Ra's al Ghul
Ra's al Ghul is a male comic supervillain who features in DC Comics.
His very name meaning "The Demon's Head," Ra's al Ghul has walked the Earth for over six hundred years. His keen scientific mind was well ahead of his time, as he discovered a way to live forever by creating the Lazarus Pits. Through the centuries, Ra's al Ghul built his wealth and power and attracted hundreds of followers to his cause. His sole desire, to rule over a purified Earth, would involve the death of billions if he were to succeed.
Originally a physician from a nomadic tribe in north Africa that worshipped a great demon named Bisu, a prophet visited his mother as she gave birth, proclaiming that it was his destiny to be mankind's savior or destroyer. As a young man, he left his tribed and married a woman named Sora, but Runce, the son of the Salimb desired Sora as well, and despised the Physician.
Obsessed with finding a means to cheat death, the Physician used alchemy to create the first Lazarus Pit. His oppurtunity to test it soon came when Runce fell ill and came near death. The Salimb begged the Physician to save his life, and Runce was placed in the pit. Runce was healed, but in the moments of madness following his bath in the pit, Runce struck out and raped and murdered Sora. Rather than hold his son accountable, the Salimb charged the Physician with the murder of Sora and allowed Runce to pronounce sentence. Runce ordered that the Physician be buried in the desert in a cage with the corpse of Sora and be left there.
The Physician was rescued by the son of a woman whom he treated and they fled into the desert, where the Physician rejoined his tribe, under the leadership of his uncle where the two drew the Salimb and Runce into a trap and killed the both of them. The nomads then burned the city to the ground, wiping out all traces of it. But the Physician himself fell ill, and for the first time used his Lazarus Pits. He found a remaining statue of Bisu, and destroyed it, proclaiming himself mightier than Bisu. Mightier than any.
Soon enough, the Physician took the name Ra's al Ghul, and travelled the world, gaining an army of followers. At some point, he consorted with a young Jewish woman in Russia and fathered a daughter on her named Nyssa. As an adult, Nyssa followed her father in his crusade, Ra's hoping that she would one day produce an heir for him. But she abhorred his methods, and peacefully left. Ra's al Ghul gifted her with one Lazarus Pit for her own use.
In the early 20th century, Ra's and Nyssa met again, when he'd learned that she gave birth to a son. He demanded that she give him the child, but Nyssa refused. Decades later, Nyssa's town was overrun by Nazis, and she and her family marched into a concentration camp. Her children and husband were killed. It was here that Ra's visited her, and she begged him to free her, but Ra's refused. Saying she refused to join him and now she could see the evils of humanity for herself. Nyssa was experimented on and left barren, unable to produce children.
In the late 20th century Ra's al Ghul fathered another daughter when he met a lovely woman at Woodstock whom reminded him of Sora, Talia. After being aided by the Batman against Doctor Darkk, Talia fell in love with the hero. Ra's decided to test Batman, hoping to determine whether or not he would be a worthy son-in-law and heir. He captured Robin and faked the kidnapping of Talia. After a thorough investigation, he discovered the true identity of Batman, and approached him in the Batcave in order to lead him on a wild goose chase. Batman quickly figured out that it was truly a test. However, Batman turned down the proposal. Over the next few weeks, he was used by Ra's al Ghul, and continued to be tested. Finally, Batman began to see Ra's al Ghul for what he was- a dangerous megalomaniac. He vowed to bring al Ghul down.
Over the years, Ra's al Ghul has made several attempts to fulfill his goal of a pure Earth- all of them were defeated, making him further impressed with Batman. He unleashed the Clench virus on Gotham City, which killed many; he hacked into Batman's computer and stole the files on the Justice League of America in order to destroy them; and he began genetically altering humans, gaining new servants in the forms of Whisper A'Daire and Kyle Abbot. While he respects Batman, he has come to realize that he will never join him. Finally, he was betrayed by Talia, who went to run Lexcorp when Lex Luthor became the President of the United States
Then Nyssa returned, vowing vengeance upon Ra's al Ghul as he was being weakened. With Batman destroying his Lazarus Pits, a rapidly aging and ailing Ra's went to Batman and offered him a means to speak with his parents in exchange with one pit. A serum that once taken would allow its user to commute with the dead. Batman took his time to decide whether or not to use it, but finally agreed and allowed Ra's his Lazarus Pit.
