|“||If someone stands in the way of true justice, you simply walk up behind them and stab them in the heart.||„|
|~ Ra's to Bruce|
Ra's al Ghul, also known as Henri Ducard, is the overarching antagonist of the The Dark Knight trilogy, first appearing as the main antagonist of Batman Begins and as a posthumous antagonist in The Dark Knight Rises.
He was a terrorist mastermind who originally founded the League of Shadows with the purpose of jeopardizing Gotham City, thereby effectively destroying the city as he believes it to be beyond saving. He is also the father of Talia Al Ghul as well as the former mentor of Bruce Wayne, whose interaction with Ra's effectively led him into becoming "the Batman".
He was portrayed by Liam Neeson, who also played Norvirus Raccoon in The Nut Job, Clinch Leatherwood in A Million Ways to Die in the West, Phango in Khumba, Bad Cop in The Lego Movie franchise, High-T in Men In Black: International, and himself in Family Guy. He is also played by Josh Pence as a younger man.
Training Bruce Wayne
|“||If you make yourself more than just a man, if you devote yourself to an ideal and if they can't stop you, then you become something else entirely. A legend, Mr. Wayne, a legend.||„|
|~ Henri Ducard to Bruce Wayne.|
Assault on Gotham City
Many months later, Bruce became Batman and slowly brought hope back to Gotham. He learned that Dr. Jonathan Crane (the Scarecrow) was using his tear toxin on his patients and dumping it into the water supply. Scarecrow told Batman that he was working for Ra's al Ghul, but Batman didn't believe him as he saw the decoy get killed. Later that night, Ducard crashed Bruce's birthday party and revealed himself as the real Ra's al Ghul. He revealed that Scarecrow took the toxin from the blue flowers near his lair and was able to weaponize it and make people see their worst fears. Ra's master plan was to destroy Gotham with biological warfare and make the citizens kill each other out of fear. Ra's then went on and said that the League of Shadows have been around for centuries and were behind historical ecological disasters including: the sacking of Rome, the Bubonic Plague, and the London Fire; and they believed what they did for the sake of the environment. Ra's then knocked out Bruce and set Wayne Manor on fire.
Final Battle and Death
|“||I won't kill you, but I don't have to save you.||„|
|~ Batman, before leaving Ducard to die.|
Batman then blew open the train's door and escaped while Ra's fell to his death: the train derailed and crashed into the Wayne Tower Parking Lot and the impact of the crash caused the emitter to explode; which killed Ra's al Ghul.
|“||You yourself fought the decadence of Gotham for years, with all your strength, all your resources, all your moral authority. And the only victory you could achieve was a lie. Now you understand. Gotham is beyond saving and must be allowed to die.||„|
Thirty years before the events of Batman Begins, Henri Ducard was a mercenary who served a warlord in Northern Africa. He fell in love with the warlord's daughter and they married in secret. When the warlord learned of the marriage, he sentenced Ducard to the Pit. But unbeknownst to Ducard, the warlord's daughter offered to take his place in the pit and have Ducard exiled. The warlord agreed. The daughter was imprisoned in the pit and was also with child: his daughter, Talia. After a few years, the woman was attacked and killed by the prisoners, but Bane protected Talia after she stabbed one of his assailants. One day, Talia escaped the Pit and eventually found her father who rescued Bane and initiated them both into the League. While learning all of this, Bruce believed that Bane was the legendary child who had escaped the Pit.
In a hallucination, Ra's appeared before Bruce and said that he was immortal through another method–one that produced an heir. Bruce remembered that Ducard had told him that he had a wife once who was taken from him and realized that he was the mercenary from the legend. Bruce finally escaped from the Pit, returned to Gotham, and as Batman, led an all-out assault on Bane and his forces. Batman defeated Bane and demanded to know who had the bomb trigger, but he got stabbed by his girlfriend, Miranda Tate, who revealed herself as Talia al Ghul, the daughter of Ra's al Ghul.
Talia explained that she was the child who escaped from the Pit and Bane was the prisoner who protected her. When she found her father, he stormed the prison, rescued Bane, and gave him the mask to relieve his pain. Ra's excommunicated Bane because his very existence kept reminding him of his wife and the hell that his family had lived in. Talia could not forgive her father, but she blamed Batman for murdering him, and so she finally forgave him and vowed to follow his legacy. Her plans were foiled, both Bane and her were killed, and Batman got the bomb out of range; which finally ended Ra's al Ghul and the League of Shadows from beyond the grave.
Unlike his comic book counterpart, this Ra's al Ghul was just an ordinary man who led a cult that he said was centuries old. He claimed to be immortal to Batman through his use of dual identities, and through an heir in a later hallucination to Bruce Wayne. Ra's was a fiercely devoted and passionate member of the League of Shadows, utterly convinced that the League's purpose of checking against humanity before it overdevelops is justified. Ra's al Ghul believed in doing what was necessary to extinguish evil from the world in order to restore it to what he called balance. He did not have a single qualm about taking another human being's life if their existence stood against his beliefs; he showed no remorse whatsoever about presenting a man for execution for his crimes, without properly trying him. Ra's was a cultured, calm and sophisticated man who dressed eccentrically and spoke with a wide and intelligent vocabulary. A man with easy and sagely charisma for such an ordinary man, Ra's proved to be quite a skilled speaker and a tireless motivator of those he took under his wing, namely Bruce Wayne. As a teacher, Ra's proved to be blunt, unapologetic and completely open about his methods. When training Bruce in combat, he never conceded defeat, and drilled into the man the ideals of the League of Shadows.
