CHRISTOPHER LEE: The Greatest RA’S AL GHUL That Never Was

The Demon lives again!

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UPDATED 5/29/19: The late Christopher Lee’s birthday was this week — he was born May 27, 1922 — so that got me thinking of this piece, which first ran shortly after he died in 2015. I think you’ll dig it. — Dan

Before I knew how the world works (not that I necessarily do today), I used to write to DC Comics with my suggestions about casting a Batman movie.

This was about 1979, well after the end of the Adam West series and well before the Tim Burton movie.

The idea of a “serious” Batman movie was anathema to Hollywood and pop culture in general, such was the campy hangover left by Batmania.

But for fans like me who wanted to see the Batman of the comics portrayed on screen, 1978’s Superman: The Movie gave a glimmer of hope, hence some wishful casting thinking.

The Batman story that seemed best suited for a screen translation was this:

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Limited Collector’s Edition #C-51 reprinted Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams’ Batman #232 and #242-244 in large-scale, cinematic glory.

It was the heart of the first Ra’s al Ghul saga — taking Batman from his first meeting with the Demon’s Head in Gotham, all the way to India, the Himalayas and the Arabian desert — scene of their epic, climactic battle.

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In my youthful mind, there was only one person who should play Ra’s al Ghul and so I wrote DC and told them:

Scaramanga

Christopher Lee.

His Scaramanga (which I wrote about here) burned so brightly in my head that he was the only choice — the only choice.

And if he were joined by another Bond veteran — Caroline Munro — you had an unbeatable Ra’s-Talia team.

Munro, seen in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, another favorite.

Munro, seen in The Golden Voyage of Sinbad, another favorite.

Hell, they even worked together in Dracula A.D. 1972:

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So just imagine:

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Alas, it was never meant to be. It would be 2005 before the rest of the zeitgeist caught up with Ra’s al Ghul, with Liam Neeson’s turn in Batman Begins — and another seven years before it met Marion Cotillard’s Talia.

I still think my casting was better.

The funny thing is, I have no recollection of who I thought would make a good Batman and I never could decide on a good Robin.

But I did have other ideas when I was 12 about what would make a good “real Batman” movie: I just knew that Steve Englehart and Marshall Rogers’ Detective Comics run would make a great film.

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And like Christopher Lee and Ra’s al Ghul, there was only one actor in 1979 who I thought should play the Joker.

So I wrote DC and told them:

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Jack Nicholson.

MORE

— NEAL ADAMS Discusses LEE as Ra’s and MUNRO as Talia. Click here.

— Finally! CHRISTOPHER LEE Cast as Ra’s al Ghul — From Beyond the Grave. Click here.

— CAROLINE MUNRO: The Greatest Talia That Never Was. Click here.

Author: Dan Greenfield

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11 Comments

  1. Christopher Lee would’ve been great. I always pictured Vincent Price, but I think Lee is better.

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    • Neeson was perfectly fine, but I could never get past Lee in my mind. Always stayed with me.

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  2. nice for always thought if warners finaly did batman movies that when they gout to rhas. the only person who could nail the demons head sophistication but also bring out the megolomania and down right coldness of the character would christopher lee. with a sequel being the son of the demon inroducing damion. wayne.

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  3. That is EXACTLY my casting, and has always been. Lee and Munro. As for Batman in 1979: CLINT EASTWOOD.

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  4. I spoke with Neal Adams about this at the Rhode Island Comic Con in November 2017, and he told me that both Christopher Lee AND Jack Palance were the inspiration for how Ra’s al Ghul would look. Had such a movie been made in the Seventies, you also would have had to cast Jill St. John as Molly Post, the skiier. Mr. Adams specifically confirmed to me about using her as the model for the Olympian. He also confirmed to me about Caroline Munro as the model for Talia. THAT would have made a great movie!!!

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  5. This casting would never happen for one (horrible) reason. Hollywood seems to think they always have to put their spin on something or the non-fans won’t go see the movie. As if their re-telling with changes is a better story than the original. The ‘66 BATMAN was great in that it mirrored the comics of the day. But, it won’t ever happen in today’s world. This is why in the Spider-Man movies we get no Gwen Stacy or Gwen after MJ. Or, why we got killing, emo Superman. It all starts with the Joker replacing Joe Chill. I say a good movie will appeal to non-fans with canon respected. Because otherwise your fan base suffers. Why not tell movies both audiences can enjoy?

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  6. I’ve always thought Lee and Munro would have made a great Ra’s and Talia…but the role I really wanted to see Munro tackle was a comic-accurate version of Modesty Blaise.

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  7. I’m sorry, but although I like the idea of Christopher Lee playing Ra’s al Ghul, I didn’t like him in The Man With The Golden Gun, and bringing up any mention of that crapfest of a movie as justification for a role as Ra’s doesn’t work for me; that version of Scaramanga was wrong, and nothing like the original novel (in the original novel, Scaramanga’s a rough, Americanized gangster, with the kind of accent you’d find from one), plus the ‘golden gun’ is just a gold-plated Derringer (most likely a High Standard D-100), not the weapon seen in the film (nifty as it is.) Love the idea of Caroline Munro as Talia.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. JACK NICHOLSON’S 13 Best JOKER Quotes — Ranked! | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] were a Ra’s al Ghul movie, I’d want Christopher Lee as the Demon’s Head (click here for more on that coolness) and Caroline Munro as Talia (click here for more on that…
  2. KIT HARINGTON and ROSE LESLIE for NIGHTWING and BATGIRL | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] but when I was a kid, I wrote to DC Comics suggesting that Christopher Lee play Ra’s al Ghul…
  3. CAROLINE MUNRO: The Greatest TALIA There Never Was | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] Sir Christopher Lee died, I wrote that the one great villain he never got to play was Ra’s al…
  4. Finally! CHRISTOPHER LEE Cast as RA’S AL GHUL — From Beyond the Grave | 13th Dimension, Comics, Creators, Culture - […] was the only actor for the role. He would have been perfect. I even used to write to DC…
  5. Another Meme Thing: Two Actors - Atomic Junk Shop - […] Dallben the enchanter. Sadly, that’s only in my imaginary dream Hollywood; the same one where Lee got to play…

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