James 'Jim' Gordon is portrayed by Gary Oldman in Nolan's film series. A stern and moral officer, Gordon initially loses hope of protecting Gotham when sees just how corrupt it is with a majority of the police department answering to the mob. He finds newfound hope though in the appearance of Batman, who he soons begins to work with to finally clean up the streets of Gotham and give it the peace that it was overdue to have for decades. Throughout their partnership, Gordon and Batman not only face organized crime and random violence, but a variety of new threats to Gotham with the emergence of several villains with their own designs for the city.
- "I'm no rat! In a town this bent, who's there to rat to, anyway?"
- ―Sgt. Jim Gordon [src]
The film partly concerns Gordon's rise from beat cop to Sergeant and, by the end of the film, Lieutenant. He did his best to comfort the eight-year-old Batman after the murder of his parents, when he was a young man, and Wayne later recognizes him as one of the few honest police officers in the city and would always remember his kindness as it gave Bruce the strength he needed after his parents' death.
About twenty years later, after being promoted as a detective-sergeant on the force, while working late in his office, Bruce, wearing a ski-mask, visited Gordon's office, to ask Gordon about Carmine Falcone's criminal operation and the police inability to stop the notorious crimelord. When Bruce threatens Gordon with a common office stapler, which was thought to be a pistol, Bruce suggested that they form an alliance.
While Gordon simply believes the man to be "just some nut", he later starts to take him seriously when he arrives on the scene of Carmine Falcone's capture at one of his drug shipment locations. Carmine's body, strapped to a spotlight, forms a symbol of a bat in the sky, enticing Gordon to realize that the man he met several nights earlier was serious about his intentions to bring down Falcone and his crime empire.
As news breaks of this new vigilante, Commissioner Loeb is infuriated that someone in his city has taken the law into their own hands and is being glorified for it. While Gordon stands up for Batman by stating that he finally took down Falcone, Loeb refuses to allow a vigilante handle their jobs and orders for a massive law force to track him down. Gordon finally meets Batman face to face outside his home one night while he is taking out the garbage. Batman informs Gordon of an ongoing conspiracy in Gotham that concerns Falcone and Dr. Jonathan Crane, a corrupt psychiatrist at Arkham Asylum.
Batman goes on to explain that they were splitting the shipment of Falcone's drugs into two where only one went to the dealers. The dark hero believes that Gordon's corrupt police partner, Arnold Flass, knows more and leaves when he hears Gordon voice his reluctant belief that Batman is truly trying to help. Batman would eventually learn that the shipments of drugs contain chemicals that are transferred to Crane for him to develop into his fear gas, which he experiments with on his patients at Arkham.
Following his childhood friend, Rachel Dawes, to Arkham to meet with Crane, Batman watches as Crane induces her with his toxin and rescues her and apprehends Crane after learning that he is dumping his fear toxin into the water mains. Gordon helps Batman get Rachel to his vehicle for safety while he investigates the Asylum for clues as to who is behind everything. It would later be revealed that Crane was being use by Ra's al Ghul, who is planning on dispersing the fear gas with a microwave emitter stolen from Wayne Enterprises and watch Gotham tear itself apart through fear.
Ra's' men then orchestrate a massive breakout at Arkham Asylum, forcing Gordon to raise the bridges once all the riot police are on the island with him and attempts to apprehend the convicts. Rachel eventually meets with Gordon on the island and gives him the antidote for the fear toxin, given to her by Batman after saving her. Gordon then gets a patrol man to escort her to safety, but Ra's then begins to vaporize the the water supply in the narrows, incapacitating everyone with fear. Gordon uses the antidote on himself and handcuffs Flass to a water valve after he attempts to murder two civilians while under the influence of the fear gas.
Gordon eventually proves pivotal in Batman's defeat of Ra's al Ghul by driving the Batmobile to destroy the Gotham monorail tracks and prevent the madman from driving the train in Wayne Tower and causing a chain reaction that would vaporize the entire city's water supply. James Gordon's involvement in saving Gotham results in his promotion to the rank of lieutenant. He developed a Bat-Signal with the department's spare searchlight to summon Batman in times of need. Gordon called the Batman to announce his promotion on the force, his appreciation and full trust to the Dark Knight, and to also discuss a criminal whose identity is a mystery. The criminal has committed an armed robbery and double homicide, with an apparent taste for theatrics, leaving a calling card: a Joker playing card.
The Dark Knight
- "Because he's the hero Gotham deserves, but not the one it needs right now. So, we'll hunt him, because he can take it. Because he's not our hero. He's a silent guardian. A watchful protector. A dark knight."
- ―Jim Gordon[src]
During the second film in the Nolan series, Gordon is the leader of GCPD's Major Crime Unit, a police sector created as Gordon's personal unit of his most trusted allies, and has been working with Batman and newly elected DA Harvey Dent to apprehend the new leaders of Carmine Falcone's gang and the rest of the mob. By using marked bills, Gordon is able to track most of the mob's laundered money to five major Gotham Banks and persuades Dent to approve search warrants for them to search and seize the money.
