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"I'm in charge here, not Carl Grissom."
―Gordon to Lt. Eckhardt[src]

James Gordon was the Commissioner of the Gotham City Police Department. He worked closely with the vigilante Batman to control crime in Gotham City.


Early life[]

When he was a beat cop, James Gordon was called to the scene of the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. He tried to comfort their son Bruce, who had witnessed their deaths.[1]

According to one account, Gordon had a daughter called Barbara with a deceased wife. Like him, she worked for the GCPD as a forensics analysis. He recalled the day she joined as "the proudest day of [his] life".[1][2]


Gordon was promoted to Commissioner at some point before the Joker's reign of terror. He was well aware of the criminal element in Gotham City, including corrupt officers like Max Eckhardt. When Batman began operating, he initially regarded the vigilante as just a rumor. Gordon also worked closely with Mayor Borg and District Attorney Harvey Dent, and seemed to be a friend of Bruce Wayne.

Meeting the Batman[]

Whilst at the fundraiser for Gotham's 200th anniversary celebration, Gordon was seen playing Craps. During it, he was badgered by reporter Alexander Knox on what seemed to be the ninth occasion for a comment on Batman's existence. During the game, Gordon was informed by an officer that Carl Grissom's right-hand man, Jack Napier, had been sent to the Axis Chemicals plant. Learning Eckhardt was leading the capture, Gordon discreetly left the fundraiser to deal with the situation.

Arriving as officers began fighting with Napier's men, Gordon quickly took control of the operation from Eckhardt and ordered his men to capture Napier alive. During the fight, he first caught glimpse of Batman when the vigilante subdued one of the hoods. After sending his guards to search for Napier, Gordon investigated the main mixing vats and unknowingly rescued from a potential assassination attempt. However, Napier's friend, Robert Hawkins, caught Gordon by surprise and threatened to shoot him if Batman gave up. Gordon witnessed the subsequent altercation between Batman and Napier. When the latter fell into the chemical vats below, Gordon ordered his men to arrest Batman and, after the vigilante's escape, decided to remain quiet until they knew what his motive were.

Joker's Reign of Terror[]

Gordon was among the police officers to respond to Vinnie Ricorso's murder, initially believing that Batman may have been responsible. He, along with Borg and Dent, struggled to deal with the Joker's tampering with beauty products and the chaos it brought to the city.

Skirmish of Gotham Cathedral[]

After Batman was able to stop the criminal from releasing Smylex gas at the 200th Anniversary Parade, Gordon led the GCPD to arrest them at the Old Gotham Cathedral. However, they were unable to enter the tower, due to Joker blocking the entry by detaching one of the bells. Gordon had his officers activate their searchlights to improve visibility of the confrontation. He later investigated Joker's body after he fell from the tower, where he discovered a small laughing bag he'd activated during the fall.

Batsignal Unveiling[]

After Joker's death, Gordon had his officers arrest the Clown Price of Crime's goons, finally putting an end to both his and Grissom's empire. He later appeared with Borg and Dent to inform Gotham's citizens of the developments, including a letter from Batman. During it, Gordon unveiled the Batsignal, which the city could use to summon him when needed.

Batman Returns[]

Lighting of the Tree Ceremony[]

In a following Christmas, Gordon attended the Lighting of the Tree Ceremony. When the Red Triangle Gang attacked the event, he ordered his officers to light the Batsignal, calling Batman to help the situation. After Batman defeated the group and helped bring order to the event, Gordon and Mayor Roscoe Jenkins met with and thanked him. However, they worried that Max Shreck had disappeared during the attacks, having been abducted by the Penguin.

Relighting of the Tree Ceremony[]

When the Ice Princess was kidnapped by Penguin and the Red Triangle Gang, Gordon was called the scene and investigated personally. He appeared briefly on the News Report and confronted on Batman's possible involvement. Having found a Batarang on the scene, Gordon refused to comment and treated the device as "circumstantial evidence". Gordon also led the chase on Batman after he apparently pushed the Ice Princess to her death. During the chase, he ordered his officers not to shoot at the Dark Knight or his car.

Subsequent Events[]

Several accounts are offered for what happened to Gordon following Batman's battle with the Penguin.

