James Gordon
James Gordon (DC Comics character).png
Commissioner Gordon on the cover of Detective Comics #1057
(March 2022) Art by Lee Bermejo.
Publication information
PublisherDC Comics
First appearance
Created by
In-story information
Full nameJames W. "Jim" Gordon[1]
Team affiliations
Supporting character of
Notable aliases
  • Commissioner Gordon
  • Batman (2015–2016)
Abilities
  • Skilled marksman and hand-to-hand combatant
  • Master tactician, strategist, and field commander
  • Police training
  • Criminology training

James W. "Jim" Gordon, Sr. is a fictional character appearing in American comic books published by DC Comics, most commonly in association with the superhero Batman. Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane as an ally of Batman, the character debuted in the first panel of Detective Comics #27 (May 1939), Batman's first appearance, making him the first Batman supporting character ever to be introduced, eventually succeeding him as Batman from 2015 to 2016.[2]

As the police commissioner of Gotham City, Gordon shares Batman's deep commitment to ridding the city of crime. The character is typically portrayed as having full trust in Batman and is even somewhat dependent on him. In many modern stories, he is somewhat skeptical of Batman's vigilante methods, but nevertheless believes that Gotham needs him. The two have a mutual respect and tacit friendship. Gordon is the father or adoptive father (depending on the continuity) of Barbara Gordon, the second Batgirl and the information broker Oracle. Jim Gordon also has a biological son, James Gordon Jr., a psychopathic serial killer who first appeared in Batman: Year One (as an infant).

One of Batman's most notable and enduring allies, Gordon has appeared in various forms of non-comics media; he has been voiced in animation and video games by Bob Hastings, Bryan Cranston, Jonathan Banks, and Christopher Meloni among others, and has been portrayed in live-action by Lyle Talbot in the Batman and Robin 1949 serial, Neil Hamilton in the 1960s Batman show and film, Pat Hingle in the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher Batman film series, Gary Oldman in The Dark Knight Trilogy, Ben McKenzie in Gotham, J. K. Simmons in the DC Extended Universe (DCEU) film Justice League and its director's cut, and Jeffrey Wright in The Batman. In 2011, Jim Gordon was ranked 19th in IGN's "Top 100 Comic Book Heroes".[3]

Publication history

Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, Gordon debuted in the first panel of Detective Comics #27 (May 1939), in which he is referred to simply as Commissioner Gordon. The character's name was taken from the earlier pulp character Commissioner James W. "Wildcat" Gordon, also known as "The Whisperer", created in 1936 by Henry Ralston, John Nanovic, and Lawrence Donovan for Street & Smith.[4]

Fictional character biography

Of Scottish descent, Gordon had served in the United States Marine Corps prior to becoming a police officer. In most versions of the Batman mythos, Jim 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 Bat-signal 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 depicted with silver or red hair, eyeglasses, and a mustache. In most incarnations, he is seen wearing a trenchcoat, necktie, and on occasion, a fedora hat. 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.

He has been married twice; first to Barbara Eileen Kean and then to Sarah Essen.

Early characterizations

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. Gordon deputizes Batman, and thereafter the Dark Knight works with Gordon as an agent of the law.[5]

In Batman Special #1, it is 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.

Post-Crisis and Zero Hour

Batman: Year One

Batman and Jim Gordon on the cover of Batman #407 (May 1987). Art by David Mazzucchelli.
Batman and Jim Gordon on the cover of Batman #407 (May 1987). Art by David Mazzucchelli.

The post-Crisis version of the character was introduced in the 1987 storyline Batman: Year One, written by Frank Miller. In this version, James W. 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 corrupt administration, which is in the pocket of mob boss Carmine Falcone. 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. Gordon breaks off their affair after being blackmailed by the corrupt police commissioner, Gillian B. Loeb. Falcone sends his nephew, Johnny Viti, to kill Gordon's wife and son; Batman saves them, however, and helps Gordon expose Loeb's corruption. After Loeb resigns, Gordon is promoted to captain.