However, the mob is wise to this, due to Sal Maroni's inside agents in Gordon's unit and Dent's office, and has the money transported to a secure location with the help of a foreign mobster named Lau. While Lau leaves for his industries in Hong Kong, Dent and Gordon turn to Batman to get him back so that they may use Lau as a testimony to imprison the mob and cut off all their funds. Batman does so through an elaborate scheme and literally delivers Lau to Gordon outside his unit's headquarters.
While Lau refuses to hand over the money, he promises to testify against all his clients in exchange for immunity, protection, and a charted flight back to Hong Kong. With Lau in their hands, Dent and Gordon arrest hundreds of the city's worst criminals and have them locked up and ready to be trialled relatively soon. All is going well until the Joker, a mass murderering psychopath who was hired by the mob to take out Batman, soon emerges onto the streets in a chaotic and violent fashion with the gruseome murder of a civilian. The Clown Prince of Crime begins his reign of terror by putting out hits on Commisioner Loeb, Judge Surrillo, and Harvey Dent, giving Batman an ultimatum in the process; if Batman doesn't take his mask off and turn himself in, all three of his hits will die along with countless others each and every passing day.
Little do the mob bosses who hired Joker know that he is simply using them to gain control over every level of Gotham's infrastructure though their inside agents and orchestrate his own plans to destroy social order and replace it with own ideals of mindless chaos and injustice. Gordon manages to get to Loeb's office in time and block it off, but the Commisioner drinks a glass of whiskey that is laced with acid, killing him. Judge Surrillo is also killed by a car bomb on the other side of town, but Dent is saved by Bruce Wayne as the Joker comes to kill him personally at a fundraiser held in his honor by Wayne in his penthouse. Joker continues to murder innocent civilians daily, eventually making his next target the Mayor of Gotham City at Commissioner Loeb's funeral, held at City Hall.
While Gordon puts all available units on security the day of the funeral, the Joker still manages to set up an ingenious trap that nearly kills the Mayor. Just before the Joker can shoot the Mayor, Gordon pushes him out of the way and takes the bullet instead, seemingly sacrificing himself. However, Gordon anticipated such an attack and was wearing a bullet proof vest to ensure his family's safety by faking his death. Having his most trusted officers declare his death, Gordon exploits the situation to work undercover and set up a plan to capture the Joker.
Dent would eventually claim to be Batman as part of an elaborate trap to lure Joker into the open again so that he may be captured. As Dent is arrested and transferred down town in protective custody, driven by a disguised Gordon, Joker arrives in a truck and begins to massacre all the police officers and attacks the SWAT van Dent is in. With the aid of Batman, Joker's men are all defeated and Gordon is able to arrest the Joker when he attempts to unmask Batman.
With Loeb's death leaving his rank open and Gordon proving himself more than applicable for the job after capturing the Joker, Gordon is then promoted to Commissioner by the Mayor, grateful for saving his life and catching Joker. However, things only get worse as time goes on as Joker's capture was actually planned the whole time by the fiendish clown. While the Joker is in prison, his thugs, both inside agents in Gordon's unit, then kidnap Dent and Rachel Dawes, Dent's girlfriend and Wayne's love interest, and takes them to two separate locations rigged with bombs and tubs of gasoline.
Batman is contacted once again on this matter, so he questions and brutally beats the Joker in the interrogation room to find out where they are, but the mastermind switches the locations when he tells the Dark Knight of their posistions; Batman then goes after Rachel while Gordon goes after Dent, meaning they were actually going after the opposite person. When Batman discovers Harvey instead of Rachel, he hesitates out of fear, but rescues him only seconds before the building ignites and catches the left side of Dent's face on fire. At the other location, Gordon is not able to save Rachel and she is killed when the building explodes. Joker in the meantime, completely destroys Gordon's headquarters and murders dozens of his finest officers through a bomb surgically implanted inside the stomach of one his men in the jail cells, and abducts Lau, the very person he needed in order to have control over the mob's funds and the reason he let himself get caught.
Dent, now scarred horribly on his left side, promises that Gordon would soon pay for not listening to him earlier, blaming Gordon for Rachel's death as it was his men working for Joker through Maroni that abducted them both. As Gordon leaves the hospital, he runs into Maroni himself who feels that the situation has gotten too out of hand and gives Gordon the Joker's location, having been contacted by the villain to meet at the shipping yard where the mob's money is contained.
As Gordon prepares all available units to apprehend the Joker, the Joker burns Lau and all the mob's money, effectively making the mob powerless and giving Joker complete control over all their men as he claims the city as his own and contacts the Gotham Tonight Show. On the show is a man named Mr. Reese who knows Batman's true identity and is prepared to reveal it on the air to stop Joker from killing further. When the Joker gets through on the phone lines, he proclaims that his ultimatum against Batman was simply a ruse for the hero and makes a threat to Mr. Reese and all of Gotham; if Reese isn't dead in 60 minutes, then Joker will blow up a hospital.
