous than the Joker and Luthor put together."
— Batman[9]

Big Ras

Ra's after gaining Superman's strength.

Through years of studying and practice, Ra's al Ghul had become one of the world's greatest swordsmen, who was capable of matching Batman in battle. He was also a gifted weapons expert. Aside from this, Ra's also possessed a world-class intellect, equaling if not surpassing that of the Dark Knight himself. Ra's al Ghul was the leader of a large and extremely powerful organization of ninja called the Society of Shadows, was in possession of vast resources and finances, and due to that, had immense political influence. Due his regular dips in Lazarus Pits, Ra's had been able to live for over 6 centuries in his prime age.

Batman described Ra's al Ghul as a criminal mastermind that was as dangerous as Lex Luthor and the Joker put together.

Background Information

The man who became Ra's al Ghul was once a nomad who lived in Arabia several centuries ago. Fascinated in science, he became a physician at a city and married a woman named Sora. Ra's discovered the Lazarus Pit and used it to cure the son of the City's ruler, but the Pit drove the already sadistic man to insanity, and he killed Sora. Ra's was charged with the crime and sentenced to death in a cage with his wife's corpse and left in the desert. Helped by some nomads, Ra's called upon his tribe to massacre the city, and used the Lazarus Pit to achieve immortality. Over the years, Ra's formed an organization known as "the Demon", with himself as its "head", to punish the sins of humanity against the world. He also formed the League of Assassins, which he described as the "Demon's fang", and eliminated those who sought to oppose him.

Although he genuinely loved Talia, and viewed her as the most loyal and formidable of his progeny, Ra's al Ghul was an avowed sexist who believed women to be inferior to men, which fueled his search to find a husband for Talia that could one day succeed him. After he discovered that Talia and Bruce Wayne had a child together (Damian Wayne), Ra's then completely broke ties with her, when he attempted to use Damian's body as a new vessel for his soul. Damian took over the role of Robin, following Batman's death, and Dick Grayson assumed Batman's identity.

Batman: The Animated Series was Ra's al Ghul's first appearance in media other than the comic books. In the DCAU, his first name correctly pronounced "Raysh", unlike the 2005 movie Batman Begins that mispronounced his name "Raz", while the TV Series Arrow used both pronunciations. Notably, in Batman Beyond, Terry McGinnis was corrected by Ra's in Talia's body when Terry seemingly intentionally called Ra's "Raz".

Appearances

Batman: The Animated Series

Superman: The Animated Series

Batman Beyond

Footnotes

External links

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