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 night classes in criminology. He becomes a minor celebrity after a foiling a late-night robbery attempt. When he decides to investigate a corrupt fellow officer, however, the officer and his cronies assault him, and the police department discredits him in order to cover up the scandal. Gordon then uncovers evidence of rigging in the city council election and brings down two of his fellow officers, which leads to his commander transferring him to Gotham.

The story Wrath Child, published in Batman Confidential issues 13–16, retcons Gordon's origin yet again: in this continuity, Gordon started his career in Gotham, but transferred to Chicago after shooting a corrupt cop and his wife (the parents of the original Wrath). The transfer was arranged by Loeb, then a captain, in an attempt to keep himself and his fellow corrupt cops from being exposed. Loeb threatens the future Wrath's life in order to force Gordon to comply with the transfer. Gordon later transfers back to Gotham around the same time Batman starts his career.

While still a lieutenant, Gordon convinces Loeb's successor 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 Batman recruiting a child to fight dangerous criminals, but soon grows to not only accept the boy but trust him as much as he does Batman.

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 Jr., 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".

Marriage

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. Later, Gordon suffers a heart attack; his chain-smoking over the years has weakened his heart. This event later lead DC Comics to partner with the American Heart Association to create a public service announcement to raise awareness of the danger of tobacco smoking and how it would threaten one's health.

In Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #2, shortly before their planned wedding, former Lieutenant Arnold 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 takes 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 betrayed. He forges an uneasy alliance with Two-Face, but the partnership does not 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 madman in the knee instead.[2] 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.

Retirement

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[6] 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.[7] He also still has contacts with the country's law enforcement agencies, through which the sheriff's departments request Gordon to contact Batman for 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.[8] Commissioner Michael Akins has taken his position, with many officers expressing reluctance to follow him out of loyalty to Gordon.[9]

After Barbara requires surgery to counter the life-threatening effects of the Brainiac virus, Gordon visits her 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.

Return

As part of DC's "One Year Later", Gordon has once again become Gotham's police commissioner.[2] He rebuilds the Bat-Signal, but still carries the mobile Batphone that Batman 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. Gordon survives an attempt on his life by the Joker (Batman #655), who had drugged him with Joker Venom in an attack on the GCPD. He is taken to the hospital in time.

Blackest Night

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.[10] 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.[10] 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.[11]

The New 52

In September 2011, The New 52 rebooted DC's continuity. In this new timeline, Jim Gordon is still the commissioner of the GCPD and a former Marine but is younger than his traditional portrayal; he still has the red hair and mustache from Batman: Year One. He is still married to his wife Barbara, and he and Barbara are the biological parents of Barbara "Babs" Gordon (a.k.a. Batgirl).

During the Forever Evil storyline, commissioner Gordon enters Blackgate Penitentiary in order to save the warden.[12] When a turf war erupts between the Arkham inmates, Gordon helps to evacuate the citizens from Gotham City.[13]

In Batman Eternal, the storyline begins when Gordon is tricked into shooting at an unarmed suspect in an underground train station, resulting in a train derailing and Gordon being arrested.[14] While incarcerated, Gordon is visited by his son,[15] who makes arrangements to leave his father's cell open and provide him with an opportunity to escape Blackgate, believing that his father's actions are the result of him at least subconsciously acknowledging the 'truth' that Gotham is beyond saving and his attempts to be a hero are pointless.[16] However, despite his doubts, Gordon decides to remain in prison, concluding that Gotham is still worth saving and simply musing that he may just be getting old and made a mistake.[17] Although villains such as the Penguin attempt to attack Gordon while in prison, Gordon uses Batman's example to inspire fear in his 'fellow inmates' with minimal effort until he is released as the final assault on Gotham begins, proceeding to rally all of Gotham to stand up and take back their city to aid Batman for everything he has ever done for them.[18]

