With the sixth season if The CW’s Arrow, it’s time to look at one of the main big bad guys that the series will introduce in upcoming episodes. Back in August, the network announced that one of the new villains of Arrow is Richard Dragon, aka Ricardo Diaz, and that the actor portraying him is Kirk Acevedo (12 Monkeys, Kingdom, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.).
The official description of the character is “a hardened ex-con recently released from prison for crimes he didn’t commit.” That description also mentioned that “Ricardo Diaz is bent on taking over Star City’s criminal underworld” and is “a master in hand to hand combat, honed by years of life on the street, Diaz has yet to meet a foe he can’t take down…”
We’re betting that changes when he goes up against Oliver Queen and Team Arrow.
But there’s actually a lot more to this character that many Arrow fans are unfamiliar with. Richard Dragon isn’t even predominantly a villain in DC Comics, but sort of a good guy who trained a lot of other superheroes – depending on the DC universe that portrayed him at the time.
Here are Arrow: 15 Things You Didn’t Know About Richard Dragon.
15. He didn’t actually originate in comics
Perhaps one of the most interesting facts about the character of Richard Dragon is that he did not get his start in the comic books. Instead, he began life as a character in a 1974 novel by Jim Dennis (a pseudonym for Dennis O’Neil and Jim Berry) called Kung Fu Master, Richard Dragon: Dragon’s Fists.
O’Neil liked the character so much that he adapted him for DC Comics. Richard Dragon made his first comic book appearance in his own title, Richard Dragon, Kung Fu Fighter. In those books, Richard Dragon was a good guy, and not the villain he’ll appear as on Arrow.
14. On Arrow, he loses most of his origin and is a crime lord
Obviously, Arrow needed villains for its new season and turned to The New 52 for inspiration. As previously mentioned, Richard Dragon became Ricardo Diaz, Jr., in that new universe, which will serve as inspiration for his role on Arrow. It’s kind of sad that all the previous heroism of the original character now seems lost to comic book history, but fans can only hope that there is some reference to the original character that goes beyond the druglord. Perhaps the show will mention that he killed his sensei, something that happened in the comic books. Perhaps it will allude to that sensei being the original Richard Dragon. It’s a shame, though, that DC fans might never see that version of the character again: he would have been a great trainer for Green Arrow.
13. He is one of the top martial artists in the DC Comics universe
In the 1970s, everyone was kung fu fighting (or so the popular song tells us), with martial arts gaining interest all over the world. Richard Dragon came out of that fascination with kung fu, which is why his creators made him one of the most skilled martial artists in DC Comics history.
Dragon trained heavily with O-Sensei to gain that title, and spent a lot of time in the comic books taking on villains with his bare hands and feet, making him a different kind of superhero.
He doesn’t even have extra strength or super powers: Richard Dragon was just a great fighter who battled it out in an effort to make the world a better place. This, unfortunately, is not the character viewers will see on Arrow.
12. He trained Batman
Richard Dragon was so good at martial arts that when he retired from taking out bad guys, he put his efforts into training some of the most infamous heroes and superheroes of the world. Throughout his long history, he trained The Question, Huntress, Oracle, Renee Montoya, and Lady Shiva.
Later in his comic book history, he went on to train even bigger names, including the Caped Crusader himself, Batman. He also taught Dick Grayson and the Connor Hawke version of Green Arrow some martial arts moves, which is ironic, considering that Dragon later became a new villain in the Green Arrow universe. How much of this remains canonical, though, is anyone’s guess.
Technically, the character on Arrow is not the same man as the original Richard Dragon.
11. Junior Diaz killed him and took the Richard Dragon name for himself
DC Comics introduced a new version of Richard Dragon in The New 52, turning a man who was a much-lauded hero into a villain in the Green Arrow comic books. But those comics explained that this was not the same Richard Dragon.
In the Green Arrow comics, Richard Dragon was actually Ricardo Diaz, Jr., which is also the name of the character fans will see on Arrow. This Richard Dragon is a drug lord who claims that he trained with a sensei in the League of Assassins. He also claims that he later killed his sensei. Was his sensei original Richard Dragon?
10. His Dragon Claw
Heroes with superpowers have it easy. They can use their powers to take down the bad guys without breaking into a sweat. Even a few without superheroes have advantages: Batman, for example, has an unlimited store of wealth to buy special armor, technology and weapons. But the real heroes are those that face aliens, mutants, monsters and bad guys with nothing but their bare fists.
Richard Dragon is one such hero. He didn’t have any superpowers, unless remaining focused and being at one with body and mind counts. He does, however, have a totem, the Dragon’s Claw, although it also doesn’t have powers: it’s just an item that Dragon uses as a focus to channel his mystical energies so that he can do what he does best: fight.
9. O-Sensei discovered him when he was a thief
Richard Dragon’s origin story is pretty interesting, at least that of the original 1974 character. He started out life as a poor boy named Richard Drakunovski who lived on the streets of St. Louis. Not much is known about his parents, although he once mentioned that his father died in a plane crash.
Somehow, he made it to Japan, where he made a living as a thief – until O-Sensei caught him in the act. Dragon tried to kill O-Sensei, but failed, so O-Sensei took him under his wing to train him. He spent six years with O-Sensei, learning martial arts as well as how to overcome his anger issues. He also learned about philosophy, science, and many other subjects while under O-Sensei’s care. This shaped the man who eventually became Richard Dragon.
