James Gordon (comics)
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|Commissioner James Gordon|
Detail from the cover art for Bruce Wayne: The Road Home: Commissioner Gordon #1 (December 2010).
Art by Adam Beechen
|First appearance||Detective Comics #27
|Created by||Bob Kane
|Full name||James Worthington Gordon, Sr.|
|Supporting character of||Batman
Commissioner James Worthington "Jim" Gordon is a fictional character, an ally of Batman who appears in comic books published by DC Comics. The character first appeared in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939), and was created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane. Gordon made his debut in the first panel of this comic, making him the first Batman supporting character to be introduced.
In most incarnations of the Batman mythos, James Gordon is the Police Commissioner of Batman's home of Gotham City. He shares the hero’s deep commitment to ridding the dark and corrupt city of crime. In Golden and Silver age comics and on the 1960s Batman television show, Gordon fully trusts, and is even somewhat dependent on Batman. In most modern stories, he is somewhat skeptical of Batman's vigilante method but recognizes the necessity of Batman and the two have a mutual respect and tacit friendship. Gordon's relationship with Batman as his contact in the police is comparable to the relationship between Sherlock Holmes and Inspector Lestrade. He was the husband of Barbara Kean Gordon and, after his divorce, of Sarah Essen Gordon. Gordon is also the father of James Gordon, Jr. and the father or adoptive father, depending on the continuity, of Barbara Gordon, the first modern Batgirl and, for a time, the paraplegic information broker Oracle.
Gordon is an important part of the Batman mythos and has appeared in most other media adaptations of the character. This has included video games, animation, and the live-action films. Gordon has been played by Lyle Talbot in the serial film Batman and Robin, Neil Hamilton in the television series Batman, Pat Hingle in the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher film series, Gary Oldman in the Christopher Nolan film series and Benjamin McKenzie in the upcoming television series Gotham. In 2011, James Gordon placed 19th on IGN's Top 100 Comic Book Heroes.
- 1 Fictional character biography
- 2 Gordon and Batman's identity
- 3 Family
- 4 Other versions
- 5 In other media
- 6 References
- 7 External links
Fictional character biography
In most versions of the Batman mythos, Gordon is at one point or another depicted as Commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department. Gordon frequently contacts Batman for help in solving various crimes, particularly those committed by supervillains. Generally it is Gordon who uses the Batsignal to summon Batman, and it has become a running joke of sorts that the Dark Knight will often disappear in the middle of the discussion when Gordon's back is turned. Gordon is usually silver-haired, tall and thin with a mustache and glasses. In most incarnations, he is seen wearing a trenchcoat and a tie along with a suit. On occasion, he wears a fedora. He is also sometimes pictured with a cane, although it is not revealed why he uses it. Because DC Comics retconned its characters' history in the 1985 miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths, and because of different interpretations in television and film, the details of Gordon's history vary from story to story.
In the original pre-Crisis version of his history, Gordon is a police detective who initially resents the mysterious vigilante's interference in police business. He first appears in Detective Comics #27, in the very first Batman story, in which they both investigate the murder of a chemical industrialist. Although Batman fights on the side of justice, his methods and phenomenal track record for stopping crimes and capturing criminals embarrasses the police by comparison. Eventually, Batman meets up with Gordon and persuades the detective that they need each other's help. Batman is deputized and works with Gordon as an agent of the law.
In Batman Special #1, it's revealed that Gordon, as a young cop, shot and killed two robbers in self-defense in front of their son. The results of this event would lead the boy to become the first Wrath, a cop killer with a costume and motif inspired by Batman, who would come after Gordon for revenge years later.
Batman: Year One
The post-Crisis version of the character was introduced in the 1987 storyline Batman: Year One, written by Frank Miller. In this version, James Worthington Gordon is transferred back to Gotham City after spending more than 15 years in Chicago. A man of integrity, Gordon finds that Batman is his only ally against the mob-controlled administration. One of the most significant differences in this version is that Batman is never deputized and Gordon's relationship with him is kept out of the public eye whenever possible. It is also added that he is a special forces veteran who is capable in hand-to-hand combat; he retaliates against an intimidation attempt by corrupt fellow officers with equal violence. He is depicted as having an extra-marital affair with a fellow detective, Sarah Essen, due to friction in his marriage. Essen and Gordon correctly deduce Batman's identity at one point, but never investigate their guess more fully in order to confirm it. Gordon breaks off their affair after being blackmailed by the corrupt Police Commissioner, Gillian B. Loeb.
The 1998 miniseries Gordon of Gotham takes place nearly 20 years prior to the current events of the DC Universe and two months before his arrival in Gotham in Batman: Year One. It reveals that Gordon, during his tenure in Chicago, struggled with his wife over conceiving a child while taking university night classes in criminology. He becomes a minor celebrity after a foiling a late-night robbery attempt. However, after deciding to investigate a corrupt fellow officer, he is assaulted and discredited. Gordon then uncovers evidence of rigging in the city council election and brings down two of his fellow officers, which leads to his commander recommending that he take a detective position opening in Gotham.
The story Wrath Child, published in Batman Confidential, issues 13-16 explains that Gordon is transferred from Gotham to Chicago for 15 years as part of a plan by Gillian B. Loeb, then a captain, in a cover up (of events that would lead to the creation of the first Wrath), Gordon having shot a dirty cop and his wife while they were sneaking out of a warehouse; Gordon complies when Loeb threatened to kill the boy. Gordon transfers back to Gotham around the same time Batman starts his career.
While still a Lieutenant in the force, Gordon convinces the Police Commissioner, who took over after Loeb's disgrace, to implement the Bat-Signal as a means to contact Batman and also to frighten criminals. It is around this time that the first Robin, Dick Grayson, becomes Batman's sidekick. Gordon initially disapproves of a child joining in Batman's adventures, but soon grows to not only accept the boy but trust him as much as he does Batman.