Batman

Following Bruce Wayne's apparent death in battle with the Joker during the events of Batman (vol. 2) #40,[19] Gordon took up the mantle of Batman using a mecha style suit to fight crime in Gotham City. Gordon first appears as Batman in Divergence #1, a DC Comics 2015 Free Comic Book Day issue, in which he is shown to be sponsored by the mega-corp Powers International. He also notes that this is "the worst idea in the history of Gotham", as he suits up,[20] but agreed to the offer when various sources argued that there was nobody else capable of understanding Gotham the way Batman had done over the years, Gordon contemplating the merits of a Batman who works with the system rather than outside it.[21] However, he begins to recognize the problems of this approach when he discovers that some of his past arrests have been murdered while out on parole and he is forbidden from investigating the crime himself.[22] Gordon later meets the currently-depowered Superman when Clark comes to Gotham to investigate evidence that the weapons currently being used against him were created in Gotham, but their initial meeting results in a fight as Superman doesn't believe that Gordon is the new Batman and Gordon doubts Superman due to him currently working with Luthor.[23] Although Gordon doubts Superman's abilities as a hero due to his current powerless state, he eventually works with Superman to stop Vandal Savage stealing an artificial sun created in Gotham to use as part of his latest plan, their alliance helping Gordon recognize Superman's continued merits as a hero while Superman in turn acknowledges that the new Batman gets the job done.[24] Gordon later works with the Justice League to investigate the death of a large monster, the heroes noting after the case has concluded that Batman's high opinion of Gordon's abilities as a detective were well-founded. Despite Gordon's best efforts, political issues in the department result in new villain Mr. Bloom destroying his armour and mounting a massive assault on Gotham after seriously injuring Gordon, prompting the amnesic Bruce Wayne — ironically inspired by a conversation with the equally — amnesiac Joker — to try and reclaim his role as Batman.[25] The crisis concludes with Bloom defeated by the returned Batman using some of Gordon's equipment while working with his old ally. The return of the true Batman prompts the GCPD to shut down the program and restore Gordon to his role as commissioner, Gordon musing that the world needs Batman to face its nightmares so that normal human beings can learn to cope with the more regular problems.[26]

DC Rebirth

Jim Gordon as he appears in Batman (vol. 3) #3 (July 2016). Art by David Finch.
Jim Gordon as he appears in Batman (vol. 3) #3 (July 2016). Art by David Finch.

In June 2016, the DC Rebirth event relaunched DC Comics' entire line of comic book titles, in which Jim Gordon has a continued role in Detective Comics and the third volume of Batman. In December 2017, DC Comics ended the Rebirth branding, opting to include everything under a larger DC Universe banner and naming, and Gordon continues to be featured in Detective Comics and the third volume of Batman. For a time Gordon is corrupted by the toxin used by The Batman Who Laughs, an alternate version of Batman contaminated by the chemicals that drove the Joker insane, but Batman is able to get help from Superman in capturing Gordon and the other infected heroes until a cure can be found.

In 2021, DC began publishing a new Joker series. The first story arc (at least through the first six issues) is told primarily from Gordon's perspective. He has retired from public service and agrees to look for Joker on behalf of a secretive organization. His daughter Barbara provides intelligence and communications support.[27]

Gordon and Batman's identity

In most versions of the mythos, Gordon is ignorant of Batman's identity. There is usually the implication that Gordon is intelligent 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 just such a reason.

In the pre-Crisis era, a 1952 story (Batman #71) shows Gordon trying to uncover Batman's identity merely for his own satisfaction, but Batman discovers Gordon's scheme and skillfully outwits him. A later story in the 1960s shows Gordon giving a bedridden Bruce Wayne (who had contracted a nearly fatal fever as Batman) "Chinese oranges", a natural treatment for the fever. Later, Bruce opines to Dick Grayson if it is possible that Gordon is beginning to suspect Batman's identity.

In Batman: Year One, Gordon claims not to see the unmasked Batman well (whom his wife at that time, Barbara, also sees) because he wasn't wearing his eyeglasses. Gordon suspects that Bruce Wayne may be Batman, though he never follows up on his suspicions. In Batman: The Animated Series, Gordon has implied he deliberately avoids deep investigation on the subject of Batman or Batgirl's identity.

