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|Rā's al Ghūl|
|Real name:||Rā's al Ghūl|
|First Appearance:||Batman: Arkham City (Batman #232 June 1971)|
|Created by:|| Dennis O'Neil|
|Affiliations:|| League of Assassins|
Talia al Ghūl
Master of Combat
|Portrayed by:||Dee Bradley Baker|
Known as the Head of the Demon and leader of the League of Assassins, Ra's al Ghul aspires to wipe the entire world clean of crime and pollution by eradicating most of the population. Possessing amazing stamina, martial art skills, and genius level intellect, Ra's has formed a massive secret society throughout the world that is funded by his many business empires. Fueled by the chemicals of the Lazarus Pit, a fountain of youth capable of healing any ailment and even bringing others back to life, Ra's has spent centuries in pursuit of his goals, eventually meeting his most worthy adversary, Batman.
Throughout their battles, Ra's believed the Dark Knight to be the perfect candidate for his right hand man and, eventually, his successor. Batman refused time and time again, resulting in Ra's forming brutal operations that threaten the existence of Gotham City and the world itself. Having implemented numerous pawns and pieces in place during a massive conspiracy known as Arkham City through a partnership with Hugo Strange, Ra's' plans of eradicating all that he sees as undesirable to society seem to be finally coming to fruition once and for all.
These plans ended in failure however, thanks to the continued intervention of Batman, and resulted in Arkham City's shutdown, the contamination and destruction of the villain's primary Lazarus Pit, and the deaths of The Joker, Hugo Strange, Clayface, Ra's, and even his daughter, Talia. With a massive power-vacuum left in place, the League fell into complete chaos as its forces segmented into fractions, fighting for complete control over the organization. With loyalists, dedicated to Ra's goals, attempting to resurrect him once more, and rebels seeking to prevent his return and reform the League, the secret war occurring between the fractions claimed countless of assassins' lives and threatened to tear Gotham to pieces on Halloween night nine months later.
Lazarus and Wonder City
Late in the 19th century, Ra's Al Ghul, an ancient warlord whose named meant 'Head of the Demon', appeared within Gotham City, a crime ridden location even back then, with plans to purge all criminals. Creating a residence that held various chambers to conduct his plans, Ra's eventually stumbled upon something much more intriguing; Solomon Grundy, formally known as Cyrus Gold, who was murdered and dumped in the Slaughter Swamp near the outskirts of the city. It appeared that the beast was created as a product of the strange chemicals that were in the swamp and the storm that raged the very same night Cyrus was murdered.
Ra's had Grundy captured, who was cruelly being held on display in a circus performance to showcase his ability to cheat death, and taken to his private medical chamber where he ruthlessly experimented on the monster to understand how he came back to life. Locating the chemicals that revived Grundy, Ra's discovered that the substance had amazing properties and were capable of rejuvenating a person even in death. Ra's realized that this substance was similar to others he found throughout the world, which enabled him live for centuries. However, all other sources of this incredible substance dried up after a relatively short amount of use and were not nearly as pure nor abundant as the source found in Gotham City, which had the potential to be everlasting if properly maintained.
It would seem that the electricity from the lightning from the storm that night amplified the chemicals and allowed Grundy to absorb it's abilities; Ra's would name this substance Lazarus. Realizing that the sources within Gotham were the last and true pockets of immortality left in the entire world, capable of even bringing others back from the dead, Ra's acquired massive amounts of the substance and created an elaborate mechanism that allowed the chemical to grow in abundance in a secret chamber he constructed in the city, eventually becoming known as the Lazarus Pit.
Ra's had plans to use it to not only keep himself alive for years, but to also use it as free, renewable energy for the people of Gotham. However, he feared that he would fall victim to the same fate as Grundy if precautions were not taken. As result, Ra's began to ruthlessly torture and electrify Grundy while exposing him to Lazarus every time he is killed to revive him. Studying the results every time Grundy is revived, Ra's would alter the nature of Lazarus to suit his needs and eventually made the substance pure; all that was needed was enough exposure to electricity to make the pit a fountain of youth.
Ra's next approached Gotham's City Hall and negotiated with them to obtain the deed for the city itself. While the council members found Ra's negotiations amusing and ridiculous in nature, they soon took him seriously when he showed them more gold than have ever seen in their life from his old country. He was soon awarded the deed and immediately set to work, commissioning a new project to eradicate crime in Gotham, known as Wonder City.
Importing slaves from his country, Ra's has them build this new city, brick by brick, while he developed robots from amazing technology way ahead of its time; they would be known as the Wonder City Guardians. With the city completed, Ra's powered the foundations with the Lazarus chemical, making it a seemingly safe and renewable source of energy.
