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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 and his wife had a daughter called Barbara. Like him, she worked for the GCPD as a forensics analysis, though their relationship was notably strained for an unknown reason.


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, Dent was disfigured whilst trialing mob boss Sal Moroni, driving him insane and to commit crimes as the villain Two-Face. Dent was subsequently captured and held in Arkham Asylum.

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 Garden 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 rooms below to find that they'd been forced into a confrontation 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. As she left, Gordon begged her not to leave.

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 continued to work with Batman despite his damaged reputation after the Ice Princess' murder. Developing a secure channel together for communication, he use to communicate with Batman rather than continuing to use the Batsignal. Gordon's relationship with Batman had become synonymous with Gotham's officials, damaging his reputation and sowing distrust in his officers. Among his critics were Harvey Dent, who happened to be dating Barbara.

Batman '89

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. 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]

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. Suspecting Cecil Culp to be responsible, he called the Reverend to learn that his motives. Gordon's questions remain unexplained, only receiving a threat from the Burnside council member.[2]


Behind the Scenes

Gordon in Batman Returns.jpg

In Batman and its three sequels, Gordon was portrayed by Pat Hingle. Visually the character draws inspiration from the original Golden Age Gordon, 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.


  • Pat Hingle, along with Alfred 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 Dark Knight trilogy, Batman: Arkham games, and Gotham TV show incarnations.
  • 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.



Batman Returns

Batman Forever

Batman & Robin


See Also