The CW network is far exceeding the industry’s wildest expectations with their suite of superhero shows. Beginning with the debut of Arrow in 2012, the “Arrowverse,” as it is called, has grown to include sister shows The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, Supergirl, and the animated webseries Vixen, as well the posthumous inclusion of NBC’s Constantine.
The League of Assassins has been a major player in the events of Arrow, with Ra’s al Ghul being the main villain of season 3. While Nyssa has had many guest spots on the show, the more famous daughter, Talia al Ghul, has yet to make an appearance… Until now. Actress Lexa Doig has been cast as the Daughter of the Demon in season 5 of Arrow, and is set to make her debut in episode 10, entitled “Who Are You?” Still, some viewers may be asking, “Who is Talia?”, and that’s where Screen Rant comes in. Here’s 15 Things You Need To Know About Talia Al Ghul.
15. She Has No Superpowers, Only Intense Training
Talia al Ghul is a key member of the League of Assassins, a particular tier of DC characters; she can’t fly, change the course of mighty rivers, or bend steel in her bare hands. Rather, she has more in common with characters like Batman and Green Arrow, in that her power comes from discipline and years of practice. Her body has been honed to perfection, and her cat-like speed and reflexes are the end result of the intense training regimen of the shadowy clan of warriors from which she hails.
The League trains their members to be remorseless and efficient killers, and none are more skilled or ruthless than Talia, who is the obvious successor to the League’s infallible master, Ra’s al Ghul. Other DC characters who have received the same extreme training include Batman himself, Deathstroke, and Merlyn, as well as lesser known folks like Empress Wu, Lady Shiva, and Mad Dog.
14. She’s The Daughter of the Demon
The leader of the League of Assassins is Ra’s al Ghul, “The Demon’s Head” and father to Talia. Despite their familial relationship, Talia’s training was just as extreme as the other members of the ninja clan, and she was given no mercy or preferential treatment because of her heritage.
The League’s mission is to ensure the moral standing of the world at large by putting an end to wayward civilizations so that better cultures can be built from the wreckage. The League’s legend is so great that they are said to be the secret catalyst behind the fall of every major civilization for the last thousand years. Of course, they eventually set their sights on Gotham City. Despite the intervention of masked vigilantes like Batman and Robin, Gotham remains a hotbed of decadence and depravity. According to the laws of the League, it is a scourge on humanity which must be cleansed. Naturally, Batman objects. Ra’s and the League are equally infuriated and fascinated by the Bat, and will do anything to get him to come over to their way of thinking…or remove him from the equation entirely.
13. Her Sister, Nyssa
In the comics, Talia was the only daughter whom Ra’s considered to be worthy of a place in the league. However, in the 2003 story, Batman: Death and the Maidens, a second daughter was revealed: Nyssa. After being abandoned by her father, she and her whole family are captured by the Nazis. She’s the last person standing in the end, but she’s left traumatized by brutal Nazi science experiments and returns years later, with a vengeance…
Of course, the relationship between Ra’s, Talia, and Nyssa varies wildly depending on the medium, and, in the comics, depending on the author. In the Arrowverse, Talia’s relationship with her sister is something of a question mark, since Nyssa essentially fills the role generally held by Talia, though her romantic interests lay not with Batman (or his surrogate in this universe, Green Arrow), but with Sara Lance, the erstwhile Black Canary. Talia hasn’t appeared on the show yet, nor had she ever even been mentioned before, though she did have an interesting cameo in an episode of Legends of Tomorrow (more on that in a bit). There must be some secret within the al Ghul family which Talia’s resurgence will expose.
12. She’s Batman’s Baby Mama
Talia al Ghul may not be one of the most immediately recognizable faces in Batman’s rogues gallery. As a villain, her father, the Demon’s Head, is more prominent, and as a love interest, Catwoman is the most popular. Still, even the most casual of Bat-fanatics know that she is the mother of Bruce Wayne’s child, Damian Wayne.
Talia’s relationship with Batman is complicated, to say the least. Depending on the circumstance, she is either his one true romantic love and steadfast ally in crime-fighting, or she is his bitter enemy. Their ideological differences stemming from her willingness to murder her enemies means that they will never truly be together forever, but the heart wants what it wants, as they say. That being said, in Grant Morrison’s 2006 Batman and Son storyline, it is revealed that Talia’s idea of romance means drugging Batman and date-raping him in order to conceive a child.
11. Damian’s True Purpose
In the original story, 1987’s Batman: Son of the Demon, Batman and Talia have consensual sex which leads to the birth of a son. In Grant Morrison’s aforementioned take on the courtship of Batman and Talia al Ghul, her motivations were changed to be much more sinister, going so far as to literally rape Batman, which was seen by the fandom as “seriously uncool.”
Talia then has the fetus removed and grown in an artificial womb, and even subjected to genetic experiments to hone its innate combat ability. The resulting child, Damian Wayne, is trained in the ways of the League of Assassins, like his mother before him. Years later, when the boy is a petulant tween, his mother basically drops him in his father’s lap in an effort to distract the Caped Crusader while she and the League enact one of their world-altering schemes. Damian proves to be a troubling ward for Batman and his allies, but eventually succeeds Tim Drake as the next Robin… Before being killed by a full-grown clone of himself created by Talia. Don’t worry, though. It’s a comic book, so of course Batman finds a way to bring the Boy Wonder back to life.