8. He teamed up with Lady Shiva
In the comic books featuring Richard Dragon, Lady Shiva is a deadly assassin who likes to kill with her bare hands. She often gets associated with Batman, but her origin came earlier when she was the main antagonist for Richard Dragon. However, the two briefly teamed up.
Lady Shiva had a sister named Carolyn. Carolyn was also the goddaughter of O-Sensei. When Carolyn got kidnapped and then later killed, Lady Shiva got blamed for it, making her the enemy of Richard Dragon. However, once Dragon learned that Shiva was not the person responsible for Carolyn’s death, the two began to act together to take down the real killer, Guano Cravat. Cravat was a corrupt businessman who had been taken down by Dragon: the act was one of revenge.
7. His comic was canceled, but he lived on in The Question
All good things must come to an end, and so goes the story of many comic book characters’ standalone titles. Richard Dragon’s time as a headliner changed in the 1980s, when DC Comics canceled his comic book, but he continued on as a character in The Question.
In that book, The Question was a masked crime fighter from Hub City. After losing a battle to Lady Shiva, she sends him to Richard Dragon for training. At the time, Dragon was in a wheelchair, but he was still one of the best kung fu masters to have ever lived. Of course, it turned out that Dragon didn’t even need the wheelchair and he went on to teach The Question some valuable lessons about fighting, life, and philosophy.
6. He taught Oracle how to fight in a wheelchair
Barbara Gordon had a tough time dealing with the events that happened in Batman: The Killing Joke. Thanks to Joker, she had to come to terms with how to live life in a wheelchair. The former Batgirl eventually became Oracle, but the process of her becoming that was a long and arduous one.
Fortunately, Richard Dragon turned up and began to train her in the art of stick fighting, something that she could do with her arms while still being in her wheelchair.
This gave her the confidence to fully become Oracle, as well as learn to fight for herself again. She also worked on her upper body strength and learned to use batarangs and firearms to protect herself and her team, the Birds of Prey.
5. He is a master of philosophy
The original Richard Dragon was most certainly a hero and spent a lot of time fighting the bad guys. It’s almost sad that he got rebooted in such a way to undermine his very origin. And now, comic book fans will associate the name with a villain, thanks to that portrayal on television.
The original Richard Dragon, though, was a thoughtful and intelligent man, who also loved philosophy. He applies the lessons learned as a philosopher to his life as a superhero equal to Batman, Dick Grayson, and Connor Hawke.
Dragon also taught those lessons to other superheroes, including Huntress and Wonder Woman. It’s a shame that this part of the character now seems forever lost to comic book history, isn’t it?
4. The character got a reboot in 2004 with a new origin story
Richard Dragon had several reboots, but the first happened in 2004, when Chuck Dixon and Scott McDaniel re-introduced the character in DC Comics.
In that title, Dragon got a completely new origin story: instead of a thief, he was a bullied kid who joined a dojo to learn to better protect himself. The school’s teacher wasn’t all that great, though, so instead, he fell under the tutelage of Bronze Tiger, who trained him in all things martial arts. He also met and fell in love with Lady Shiva – much of the comic book focused on their troubled relationship.
However, the reboot didn’t stick and the new comic only lasted 12 issues. Dragon did appear again after that in 52, but he was the original version of the character in that title.
3. In Green Arrow comics, he led a team of villains
Sadly, DC Comics seemed to decide that Richard Dragon should no longer be a hero, so they took the moniker and title away from the original character and gave it to a villain, Ricardo Diaz, Jr. This is the version of the character that fans will see on Arrow.
Instead of being a hero, this character is someone who killed his sensei, which might have been the original Richard Dragon (this, though, was never confirmed). This version of the character is a drug lord who wants to make Team Arrow to pay for John Diggle killing his father.
In The New 52 comics, this Richard Dragon led a team of Green Arrow’s enemies, including Brick, Count Vertigo, Killer Moth and Red Dart.
2. One of few superheroes who can fight on horseback
Something superhero fans don’t see every day is heroes fighting on horseback. That’s usually saved for period dramas and historical romances, right? But Richard Dragon knows how to fight in a variety of ways, and that includes on horseback.
It didn’t happen a lot in the comic books, but it’s still an interesting fact that he’s as accomplished riding a horse as he is with martial arts. It’s doubtful that this skill will get used on Arrow, though: not only is that character completely different from the original version, but it is likely that there aren’t any horses available in Star City. If Richard Dragon fights on any moving thing, it will probably be from a car or a motorcycle.
Still, it would be pretty cool to watch him battle it out while riding a horse.
1. He is good friends with Ben Turner, aka Bronze Tiger
When Richard Dragon began training with O-Sensei, another boy trained with him. This boy was Ben Turner, who would later become Bronze Tiger. The two boys were the O-Sensei’s only students, and so developed a friendship that lasted throughout their lifetimes. The two even teamed up on many missions, including the first one they went on that had them breaking up a slave ring in Sudan.
When they decided to move to New York City, they did so together. Eventually, the two young men set up their own martial arts dojo in Manhattan. Bronze Tiger, though, went on to become a member of the Suicide Squad, as well as appeared on television, including Batman: The Brave and the Bold and on Arrow, where he became a member of the Suicide Squad.
What do you think of Arrow‘s version of Richard Dragon? Does he live up to the comics? Sound off in the comments!
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