Ever since its debut episode, the comparisons between The CW's Arrow and Christopher Nolan's most recent reboot of Batman have been impossible to miss. But since then Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) and his surrounding cast of DC Comics heroes and villains have grown out of the Dark Knight's shadow, adopting a similarly grounded style, but incorporating characters from the realm of "Batman" comics that even Nolan left off the big screen.
And with Season 3 of the series promising to introduce a brand new take on 'League of Assassins' leader Ra's al Ghul, the pressure is on to live up to the strong performance Liam Neeson first delivered in Batman Begins. However, the showrunners now have another option in addressing that hurdle: according to the Taken star, he wouldn't hesitate to perform the iconic villain one more time. All they have to do is ask.
That admission from Neeson shouldn't come as a total shock, since he was one of several acclaimed dramatic actors who couldn't resist appearing in a Batman movie back in 2005. Since then Neeson has gone on to become a household name for a new generation by embracing broad action films, including the upcoming A Walk Among the Tombstones.
It was while speaking with MTV about Tombstones that the question of Ra's al Ghul was brought up. With a new actor set to take up the mantle of one of the deadliest men in the world (and mentor to Bruce Wayne, among others), Neeson explained that he hadn't been contacted by Warner Bros. or The CW showrunners. But would he ever be interested in stepping back into the role on the small screen?
"I would, in a heartbeat, if it came my way, yeah. Very much so."
Those comments alone will be enough to send fans of the Nolan films into a storm, since Neeson usually escapes criticism by even detractors of the series' style and approach. The common thinking used to be that an actor of Neeson's calibre would be unlikely to appear on any TV series, let alone a 'superhero' show. But his affection for the role has clearly endured given that his response was not only positive, but enthusiastically so.
Before fans start demanding that Arrow's executive producers cast Neeson immediately, things aren't quite that simple. It's true that several actors from high-profile films are already set to appear in Arrow's Season 3 - from The Wolverine's Rila Fukushima to Superman Returns' Brandon Routh - but Neeson is as in-demand a star as one could find.
That being said, the casting description of Ra's al Ghul shows that the showrunners aren't looking to stray too far from Neeson's version. Describing the League's leader as a "major recurring character" may rule someone like Neeson out of the running, but if The CW were forced to change their plans, the explosion in marketing that the crossover would bring might make up for the added headaches.
There is also the fact that executive producer Geoff Johns has already confirmed that the TV and movie universes of DC Comics will remain separate. However, those comments were made concerning movies going forward - not Nolan's movies which stand entirely apart. Would the producers risk the confusion among the most diehard fans for the attention it would garner from a broader audience? Only time will tell.
Assuming that these comments are simply a sign of Neeson's affection for the character, and the casting proceeds as it most likely will, the actor did offer a bit of advice for whoever does end up landing the role:
"They have to believe in their philosophy. Ra’s al Ghul absolutely believed what he was doing was ultimately saving civilization, and it was quite a good argument he comes up with. Throughout the ages, this fraternity that brought the plague to wipe out a section of mankind because it needed to be regenerated again. Very dangerous, but you have to believe it."
We wouldn't recommend fans hold their breath that Neeson will reprise his role in the next season of Arrow, but it's too enticing an idea to write off entirely. Until The CW shoots down any chances, that is. What do you think of the idea? Would it be a clever way of keeping Nolan's universe in-canon in some way, or would you Arrow fans prefer a brand new start?
Arrow Season 3 premieres Wednesday, October 8th, 2014 @8pm on The CW.
Follow me on Twitter @andrew_dyce for Arrow updates as well as movie, TV, and gaming news.