10. She Helped Create The Red Hood
Speaking of Robin, Talia al Ghul played a key role in the development of another of Batman’s child soldiers, Jason Todd, the second Robin. In the aftermath of his death at the hands of The Joker, Jason Todd is subsequently revived when Superboy Prime punches through the walls of space and time and essentially rejiggers the very fabric of reality.
It’s a bit esoteric, even for a wild comic book story, but the end result is that Jason is alive, but amnesiac. Talia discovers Jason and takes him in. In a show of empathy towards her beloved Bruce, she steals him away to the League’s headquarters. Against her father’s wishes, she restores his essence through use of the forbidden Lazarus Pit and sends him back to Gotham, where he takes up the mantle of Red Hood, a costumed vigilante who kills his targets with deadly efficiency. This, naturally, puts him in direct opposition with Batman and his self-righteously staunch refusal to take the lives of criminals.
9. She Helped Take Down LexCorp
As mentioned before, Talia’s allegiances change all the time, from a brutal supervillain, to a woman who displayed moments of outright altruism. Arguably, her finest hour came after Lex Luthor became President of the United States of America, a seriously dark time for the nation. Despite Luthor’s hatred of illegal aliens like Superman, it’s a testament to the Justice League’s respect for democracy that they didn’t fight to prevent Luthor from taking office, and they didn’t righteously depose him until he tried to frame Superman for an attempt to destroy the Earth with an asteroid.
At this point in her life, Talia was through with the League of Assassins and her father’s world-altering schemes, and so she, using the (admittedly silly) alias Talia Head, becomes “head” of LexCorp in Luthor’s stead. Unbeknownst to the villainous Lex, Talia is secretly working with Superman to undermine the corporation and Lex’s sinister ambitions. By the time she leaves the company, she sets in motion a series of events which leads to the final liquidation of LexCorp, at which point most of its assets are purchased by, you guessed it, Wayne Enterprises.
8. The Secret Society Of Supervillains
Just a year after Talia’s triumphant victory over Lex Luthor, she found herself in league with him as a fellow member of the Secret Society of Super Villains, a revival of the name of a classic cabal of villains, but larger and more ambitious than ever before. Okay, technically, it wasn’t Lex himself, but actually Alexander Luthor Jr. in disguise, but the sentiment remains: Talia al Ghul’s allegiances can change on a practically daily basis, and, for a trained assassin, she’s surprisingly quick to forgive and forget.
Along with fellow heavy hitters The Calculator, Black Adam, Dr. Psycho, and Deathstroke, Talia and Lex led The Society’s 500-plus members in an effort to restore the multiverse which had been destroyed during the popular 1985 storyline, Crisis on Infinite Earths. After Luthor’s plan inevitably fails (though not without numerous casualties on both sides), Talia returns to the League of Assassins, which she had abandoned just a couple of years earlier.
7. Talia’s Ethnicity and Origins
Ra’s al Ghul is an interesting fellow. In the early 1970s, when the character was first introduced, Ra’s was closer to a misguided eco-terrorist than the genocidal maniac we know and fear today. Perhaps in an effort to harken back to that era, the story of Talia’s mother centers around the legendary Woodstock music festival of 1969.
It’s hard to imagine The Demon’s Head smoking pot, dropping acid, and grooving to The Band and Joan Baez, but it apparently happened, and a flower-clad hippie woman stole his heart, at least for a little while. According to the 1990s story, Birth of the Demon, Ra’s met a part-Chinese, part-Arab woman at Woodstock. She reminded him of his late wife, and a romance was ignited, leading to the birth of Talia. However, due to irresponsible drug use, the woman died of an overdose, and Ra’s ultimately found her to be “unworthy” of revival in the Lazarus Pit.
While this origin may or may not apply to the numerous incarnations of the character over different mediums, Talia has never been played, in live action or otherwise, by any woman of either Arabic or Chinese descent. In comics, both Talia and Ra’s have wildly varying skin tones and ethnic features, depending on the illustrator.
6. DC Animated Films
In addition to live-action efforts and animated television series, Batman and his rogues gallery have a series of direct-to-video animated movies, many of which are adaptations of notable comic runs. Talia al Ghul’s first appearance in one of these movies was in 2010’s emotionally powerful Batman: Under the Red Hood, although her role is drastically reduced from the original story. In the comic, she brings a living, but disoriented, Jason Todd to the League’s headquarters, and dips him in the Lazarus Pit against her father’s wishes. In the movie, Jason Todd is never revived by Superboy Prime’s “retcon punch,” and instead, his dead body is stolen by Ra’s al Ghul, who seeks to atone to Batman for getting his young apprentice killed. Talia doesn’t even have any lines in the film!