However, while the residents of Wonder City celebrated Ra's as a genius and a hero, Wonder City was actually a front to cover a violent and sinister conspiracy that was serving Ra's megalomaniac desires. Behind the scenes, hundreds of criminals and even potentially innocent individuals were captured and violently murdered by the Wonder City Guardians.
In the meantime, Ra's perfected the crown jewel of his city; Wonder Tower which rose over the entire city as a monument of prosperity, but was actually part of Ra's experiment to test the Lazarus Pit. Wonder Tower was actually a mechanism that connected to the Lazarus Pit through a complex network of pipes and attracted electricity during lightning storms, amplifying the chemicals of the Lazarus Pit and allowing Ra's to recover from any physical injury. Ra's would also set up additional pits and chambers throughout the city to use as fail-safe supplies, though these pits were much smaller and not nearly as pure as the chemicals derived from the Wonder Tower source.
As Ra's continued to perfect this process, he failed to realize that long-term exposure to the pit leads to destabilizing side effects; it was driving the citizens of Wonder City insane. Violence, crime, and riots erupted onto the streets in a maddened fashion the likes of which Gotham had never seen before. Ra's refused to admit that his actions have caused the biggest crime wave in Gotham's history and did little to nothing to save his own city, completely blinded by his obsession with the Lazarus Pit. When he failed to act, the newly instituted City Hall did and ordered for the police to shut down the city, take all the residents to Arkham Asylum to be treated, and arrest Ra's.
As the troops went throughout the city, arresting all residents, Ra's vanished and abandoned his once prime utopia. Wonder City was almost completely destroyed from the raid and was shut down, with the new Gotham City being constructed over it as the years went on. Solomon Grundy in the meantime was left broken physically, emotionally, and mentally from his continuous torture and hundreds of deaths at the hands of Ra's. When troops discovered the beast in Ra's medical chamber, he viciously murdered them all and waited in the chamber for Ra's to return to murder him again. Wonder City would go on to become part of Gotham's sewer system while the Cryus Pinkney National History Museum and Monarch Theater would soon be built over the medical chamber containing Grundy and the Lazarus Pit chamber respectively.
Over a century later, Ra's, still using the Lazarus Pit beneath Gotham to cheat death, would remain intent on controlling Gotham and purging its population, though this time through political means. Having built up a massive army of skilled ninjas, known as the League of Assassins, and massive business empires, mostly under the supervision of his daughter, Talia, to fund its criminal and terroristic operations, Ra's was a true force to be reckoned with. However, the appearance of the vigilante known as the Batman in Gotham intrigued the ancient warlord as his apparent and immense skills in stealth and combat would make him a prime candidate for his organization, perhaps even his right-hand man and eventual successor, if he could be turned to their side. As the hero was already well versed within Gotham and its criminal underworld, Batman would be ideally placed to carry out the warlord's brutal methods of cleansing Gotham and, eventually, the world.
Ra's ultimate opportunity to test Batman and implement his plans to eliminate most of the population in Gotham would present itself when the biggest crime lord of the city, Black Mask, actually The Joker, a new criminal mastermind and mass murdering psychopath, in disguise, would put a $50 million hit on the Dark Knight's head and hire eight of the world's most deadly assassins. One of the assassins would be none other than Shiva, an immensely skilled operative under the command of Ra's, who was given orders by her master to accept the proposition to put Batman through a series of tests and implement operations that would be instrumental in his plans years later for the city.
These plans involved Shiva contacting political activist, Quincy Sharp, having been observed by the League of Assassins as being ideal for a pawn due to his power hungry and political ambitions of becoming Mayor, and convince him to open up Arkham Asylum, previously shut down after numerous cases of illegal activities and experimentation. Shiva assured Sharp that by reopening this institution, he can use it as a prison to contain the more dangerous criminals, and gain massive public support to nominate him and eventually elect him as Mayor, though reminding him that it would still take some time to accomplish all this and patience was required as a result. In reality, Ra's and Shiva planned for the opening of this asylum to eventually start a chain reaction of events that would culminate in the opening of an even more brutal prison that would pave the wave for the destruction of the city and its population.
To further their designs, Ra's gave Shiva control over a squadron of his trained soldiers and ordered her to use them to murder corrupt officers and criminals in order to draw Batman out in the open and into a series of tests to see just what the hero is capable of. In the end, Batman proved to be just as Ra's had hoped; skilled, honorable, and persistent. While Batman refused to take a life, no matter how corrupt, Shiva gave him a reprieve and hoped that one day the hero would learn that Gotham could not be saved, only torn down and rebuilt from the ashes.
