Friday, February 4, 2011

Henri Ducard on paper and screen

Christopher Nolan: What was important to me in creating an incredible frightening villain is that everything he says is true and at some level reasonable that also makes sense. The extremes to which he is prepared to go; to achieve what he believes is very threatening and very frightening ( 2005)

While most Batman fans know who Ra's Al Ghul is, many newcomers or casual fans may not be familiar with the character that he was merged with in Batman Begins, Henri Ducard. The comic book Ducard in the movie appears only as a name and haircut - most likely to mislead the audience and make the reveal of the true identity a much bigger surprise.

In the comic books, Ducard was one of the four men who trained Bruce Wayne. Bruce trained his body and mind with Chu Chin Li
and Master Kirigi,
and the detective skills and gunfighting with Henri Ducard

Henri Ducard, a French freelance investigator, was first introduced in  Detective Comics #598 by Sam Hamm (the writer of the 1989 movie) and Denys Cowan. He was working on both sides of the law. Before he started working on his own he worked for Interpol and French police tracking down wanted criminals all over the world. After Bruce mastered Martial Arts and learned control over his body and pain he set out to find Ducard which he knew was the top investigator in the world, but he didn't know much else about him. Outside of the detective skills, Ducard also taught Bruce how to use firearms. As the last part of his training, he cooperated with him on the case of Jeremiah - a terrorist who had been successfully evading all authorities for years. Wayne and Ducard found Jeremiah but when they did Ducard shot him with a sniper rifle. Frustrated Bruce felt like an accomplice in murder and left Ducard.

Ducard's primary characteristics was greed. He would do anything for money and he wasn't ashamed to admit it, so he was willing to do anything that could make him as much money as possible. He made millions becoming a middleman for international arm deals, and then he saw an opportunity to make even more money when he was offered to testify against Bruce Wayne who was accused of of having engineered secret arm deals with Syria, Iran, Lybia. When Ducard arrived in Gotham for the trial, being the greatest detective he is, he almost instantly deduced that Bruce is Batman and tried to sabotage Bruce.

Eventually Ducard got what he wanted  - a new identity, from the Cartel, the group that was trying to incriminate Bruce for helping them out eliminate a witness that could cause them a great deal of trouble. Soon after, Ducard left Gotham

Ducard's next big task was to locate Sir Dorrance aka King Snake (Bane's biological father) and helped Robin (Tim Drake) shut down Snake's activities

The next time he crossed path with Robin was when Robin asked him for help in fighting a deadly virus released by Ra's Al Ghul. He refused at first because there wasn't any financial reward involved, but agreed to help when found out that his life is at stake too. Robin witnessed first hand Ducard's lack of hesitation when it came to killing. Thanks to his skills, they folded Ghul's plan
Ducard met Batman again when Batman hired him to track down Ra's Al Ghul yet again who by then teamed up with Joker to release yet another killer strain on mankind.

Aside from being greedy, ruthless, the best detective in the world and being very skilled with firearms, Ducard's other characteristics include frequent smoking, poor temper and pride in solving cases


  1. This was a good piece. I hated how they took such a good characters and wasted him for the movie.

  2. Thank you! Its so hard to find anything on Ducard online and the available info is very generic

  3. Thats the reason I did it. I dont want to repeat what one can read on wiki sites. That article I had lying around collecting dust for few months, hoping to find some mentions of Ducard by the filmmakers, but they only talk about him as Al Ghul and never mention the comic book counterpart

  4. Interesting article.

  5. best damn Batman site on the internet. No bull, straight facts and no fan boy cream filling. A lot of the things on this site took me years of research to find, things like the original inspiration of the Joker, and some stuff I had no idea, and this article itself is a rare one, which actually lead me here. Keep this thing going! Putting wikipedia to shame

  6. Thanks very much, much appreciated

  7. Another great entry. I don't believe that Ducard was 'wasted' in the film, in fact, much of his hypocrissy and paradox fuels the Ducard on film. Like an opinionated detective, the Ducard in the film too is someone who is presenting Bruce with a stark ultimatum, someone who views criminals as objects rather than as human beings, and who is not willing to compromise his own agenda at any cost. That essence of the character remained. Bruce's big reveal and dispute over 'doing what is necessary' is taken from the comics as well. If anything, the Ra's Al Ghul persona of a self-righteous defender of some morbid cause thrived well after being amalgamated with Ducard. I think both 'characters' benefited.

  8. Are all these panels from 'Blind Justice' except the bottom one's? I was able to get a copy of 'The Man Who Fall's', but was looking to get more Bruce's early training and more Ducard material? Great article... Thanks.

  9. Yes, most of them are from Blind Justice