In the following years, Gordon quickly rises to the rank of Commissioner after he and Batman weed out corruption within the department. After the death of his brother and sister-in-law, he adopts his niece, Barbara. Soon after he adopts Barbara, he divorces his wife, who returned to Chicago with their son James, while he retains custody of Barbara, who eventually becomes Batgirl. Gordon quickly deduces the heroine's true identity, and attempts to confront her about it, going so far as to search her bedroom for proof. However, he was semi-tricked out of this belief, when Batman (after sanctioning Batgirl officially) had Robin dress up as Batgirl while Barbara is on the roof with her father. Gordon would continue to believe his daughter is indeed Batgirl, but would not confront her about it again, until years later.
Batman: The Killing Joke
In the 1988 graphic novel The Killing Joke, the Joker kidnaps Gordon after shooting and paralyzing Barbara. He then cages Gordon in the freak show of an abandoned amusement park and forces him to look at enlarged photos of his wounded daughter in an effort to drive him insane, thus proving to Batman that even seemingly normal people can lose their minds after having "one bad day". Batman eventually apprehends the Joker and rescues Gordon. Despite the intense trauma he has endured, Gordon's sanity and ethical code are intact; he insists that Batman apprehend the Joker without harming him in order to "show him that our way works."
Soon after Sarah Essen returns to Gordon's life, they rekindle their romance and get engaged. However, Essen cannot comprehend why Gordon needs Batman so much, which occasionally puts a strain on their relationship.
In Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #2, shortly before their planned wedding, former Lieutenant Flass (Gordon's former partner) beats Gordon and kidnaps James Jr. for ransom in exchange for letting a corrupt judge go free. Batman saves James Jr., while Gordon, Essen, Flass and the judge are trapped and must work together to escape.
For a brief period following the Knightfall and Prodigal storylines, Gordon is removed from his post as Commissioner and replaced by his own wife, due partly to his own disinclination to trust Batman after two substitutes — Jean-Paul Valley and Dick Grayson — assume the role and do not bother to tell him about the switch.
No Man's Land
The No Man's Land storyline took place after Gotham is destroyed by an earthquake and isolated from outside assistance. Inside Gotham, Gordon struggles to maintain order in the midst of a crime wave. Batman is mysteriously absent for the initial three months, and Gordon feels somewhat betrayed. He forges an uneasy alliance with Two-Face, but the partnership doesn't last; Two-Face kidnaps Gordon, putting him on trial for breaking their "legally binding" alliance. Gordon escapes, however, and later meets with Batman once again. In this confrontation, Gordon berates Batman for letting Gotham "fall into ruin". Batman offers to prove his trust by revealing his secret identity, but Gordon refuses to look when Batman removes his mask. Eventually, the two repair their friendship.
At the end of the No Man's Land storyline, the Joker kills Sarah Essen-Gordon. An enraged Gordon barely restrains himself from killing Joker, shooting the Joker's knee instead. Not long afterward, Gordon is shot by a criminal seeking revenge for a previous arrest. Though seriously injured, he survives, and eventually makes a full recovery.
Gordon retires from the police force after having served for more than 20 years. He remains in Gotham, and occasionally enjoys nighttime visits from Batman. Despite being retired, Gordon often finds himself drawn to a series of life-and-death circumstances, such as the Joker sending him flowers during Last Laugh, or being contacted by the temporarily reformed Harvey Dent to stop Batman from killing the Joker, to being kidnapped by Francis Sullivan, grandson of one of Gotham's notorious serial killers, during the Made of Wood storyline. After the attack by Sullivan, Batman gives Gordon an encrypted cellphone, the so-called Batphone, in case he needs to contact him, which also carries a transmitter in case of trouble. He also still has contacts with the country's law enforcement agencies, which the sheriff's departments request Gordon to contact Batman to help investigating a series of unusual murders on a suburb territory outside the city's limits; it turns out to be a paranormal case involving black magic, occult rituals, and the supernatural. Commissioner Michael Akins has taken his position, with many officers expressing reluctance to follow him. Even Harvey Bullock at one point attempts to humiliate Akins in front of other officers.
After Barbara requires surgery to save her life from the Brainiac virus, Gordon visited his adopted daughter in Metropolis. She reveals to him her current role as Oracle, as well as her past as Batgirl. Gordon admits that he knew of her life as Batgirl, but is pleasantly surprised to know of her second career as Oracle.
As part of DC's "One Year Later", Gordon has returned to the role of Commissioner; as of the year-long jump he has been back in the job for 3 months. He rebuilt the Bat-Signal, but still carries the mobile Batphone that the Dark Knight gave him. The circumstances behind this are currently unknown, though there have been allusions to extreme corruption within the GCPD. These allusions are supported by events within Gotham Central, especially involving Detective Jim Corrigan. Most recently, Gordon survived an attempt on his life by the Joker (Batman #655), who had drugged him with Joker Venom in an attack on the GCPD. He was taken to the hospital in time.
During the Blackest Night crossover, while mourning the passing of the original Batman, who was apparently killed in action during Final Crisis, Gordon and his daughter witness Green Lantern crash into the Bat-Signal, after being assaulted by a reanimated version of the deceased Martian Manhunter. After offering the hero a spare car, the Gordons then find themselves fighting for their lives against the reanimated versions of the original Batman's rogues gallery at Gotham Central, where Gordon makes short work of serial killer Abattoir (in Black Lantern form) with a shotgun. They are rescued by the current Dark Knight, Robin, Red Robin, and Deadman, but are later attacked by Batman and Red Robin's parents, the reanimated Graysons and the Drakes. While Batman and Red Robin battle the Black Lanterns, Robin takes the Gordons to their underground base. It is later shown that Alfred Pennyworth tends his wounds (Gordon is unconscious, thus protecting the team's secret identities) along with Barbara's at the bunker's infirmary.