According to several accounts, Gordon became much more reliant on Batman to fight crimes and deal with more violent situations. During these, he lost his alliance with Dent when the DA was disfigured by mob boss Sal Moroni, leading to his transformation into the villain Two-Face and arrest by Batman. Despite these, he was able to keep control on the Police Department and his political alliances in Gotham.

Batman Forever[]

Two-Face Returns[]

After Harvey Dent escaped Arkham Asylum, Gordon called Batman to the Second Bank of Gotham whilst he and his men held staff hostage. Consulting Dr. Chase Meridian, they agreed to let Batman deal with the situation rather than risk officers' lives. Informing him of the situation and Two-Face's hostage, Gordon remained outside whilst Batman dealt with Dent and his henchmen. Both he and his officers later entered after the Dark Knight subdued Two-Face's men and rescued the hostage.

The following evening, Gordon noticed the Batsignal had been lit on GCPD headquarters whilst preparing to go to bed. Rather than change clothes, he left his home to respond, finding Batman and Dr. Meridian on the roof. Batman assured his concerns as a false alarm and left for other matters.

The Riddles Begin[]

After the death of Wayne Enterprises executive Fred Stickley, Gordon and his officers investigated the scene to determine what had happened. Investigating with Bruce Wayne, Gordon ruled it as a suicide, going by a note apparently left by Stickley and security footage showing him jumping out the window. However, these were actually forgeries created by Stickley's murderer, Edward Nygma.

After the attack at the Hippodrome, Gordon took Dick Grayson into the GCPD's care. At Grayson's request, Gordon left him at Wayne Manor with Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth. Though Wayne was reluctant, he agreed to take care of Grayson, since the last of his family had died at the event.

Battle on Claw Island[]

After Two-Face and Riddler's attack on Wayne Manor, Gordon lit the Batsignal with an officer to summon Batman's help for unspecified reasons. During it, Riddler, from his base on Claw Island, projected a giant question mark to summon the Dark Knight to him. After Batman passed by the signal in his Batwing, Gordon and his officer celebrated the Dark Knight's return.

Batman & Robin[]

Encounters with Mr. Freeze[]

When Mr. Freeze attacked the Gotham Museum of Art, Gordon called Batman and Robin to deal with him. Prior to this, Gordon sent several officers to help guards capture Freeze, most of whom were frozen and killed.

Gordon later appeared at the Save the Rainforest Costume Ball, guarding the Heart of Isis gemstone donated by Bruce Wayne. During the event, Gordon, like all other attendees, fell under the control of Poison Ivy through her use of pheromone dust, allowing her to take the diamond from his grasp and wear it. When Freeze and his Hockey Thugs arrived, Gordon snapped out of her influence and revived civilians whilst Batman and Robin chased the criminals.

Incident at Snowy Cones[]

After Mr. Freeze's escape from Arkham Asylum, Gordon had GCPD dispatched to the Snowy Cones Ice Cream Factory to confiscate his equipment. With Batman and Robin also arriving on the scene to help with the investigation, Gordon informed them that they had identified two accomplices who had helped Freeze escape: Poison Ivy and Bane.

During the investigations, Freeze released freezing gases to incapacitate Gordon and his officers. Eventually, Gordon was able to make it to the controls and stop the release of the chemicals. Locating Freeze, he ordered his men to incapacitate him, though Freeze defeated them and escaped. Gordon later located Batman and Robin in the mixing chambers below to find that they'd been manipulated into an argument by Ivy, who'd also escaped them.

Ball at the Gotham Observatory[]

Gordon later attended the ball at Gotham Observatory. During the event, Ivy confronted and seduced him into giving her the keys to the Gotham Police Headquarters to steal the Batsignal. However, rather than kiss him as she'd done with her previous victims, Ivy decided to leaving Gordon alive and left, leaving him begging after her.

Gordon was presumably frozen with the rest of Gotham when Mr. Freeze modified the Gotham Observatory's telescope with the Freezing Engine. However, he and the rest of the city were thawed out by Batman, Robin and Batgirl.