It’s not until her next appearance, in 2014’s Son of Batman (based on the Grant Morrison story), that Talia finally gets a speaking role. Played by Morena Baccarin, Talia is considerably less evil in this adaptation, with Deathstroke serving as the main villain in her stead. In general, Son of Batman is decidedly more of an “in name only” adaptation of the original comic, a decision which pleased many Talia fans who were dismayed by her characterization in the comic. Finally, Baccarin reprised her role in this year’s Batman: Bad Blood, loosely based on the Battle For the Cowl story.
5. Batman: The Animated Series and Beyond
Largely considered to be one of the best versions of the Caped Crusader, as well as one of the greatest animated series of all time, Batman: The Animated Series featured Talia al Ghul, and her father, as recurring characters. In her first appearance, “Off Balance,” she was played by former Supergirl actress, Helen Slater. For her subsequent appearances in the show, as well as the animated series based on Superman, Talia was voiced by Olivia Hussey, an actress most famous for her starring role in Franco Zeffirelli’s 1968 version of Romeo and Juliet.
Talia made a final, tragic appearance in the futuristic Batman Beyond, which provided epilogue stories for many of the rogues of The Animated Series. In season 3, episode 4, “Out of the Past,” Talia inexplicably returns looking as young as ever, and attempts to get the elderly Bruce Wayne to use the Lazarus Pit to restore his youth so they can be together. However, it is revealed that “Talia” is just a physical shell, and that the woman who Bruce loved is gone, her essence destroyed and replaced with that of her father, Ra’s al Ghul, who seeks to hijack Bruce’s reinvigorated body in the same way. Ra’s is so evil, he kills his own daughter just to prolong his own existence.
4. Arkham City
Ra’s and Talia turned up in Batman: Arkham Ciy, where it was revealed that Hugo Strange and his diabolical plans were all just part of a much larger scheme being enacted by the League of Assassins. This version of the character is played by Stana Katic (ABC’s Castle) and mentions sharing a special night with Bruce Wayne in Metropolis. Unfortunately, she is murdered by The Joker with her own sword after attempting to kill his decoy, Clayface, who had been secretly disguised as the clown for nearly the whole game.
There’s a brief-but-heartbreaking scene in the final game of the trilogy, Arkham Knight, in which Batman mourns his fallen love. In the Gotham City Police Department building’s evidence lockup, Batman can come across Talia’s sword, which had been used against her by The Joker in the previous game. He leans against the display case and sorrowfully muses, “Talia… I’m sorry.”
3. The Dark Knight Rises
Christopher Nolan’s Batman films featured a handful of characters who weren’t lifted from any comic book. Rachel Dawes, William Earle (Rutger Hauer’s character), and John Blake are among several characters with no direct precedent in the comics. When Marion Cotillard was announced to be playing another original character, Miranda Tate, many fans failed to even suspect her true identity: Talia al Ghul, Daughter of the Demon. Liam Neesen’s version of Ra’s al Ghul died in his failed attempt to destroy Gotham with a mega-microwave device, so Talia, working with Bane, decided to purge the city with a nuclear bomb.
Before revealing her true identity, “Miranda” seduces Bruce Wayne, keeping the film faithful to their complicated romantic relationship in the comics. While Talia’s death scene may be a source of scrutiny on the internet, there’s no denying that The Dark Knight Rises successfully introduced the relatively obscure villain to a wider audience, just as Batman Begins bolstered the popularity of her father, Ra’s.
2. Lexa Doig
In season 5 of Arrow, Talia will be played by Lexa Doig, continuing the show’s long tradition of hiring talented, if somewhat lesser-known actors to portray pivotal characters. That being said, Doig certainly has a strong track record with cult television shows. In the mid 1990s, Lexa had a recurring role on TekWar, based on the novels co-written by William Shatner.
Deepening the Star Trek connection, Doig had a prominent role in Andromeda, which was based on concepts created by Gene Roddenberry. Though he had long since died when the show debuted in 2000, his widow, Majel Barrett, served as a producer on the series. Doig played the Artificial Intelligence of the ship Andromeda Ascendant for five seasons.
More recently, Doig guest-starred on six episodes of the critically praised reboot of the alien invasion series, V, and was a main character on Continuum. Her cult credentials are indisputable, and he work in Arrow will only enhance that.
1. This Won’t Be Her First Appearance In The Arrowverse
While Lexa Doig is making her grand debut as Talia al Ghul in Arrow, the character has already appeared in this continuity. In Legends of Tomorrow, season 1, episode 9, “Left Behind,” Sara Lance is marooned in 1958. Unclear of what to do, she joins the League of Assassins, decades before she had originally learned the art of killing from them in the first place.
The episode features Ra’s al Ghul with a tween girl by his side in 1958. This girl is his daughter, Talia. Arrow is set in modern times. We know that Ra’s used the Lazarus Pit to extend his life, but the absence of Talia, as well as her age, will need to be explained. Supposing that the girl was born around 1950 or so, that would make her 66 in 2016. Obviously, Lexa Doig isn’t remotely close to that age. Perhaps she was hidden away with a secret Lazarus Pit, or she utilized some form of time travel, or maybe something even more unexpected. Either way, there are so many questions which we can’t wait for “Who Are You” to answer!
What do you think? Are you excited to see Talia on Arrow? What theories do you have regarding her role in the show? Sound off in the comments!