By the end of the night, the Joker's destructive plans would lead to the brutal deaths of nearly a thousand people and the destruction of many of the city's structures. This allowed Quincy to use the chaos as incentive to start a campaign to reopen Arkham Asylum, a goal that was eventually solidified not too long afterwards as more 'super-villains' appeared in Gotham and after continuous riots and breakouts at Blackgate Penitentiary, the previous sole prison for all Gotham criminals.
With the foundations of Ra's plans now in effect, the warlord was ready to start the next phase of his operations when he was told a particularly useful piece of information by Shiva; she had fought Batman before. Having recognized the vigilante's fighting style as perfectly identical to that of a man known as Bruce Wayne while he was training abroad, when both were training under Master Kirigi in North Korea, Shiva had accurately deduced the hero's identity. Armed with this knowledge, Ra's was prepared not to ruin Bruce Wayne's life nor reveal his identity, but use it to form a more personable relationship with the hero and persuade him to accept his ideologies of cleansing the world through the eradication of most of its population.
Battles with Batman and Death
Ra's' League of Assassins eventually attacked Wayne Enterprises around the world in order to draw Batman out. Eventually, Ra's and Batman crossed paths face to face when Batman saved Ra's' daughter, Talia, from an attack by ninja assassins, but was stabbed in the process with a poison dagger. Ra's let Talia nurse him back to health and Bruce, upon recovery, learned they knew his identity.
Ra's introduced himself to Bruce, proposed they form an alliance, and explained his goal of creating a better world. As he formed a romantic relationship with Talia, Batman later discovered that Ra's had staged the attack on his daughter in order to capture the hero and persuade him to join their ranks. Worse yet, the Dark Knight learned of Ra's status as a warlord over an organization of assassins, the very same who attacked Talia, as well as his connection to past conspiracies, including the 'Wonder City' project in Gotham, and that his ultimate plans to achieve a better world involved mass murder and domination.
Bruce refused Ra's viewpoints and fought his way back to Gotham, but would continue to have multiple battles with the warlord over the years, with Ra's believing that Batman could serve as a worthy successor to his organization and help him eradicate crime by destroying most of the population. Batman saw Ra's as nothing more than another madman and ruined his plans and operations at every corner, but no matter how much damage Ra's sustained during his battles, he would always return later in prime condition.
This led Batman to believe that Ra's was actually supernatural as even the warlord claimed to be over 600 years old. In truth, Ra's returned to his old Lazarus Chamber in Wonder City, now part of the sewer network beneath Gotham, and converted it into his base of operations again and used the pit to recover from his injuries. Over the years, Ra's would use his knowledge of Batman's true identity to sympathize with him and use his tragic origin as persuasion to help him eradicate crime, the same aspect of society that took Bruce's parents. No matter how tempted he may have been to help Ra's, Batman never let his moral code down and continued to refuse Ra's, even if that meant he could never be with his beautiful daughter, Talia, whom he fell in love with.
Having put multiple operations and contingency plans in order, Ra's was eventually visited by a peculiar professor named Hugo Strange who had located Ra's with a proposition of his own. Strange told Ra's that he had the tools and abilities to destroy crime in Gotham and proved his intellect to the warlord by revealing that he had accurately deduced Batman's identity as Bruce Wayne. Ra's was highly impressed by Strange's deduction and decided to give him the chance to prove his worth as a potential successor for his army and empire.
Strange gladly agreed and collaborated with Ra's plans to construct a new prison compound known as Arkham City, an anarchic war zone where every criminal in Gotham would be thrown in for eventual extermination through a military operation known as Protocol 10. Ra's was further impressed with Strange's additional ideas and projects and agreed to fund his operations and provide him with unlimited resources to see his plan through the end. If Strange would succeed and kill Batman, Ra's would make Strange his successor, though he doubted that Strange would succeed and saw him as little more than a pawn to eliminate crime in Gotham.
Eventually however, Ra's and Batman engaged in a fight so brutal that it cost Ra's life; most likely as a result from his own operations that spiraled out of control. Batman took Ra's corpse to Arkham Asylum to ensure that Ra's would remain dead and secured by the authorities in the mental institution.
Batman: Arkham Asylum
Rā's al Ghūl's name is written on a toe tag of a corpse in Batman: Arkham Asylum, playing on the fact that he is immortal. The body lies in a vault in the old Arkham Mansion, where it mysteriously vanishes towards the end of the game. The name-tag of the dead body is seen on the floor near the open morgue door, hinting that his body was retrieved by one of his followers during the confusion of the Arkham riots.