The Peter Pan Killer
Recently, Gordon's long lost son, James Jr., has seemingly returned, a discovery that gravely disturbs Gordon. He was caught on camera around the same time all of the exotic birds from the Zoo were inexplicably released. After more violence, it is shown James Jr. is slowly murdering his way through people who have seemingly wronged him in the past.
The New 52
In The New 52, Gordon is still the commissioner of the GCPD, but with some changes. One of them is of him having the red hair and mustache, from Batman: Year One. There were also changes with his family; He has never been married to anyone other than Barbara Gordon Sr. He and Barbara Gordon Sr. are also the biological parents of Barbara "Babs" Gordon (aka Batgirl).
During the Forever Evil storyline, Commissioner Gordon enters Blackgate Penitentiary in order to save the warden. When it came to the turf wars between the Arkham inmates, Commissioner Gordon helps to evacuate the citizens from Gotham City.
Gordon and Batman's identity
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In most versions of the mythos, Gordon is ignorant of Batman's identity. There is usually the implication Gordon is smart enough to solve the mystery, but chooses not to in order to preserve Batman's effectiveness and maintain his own plausible deniability. In the 1966 Batman film, Gordon explicitly states his desire not to know for such a reason. In Batman: Year One, Gordon claims not to see the unmasked Batman well (whom his wife at that time, Barbara, also sees) because he doesn't have his glasses on. Gordon suspects early on that Bruce Wayne may be Batman, though he never follows up on his suspicions, although Sarah Essen is correct in her suspicions, even guessing Bruce's motivation. In Batman: The Animated Series, Gordon has implied he deliberately avoids deep investigation on the subject of Batman or Batgirl's identity (that of his own daughter, which he seems more sure of but cannot acknowledge it because that would put him in an uncomfortable legal position).
Likewise, in the 1980s Detective Comics storyline Blind Justice, the world at large incorrectly supposes Batman is dead and Gordon comments to Bruce Wayne that Batman has earned the right to retirement if he so desires. He then rather pointedly asks Bruce's advice on whether or not he should reveal that Batman still lives.
When Hugo Strange attempted to determine Batman's identity early in his career, he began his research by focusing on muggings and murders committed in the last few years, prompting Gordon - upon learning of Strange's research - to reflect that Strange had already made a mistake as he was underestimating the physical demands that would be required for Batman to have reached his current level of skill, suggesting that Gordon had already considered such an avenue of investigation (even if he decided not to follow it up).
During No Man's Land, Batman attempts to regain Gordon's trust by revealing himself, but Gordon refuses to look at him, stating that if he wanted to know Batman's identity, he could have figured it out years ago, and even cryptically saying, "And for all you know, maybe I did."
During the Hush story arc, while working with Superman, Batman discusses whether or not Perry White has figured out Superman's secret identity. Theorizing that White is too good a reporter to not have figured it out, he draws the same comparison to himself and Gordon, stating that Gordon is too good a cop to not have figured it out. In that same story arc, Gordon, in an attempt to stop Batman from killing the Joker, tells Batman to remember who his role models are (his parents) and the beliefs they instilled in him. Plus, he asks Batman to remember who and what made him who he is, a rather obvious reference to the criminal who gunned down his parents in front of him, suggesting that Gordon knows that Bruce Wayne is Batman.
Barbara reveals her identities to her father in Birds of Prey #89. Gordon then reveals that he was well aware of her status as the first Batgirl all along, though he purposefully avoided looking into what she was doing after she was paralyzed. Batman chides her for revealing herself, saying it was a mistake, but she counters that, while he taught her to fight criminals, it was her father who taught her to be human.
In Blackest Night: Batman, Gordon is present when Deadman refers to the current Batman as "Grayson" and after the current Robin took Gordon and his daughter to the new Batman's underground base. It is implied that Gordon is unconscious when they meet Alfred Pennyworth.
At the conclusion of Batman: The Black Mirror, Gordon strongly implies to Dick Grayson that he is aware of the secret identities of Grayson and the Waynes, when he thanks Grayson for everything he had done for him over the course of the story. Grayson attempts to brush this off, thinking Gordon meant only the forensic assistance he had given, from which Gordon cuts him off, saying "I mean, thank you....for everything." A long moment of silence follows, and Grayson accepts his thanks.
Knowledge in other continuities
In the Batman: Year 100 storyline which takes place in 2039, Captain Jim Gordon, grandson of Commissioner Gordon, finds an old laptop in the attic of a country home owned by Gordon and discovers a secret file which he assumes contains long-lost information on Batman. After unsuccessfully trying numerous passwords with relevance to the Batman universe he inputs "Bruce Wayne" and is granted access to the file contents.
In the Batman - Vampire trilogy in the Elseworlds series, Gordon is shown to be aware of Batman's connection to Alfred Pennyworth, but his knowledge of Batman's identity as Bruce Wayne is virtually irrelevant as Batman had abandoned his life as Bruce Wayne after he was transformed into a full vampire while fighting Dracula.
In the Christopher Nolan trilogy, Gordon decides that he prefers to remain ignorant of Batman's identity and agrees that his anonymity - even in death - has sociological value. Immediately prior to Batman's apparent self-sacrifice near the end of The Dark Knight Rises, Gordon learns the truth when Batman makes a reference to Gordon's kindness to him as a child. Following Batman's apparent death in a nuclear detonation, Gordon attends Wayne's empty-casket burial with Blake and Wayne's/Batman's confidants, Alfred Pennyworth and Lucius Fox.
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In Pre-Crisis continuity, James Gordon was the biological father of Anthony "Tony" Gordon. Originally referred to as a college student, Tony later disappeared while hiding from Communist spies. He was later reunited with his sister Barbara and perished in a battle with the Sino-Supermen (Batman Family #12, Detective Comics #482). In Post-Crisis continuity, there has been no mention of Tony Gordon.
