How Ra's Al Ghul Is Different From Every Other Arrow Villain

Now that The CW’s Arrow is finished crossing over with different heroes for a while, it’s time to get back to putting the bow-wielding vigilante up against the bad guys one-on-one. (Or at least one Team Arrow against one Bad Guy Syndicate.) Season 3’s highly anticipated reveal of iconic DC villain Ra’s al Ghul, which will happen this week, is going to be a somewhat different affair for Arrow, in that he isn’t a guy whose only focus is playing against the rules.

Here’s how executive producer Marc Guggenheim explained to Access Hollywood the deadly Ra’s al Ghul’s unique angle on creating havoc in Starling City.

I think what’s really cool about Ra’s coming to the fore is his presence changes the show. Literally, the show will not be the same after Episode 9…We always say, ‘Our villains are the heroes of their own story,’ and I think if you were to ask Ra’s, he would say, ‘I’m a pretty good guy.’ In fact, he actually gives a speech in Episode 9 that kind of explains, ‘I replace evil with death.’ That’s not such a bad thing.”

Ra’s has always been a guy (or several different people) with a singular mission that is generally in the best interest of his League of Assassins, but such motivations aren’t always of the stereotypical world-demolishing ilk. In the case of Episode 9, “The Climb,” he and the League are just looking for a little justice by asking Oliver to identify whoever killed Sara “The Canary” Lance. Okay, by “asking,” I mean they’re threatening to kill Starling City citizens if Arrow doesn’t come up with any murderers in 48 hours. Hey, at least they’re giving him two whole days, right? That’s totally classy villain style.

Of course, when you watch the trailers for “The Climb,” there’s much less detective work going on than there is “training for a really intense fight on top of a snowy mountain.” When Arrow goes head to head with Matt Nable’s Ra’s al Ghul, they’re both standing around shirtless and cold and ready to battle. But it’s obvious that Ra’s allows this kind of thing; otherwise he could have his entire League trying to take Arrow down in one swoop. I guess that’s part of his different nature.

Guggenheim also teased that former League underling Malcolm Merlyn (John Barrowman) will also be returning to Arrow in a big fashion, and that his arc may connect to Ra’s al Ghul’s in some ways. Expect him to show up in Episode 9 for an important moment, with a huge flashback in Episode 10 to follow. And then there’s always the return of Deathstroke coming in the future as well.

Arrow’s “The Climb” will hit The CW on Wednesday, December 10 at 8 p.m. ET. Head over to the next page to watch the action-packed preview.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.