Batman: Arkham City
After retrieving his body, Rā's followers took it to the underground Wonder City and used the Lazarus Pit to bring him back to life, though he was still severely bruised and barely clinging to life. After being exposed to the Titan Poison that is slowly killing The Joker, Batman is shown an enzyme strand by Mr. Freeze that is needed for the cure to become functional.
Batman quickly realizes that this enzyme can be found in Ra's blood and, via a tracking chip he placed on a member of the League of Assassins, sets out to find him. His search leads him to the remains of Wonder City beneath Gotham where he is reunited with Talia. Near death and knowing that he must see Ra's, agrees to undergo the Trials of the Demon and speaks to Ra's first on the spiritual realm.
After emerging from his Trial, Batman proceeds to the final test where he must kill Ra's himself and assume leadership over the League of Assassins. Ra's is overjoyed to see that Batman will finally take his place as leader of the League; nonetheless, Batman reveals that he has double-crossed Ra's and that he will not kill him. Batman and Ra's fight one another until Talia intervenes, where Ra's quickly threatens the life of his own daughter. Angry at both Talia storms off and Batman gets his blood sample from Ra's, quickly delivering it to Freeze for analysis.
Ra's, while initially fearful of continued use of the Lazarus Pit returns once Protocol 10 has been implemented in Arkham City and joins Batman and Hugo Strange in Wonder Tower in the center of Gotham. There it is revealed that Ra's was behind Arkham City all along and provided League resources to its development so that crime could be eradicated in Gotham.
With Strange having outlived his usefulness, Ra's stabs him in the back with his sword and looks out on Gotham as it burns. Strange is not dead and engages Protocol 11, which Ra's was unaware of. The Wonder Tower explodes via a self-destruct protocol, but not before Batman throws Ra's and himself through the tower's many windows and begin plummeting down to the ruined city hundreds of feet below.
Ra's and the Dark Knight continue to struggle with one another as they fall from the destroyed Wonder Tower with Batman attempting to save the warlord's life from the deadly drop. Ra's, defeated, sees his only avenue to win is plunging his sword through his own chest and into Batman. Nonetheless, Batman has anticipated this attack and is able to push away in time, resulting in Ra's killing only himself. Batman glides to safety while Ra's violently lands on the logo of Arkham City and is impaled. His body later disappears after the battle with one of his assassin's swords struck into the ground underneath the main gate.
After Batman: Arkham City
It would later be revealed within a "Gotham Story" in Batman: Arkham Knight, that Ra's body was indeed retrieved by his remaining followers, though without the Lazarus Pit, they were unable to revive him or his daughter for the time being, leaving the organization without any leadership initially and a power-vacuum in place.
However, some followers believed that their master could never die for good, and have been preparing a way to revive the warlord once again to resume the League's plans to purge most of the population throughout Gotham and the world itself. These followers left messages throughout alleys within Gotham City, warning the state that the head of the demon would eventually return.
However, many members of the organization did not agree with the operation for their own personal desires for the League and have hidden away Ra's body to prevent the villain from returning. This ultimately led to a secret war between the League's members, segmenting them into fractions, for control over the organization's power-vacuum left in the wake of Ra's death, not too dissimilar to the situation that arose within Gotham's criminal underworld after the Joker's death.
This confirms that at least one fraction within the remains of the secret organization is actively seeking to revive their master once again.
Season of Infamy: Shadow War
By the time Scarecrow and the Arkham Knight launch their plans over Gotham City, the entire League is in chaos as Ra's loyal followers have successfully retrieved his body from the rebel fraction seeking to prevent his resurrection and are now prepared to revive the ancient warlord once again on the same night. To this end, they have continued their secret war, which is eventually exposed to Batman after the Dark Knight discovers two ninjas belonging to each faction, internally named loyalists and rebels, dead and investigated the event. To this end, Batman once again comes into conflict with the remains of the League of Assassins, their current leader unknown, as they reappear within Gotham City and continue their secret war amongst their internal fractions.
Batman is able to ultimately able to follow a blood trail from an injured assassin and discovers that the remnants of the League loyal to Ra's have assumed complete control of the Elliot Memorial Hospital, murdering the remaining medical staff, and have converted it into their base of operations. Training new recruits from Gotham and setting up a makeshift shrine to Ra's within an old lazarus chamber underneath the hospital after successfully retrieving his body from the rebel forces, the loyalists previously discovered that the hospital was built over a Lazarus source and have been pumping the chemical into Ra's through a feed tube device. However, the chemicals are revealed to be heavily polluted and Ra's is barely brought back to life, unable survive without a constant supply.