Barbara "Babs" Gordon
Barbara "Babs" Gordon is the biological daughter of James Gordon in Pre-Crisis continuity. She also leads a double life as a librarian and as costumed crimefighter Batgirl. Barbara is also the link of the DC Universe Oracle. Her father found out her secrets.
Barbara Kean-Gordon/Barbara Eileen-Gordon
Barbara Eileen (Batman: Turning Points) (or Kean, depending on the writer) Gordon is Gordon's ex-wife. In one Post-Crisis story, Gordon and Babs visit the grave of his late wife. However, this story is later retconned when it is revealed that she is not dead, but instead they are divorced and she is living in Chicago with their son, James Gordon Jr.
During the "One Year Later" storyline, Gordon makes a slight reference to his ex-wife "doing well." Melinda McGraw portrayed Barbara Gordon in The Dark Knight. Grey DeLisle voiced her in Batman Year One. Erin Richards will be portraying Barbara in Gotham.
Barbara "Babs" Gordon
Barbara "Babs" Gordon (later Batgirl and Oracle) is the daughter of Gordon's brother Roger and Roger's wife Thelma. When Babs was 12 or 13, Roger and Thelma died. Babs moved to Gotham City and lived with her uncle, aunt and cousin. Eventually, Gordon and Barbara adopted her. However, the couple divorced and Gordon retained custody of Babs, while Barbara moved to Chicago with James, Jr. (Secret Origins #20). It has recently been revealed that Gordon had dated Thelma before either of them was married and that he might be the biological father of Babs (Batman: Gotham Knights #6). Following the The New 52 reboot, Barbara is the biological daughter of her father and his wife Barbara, along being the older sister of James Gordon Jr.
James Gordon, Jr.
Gordon and his wife Barbara Kean-Gordon are the parents of a son named James Gordon, Jr. (Batman #404-407). James Jr. and his mother moved to Chicago after she divorced the elder Gordon. After his introduction in Batman: Year One, the character appeared almost exclusively in comics set during the Year One era, and went virtually unmentioned in present day. The character re-appeared in Batman: The Black Mirror which introduced the now adult James Jr. as a sociopath who kills and mutilates people for fun. He is institutionalized as a teenager after he disfigures a school bus driver who insulted him. After he is released years later, he commits a series of brutal murders, while trying to frame the Joker for his crimes. After nearly killing his mother, and capturing his step-sister, James Jr. is apprehended by his father and Batman (Dick Grayson), and institutionalized in Arkham.
Following The New 52, James Jr. appears in the Batgirl series. He escapes Arkham, and begins stalking his sister, who he views as a rival for his father's affection. The series reveals that he deliberately caused the divorce of his parents. He murdered a cat his mother had bought for Barbara and then threatened to kill his sister if she did not leave the family and threatened to kill Barbara if she tried to contact them ever again.
Sarah Essen (Batman Annual #13, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #2) was first referenced as Gordon's wife during the future tale The Dark Knight Returns. She first appeared fully in Batman: Year One as a co-worker with whom Gordon has an extra-marital affair. After realizing they could not be together, she transferred out of state. Years after Gordon divorces his wife, Sarah returns to Gotham, and the two continue their relationship. After marrying Gordon, Sarah is murdered by the Joker at the end of the No Man's Land storyline. In The New 52 retcons following the Flashpoint events, the alterations of the timeline resulted Sarah's marriage with her husband has never taken place, making Barbara Gordon Sr. is the only woman James Gordon ever married. Sarah's status in this new continuity is unknown.
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The Dark Knight Returns
James Gordon appears in the limited series Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, which presents a future where a retiring Gordon not only knows Batman's identity, but is good friends with Bruce Wayne. He then makes a cameo on Batman: The Dark Knight Strikes Again. Now retired, he wrote a book about Batman, who was believed to be dead.
Gordon is also referred to in the first issue of the series, All Star Batman and Robin the Boy Wonder, set in the same universe as and prior to The Dark Knight Returns. He made a full appearance on issue #6, as a police captain, having a conversations with his ex-partner, Sarah Essen, about Batman. He's still married to Barbara Kean Gordon, who is now an alcoholic, and has a son James Jr. Just as other continuities, his daughter, Barbara, who is fifteen, becomes Batgirl. Frank Miller has commented that the series is set in his Dark Knight Universe, which includes all of the Batman works by Frank Miller, therefore Barbara's inclusion confirms that Gordon had two children during Batman: Year One, at least in Miller's version of the continuity.
JLA: Earth 2
On the Anti-Matter Earth, where the evil Crime Syndicate of America live, James Gordon's counterpart is a crime boss named Boss Gordon, an ally to Owlman, and it is implied that he had an affair with Martha Wayne. Boss Gordon is the city's leading crime boss until his empire is toppled by Batman and Commissioner Thomas Wayne.
JLA: The Nail
In a world where Superman was never found by the Kents, reference is made to Gordon having been murdered shortly before the events of the story, resulting in Gotham's police department being granted extra powers of authority in his absence, although these are never fully explained.
Batman: Gotham Noir
In the Elseworld title Batman: Gotham Noir, Jim Gordon is an alcoholic hard-boiled private detective who had left the police force following a failure to solve the disappearance of a judge. He is Selina Kyle's former lover and Bruce Wayne's wartime partner.
Batman: In Darkest Knight
In the Elseworld story Batman: In Darkest Knight, Jim Gordon is an honest cop who distrusts the Green Lantern (who in this reality is Bruce Wayne) because of his near-limitless power. Green Lantern comes to him in order to find the identity of the man who killed his parents, but he rebukes him. Later on, he relents and goes over the files and narrows it down, but he is then interrupted and killed by Sinestro, who ruptures his heart.