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 (in a story written in the post-Crisis era), he began his research by focusing on muggings and murders committed in the last few years based on the idea that Batman was prompted into his current role by a traumatic loss as a result of criminal activity, 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 by looking at crimes committed such a short time ago, suggesting that Gordon had already considered such an avenue of investigation (even if he may or may not have followed it up). A chronologically later storyline involving Strange pre-Crisis involved Alfred being hospitalized as part of Strange's scheme, and during a conversation between Gordon and Batman over the phone after Strange's defeat, Gordon pointedly tells Batman to inform an unnamed 'mutual acquaintance' that Gordon has checked on the acquaintance's friend in the hospital and the doctors expect a full recovery.[28]

During No Man's Land, Batman attempts to regain Gordon's trust by revealing his identity. Gordon refuses to look at him after he removes the cowl, however, 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 detective 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. As well, 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 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. On all fronts."[29] A long moment of silence follows, and Grayson accepts his thanks.

During Gordon's brief career as Batman when Bruce was suffering total amnesia after his temporary death in his last fight with the Joker, Gordon meets with Bruce Wayne and introduces himself as Batman, noting how strange it is to be saying that to Bruce, but his response could suggest that he considers it strange based on the public perception that Bruce Wayne was Batman's financial backer rather than making it clear that he knows who Bruce was. After Bruce is forced to sacrifice his new persona to download his old memories as Batman into his mind to save Gotham from new villain Mr. Bloom, Gordon apologizes for making Batman come back, noting that his friend was at peace while he was away, and starts to call him 'B...' before stopping himself, but Batman ignores the near-name in favor of assuring Gordon that the man he might have been without Batman died long ago.

Knowledge in other continuities

In Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, Gordon and Bruce Wayne are portrayed as close friends in their civilian identities, with Gordon having discovered Batman's identity years before around the time of Bruce's retirement in his mid-forties (Bruce is explicitly identified as being 55 at the time of the story).

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 Flashpoint universe, Gordon knows about Thomas Wayne's identity as Batman and works with him in both his identities.[volume & issue needed]

In the Batman - Vampire trilogy in the Elseworlds series, Gordon is shown to be aware of Batman's connection to Alfred Pennyworth by the second graphic novel in the trilogy, working with Alfred as Batman succumbs to his new, darker nature, 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.

As in most continuities, Gordon decides in the Christopher Nolan trilogy 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.

In Sean Murphy's Batman: White Knight, the Joker – now known as Jack Napier – is cured of his mental illness and legally prosecutes Gordon and the GCPD, holding them accountable for cooperating with Batman for decades. As a member of the city council, Napier suggests redrecting funds dedicated to repairing damages to the city caused by Batman to the GCPD and argues that Batman should have shared his technology with the GCPD long ago. Napier's arguments cause a rift between Gordon and Batman, ending with Batman unmasking himself to Gordon in order to regain his trust. Initially, Gordon discourages Batman from revealing his secret identity to the public, but in the sequel, Batman: Curse of the White Knight, Gordon changes his mind when the Joker publicly reveals Batgirl's secret identity, believing that this would not have happened if Batman had publicly unmasked. Even though Gordon expresses regret over blaming Batman for the Joker's actions, they never get a chance to reconcile as Gordon is murdered shortly thereafter by Azrael.

Family

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Pre-Crisis

Anthony "Tony" Gordon

In Pre-Crisis continuity, Jim Gordon is the biological father of Anthony "Tony" Gordon. Originally referred to as a college student, Tony later disappears while hiding from Communist spies. He is later reunited with his sister, Barbara, and dies in a battle with the Sino-Supermen (Batman Family #12, Detective Comics #482).[30] In Post-Crisis continuity, there has been no mention of Tony Gordon.

Barbara "Barb" Gordon

Main article: Barbara Gordon

Barbara "Barb" Gordon is the biological daughter of James "Jim" 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 is aware of her crime-fighting career and is proud of her for it.

Post-Crisis

Barbara Eileen Kean

Barbara Eileen Kean[31] is Gordon's ex-wife and mother of Barbara Gordon in Post-Crisis continuity. Her history and existence has been repeatedly retconned over the years, sometimes implying that she died in a car crash, other times that she left Gotham with James for Chicago. During the New 52 era, Barbara left her family because she was afraid that James Jr. would hurt his sister. Several years later, she returns to Gotham in the hopes of re-connecting with her daughter.

