Matt Nable is confirmed to return to the CW in Legends of Tomorrow. But Ra’s al Ghul isn’t going to be such a clear-cut villain this time around.
Ra’s al Ghul was Arrow’s Big Bad in season three, and left his mark by (Season 3 spoilers) killing Oliver Queen, if only for a brief time. During his time on Arrow, Ra’s al Ghul acted as the head of the League of Assassins, a fiercely deadly organization. When Ra’s discovered Oliver lived, he asked the hero to take over as the head of the League. Oliver instead fought against Ra’s, eventually killing him.
Wait… If Green Arrow killed Ra’s then how will he fit in to Legends of Tomorrow?
Dead or Alive?
If Ra’s was truly killed by Oliver Queen, Legends of Tomorrow is the right show to bring him back for. Firstly, The CW’s latest superhero series is deeply entrenched in time travel. The entire premise of the show is that a time traveler (which is to imply someone who has mastered time travel rather than simply traveled once) is calling on the show’s heroes to save the world. Time travel would be a simple mechanism to get Ra’s either into the present or to get our present heroes back to a time when Ra’s was alive.
A simpler answer is that Legends of Tomorrow will just feature Ra’s in flashbacks. Ra’s has had a long history with at least one of our heroes in the past. White Canary (formerly Black Canary), also known as Sara Lance, was a devoted Assassin in Ra’s League and trained by him personally. It’s possible that Ra’s will appear in Legends of Tomorrow simply to service Sara’s backstory and development in the series. After all, the League of Assassins, and indirectly, Ra’s al Ghul, also had a part in bring Sara back to life in Arrow.
But we are talking about Ra’s al Ghul here. Ra’s has been alive for nearly two hundred years in Arrowverse canon (and a lot longer than that in comic book canon), and a life span like that comes from not dying easily. So what’s to say Ra’s is really dead? Oliver survived. Sara Lance was brought back from the dead. We even saw Vandal Savage die in the Flash/Arrow crossover that introduced us to Legends of Tomorrow’s top villain and (obviously) he’s returning to life someway or another. It seems easily possible that Ra’s al Ghul could return to life for Legends of Tomorrow alive and well in present, and I hope that’s the case because Ra’s will be an even better antagonist for Legends of Tomorrow than he was for Arrow.
A Villain Indeed, but for Whom?
Ra’s al Ghul has been amassing power for nearly two centuries as the head of the League of Assassins. He has spread his villainy on a global scale, so it would be easy to see why our Legends of Tomorrow might decide to fight against him in some capacity. But, that is not the conflict you should look forward to in Legends of Tomorrow.
Rather than seeing Ra’s battle our heroes, Legends of Tomorrow will likely place him at odds with another villain. See, Ra’s has toyed with immorality long enough to make a name for himself, but compared to Vandal Savage, he’s still a baby. Ra’s and Vandal are both megalomaniacal warmongers, and nowhere in history have two men like that gotten along. Any power or dominance that Ra’s might have will be that much less Vandal does, and Vandal Savage doesn’t strike me as someone who likes sharing.
This may mean Ra’s and the Legends form a pact to team up against Vandal (who is a villain on a much larger scale), or it might (hopefully) just complicate the problems the heroes face. If Ra’s and Vandal are working toward world domination against each other there will likely be twice as much doom and destruction in the world of the series.
What is Ra’s history with Vandal Savage and Savage’s History with the League of Shadows?
When the heroes of Star and Central Cities first encounter Vandal Savage, Malcolm Merlyn (the new head of the League of Assassins) explains that the league, in its long operating history, has no intel on the villain at all. But once the heroes defeat the immortal, Malcolm is shown gathering Vandal’s ashes with a clear plan in mind (clear to him that is, we are left well in the dark). If the League has no intel on Vandal, why does Merlyn treat his ashes with such reverence and duty? It seems he is withholding a great deal from our heroes.
Based on what we know about Vandal Savage, that he was originally born in ancient Egypt and has since been trying to gain as much power and dominance as possible, it doesn’t take much of a stretch to think maybe Legends of Tomorrow isn’t the first time Vandal Savage has come across the League of Assassins and Ra’s al Ghul himself. In Arrowverse canon, the Ra’s Al Ghul we know is actually the second head of the League of Assassins. Ra’s predecessor has been referred to vaguely throughout Arrow, but we’ve never been told who founded the League centuries before Ra’s was alive.
What if that mysterious founder is Vandal Savage? He certainly fits the description. We know the man became the head of the League by unleashing cholera on Alexandria, Egypt. This follows a custom shared by the Ra’s al Ghul we know, and one he tried to force Oliver to perform to succeed him. So it follows then that Vandal, who we know is from Egypt, could have destroyed his home as a part of the founding of his new league.
The Demon’s Head
What we know is that Matt Nable is returning as Ra’s al Ghul to Legends of Tomorrow. But that seems to imply much more than just adding another villain to the roster. Ra’s will bring conflict for both the show’s heroes and the villain. It is likely that Ra’s is tied to the history of more than one character and might play a major part in the events to come.
Legends of Tomorrow premiers in one month (Jan 21) on the CW! Get EXCITED!