In the Vampire Batman Elseworld trilogy that began with Batman & Dracula: Red Rain, Gordon learns that a coven of vampires, led by Count Dracula himself, is behind a series of murders. Dracula captures him, but he defies the vampire even as he is bled from a cut on his neck, with Batman arriving in time to save Gordon. In the sequel Batman: Bloodstorm, he and Alfred collaborate to form a team to eliminate a new family of vampires in daylight while they sleep, culminating in him and Alfred being forced to stake Batman after he succumbs to vampirism and drains the Joker's blood. The third part of the trilogy— Batman: Crimson Mist— sees Gordon and Alfred forced to work with Two-Face and Killer Croc to stop the vampire Batman, returned from the staking and having already targeted and killed Penguin, Riddler, Scarecrow and Poison Ivy, Gordon grimly stating that, even if he is only killing criminals, the man they knew would never have killed. The story concludes with Gordon being crushed by debris from the Batcave roof after explosives are planted to destroy it, thus exposing Batman to the sunlight and ending his reign of terror.
In Lord Havok and the Lord Havok and the Extremists #3, an alternate version of Gordon, known as Zombie Gordon is featured as part of Monarch's army. A flesh-hungry beast, Zombie Gordon is kept in line by Bat-Soldier, via a large chain.
In the alternate timeline of the Flashpoint event, James Gordon is the chief of police, instead of being commissioner, and also works with Thomas Wayne, who he knows is Batman. Later, Gordon tries to convince Batman that he does not have to fight villains by himself, however Batman refused. When Gordon locates the Joker was in old Wayne Manor, he goes in without any help or backup. Gordon is then tricked into shooting Harvey Dent's daughter, having been disguised as the Joker, as she had been taped to a chair and had her mouth taped shut with a smile painted on the tape. Joker then appears and slashes Gordon's throat, who then dies by Joker venom before Batman confronts her.
In the graphic novel by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank, Batman: Earth One, Jim Gordon is featured as a central character. In the story, he's a broken man, who's given up to fight corruption until the emergence of the Batman. He's also partnered with a young fit Harvey Bullock. On the trail of the "Birthday Boy" killings, Gordon and Batman put aside each other's differences and stop him while saving his daughter Barbara.
In other media
- In the 1960s Batman series, Gordon was played by Neil Hamilton, and is portrayed as not only having the Bat-Signal at his disposal, but also a red emergency hotline telephone (known as the Bat-Phone) that connects directly to the Batcave, the Batmobile and [unbeknownst to Gordon] Bruce Wayne's study; Gordon's switchboard operators are twice shown to be able to trunk incoming lines into the Batphone circuit, enabling him to telephone Batman from remote locations (ironically once from Wayne Manor, and the other from a phone booth adjacent to that being used by Bruce Wayne). Batman and Robin are regular visitors to his office. The series occasionally made light of his dependence on Batman. In "The Devil's Fingers", when Batman is apparently unavailable, Gordon and Chief O'Hara laments that the police will have to solve a case "ourselves"; this contrasted the cold open of the pilot episode, "Hi Diddle Riddle", in which Gordon only reluctantly decides to summon Batman after O'Hara and all of his bureau chiefs gather and unanimously agree that the Riddler is beyond their abilities.
- In September 2013, Fox announced that it had given a straight-to-series order for a new drama titled Gotham. Executive produced and written by The Mentalist's Bruno Heller, the series will explore the origin of Detective Gordon and the criminals of Gotham, taking place years before Gordon meets Batman, who will not be a part of this series. The series is scheduled to premiere in the 2014-15 television season. Ben McKenzie will be portraying Gordon in the series, who is an idealistic rookie detective for Gotham City Open Police Department’s Homicide Squad, a former college football star and a war hero.
- Gordon makes two appearances in Super Friends:
- He first appeared in Challenge of the Superfriends, episode "Superfriends, Rest In Peace" voiced by Danny Dark. Riddler and Cheetah hold Gordon hostage so they can kill Batman with the Noxium Crystal.
- The second is in The Super Powers Team: Galactic Guardians, episode "The Fear". Along with Jonathan Crane, Gordon is trying to find and arrest the Scarecrow. Gordon and Batman are both unaware that Crane is the Scarecrow.
- He also appeared in some of the comics related to the show.
- In Filmation's 1977 cartoon series The New Adventures of Batman, Commissioner Gordon is voiced by Lennie Weinrib.
- In the 1990s Batman: The Animated Series, Gordon is voiced by veteran voice actor Bob Hastings (who previously voiced Superboy in Filmation's 1960s Superman cartoon), and his relationship with Batman was similar to that in the comics. Many scenes in the series portray Batman and the Commissioner having clandestine meetings at the Bat-Signal. A flashback in the episode "Robin's Reckoning" depicts the young Gordon as having red hair. In the episode "I Am the Night", it is revealed that Batman sees Gordon as a surrogate father, as he would have been the same age as his father if he had still been alive, and is deeply affected after Gordon is seriously wounded by a criminal, Jimmy "The Jazzman" Peek.
- Commissioner Gordon also appeared in the follow-up to Batman: The Animated Series, The New Batman Adventures. Like the rest of the cast, Gordon was slightly redesigned for the new series. Although his design remains relatively similar to before, his build became more slender than previously, and his hair was then cropped into a flat-top design. In the episode "Over the Edge" Batgirl suffers from the Scarecrow's fear toxins, producing a nightmare where she dies in battle without telling her father her secret. When Commissioner Gordon finds out, he blames Batman and starts a manhunt against his former ally after discovering his secret identity on Barbara's computer. After Barbara awakens, she tries to admit her secret to her father, who says that he trusts her with whatever choices she makes and that she doesn't need to tell him anything. The episode implies that Gordon already knows that his daughter is Batgirl, but keeps it to himself. In the episode "Holiday Knights" it is shown that Batman and Gordon meet every year on December 31 in a diner for a meal together; to celebrate, as Gordon puts it, "survival."
