With the recent report and speculation emerging from ComicBookMovie.com that Marion Cottilard has unofficially turned down an offer to play the role of Catwoman in Christopher Nolan's third Batman installment, another role was mentioned in that offer, that being Talia al Ghul, the estranged daughter of Supervillain Ra's Al Ghul [Liam Neeson] in Batman Begins. Who is she? What bearing does she have in Batman's world in D.C comics?
Well despite not appearing in Batman Begins she is referred to by her father Ra's Al Ghul in the novelization of Batman Begins when "he writes to his daughter in Switzerland". Talia has a very prominent bearing in the Comic world, a love interest of Batman, and the mother of his son Damian Wayne, the future fifth Robin. We take a closer look at this possible Villain and what she may bring to the final film in the current franchise. Talia first appeared in Detective Comics #411 (May 1971). Her seminal role is as a recurring romantic interest for Batman, her father Ra's, the leader of a worldwide criminal empire, considers Batman the man most worthy to marry Talia and to become the heir of his underworld empire. Batman, obviously uninterested in the criminal empire, remains drawn to and shows considerable interest in Talia. Talia is an Olympic-level athlete, having been trained since birth in many forms of martial arts. She is also quite proficient with most hand weapons. Often underestimated, she is also an excellent hand to hand fighter. Ultimately she is a complex character, not quite heroine nor villainess but more of an antiheroine. She has undoubtedly committed criminal acts; however, they were usually committed due to her loyalty to her father rather than for personal gain. She has saved Batman's life or helped him on numerous occasions. Furthermore, she helped to bring about the downfall of Lex Luthor.
The graphic novel Batman: Birth of the Demon (1992) explains how Talia's father Ra's met her mother Melisande, who was of mixed Chinese, European, and Arab descent. Talia's mother later dies of a drug overdose. This is a retcon of Batman: Son of the Demon (1987), which states that Talia's mother was murdered by a former servant of Ra's named Qayin.
In her youth, Talia travels the world with her father learning and adapting his intellect and skills which she proves to be more competent than any of Ghul's other children. She excels to the point in managing his criminal and legitimate operations, that she is eventually appointed as Ghul's primary secondary despite the fact that Ghul considers women to be inheritantly inferior to men. Ghul is supportive of his daughter though has commented that if possible, he would correct "that sole failing" in his child suggesting that he fears any possible distortion of her through chemical or biological modifications despite his aversion to her as a woman.
Talia first meets Batman when he rescues her from Dr. Darkk, apparently the leader of the League of Assassins. It is eventually revealed that the League is just one part of Ra's al Ghul's organization, The Demon, and that Darkk apparently turned against Ra's after failing in a mission (the usual punishment for this being death). At the end of the story, she shoots and kills Darkk to save Batman's life. Dick Grayson (Robin) is kidnapped. Ra's al Ghul enters the Batcave, revealing to Batman that he knows Batman's secret identity and saying that Talia was also kidnapped along with Dick. Batman then goes with Ra's to search for Dick and Talia; in the end, it is revealed that Talia loves Batman and that the entire kidnapping is a setup designed by Ra's as a final test of whether Batman's suitability as an heir. Though Batman rejects Ra's offer, he nevertheless returns Talia's feelings. In the years since Talia meets Batman, she is repeatedly torn between loyalty to her father and her love of Batman. However, she has proven an important 'ally' in her way; most prominently, she encourages Batman to return to Gotham City when it is declared a "No Man's Land" following an earthquake, and he has lost his fighting spirit and didn't believe he could save Gotham. So does Talia sound the part? With so much thematic establishment and groundwork built into the storyline involving Ra's Al Ghul already this does seem very possible. Can she find her way amongst the other characters notably now that Rachel Dawes [Katie Holmes/Maggie Gyllenhaal] has passed away and fill that void as Batman's romantic interest?