As Batman navigates through a sea of mutilated corpses of both loyalists and rebels within the hospital, the remnants of bloody battles between the fractions, the hero eventually confronts Ra's and his forces. The loyalists reveal that the rebels have discovered a much more pure Lazarus pit within Gotham and have been guarding it against their forces. With Ra's cruelly using the memory of his daughter, Talia, to convince Batman to help him, the hero eventually locates the second pit and confronts the Rebel forces, also comprised of new recruits from Gotham's streets.
Batman ultimately defeats them, recovers a small sample of the Lazarus chemical, and discovers that their leader is Nyssa, Ra's other daughter, who seeks to end Ra's life and assume control of the League to reform them, leave Gotham, and pursue more noble interests. She reveals that Ra's has grown more wicked and deranged with each bath he has taken within the Lazarus pits and that he must be put out of his misery to end further years of unnecessary bloodshed and destruction. While Batman and Nyssa destroys this second and last pit, Batman is ultimately forced to choose between saving Ra's with the sample he took or finally ending his reign of terror.
If Batman saves Ra's, he will murder Nyssa after she confronts him, and escapes, re-assuming control of the League and leaves Gotham to recuperate from his injuries. If Batman destroys both the cure and Ra's Lazarus device, the loyalists will be defeated, Nyssa assumes control of the League and leaves Gotham, assuring Batman that she will keep her promise and reform the organization. Ra's is then locked up within the GCPD to live out his final moments, too weak to attempt any form of escape, while his remaining followers either disbanded or were killed by the now dominant forces of Nyssa.
On his deathbed, the villain informs the Dark Knight that he is proud of him, seemingly for finally doing what was necessary to end the war and their personal battle. Regardless of which outcome is chosen, the Shadow War within Gotham is put to an end with one fraction's victory and the League's departure from Gotham City.
As a man of vast resources, intellect and skills, Ra's utilised all of these to his agenda and to further his goals. To his followers, the League of Assassins, he is wise, enigmatic and calculating and thrusts his charisma and cause towards his forces, all of whom are fanatically loyal to him. Though Ra's has somewhat noble objectsions, he views the world in a cancerous state because of a cancer; the criminal element and the only solution to save the world is to destroy this element, no matter the sacrifice.
To achieve this, Ra's adapted the League to fit the new world and using more modern weapons, including politics. Ra's is a puppet-master of the highest order, the most grand of his manipulations and conspiracies being Arkham City in which he instilled numerous pawns, including Hugo Strange and Quincy Sharp for the sole purpose of eradicating the entire population of criminals. To achieve his goals, Ra's was stubborn, uncompromising and willing to sacrifice anything, including his daughter; he has a deep authority complex and self-righteousness that allows him to believe he is doing what is right for the world.
Ra's has a very twisted sense of honour and little morality, which extends to his own minions as he killed Hugo Strange atop of Wonder Tower, from behind for simply proving that Batman was his superior. He deems Batman a fool for his desire to make the world a better place yet his refusal to kill criminals. He is equally determined in making Batman his successor, no matter how many times he blatantly refused, Ra's still persists in forcing him to take his place until he shows a willingness to take a life, even if that is his own and is wiling to utilise, Talia al Ghul as a means of persuasion and later bargaining chip.
Each time Ra's exits the Lazarus Pit, a mythical rejuvenating agent that can revive an individual from death it warps his mind, pushing him to absolute extremism and insanity. The effects reach its tole during the Shadow War Incident, he becomes an almost zombie-like state of mind, his appearance resembling that of a corpse and becoming considerably less lucid. Though he dotes qon the League to constantly bring him back to life, Ra's has little fear of death as he constantly encourages Batman to permanently kill him, even telling the Dark Knight that he was proud of him for destroying his Lazarus machine on his deathbed.
Despite his zealotry and ruthlessness, Ra's was a caring father to his daughter as he trained her in martial arts and spoiled Talia her entire life, which caused her arrogance and overconfidence in her adult years. The Lazarus Pit affected his mind, though and turned him cold, cruel and abusive towards her to the point of holding Talia at knifepoint to force Batman to become his heir. He shows a willingness to kill his own daughter if they oppose him in any way as he neglected Nysaa her entire life and killed her in cold-blood for leading a loyalist faction against him, if the player chose to save him.
- Ra's' army mining throughout Wonder City after their return is the cause of the seismic activity that caused part of Arkham City to be submerged in water.
- In both Arkham Asylum and Arkham City, Ra's corpse vanished from its location through initially unknown circumstances, until it is confirmed much later in the series that his followers retrieved his body each time he died to undergo attempted revival techniques.
Game Over lines
- "You disappoint me, Detective."
- "It appears I chose unwisely, Detective."
- "And the hunt for my successor goes on."