- The Batman spin-off Batman Beyond also had Barbara following in her father's footsteps and becoming Gotham's new Police Commissioner after his death. In the episode "Black Out", a picture of Jim Gordon appears on Barbara's desk.
- Bob Hastings also voices Commissioner Gordon in the Static Shock episode "Hard as Nails." Batman and Static visit him and Detective Bullock when Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn hijack a cargo ship carrying gold bricks.
- In the animated series The Batman, James Gordon is voiced by Mitch Pileggi. He is depicted as a newly appointed Gotham City Police Commissioner after an incident involving the Joker, the Penguin, and the Riddler. He ends the manhunt against Batman and goes public with his support for the crime fighter in order to help make Gotham safer for his daughter, Barbara (who, as in most other incarnations, becomes Batgirl). A young officer was seen trying to comfort Bruce Wayne after his parents’ murders in a flashback in the episode "Traction" was seen and following Gordon's introductory episode, "Night and the City", there arose speculation about the officer being a young Gordon, especially after a line by Alfred on how Gordon had "loomed large over [Bruce’s] life". In the episode "Artifacts", Gotham is shown twenty years into the future, during which Barbara has been crippled and taken on the identity of Oracle. Gordon is shown to still be alive, retired, and stays in close contact with his daughter. It is implied that he is aware of Barbara's dual life by this point.
- Commissioner Gordon is featured in Batman: The Brave and the Bold. In "Deep Cover for Batman!", Batman called Commissioner Gordon up telling him that Riddler's crossword puzzle crime spree was thwarted. In "The Color of Revenge", a flashback reveals that Batman got a call from Commissioner Gordon that Crazy Quilt had broken into the museum to steal the Stimulated Emission Light Amplifier. At the end of the episode, Batman gets a message from him stating that Killer Moth had hijacked the Gotham Bank Money Train. In "The Knights of Tomorrow", Commissioner Gordon makes an appearance at Bruce Wayne and Selina Kyle's wedding. In "The Super Batman of Planet X", he has a Zur-En-Arrh counterpart named Chancellor Gor-Zonn (voiced by Corey Burton) who informs the Batman of Zur-En-Arrh of Rothul's attacks. He also appears with no lines in the episode "Joker: The Vile and The Villainous".
- Commissioner Gordon makes a cameo appearance in Teen Titans Go! Most of his appearances has him in the company of Batman. In the episode, "La Larva de Amor," while Silkie is floating down a river in a bucket, he floats past Batman and Gordon fishing on a dock. In "Girls Night Out," Commissioner Gordon is seen in his police car laughing with Batman when they see Starfire, Raven, and Jinx speed by with the police in pursuit. After seeing this, Commissioner Gordon and Batman continue to laugh.
- A younger version of James Gordon appears in Beware the Batman voiced by Kurtwood Smith. He starts out as a lieutenant that distrusts Batman and his work in the city, clashing with Barbara's support for him. After a couple of reluctant team-ups and saving his daughter from Tobias Whale and Phosphorus Rex, Gordon begins to trust Batman and work alongside him even installing the Bat-Signal. In "Nexus," James Gordon is promoted to police commissioner after the previously unnamed police commissioner was killed by the League of Assassins' ninjas.
- In the 1949 15-episode movie serial Batman and Robin, Commissioner Gordon was portrayed by Ed Wood regular Lyle Talbot.
- Commissioner Gordon was played by Neil Hamilton was in Batman: The Movie, based on the 1960s TV series. He advised Batman and Robin which supervillains were at large.
- In the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher film adaptations of Batman, Commissioner Gordon is portrayed by Pat Hingle. In Batman (1989), Gordon regards Batman as a rumor at best and vigilante at worst, though by the end of the film, Gordon publicly acknowledges the hero's usefulness and helps present the Bat-Signal. In Batman Returns (1992), when the Penguin has Batman framed for murder, it is implied Gordon is not entirely convinced, as he is not willing to use lethal force in order to apprehend him, and publicly refers to Batman's batarang in the crime scene as "purely circumstantial". In Batman Forever (1995), Gordon is shown to be fairly well acquainted with Bruce Wayne. Although Barbara Gordon is his daughter in most continuities, in Batman & Robin (1997), Batgirl is characterized as Alfred Pennyworth's niece, Barbara Wilson. In Gordon's last appearance in the film, Poison Ivy uses her pheromones to make him fall in love with her in order to get the keys to police headquarters and the Bat-Signal, almost killing him with her toxic kiss. Gordon's wife briefly appears in Batman, but isn't seen or mentioned in the sequels.
- Batman Begins (2005) concerns Gordon's rise from beat cop to Sergeant and, by the end of the film, Lieutenant. In the beginning, Gordon does his best to comfort the eight-year-old Bruce Wayne after the murder of his parents when Gillian B. Loeb comes in and tells Bruce that the police apprehended Joe Chill. Bruce later recognizes him as one of the few uncorrupted cops in the city and always remembers the kindness he showed him as a child. After Bruce develops his Batman identity, Gordon is the first person in law enforcement that he contacts. The two form a secret alliance against Carmine Falcone's criminal operation. Gordon proves important when Batman fights Ra's al Ghul. Batman gives Gordon the task of destroying the monorail tracks around Gotham City with the Batmobile, halting Ra's plan to destroy the city. He is promoted to lieutenant and presents the Bat-Signal. The movie ends with Gordon talking about another criminal who robbed a bank and leaves a calling card in the form of a Joker playing card. Many critics, and writer David S. Goyer, have noted that Oldman's portrayal of Gordon bears a strong resemblance to the way the character was drawn by David Mazzucchelli in Batman: Year One.
