October 11, 2021

Titans’ Batman Retcon Repeats Arrowverse & Gotham’s Villain Failure

Titans Ras Al Ghul Featured

Titans’ Batman Retcon Repeats Arrowverse & Gotham’s Villain Failure Titans retconned the Red Hood story from the comics and once again failed R’as al Ghul in live-action despite him being one of Batman’s greatest foes.

Warning! Spoilers ahead for Titans episode 5, “Lazarus”

While Titans season 3 has featured the origins of Jason Todd and his transformation into the Red Hood but in doing so has failed Ra’s al Ghul and here’s why. Titans has offered some massive retcons to a major Batman story, and once again, one of the Dark Knight’s greatest villains has been undermined, just as he was in Gotham and in the Arrowverse. For some reason, Ra’s al Ghul has never been able to get the spotlight he deserves in DC’s live-action television series, and Titans is no different. However, what makes this most recent inclusion so egregious is that significant problems have already been created for the Batman foe known as the Demon’s Head, and he hasn’t even been seen on screen yet (if he will be at all).

In Titans episode 5, “Lazarus,” the details behind Jason Todd’s turn to the dark and resurrection as the Red Hood are revealed. However, while it does carry some similarities to Batman: Under the Red Hood, the original comics story that detailed his transformation, the Titans version is largely hijacked by a new arc involving Dr. Jonathan Crane’s Scarecrow. Apparently, before he was killed by the Joker, Jason had allied himself with Scarecrow after feeling rejected by Batman. With Crane’s guidance, Jason created an anti-fear gas so that the former Robin would no longer feel afraid, struggling from the traumas he endured in Titans season 2.

Related: Justice League Easter Egg Teases Ra’s Al Ghul In Snyder’s DCEU

However, while Jason was indeed murdered by Joker just like in the comics, it was revealed that Crane had Jason taken to one of Ra’s al Ghul’s supernatural Lazarus Pits to bring Jason back, rather than al Ghul doing it. This revelation came in the form of a single reference to al Ghul in the episode, an enormous reduction from the massive role the Demon’s Head plays in Under the Red Hood. Unfortunately, this is par for the course when it comes to the immortal Batman foe’s live-action depictions. The Arrowverse’s version saw Ra’s al Ghul became preoccupied with having Oliver Queen as his successor instead of Batman, a major deviation from the comics. While Gotham’s version was somewhat better, the series ultimately saw the Demon’s Head bogged down by problematic narratives and its supporting characters, such as Barbara Kean. Now, while Ra’s al Ghul has been referenced in Titans, any future appearance will be compromised due to Scarecrow usurping his role in Red Hood’s story.

For some reason, it seems as though the code can’t be cracked when it comes to Ra’s al Ghul for DC’s live-action television series. If his usual motives aren’t being completely shifted, his portrayal and focus on other characters beyond the Dark Knight compromises his core character, as the comics have him very much set on Batman being his one true and worthy successor. His entire motivation revolves around wanting the Dark Knight to kill him and become the next leader of the League of Assassins as the new Demon’s Head. Now, it seems as though Ra’s al Ghul has been sidestepped entirely in Titans in favor of Crane, despite his Lazarus pits still being needed.

What’s truly unfortunate is that Ra’s al Ghul is one of Batman’s greatest and most dynamic foes. Look no further than Liam Neeson’s portrayal in the Dark Knight trilogy (though even he has his issues in regard to his comic book-accurate adaptation). For some reason, the real R’as al Ghul has never been allowed to be his genuine character with his original motives and abilities outside of the comics, and Titans sadly adds to the trend even if the Demon’s Head is eventually featured on screen in future episodes.

More: Titans: Why Red Hood & Scarecrow Need Each Other (Are Their Endgames Different?)

Titans airs new episdoes on Thursdays on HBO Max.

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About The Author

Kevin Erdmann
(1657 Articles Published)

Kevin Erdmann is one of Screen Rant’s staff writers. With a major in Cinema Studies and a minor in Comics and Cartoon Studies from the UofO, Kevin is pretty sure he’s writing for the right site. While Kevin is a huge Marvel fan, he also loves Batman because he’s Batman and is a firm believer that Han shot first. Disney also shares a big part of his fan patronage. Kevin lives in Oregon with his wonderful wife and sinister cat who is no doubt currently plotting his demise.

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