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|“||Gentlemen, time to spread the word. And the word is...panic.||„|
|~ Ra's al Ghul to his men, just before they released Scarecrow's Fear Toxin on Gotham City.|
|“||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 to Bruce Wayne/Batman.|
|“||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, before setting Wayne Manor on fire.|
Ra's al Ghul, also known as Henri Ducard, is the true main antagonist of the 2005 live action film, Batman Begins, and a posthumous antagonist of the 2012 live action film, The Dark Knight Rises. He was the previous leader of the League of Shadows who was also the father of Talia Al Ghul and the former mentor of Bruce Wayne, who became the caped crusader following their interaction.
He was portrayed by Liam Neeson (who also played Bryan Miller in the Taken movies, Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, Admiral Terrance Shane in Battleship and Good Cop/ Bad Cop in the Lego Movie) and by Josh Pence.
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.|
Ra's al Ghul first met Bruce Wayne in a Bhutanese Prison under the name of Henri Ducard who offered Bruce a chance to become a member of the League of Shadows. Bruce agreed and Ra's told him to find a rare blue flower outside the prison and bring it to his lair on top of a mountain. Bruce did, found the lair, and met the imposter Ra's al Ghul. Bruce told Ducard everything: his parent's death, his fear of bats, and the events prior to his imprisonment. Ducard taught him to fight with a sword, hand-to-hand combat, etc. Bruce succeeded in Ra's tests and was sworn into the League. Bruce's final test was to execute a murderer, but he refused and Ducard and the decoy Ra's revealed that they planned to attack Gotham City and destroy it. Bruce then set the lair on fire, killed the decoy Ra's, and brought Ducard to a village to have him recuperate.
Assault on Gotham City
|“||If someone stands in the way of true justice, you simply walk behind them and stab them in the heart.||„|
|~ Ducard to Bruce Wayne|
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. Ducard's master plan was to destroy Gotham with biological warfare and make the citizens kill each other out of fear. Ducard 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. Ducard 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.|
Ducard then went to the Narrows and freed all of the inmates from Arkham Asylum. He then took the microwave emitter that he stole from Wayne Enterprises and released the Fear Toxin throughout the Narrows. Batman then arrives whom Ducard admired for using the League's tactic of theatricality and deception. Ducard unleashed a few of his soldiers on Batman to occupy him while he put the emitter on the monorail and set course for Wayne Tower where the emitter would cause a chain reaction and cover the whole city in the poison. Batman gives Lieutenant Gordon the Batmobile while he got on the monorail and took on Ducard. Ducard got an advantage as Bruce fought the same way, but Batman got the upper hand. The fight was a ruse, Gordon destroyed the monorail track, and Batman destroyed the brake switch to prevent the train from stopping. Batman then prepared to strike Ducard down who welcomed it, but Batman decided that Ducard was too dangerous to be kept alive, so he left him for dead and remarked: "I won't kill you, but I don't have to save you".
Batman then dismantled the train and escaped while Ducard 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.||„|
Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, a new enemy attacked Gotham: Bane. Bruce was told that Bane was once a member of the League of Shadows, but he was excommunicated by Ra's al Ghul. Bruce decided to come out of hiding and confront Bane as Batman. Batman asserted that Bane had nothing to do with the League, but Bane retorted that he was the League and that he was there to fulfill Ra's al Ghul's mission. Bane proved too much for Batman and he broke his back, stole his entire weaponry arsenal, and brought him to Bane's former home: The Pit. There, Bruce learned of Ra's al Ghul's past family drama.
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. Ducard 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 al Ghul believed in doing what was necessary to extinguish evil from the world in order to restore it to what he called balance. Ra's was a sophisticated man who dressed eccentrically and spoke with a wide and intelligent vocabulary. 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. Ra's was a very calm and relaxed individual, especially when he discussed a man's death, or the deaths of millions.
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Similar to the Joker and Bane, the main antagonists of the trilogy's following installments, Ra's al Ghul's real name was never revealed, although it was possible that Henri Ducard was his birth name and not an alias.
- Neeson expressed interest in reprising his role of al Ghul in the The CW series Arrow. But he can't accept the role when he had the opportunity and Matt Nable accepted the role.
- Liam Neeson and Josh Pence also acted together in Battleship.