- In The Dark Knight (2008), Gordon is leading the Gotham PD's Major Crimes Unit and forms a tenuous alliance with Batman and district attorney Harvey Dent to round up the remaining members of Gotham's organized crime syndicates. When the Joker reveals that Commissioner Loeb is one of his upcoming targets, Gordon arrives at his office with other officers to offer protection, but he is too late; Loeb dies after drinking a glass of poisoned Scotch. At Loeb's funeral, Gordon foils the Joker's attempt on Mayor Garcia's life, in the process appearing to sacrifice his own life; it is soon revealed that he faked his death to protect his family. After Harvey Dent claims to be Batman, Gordon disguises himself in order to join the police convoy taking Dent to Central Holding. Following a vehicular battle with the Joker on the streets of Gotham, Gordon rescues both Batman and Dent, captures the Joker, and is promoted to Police Commissioner by the mayor. That same night, after Dent is released, two corrupt cops and the Joker's men abduct Dent and his fiancée, Rachel Dawes, placing them in separate buildings with oil drums rigged to explode. While Batman is able to rescue Dent, Gordon arrives at Rachel's location just as the bomb explodes and kills her. Disfigured in the explosion and driven insane by grief, and driven on by the Joker, Dent becomes the villain Two-Face and seeks vengeance against Gordon, whom he blames for Rachel's death. Two-Face kidnaps Gordon's wife and two children, and forces Gordon to plead for their lives at the site of Rachel's death. He flips his trademark coin to decide whether Gordon's son should die, but Batman tackles Two-Face off the building, killing him. In order to preserve Dent's image as the city's "White Knight", Batman decides to take the blame for all of Two-Face's murders, so that the public will never know of Dent's rampage and his prosecution of the mob will remain intact. Gordon reluctantly agrees. After eulogizing Dent as a hero to the city, Gordon destroys the Bat-Signal in front of the GCPD and calls for a manhunt against Batman. As Batman flees, Gordon assures his son that Batman is not just a hero: he is something even more, a "Dark Knight."
- In The Dark Knight Rises (2012), set eight years after The Dark Knight, Gordon is feeling guilty about Batman taking the blame for Harvey's crimes, and contemplates resigning and revealing the truth to the city. By now, Gordon's wife has left him and taken their children. Bane's men shoot Gordon, putting him in critical condition. A disguised Bruce Wayne visits him in the hospital, and Gordon implores his former ally to return to crimefighting. He also befriends a rookie police officer, John Blake, and promotes him as a detective after seeing in the young man the dedication and idealism he once had. After Bane defeats Batman and plunges Gotham into chaos which involves most of the Gotham City Police Department trapped underground, Gordon gets himself out of bed and defeats two League of Shadows operatives that tried to kill him in his hospital room. After the inmates of Blackgate Penitentiary are released by the League of Shadows after Bane exposes Harvey Dent's crimes, Gordon gets himself into hiding with Blake and several surviving officers as they attempt to rebel against Bane. After discovering the identity of the truck that has the nuclear bomb on it, Gordon and his men alongside Miranda Tate got captured by Bane's men and brought before Jonathan Crane's show trial (which he refers to as "sentencing hearings") where Gordon is offered a choice between death or exile. When Gordon states that he and his men won't go on the ice willingly and would rather prefer death, Crane sentences Gordon and his men to "death by exile" (which involves having Gordon and his men drown in the icy waters near the bridges upon unknowingly walking across the thin ice). Fortunately, Batman arrives later that night to the rescue after regaining his strength. Commissioner Gordon did his part by finding the truck carrying the nuclear bomb and placing a device on it to block the trigger signal. In the final battle against Bane, Talia al Ghul, and the League of Shadows, Batman cryptically reveals his true identity to Gordon before apparently sacrificing his life thwarting the League of Shadows' latest plan to destroy the city. After giving the eulogy at Bruce Wayne's funeral, Gordon discovers the Bat-Signal has been repaired and realizes that Bruce survived.
- Bob Hastings reprised his voice role of Commissioner Gordon in Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, a theatrical spin-off of Batman: The Animated Series.
- Bob Hastings also reprised Commissioner Gordon in Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero.
- On a revelation on Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Barbara Gordon as the new Commissioner reveals to the new Batman Terry McGinnis that Gordon is one of the few people who knew what happened to Robin and the Joker, and that he kept it a secret; it is therefore implied that he also learned and kept secret Batman's true identity.
- Bob Hastings once again reprises his role of Commissioner Gordon in Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman.
- In Justice League: The New Frontier, Gordon makes a cameo appearance in the interrogation scene with King Faraday and Martian Manhunter.
- Gordon appeared in Batman: Gotham Knight (which occurs during the events of "Batman Begins" and "The Dark Knight") voiced by Jim Meskimen.
- Commissioner Gordon appears in Batman: Under the Red Hood voiced by Gary Cole, but was uncredited for the role.
- Emmy award-winner Bryan Cranston voiced Lt. James Gordon in the animated film adaptation of Batman: Year One.
- Gordon appears in the Batman Begins video game tie-in with the likeness of Gary Oldman, but is voiced by Gavin Hammon.
- Commissioner Gordon appears in Lego Batman: The Video Game for the PlayStation 3, Nintendo DS, Wii, PlayStation 2, PC, and Xbox 360. He serves as a boss in the villains' story (with the exception of the DS version) and is a playable character.