In Batman: Year One, Detective Gordon has a brief affair with Detective Sarah Essen. Gordon tries to rebuild his relationship with his family after Essen leaves Gotham. Gordon and his wife attend marriage counseling.

James Gordon Jr.

Main article: James Gordon Jr.

Gordon and his wife, Barbara Kean are the parents of a son named James Gordon Jr. (Batman #404-407).[32] 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. Scott Snyder's story Batman: The Black Mirror reintroduced James Jr. as an adult, and establishes that he is a sociopath who tortures and kills for pleasure. 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.[33]

In The New 52, James Jr. appears in the Batgirl series. He escapes from Arkham, and begins stalking his sister, whom he views as a rival for his father's affection. The series reveals that he deliberately caused the divorce of his parents: he killed 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.[34][35]

A different version of James Gordon Jr. appears briefly in the films Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, in which he is portrayed as the young son of James and Barbara. In the latter film, Two-Face tries to kill the boy in order to get back at Gordon, whom he blames for the death of his fiancée, Rachel Dawes. Batman saves James Jr. by tackling Two-Face off of a roof, killing him.

Jimmy Jr was mentioned in the Batwoman episode "We're All Mad Here".

Sarah Essen

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 his divorce, Sarah returns to Gotham, and the two renew their relationship. After marrying Gordon, Sarah is murdered by Joker at the end of the No Man's Land storyline. Flashpoint altered the events in the DC Universe's timeline, so during The New 52 era, Sarah's marriage to Gordon never happened. However, starting with 2016's DC Rebirth, characters have begun to remember pre-New 52 events. As such, in The Joker (vol. 2) #6, Jim Gordon refers to Barbara Kean Gordon as his first wife, which implies that he married another woman after her.[36]

Other versions

The Dark Knight Returns

Jim 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 has written a book about Batman, who is 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 conversation with his ex-partner, Sarah Essen, about Batman. He's still married to Barbara Kean, who is now an alcoholic, and has a troubled son, James Jr. Just as other continuities, his daughter, Barbara, who is 15, 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. At the end of the series, it's implied that, despite being married to Barbara Kean, he's still in love with Sarah.

JLA: Earth 2

On the Anti-Matter Earth, where the evil Crime Syndicate of America live, Commissioner Gordon's counterpart is a crime boss named Boss Gordon, an ally to Owlman. 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 Elseworlds 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 Elseworlds story Batman: In Darkest Knight, Jim Gordon is an honest cop who distrusts Green Lantern (who in this reality is Bruce Wayne) because of his near-limitless power. Lantern comes to Gordon in order to find the identity of the man who killed his parents, but Gordon rebukes him. Later on, he changes his mind and starts investigating, but he is then interrupted and killed by Sinestro, who ruptures his heart.

Vampire Batman

In the Vampire Batman Elseworlds 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 from bleeding to death before confronting Dracula, the Dark Knight now a vampire himself thanks to the aid of renegade vampires opposing Dracula. In the sequel Batman: Bloodstorm, as Batman acts alone while struggling to resist his thirst for blood, Gordon and Alfred collaborate to form a team to eliminate a new family of vampires in daylight while they sleep, but even after the other vampires have been destroyed, Gordon and Alfred are forced to stake Batman after he succumbs to his thirst 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.

Earth-8

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.[37]

Flashpoint

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, the Flashpoint version of Batman.[38] Later, Gordon tries to convince Batman that he does not have to fight villains by himself, but Batman refuses. When Gordon locates Martha Wayne (this continuity's version of the Joker) in old Wayne Manor, he goes in without backup. Gordon is then tricked into shooting Harvey Dent's daughter, having been disguised as Joker, as she had been taped to a chair and had her mouth taped shut with a smile painted on the tape. Martha then appears and slashes Gordon's throat, and Gordon dies by Joker venom.[39]

Earth One

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 has given up on fighting corruption until the emergence of Batman. He is also partnered with a young Harvey Bullock. On the trail of the "Birthday Boy" killings, Gordon and Batman put aside their differences and stop the killer while saving Gordon's daughter Barbara.[40] In the sequel, Gordon begin his alliance with Batman to combat the Riddler, who plots to takeover the remnant of Oswald Cobblepott's criminal empire. He is also being promoted as police captain after he arrested his corrupted predecessor.[41]