Ra's used the Pit and healed himself, and awaited Nyssa (and Talia whom Nyssa managed to brainwash). Batman arrived but was subdued by the Tribe of Ubu and Ra's stabbed Talia to keep him distracted. Ra's finally revealed to Nyssa that he had long planned this, for her to be hardened and thus be an ideal successor. Finally able to see humanity's evil, he allowed Nyssa to stab him and take his name. Nyssa was the new Ra's al Ghul.
Batman himself, burned the corpse of the man who had been one of his greatest enemies.
Following the Flashpoint, a new version of reality was created with a different history of events.
He attended a gathering of immortals that were seeking to stop the coming of Barbatos. (Dark Nights: Metal v1 #2)
He was then approached by General Zod who wanted to use the Lazarus Pits as a means of resurrecting the deceased inhabitants of Kandor City who died at the hands of Rogol Zaar. However, Ra's al Ghul refused and Zod looked to find one of the Lazarus Pits in order to use it for himself. This led to the Demon's Head seeking out Kryptonite as a defence against the Kryptonian which brought him to the attention of Batman along with Superman. He led the two heroes to one of the hidden Lazarus Pits temples but were too late to stop Zod. (Batman/Superman v2 #7) The three then battled the now crazed Kandorians who attacked everyone around them including Zod. This forced the four to try and work together. However, Ra's intended to kill the miniature Kryptonians though his efforts were stymied by his 'allies' who wanted to avoid killing. The Demon's Head then made use of a red sunlight grenade to knock out the Kandorians and remove their powers with Zod placing them back into the Bottle City. Ra's then struck at Bottle City in an effort to kill the Kandorians with Zod in a murderous rage with him intending to murder the Demon's Head. Batman managed to convince General Zod to spare Ra's though the Kryptonian decided to throw the Demon's Head into the forest with the intention of seriously injuring him before departing. Ra's managed to evade capture and escaped in his craft though the incident was a humiliating defeat for him. (Batman/Superman v2 #8)
Personality and attributes
Around a century ago, he concluded with a doctor-like prognosis that for the human race to survive then millions had to die. (All-Star Batman v1 #9)
Powers and abilities
Ra's al Ghul had a personal plane and transport that was known as the Demon Wing that could fly him anywhere around the world. (Batman/Superman v2 #7)
He commanded a vast organisation that was known as the Brotherhood of the Demon. (Batman v1 #232) His personal guard were warriors known as the Death of the Desert. (Batman v3 #73) The Demon's Head also personally trained an elite cadre of warriors to protect the Lazarus Pits that were known as the League of Lazarus. (Batman/Superman v2 #7)
Among the most closely guarded secrets of Ra's al Ghul was the Nain Pit that was similar to the Lazarus Pit. It sacrificed a life in order to restore a deceased person to the world of the living. As such, it took a life for the Pit to bring someone to life. Due to its nature, it was kept under heavy guard by the most elite warriors of Ra's al Ghul. (Batman v3 #74)
- Ra's al Ghul was created by Julius Schwartz, Dennis O'Neil and Neal Adams where he made his first appearance in Batman v1 #232 (June, 1971).
- In Superman/Batman v1 #17 (2005), Ra's al Ghul appeared in an alternate version of history that was interfered with by the Legion of Super-Villains who sought to raise Batman and Superman to be their enforcers. One version of history saw Ra's al Ghul with the future supervillains aid took over the world starting with Eastern Europe before taking over Earth. He became the supreme ruler of the planet and had superheroes targeted and killed with the Justice League dying from his actions.
- In Gotham City Garage v1 (2017), Ra's al Ghul appeared in the alternate world setting where the Earth was devastated with the sole surviving city being the Garden under the control of Lex Luthor. On this version of the world, Ra's al Ghul and his followers managed to survive where they operated in the shadows. He sought an heir with him to take over from him with Black Canary and Green Arrow vying for the position of Demon's Head along with the power behind it.
