'Gotham' Casts Ra's al Ghul: How Will Fox's Supervillain Compare With 'Arrow's'?

Alexander Siddig ('Game of Thrones') will portray the iconic DC Comics villain just two seasons after 'Arrow' debuted its own version of the character.
Courtesy of Warner Bros.; Getty Images

Gotham is borrowing a page from Arrow's script when season three returns.

Fox's DC Comics drama has just cast Game of Thrones alum Alexander Siddig in the recurring role of Ra's al Ghul, The Hollywood Reporter has learned.

The supervillain will first appear later this season, as Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) pulls the veil off the mysterious Court of Owls organization and discovers that the man pulling the strings is the enigmatic and powerful Ra's al Ghul. With his past shrouded in mystery, Ra's uses cunning and deception to lay waste to his foes. As the leader of an international criminal organization known as the League of Shadows, Ra's will prove himself to be Bruce's most dangerous adversary yet.

This is not the first time that Ra's has appeared on TV in recent years. Back in season three of The CW's Arrow, Matt Nable portrayed the iconic supervillain. While Gotham is also produced by Warner Bros. TV, it does not exist in the same DC Comics TV universe as Arrow, so the two versions of the same character do not share any connection other than their comic book history. But how will Gotham's version compare with Arrow's?

Not much is known about Gotham's Ra's yet besides that he's already in charge of the League of Shadows. On Arrow, Ra's led the League of Assassins (same group, different name) before passing leadership onto Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell) after his death (and Oliver promptly passed the ring off to John Barrowman's Malcolm Merlyn). What's most notable about Ra's' life on Arrow, however, is that he raised two daughters, Nyssa (Katrina Law) and Talia (Lexa Doig) and showed mercy to his former best friend, Damien Dahrk (Neil McDonough), by letting him live after Ra's was given orders by his mentor to kill him. Ra's was a formidable opponent and a brutal, skilled fighter, but his history proved that he wasn't totally evil. 

Will Gotham's Ra's also share that merciful streak, or will he land closer to the comic book version? As one of Batman's deadliest opponents, Ra's was a genius, but he believed that the way to achieve balance in the world was by killing most of humanity. He often tried to achieve that balance with biological weapons.

One of the biggest differences between Arrow's and Gotham's versions of Ra's, will probably be Gotham's lack of magic. While not confirmed, it's highly unlikely that Gotham will introduce magical elements like the Lazarus Pit, which kept Ra's alive for centuries in the comics and on Arrow. Gotham has always relied on scientific explanations for all its villains' origin stories, to keep the series grounded in reality, and it's doubtful that will change now.

Siddig is best known for his recent stint on Game of Thrones as Doran Martell, as well as roles on Peaky Blinders, 24, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and DaVinci's Demons.

Gotham returns on Monday, April 24 at 8 p.m. on Fox.

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