Injustice: Gods Among Us

In the prequel to the video game Injustice: Gods Among Us, Gordon learns via Superman's x-ray vision that he has terminal lung cancer. Later on he, Bullock and Montoya join forces with Batman's Insurgency to fight the Regime, and together they attack the Hall of Justice. Batman's inside man Lex Luthor notes that Gordon's cancer is worsening due his taking "super pills" that give people superhuman abilities. Gordon takes two of the super pills to save Barbara from Cyborg on the Watchtower, as he is scanning to find her location, accelerating the cancer to the point that he has only minutes to live. After the battle, Gordon thanks Batman and says goodbye to Barbara as he dies, looking down on the Earth.

Batman: Damned

In the Batman: Damned miniseries, printed under the DC Black Label, Gordon is seen questioning a homeless man who had apparently witnessed the showdown between Batman and the Joker that led to Joker's death.[42] Gordon is next seen at the police standoff with Harley Quinn and the rest of the Joker's henchmen, attempting in vain to get them to stand down.[43]

Dark Multiverse

Various versions of Gordon appear in the Dark Multiverse depicted in Dark Nights: Metal:

Earth 3

When the "Infinite Frontier" event happened, Earth 3 was rebooted. Like the version seen in JLA: Earth 2, Jim Gordon operated as a crime boss. After his son Jimmy Jr. was killed by criminals Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne, Boss Gordon sent his minion Harvey Bullock to kill them which also led to Harvey also killing Bruce and leaving Thomas Wayne Jr. alive. Thomas Wayne Jr. in the identity of Owlman would later learn of this motive when he captures Harvey Bullock years later. [44]

Earth-89 (Batman '89)

In the universe where the films Batman (1989) and Batman Returns is set, it is retroactively established in the comic book miniseries Batman '89 that Pat Hingle's iteration of Gordon was the patrolman who found and comforted Bruce in the alley where his parents were murdered. He is later killed by Billy Dee Williams's Harvey Dent after the character becomes Two-Face.

In other media

Television

Live-action

Neil Hamilton as Commissioner Gordon in the 1966–68 Batman TV series
Neil Hamilton as Commissioner Gordon in the 1966–68 Batman TV series
Ben McKenzie as Detective Gordon in Gotham
Ben McKenzie as Detective Gordon in Gotham

Animation

Commissioner Gordon as appeared in Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures.
Commissioner Gordon as appeared in Batman: The Animated Series and The New Batman Adventures.

Film

Live-action

Pat Hingle as Gordon in Batman (1989)
Gary Oldman as Gordon in Batman Begins (2005)
J. K. Simmons as Gordon in Justice League (2017)
Jeffrey Wright as Gordon in The Batman (2022)
Burton/Schumacher series

In the Tim Burton/Joel Schumacher film adaptations of Batman, Commissioner Gordon is portrayed by Pat Hingle.

Gordon was planned for the aborted reboot Batman: Year One written by Darren Aronofsky and Frank Miller. In this script Gordon has lived in Gotham for years, and is trying to leave for the sake of his pregnant wife; also Gordon's wife is renamed Ann, instead of Barbara, and Gordon's character would have been suicidal.[53]

The Dark Knight Trilogy

In the rebooted Dark Knight Trilogy by Christopher Nolan, Gordon is played by Gary Oldman.

DC Extended Universe
The Batman

Animated

Video games

Lego series

Arkham series

Commissioner Gordon is a supporting character in the Batman: Arkham franchise where he is voiced by Tom Kane in Arkham Asylum, Rick D. Wasserman as a young man in a flashback in Arkham Asylum, David Kaye in Arkham City, Michael Gough in Arkham Origins and Jonathan Banks in Arkham Knight.

Telltale's Batman

James "Jim" Gordon appears in Batman: The Telltale Series and Batman: The Enemy Within, voiced by Murphy Guyer.

Web series

Miscellaneous

References

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