According to another account, Gordon's continued to work with Batman damaged his reputation, sowing distrust in him from the GCPD and other officials. It also strained his relationship with Barbara, who took issue with his reliance on "vigilante" activities. At some point after Penguin's defeat, he and Batman began developing a secure channel for communication, allowing more discreet communication and reduce the use the Batsignal.

A later account suggests that Gordon also began investigating Batman, suspicious for why the vigilante worked only with him. Whilst looking through photos of his cases, he noticed Bruce Wayne in a photo from the night his parents were murdered and recognized the look he had in it as Batman's, leading him to realize he was the vigilante. After days of denial, he came to accept this was true but remained quiet on his discoveries, believing he could help the city despite his methods.[3]

Batman '89[]

Halloween Riots and Aftermath[]

Gordon (B89)

Gordon closes communications with Batman

During the Halloween Riots at Gotham Square, Gordon was contacted by Batman and informed of a heist of two armored vehicles for Lincoln Savings and Loan. Though the Dark Knight dealt with the matter, Gordon sent his best armed forced to round up the perpetrators. After Harvey Dent began their crusade against them, Gordon was informed of the DA's plans by Bruce Wayne. He also learned of Barbara's engagement to him, souring their relationship.

After the Batsignal was lit by an unknown party, Batman contacted Gordon to let him known that Dent was being helped by Harvey Bullock and at least three officers. Suspecting their channel would eventually be compromised, he advised Batman to stay off the streets, warning him that the National Guard brought in by Dent had orders to capture or kill him. Gordon then closed off communications, destroying his headset with the butt of his pistol.[1]

Burnside Protests[]

After the fire at the Royal Autobody, Gordon learned that the perpetrators had been released on bail and were filing a lawsuit against the GCPD. Expecting a demonstration, he called Burnside Council member Cecil Culp to make arrangements. Promising police would protect the demonstrators, he and the reverent agreed to grant citizens passage and protection.[4]

However, police operations were run by Bullock, who ordered riot police to take over. After learning about the Lieutenant's action, Gordon contacted him and commanded him to stand down. However, Bullock disobeyed his orders, claiming there was radio interference. Travelling down to take command, Gordon arrived after the vigilante Robin attacked the officers and assisted the protesters. Angered that Bullock had disobeyed him, he took over operations and ordered the GCPD's riot division to stand down.[5]


Due to his officers' actions at the protest, many officials began calling for Gordon's immediate resignation, including Mayor Hill. Rather than fight, he complied and wrote a letter of such, which came into effect on a later date. After Harvey Dent's disappearance, Gordon learned that he'd stolen various files related to the Lincoln Job and the Joker Gang.

Hoping to find out whether they'd been in contact, Gordon visited Barbara at her apartment. Whilst there, he informed her of Harvey's theft and asked if she had seen him since his disappearance. When she challenged him on his , Gordon kept his composure and told her of his resignation. Before leaving, he also admitted his love for her and approval of her relationship with Dent.[2]

Battle at the Gotham Police Headquarters[]

When Dent and his goons began their attack on GCPD Headquarters, Gordon talked with Culp over the phone denying a cover-up of Dent's disappearance. Having ordered the officers to evacuate the building, he was alerted to the attack after hearing music from one of the thugs' boombox. With both him and Bullock the last officers in the building, Gordon ran to the rooftops and activated the Bat-Signal to call Batman to the scene.

Whilst he waited, two of Dent's gang arrived on the roof. As they threatened him, Gordon drew his gun to fend them off. However, Batman quickly arrived and subdued the criminals. After greeting Batman, Gordon deduced the criminals were planning to steal the confiscated $31 million from their previous attacks on the Lincoln Loans and Savings bank. Informing Batman on the attack situation, he rejected an offer to get to safety and travelled with the Dark Knight to the Evidence Lockup whilst his "intern" took on the snipers.

Arriving just after Dent shot Bullock, Gordon and Batman subdued several of the goons and prepared to arrest him. However, Dent used a stolen Batarang to attack the vigilante, causing him to prematurely shoot a Knockout Dart. The tool caught Gordon in the neck, knocking him unconscious instantly. With more thugs arriving, Dent used the opportunity to capture Gordon, threatening to kill him if Batman attempted to stop him fleeing. With the vigilante complying, Gordon was taken prisoner by Dent and his henchmen.

