Last week in Arrow's The Magician we were introduced in person, finally, after references dating back to season one, to Ra's Al Ghul. His role has generally been very well received, with many particularly praising his voice and costume, his face- he looks like a mix between Neeson and comic Ra's. His clothes are very much in consistency with the characters ethnicity, and his voice is somewhat British with an Oriental- in Nable's case, his natural Australian- tinge to it. The only real gripes with some thus far has been his facial hair and lack of greying hair on the sides, though I think these can be overlooked, and, what's more, he does seem to be letting his facial hair on the sides grow out, so he may be on his role to achieving that look. Let's not forget this was a 40 second first scene, and we don't know when he'll next pop up.
As an aside, the two most common complaints- he's not Neeson (which is as stupid a complaint as any) and he doesn't look ethnic are inherently contradictory. Nable looks more ethnic than Neeson, and he resembles Neeson. Make up your mind before you moan, or better yet, don't whinge at all and wait until we see more than 20 seconds of him to judge this guy.
Marc Guggenheim, Arrow's Executive Producer, talked to MTV News the other day, and we learned some new details about what his presence means for Arrow. Ever since he was first namedropped he's been an onimous, lurking, controlling presence, but now he's here in person a whole new dynamic is present.
Most people aren't familiar with the comic character, and are mainly only with Liam Neeson's portrayal as Ra's. While I loved that portrayal and Neeson is an incredible actor, it's not really the Ra's people are used to seeing. Guggenheim seems to be hinting the one comic, animation, and game fans are used to may well be on the way to TV. Guggenheim said:
In our casting process, we didn’t want to go with the willowy, sinewy Ra’s that was established in the comics. We wanted someone who would be a formidable physical presence. You can get away with that live sinewy Ra’s when it’s being drawn by Neal Adams, but when you actually have to put something in front of a camera, we thought it was better to have someone who added a good physical presence to that."
And so, after careful auditions for both appearance and acting, Matt Nable was chosen, and, as I've expressed before, it's a pretty inspired choice. Before that inevitable complainer comes along, yes, Neeson expressed interest at playing Ra's. He probably didn't know it was for Arrow. They reached out. He didn't have time. The end: whining will do no good.
On top of that, we've been unsure of just what role Ra's will play this season: will he actively be a villain, or in the background? Guggenheim had answers for us. As it happens, it may well turn out that Oliver and his team are well and truly out of their depth here. Marc reveals:
"He’s definitely the main antagonist of the season. He’s responsible for a lot of the events that kick off the year, and reverberate throughout the season. He’s our Big Bad, and he’s a very different kind of Big Bad than we’ve had, (Malcolm Merlyn and Slade Wilson.)"
Both of those villains had very personal reasons for coming up against Oliver, and reasons that were very close to home (Slade slightly moreso than Merlyn.) Ra's, though, seems to have bigger plans than for just Starling City.
"Ra’s exists above it all. He’s so much more powerful than Malcolm or Slade. He has so much deeper reach, and he has a much larger organization at his beck and call. He’s just a very different kind of foe."
So, just as fans wanted, not only will we see Team Arrow come head to head with Ra's himself, the entire League is definitely against them on this. It'll be interesting to see where Nyssa (Ra's daughter) goes with all of this, having worked with- and fought with- Oliver now on multiple occasions.
All I know is I can't wait to see more. Arrow, as anyone who follows me know, is still my favourite show, and with the introduction of someone like Matt Nable playing a guy as villainous as Ra's, I think we're in for a ride as epic as season two. And that's saying something, as all Arrow fans know.
Bear in mind, finally the casting call for Ra's:
Of a bygone era? A shaper or history? With the wisdom of the ages, and its greatest secrets? It seems more and more likely this Ra's may well actually be immortal as he is most often presented, and the Lazarus Pits will come into play, just as we've seen. His role is recurring, so we could see him pop up at any time. And Nable seems to fit the bill perfectly.