Characters like Batman and Superman are synonymous with DC Comics both on the page and on screen. People love superheroes, after all, but every superhero needs a good villain and Ra’s al Ghul is up there as one of the best. He’s probably best known for being in charge of the League of Assassins and his magical dunking pools known as the Lazarus Pits. Using these pits, he’s been able to keep himself alive for several centuries.
And because he’s been alive for so long, he’s had a lot of time to get super rich and brush up on his martial arts. He’s also incredibly intelligent, making him one of the few people who can give Batman a run for his money. It’s one of the things that makes him such a good villain, which is why it’s no surprise that he pops up in a lot of DC shows and movies.
From the old school animated series to more recent live action movies, Ra’s al Ghul has made his presence known as much on screen as he has in the comics. We decided to take a look at just how much screen time he’s had, so here’s a list of Every Version of Ra’s al Ghul On Screen.
Ra’s al Ghul’s most recent on-screen appearance has been on Gotham, which follows the escapades of a young Jim Gordon. This version of Ra’s al Ghul, portrayed by Alexander Siddig, loosely follows a common plotline of him wanting Batman to be his heir.
We say loosely because as those who watch Gotham know, Batman doesn’t exist yet. There’s only a very young Bruce Wayne, but Ra’s is still impressed and wants to make him his heir. He also wants Bruce to become a “Dark Knight of Gotham,” which is a bit heavy-handed, but what do we know?
In the Arrowverse, Ra’s al Ghul is more of a title than a person. The name is passed down to each successor, the current one being played by Matthew Nable. Much like the comic version, in the Arrowverse, Ra’s is the leader of the League of Assassins, but instead of wanting Batman as his heir, he becomes fixated on Oliver Queen.
Oliver declines, so Ra’s attacks Starling City to convince him otherwise, as one does. Ra’s also makes an appearance in Legends of Tomorrow, in the time travel episode, “Left Behind.”
8 The Dark Knight Trilogy
This may be a bit of a spoiler for anyone who hasn’t seen Batman Begins, but the movie pulled a bait and switch on us with this Ra’s al Ghul. We thought he was Ken Watanabe, but then he turned out to be Liam Neeson this whole time! In this universe, Ra’s al Ghul is the leader of the League of Shadows and serves as Bruce Wayne’s mentor and teacher.
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He teaches him a lot of the skills that Bruce later uses to become Batman. And of course, Ra’s later reappears in Gotham to ruin the party, as evil masterminds are want to do. Ra’s also makes a minor appearance in The Dark Knight Rises with Josh Pence playing a younger version of him.
7 DC Animated Universe
The DC Animated Universe, aka the OG DC shows. There are a bunch of shows that fall into this universe, the first of which is Batman: The Animated Series. Ra’s al Ghul, of course, makes an appearance and, as per usual, wants to make Batman his heir. Oh, and also kill a bunch of people. Naturally, Batman stops him.
He appears in a few more episodes throughout the run of the show, and also appears in Superman: The Animated Series and Batman Beyond. Surprisingly, he’s not trying to make Batman his heir in either of those appearances. Instead, he’s just trying to cheat death and live a bit longer.
6 Batman: The Brave and the Bold
In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Ra’s is back to his humanity-cleansing, heir-finding ways. Batman refuses him, so he moves onto the sidekick, but Dick Grayson isn’t having any of that either. He makes a few more appearances on the show before ultimately being defeated by Batman.
5 Young Justice
The Young Justice version of Ra’s al Ghul appears to have different motivations than his counterparts. He’s a member of The Light, a group that stands in direct opposition to the Justice League, and also the leader of the League of Shadows. He’s not so much about cleansing the earth of humanity in this universe and seems like he’s more about working toward The Light’s goals.
He also makes an appearance in Young Justice: Outsiders, where we find out that he’s looking after both Jason Todd and Damian Wayne. Juicy.
4 Beware the Batman
In this universe, Ra’s al Ghul is actually dead, but as we all know, death is hardly permanent for Ra’s. He’s resurrected and gives Batman a beatdown. But he doesn’t manage to kill him, because well, that would be the end of the show. There doesn’t seem to be any heir-finding for this version of Ra’s, but he does take over Gotham at one point and cleanses it, but of technology, not people.
3 Batman: Under the Red Hood
This animated film is the origin story of Red Hood, aka Jason Todd. Ra’s doesn’t play a huge role in the film, but he is the one who resurrects Jason after he’s killed by the Joker. We find out that he did it because he was the one who hired the Joker to distract Batman and Robin, but Joker went rogue and killed Robin.
He felt guilty for causing Jason’s death, but the Lazarus Pit just drove Jason crazy, so his plan only half-worked.
2 DC Animated Movie Universe
Ra’s al Ghul plays a minor role in this universe, but we do see him in Son of Batman. He serves as Damian Wayne’s mentor and is his grandfather by blood. But he dies in the film and while Damian tries to put him in a Lazarus Pit, Ra’s’ body is too damaged to be saved.
Ra’s also sort of makes an appearance in Justice League vs. Teen Titans as a demon. We find out that Trigon is the creator of the Lazarus Pits and people who use them essentially sell their souls to him. Eventually, Damian ends up attacking his “grandfather” to save his teammates and that’s the end of demon Ra’s.
1 Robot Chicken
So this obviously is not a DC Comics product, but parodies still count as appearances, right? Batman has popped up on Robot Chicken a few times, so it’s no surprise that Ra’s al Ghul found his way into a clip as well.
Did we miss any other on-screen appearances by Ra’s al Ghul? Let us know where else this semi-immortal mastermind popped up in the comments!