Prisoner of Two-Face[]

After his capture, Dent spared Gordon from his coin's "decision", despite wanting to execute the ex-commissioner. He was subsequent taken to his lair at the abandoned Burnside Station, being handcuffed to one of the railings. Despite his status, Gordon was treated as a guest by Dent, even being served expensive wine. After "accidently" knocking over a drink, Gordon slipped the Knockout Dart onto Dent's body, knowing that Batman would be able to use it to track him.


After Dent's meeting with Barbara and his escape from a GCPD capture, Gordon listen to Dent as he bemoaned Barbara for "betraying" him. However, Gordon argued that she had only been doing her duty and came to realize who he really was. He further argued that Dent's disfigurement had actually brought out his true nature, realizing he'd only been an opportunist who'd joined him because it only advanced his career. Gordon's comments insulted Dent, leading him to defy the coin and shoot him three times. As he died, Gordon voiced his belief that Barbara would reject Harvey for his actions.[2] Gordon's body was later recovered by cleanup crews dispatched to the station. According to a news reports, his kidnapping had gone unnoticed by many until his body was recovered.[6]

Barbara was mourning his death when she was contacted by Catwoman and learned of Batman's identity from a package sent by Harvey. Though she was initially planning to expose it to the world, she decided against it after reading her father's journals and learning he'd also come to the same conclusion, but decided against it when he determined Wayne's intentions were noble.[3]




Behind the Scenes[]

Gordon in Batman Returns

In Batman and its three sequels, Gordon was portrayed by the late Pat Hingle. The character draws inspiration from the original versions of Gordon from the Golden Age comics, an older man wearing a bowler/Derby hat. The role of the police Commissioner being more desk work than street level is also realistically portrayed, ignoring Frank Miller's then new, younger take in Batman: Year One (1987). Curiously, this is one of the few incarnations that is never seen wearing eyeglasses, much like the Dozierverse version played by Neil Hamilton.

Gordon being the cop who first arrived on the scene of the Waynes' murder and the one who comforted a young Bruce appeared in Hamm's drafts for Batman. However, this was not mentioned in the final film, its tie-in material, or any of the later film sequels. This was later confirmed in the first issue of Batman '89. Hingle had previously confirmed this in an interview prior to his death.

In Batman & Robin, the decision was made to excise Gordon's parental relationship with Batgirl. In the comics, he was the father of Barbara Gordon, the second and most famous character to take on the identity and the inspiration for the film's version. This was done because Schumacher was not keen on having Gordon become a more prominent supporting character and believed it would be better to relate Batgirl to a more prominent one. This led to her being reimagined as Alfred's niece, "Barbara Wilson".

Gordon's appearance in Batman '89 was changed to mirror his DC Animated Universe counterpart's design. These notably included changing his hair color to light brown, changing his clothing to the brown suit and adding glasses. This was done to avoid paying likeness fees to Pat Hingle's estate. The series also introduced another version of Barbara, though this time keeping his parental relationship with her. This idea also was present in Joe Quinones' original pitch for the series with Kate Leth.


  • The late Pat Hingle, along with Alfred's late actor Michael Gough, appeared in all four of the original Batman Motion Picture Anthology. This is often used as evidence that the Burton and Schumacher films share the same continuity/universe.
  • Gordon's first name (James) is never revealed in any of the films but appears in marketing materials. It was also confirmed in the Batman '89 comic series.
  • The idea of Gordon being the one to comfort Bruce Wayne after his parents' murder has been recycled in other versions, including the incarnations seen in The Dark Knight trilogy, Arkham games, and Gotham TV show.
  • In the Batman films, Gordon had much of his left little finger missing. In real life, this was due to an injury Hingle had sustain after falling down a 50+ foot elevator shaft. The figure was restored in the Batman '89 comic series.
  • Gordon was originally going to be shot and killed by Two-Face in an early draft of Batman Forever, but the idea was turned down when Warner Bros. wanted a family-friendly Batman film. The idea was later revisited in the Batman '89 comic series.



Batman Returns[]

Batman Forever[]

Batman & Robin[]


See Also[]