As Bruce got to know Ra's al Ghul, and even after Ra's' death, he began to discover how truly dangerous the man was. In spite of his cultured persona, Ra's was a peerless fanatic of the League of Shadows, devoted to their ideals so much that he didn't even shy from endangering personal relationships. He was confident enough to blatantly admit that the League was responsible for the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents, and labelling them as merely obstacles for his people's ambitions. He showed frustration and even anger when Bruce opposed him, but was rather amused by how literally Bruce took his teachings about theatricality and deception. Ra's had a deep and cruel contempt for criminals, convinced that they deserved true justice regardless of their status as human beings; he believed them to be parasites of society, overwhelming society's understanding. Despite this, Ra's did not see his own actions and ideals as remotely criminal, but necessary. Ra's was, inwardly, an extremely bitter man and excommunicated Bane from the League of Shadows out of remorse for how he had abandoned his own wife. When speaking of his wife, Ra's turned strangely sentimental, only divulging that he was taken from him.
Ra's was an excellent soldier: he was an expert swordsman and fought classically with a Katana blade with flawless skill. He was capable of holding his own and gaining the upper hand against Batman during their final duel. Ra's was very aware of his surroundings in a fight, and used the environment to his advantage when it appeared that he would lose. He was also a superb fist-fighter, due to his advanced martial arts training. However, he was prone to the typical weakness of arrogance because of his skill, which ultimately enabled Bruce Wayne to defeat him.
|“||But I know the rage that drives you. That impossible anger strangling the grief, until the memory of your loved ones is just poison in your veins. And one day you catch yourself wishing the person you loved had never existed, so you'd be spared your pain. I wasn't always here in the mountains. Once I had a wife, my great love. She was taken from me. Like you, I was forced to learn that there are those without decency that must be fought without hesitation, without pity. Your anger gives you great power, but if you let it, it will destroy you, as it almost did me. (Bruce Wayne: What stopped it?) Vengeance||„|
|~ Ra's al Ghul explaining to Bruce about how vengeance stopped him from being destroyed.|
|“||No one can save Gotham. When a forest grows too wild, a purging fire is inevitable and natural. Tomorrow, the world will watch in horror as its greatest city destroys itself. The movement back to harmony will be unstoppable this time.||„|
|~ Ra's explaining his purpose to Bruce Wayne before setting Wayne Manor on fire.|
|“||Justice is balance. You burnt my house and left me for dead. Consider us even.||„|
|~ Ra's al Ghul after knocking Bruce out and leaving him for dead.|
|“||Gentlemen, time to spread the word. And the word is... panic||„|
|~ Ra's al Ghul when he releases Dr. Jonathan Crane's Fear Toxin.|
|“||Well, well, you took my advice about the theatricality a bit... literally. (Batman: It ends here.) For you, maybe. My battle lies with the rest of Gotham. Now, if you'll excuse me, I have a city to destroy. (Batman: I can't beat two of your pawns.) As you wish.||„|
|~ Ra's al Ghul escaping while having his henchmen fight Batman.|
|“||Have you finally learned to do what is necessary?||„|
|~ Ra's al Ghul's last words as he unsuccessfully tempts Batman to kill him before he himself is killed in a train crash.|
The Dark Knight Rises
- The revelation that Henri Ducard was Ra's al Ghul as well as the main antagonist of Batman Begins was similar to the twist of Aldrich Killian being The Mandarin in Iron Man 3. Both characters employed a double to disguise their true identities in order to avoid exposing themselves; with the difference being that Killian had hired Trevor to act out an idealized appearance of "The Mandarin" to divert the media and Tony Stark's attention away from his illegal activities, while the real Ra's al Ghul had implemented the use of a decoy to protect and disguise himself as the mentor of Bruce Wayne. Ironically, both characters were portrayed as being of Caucasian descent in their respective film versions (at least based on the ethnicity of their actors), despite both of the comic versions of the Mandarin and Ra's al Ghul being originally inspired by the "Fu Manchu" stereotype. Also, Guy Pearce, Killian's actor, was considered to portray Ra's al Ghul in Batman Begins, but the part ultimately went to Liam Neeson.
- Ra's al Ghul had a major impact on the plot of the Nolan Film Trilogy, both as Bruce Wayne's mentor and as a villain. He taught Bruce the means that he would use to fight injustice as Batman, means Ducard had intended to use him to destroy Gotham City. The emergence of Batman in Gotham then led to the emergence of the Joker. Bruce Wayne's final test as Batman was to stop Ra's' daughter, Talia and Bane from finishing his work of destroying Gotham City.
- Liam Neeson was not credited as Ra's al Ghul in the ending credits of Batman Begins. Instead, he was referred to by his pseudonym Ducard and the part of Ra's al Ghul was attributed to Ken Watanabe, who portrayed the decoy Ra's. Neeson was credited as Ra's al Ghul in The Dark Knight Rises.
- There where some confusions at the time of release of Batman Begins who the real Ra's al Ghul was - if it was Neeson's or Watanabe's character. Any confusions were cleaned up in The Dark Knight Rises when young Ra's Al Ghul was shown, as well as his daughter.
- Though Ra's al Ghul was not seen or mentioned in The Dark Knight, Bruce quoted him by saying that criminals were not complicated.
- His daughter, Talia had changed her name as Miranda Tate to avoid suspicion and to get close to Bruce.
- Neeson expressed interest in reprising his role of Ra's al Ghul in the The CW series Arrow. But he could not accept the role when he had the opportunity and Matt Nable accepted the role.
- Liam Neeson and Josh Pence also acted together in Battleship.