- In Batman v3 #74 (2019), it was revealed that Ra's al Ghul had existed in the alternate reality of the Flashpoint. On that world, Thomas Wayne had become Batman after the death of his wife and son where he was responsible for killing Talia al Ghul. Ra's then took her body to the Nain Pit and sacrificed his life so that his daughter would be restored.
In other media
- In the DC Animated Universe, Ra's al Ghul made a number of appearances in the shared continuity setting.
- In Batman: The Animated Series, Ra's al Ghul made his first appearance in the animated television series in the episode "Off Balance" where he was voiced by actor David Warner. In "Showdown", it was stated that in the course of his 600 year old life that he sired multiple children where during the late 1800s he had an adult son by the name of Arkady Duvall. During this time, Ra's had established a base of operations in North America where he looked to end development of the region as he believed it was destroying the planet. Thus, Arkady was set to help manage his operations as they attempted to make a flying machine that would destroy the developing railroad that was the target of Ra's operations. Though at his side, Ra's al Ghul believed that his son's nature meant that he was too unstable and not worthy to inherit his empire though he still had use for him. Their plans was stopped by the intervention of a bounty hunter named Jonah Hex who had been hunting Arkady for his crimes. With his plot thwarted, Ra's escaped and left his son to be captured with Arkady spent 50 years in hard labour though the use of the Lazarus Pit in his youth meant that he could live out his sentence. The experience though broke his mind and Ra's lost track of him after his release where he wanted to bring his son back home before his long life ended.
- In Superman: The Animated Series, Ra's al Ghul appeared in a guest appearance in the animated television series in the episode "Knight Time" where he was voiced by actor David Warner.
- In Batman Beyond, Ra's al Ghul appeared in the animated television series in the episode "Out of the Past" where he was once again voiced by actor David Warner.
- In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Ra's al Ghul made an appearance as an antagonist in the animated television series where he was voiced by actor Peter Woodward.
- In Young Justice, Ra's al Ghul appeared as an antagonist in the animated television series where he was voiced by actor Oded Fehr.
- In The Batman, Ra's al Ghul appeared as an antagonist in the animated television series where he was voiced by actor Lance Reddick.
- In the Arrowverse, Ra's al Ghul made a number of appearances in the shared continuity setting.
- In Arrow, Ra's al Ghul made his first appearance in the live-action television series in the shows third season where he was portrayed by actor Matthew Nable.
- In Legends of Tomorrow, Ra's al Ghul made a guest appearance in the live-action television series where he was once again portrayed by actor Matthew Nable.
- In The Dark Knight Trilogy, Ra's al Ghul made a number of appearances in the shared continuity setting.
- In Batman Begins, Ra's al Ghul first appeared as the main antagonist in the live-action film where he was portrayed by actor Liam Neeson whilst actor Ken Watanabe played the decoy version of the character.
- In The Dark Knight Rises, Ra's al Ghul had a cameo appearance in the live-action film where he was once more portrayed by actor Liam Neeson.
- In Batman: Under the Red Hood, Ra's al Ghul briefly appeared in the animated film where he was voiced by actor Jason Isaacs.
- In Son of Batman, Ra's al Ghul appeared briefly in the animated film where he was voiced by actor Giancarlo Esposito.
- In Justice League vs. Teen Titans, Ra's al Ghul appeared in the animated film where he was voiced by actor Terrence C. Carson.
- In Batman vs. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Ra's al Ghul appeared in the animated film adaptation of the comic story where he was voiced by actor Cas Anvar.
- In Batman: Dark Tomorrow, Ra's al Ghul appeared in the 2003 video game where he was voiced by actor Don Leslie.
- In DC Universe Online, Ra's al Ghul appeared as a character in the setting of the MMORPG video game.
- In Injustice 2, Ra's al Ghul was referenced in the setting of the fighting video game.
- Batman v1: (1971)
- Detective Comics v1:
- JLA v1:
- Red Robin v1:
- Red Hood and the Outlaws v1:
- Batman Eternal v1:
- Teen Titans:
- Batman and the Outsiders:
- Batman/Superman v2: (2020)