- Commissioner Gordon appears in Batman: Arkham Asylum voiced by Tom Kane. He is introduced accompanying Batman who monitors the readmission of the recently captured Joker in the beginning of the game. Once Joker breaks free Batman tells Gordon to alert the Warden and goes after Joker. Once Batman follows the Joker to the other end of intensive treatment, Joker shows video footage of Frank Boles (a guard working with Joker) taking Gordon hostage. On the way to free Gordon, Batman encounters Scarecrow, who drags Gordon away and apparently kills him. It is later revealed the dead person Batman found earlier was actually a guard who had been seen as Gordon due to Scarecrow's gas. Though Boles is quickly killed once Joker realizes he was being tracked by Batman, Harley Quinn keeps Gordon under her watch in the medical facility. Batman arrives to stop Harley and frees Gordon who informs him that Bane is also in the area. After the battle with Bane, which results in the Batmobile destroyed and Bane underwater, Gordon boards a ferry with a guard to be sent back to Gotham by Batman to handle the bomb case. Gordon isn't seen again until the end of the game when Batman confronts Joker for the final time. Once Batman defeats the two Titan-induced guards and multiple Joker goons, Gordon is dropped from the ceiling tied up (How, when and why he returned to the island is never explained; although the officer driving the boat could have been another one of Joker's "inside men"). Joker aims his Titan dart gun at Gordon and pulls the trigger, but Batman quickly jumps in front of Gordon taking a hit for him. The Joker then uses the Titan on himself. Gordon is later seen on the roof strapped to an electric chair while Titan Joker and Batman (who uses the cure on himself) battle. Once Joker is defeated, Gordon and Batman are quickly joined by multiple members of GCPD and SWAT members. Gordon is talking to his daughter, Barbara, a.k.a. Oracle, about the events that night. Gordon offers a ride home to Batman, considering the Batmobile was destroyed, when an alert on Gordon's radio states that Two-Face has robbed Gotham's second national bank and watches as Batman takes off in the Batwing. It is also mentioned in a Scarecrow-induced flashback that Gordon was the only officer who was sympathetic to the young Bruce Wayne on the night his parents were murdered. He also appears in the Joker challenge maps on the PS3 version where he joins Arkham guards on fighting Joker.
- Commissioner Gordon appears in DC Universe Online voiced by Ken Webster. He appears as a supporting character for the heroes.
- Commissioner Gordon appears in the video game Batman: Arkham City voiced by David Kaye. He sends cops led by Sergeant Tom Miller to find out what Arkham City is really about. He appears at the end of the game right before the credits, repeatedly asking an unresponsive Batman about what happened within Arkham City while Batman was carrying away a dead Joker. Scanning the radio for the GCPD signal shortly after Wayne's arrest in the game will give the player a sound bit of him telling a dispatcher to inform all officers to take arrests to GCPD instead of Arkham City because as he puts it "Wayne's lawyers will have a field day with this." Gordon also appears in the DLC Harley Quinn's Revenge, being another one of Batman's allies that is concerned about his mental state since Joker's death.
- Commissioner Gordon appears in Injustice: Gods Among Us. In the opening scene taking place in an alternate reality, Commissioner Gordon is seen watching the news about Joker destroying Metropolis with a nuclear missile. In Batgirl's ending, it was revealed that the alternate Commissioner Gordon was killed by the Regime for aiding the Insurgency.
- Gordon is featured as a GCPD Captain in Batman: Arkham Origins and it's portable partner Batman: Arkham Origins Blackgate voiced by Michael Gough. Being set over a decade in the past, Gordon still has his orange hair. In Arkham Origins, Gordon has yet to forge an alliance with Batman, seeing him as a menace and a lunatic, as apposed to his daughter, Barbara, who sees him for the hero he is. During Batman's break-in at the GCPD, he runs into Gordon while trying to escape and harmlessly disarms him, futilely trying to explain that they're on the same side. After saving Gordon's life when SWAT leader Branden nearly shoots him by accident, he escapes, though Gordon is knocked out in the process. Gordon later appears arresting Joker after the firefight at the Royal Hotel, and later again when he takes control of the police to stop Firefly from demolishing the bridge. When Batman arrives, he refuses to listen to his warnings about the bombs and insists Batman surrender to Firefly. Eventually he sees reason and the bomb squad disables the last bomb, allowing Batman to defeat Firefly. When the Joker takes over Blackgate Prison, Gordon arrives to stop the chaos only for his life to be put in danger when Joker straps him to an electric chair that will go off if Batman does not kill Bane in time. Batman momentarily stops Bane's heart in time to save Gordon, and the two work together to defeat the Joker. Though Gordon still feels obligated to arrest Batman, the latter disappears, and Gordon decides the city needs Batman. He later reluctantly requests Batman's help in rounding up several escaped Blackgate prisoners.
- Gordon will appear in Batman: Arkham Knight.
- In the "Batmobile" OnStar commercial, Batman calls Gordon to tell him he will be coming. An unknown actor says "Gordon here" when Batman calls.
- In several comics during 1992, such as Action Comics #673, DC ran full-page advertisements on behalf of the American Heart Association showing a picture of Gordon in a hospital bed, while the text explained that he was a victim of a heart attack due to stress, poor diet, lack of exercise and tobacco use. Since then, DC has had Gordon living a more healthy lifestyle.
- James Gordon is portrayed by Lauren Lopez in the web-musical, Holy Musical B@man!!
- Jimenez, Phil (2008). "Gordon, James W.". In Dougall, Alastair. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. New York: Dorling Kindersley. p. 141. ISBN 978-0-7566-4119-1. OCLC 213309017.
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- Detective Comics #786
- Batman: Gotham County Line #1-3
- Batman: The Joker's Last Laugh #6
- Blackest Night #2
- Blackest Night: Batman #2
- Blackest Night: Batman #3
- "Detective Comics" #878 (August 2011)
- Forever Evil: Arkham War #2
- Forever Evil: Arkham War #5
- "The Unofficial Tony Gordon Biography". Dcuguide.com. Retrieved 2010-12-25.
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- Game Informer features a two-page gallery of the many heroes and villains who appear in the game with a picture for each character and a descriptive paragraph. See "LEGO Batman: Character Gallery," Game Informer 186 (October 2008): 92.