Gordon then calls off his ambush and refocuses his forces' attention on securing every hospital in Gotham, especially Gotham General, where Harvey Dent is held. As Gotham goes into a further state of panic, trying to kill Reese to save their loved ones in any of the potentially bomb rigged hospitals, Joker takes advantage of the hospitals' evacuations to get to Dent, disguised as a female nurse, and murdering a nurse and two police officers in the process. Joker convinces Dent to take his frustration out on those responsible for Rachel's death, convincing him that he simply does things without cause or reason and that it was Gordon's corrupted cops and the mob bosses that had the nerve to unleash his plans onto the world. Dent spares Joker after a coin flip lands on it's good side and leaves to pass judgment on the others responsible for Rachel's death, mauling him into Two-Face. Joker then blows up the hospital, escaping with a bus load of hostages. Gordon is able to get Reese to safety with the unexpected help of Bruce Wayne and orders his units to get over to Gotham General when he hears the explosion.
Gordon then realizes that the situation has become so out of control that they will need to call in the National Guard to secure the city. As he has his officers contact the Mayor's office for approval of this action, Joker broadcasts another message to Gotham, telling them that the city will be under his complete control by nightfall and anyone left will play by his rules. As people scramble to leave the city, Joker makes a subtle threat that he rigged the bridges and tunnels to blow, making police search the structures and rendering them unusable.
Gordon then readies ferries to transport citizens away from the city and uses one to transport the mob's imprisoned men away as well, fearing that they may all be working for Joker. The Mayor allows this as all police forces attempt to locate Dent while the National Guard secures evacuations onto the ferries. However, all this was playing into the Joker's hands as he rigged both ferries with explosives and gave each boat the remote detonator to blow up the other boat. He then hacks into the radio frequencies on the ferries and tells the people on each that unless one boat detonates the other one, he will blow up both at midnight. The boat that detonates the other one will be the one to survive.
As both ferries go into panic, Batman locates Joker's hideout at a construction site building and gives Gordon the order to meet him there and assemble his men on the building opposite. When Gordon arrives, he sees Joker's men holding the hospital patients and staff hostage, but his forces have easy access points to shoot Joker's men and rescue the hostages. Batman refuses to believe it to be so simple with the Joker and makes Gordon give him several minutes alone to assess the situation himself. When Batman enters the building, he learns that Joker put the real hostages in clown masks and has his men dressed as the nurses, doctors, and patients. Batman then goes rescuing the hostages, stops the SWAT team from killing the wrong people, and faces Joker in a final showdown.
In the meantime, Gordon receives a phone call from Harvey Dent, who went on a killing spree of corrupt cops and mobsters, and now has Gordon's family hostage at the site of Rachel's' death. As Batman apprehends Joker and both ferries are saved, Gordon arrives at Rachel's final resting place and is knocked down by Dent, intent on killing one of his family members to prove just how horrible it feels to lose a loved one; he ends up picking Gordon's son to execute.
While Dent holds Gordon's son at gunpoint, Jim pleads relentlessly to have him let his son go while Batman arrives to negotiate with him. While Dent assures them this not what he wants, it's what he thinks is fair. He states his new philosophy that life is cruel and the only morality in a cruel world is unbiased chance; the same morality that took Rachel. Dent then flips his coin to determine the fate of Batman, himself, and Gordon's son; Batman is shot when his coin lands on the bad side, Dent spares himself when it lands on the good side, and prepares to flip the coin one final time to determine the fate of Gordon's son. However, when he does so, he is tackled by Batman and flung off the edge, with his coin landing on the edge on the good side. Dent falls to the ground, breaking his neck and getting killed in the process, but Batman holds onto the building's siding and hands Gordon's son back before the police storm the location.
Batman tells Gordon to blame him for all the people that Dent has killed on him in order to ensure that Gotham remains hopeful and all the prisoners Dent locked up will remain so as he flees into the night. While Gordon initially refuses because he has too much respect and gratitude towards Batman for all that he has done for him and his city, he knows that Batman is right and eventually agrees. Gordon is seen during one of the last scenes in the film, destroying the Bat-Signal while being surrounded by a group of cops who now hate Batman due to the murders that he took the blame for.
The Dark Knight Rises
- "We were in this together, and then you were gone. And now there's evil rising from where we tried to bury it. The Batman has to come back."
- ―James Gordon to Batman[src]
Eight years have passed since the Joker's reign of terror, of which Gotham has finally recovered from, but police officials are saying that the Mayor is planning to fire Gordon from the GCPD in the upcoming spring despite his heroic services due to the peaceful times making him unnecessary.While Gotham seems to be blossoming for the first time in decades, Gordon's life has taken a turn for the worse over the passage of eight years. His guilt over the city being saved by a lie, honoring a madman (Harvey Dent) who attempted to murder his son, and the condemnation of the man (Batman) who saved his son and the city becomes a heavy burden that eats away at him. Even worse, his guilt was all a result of his wife Barbara, who took their children to live in Cleveland following Dent's attack on the Gordon family.
On the anniversary of The Joker's capture and Harvey Dent's death, a memorial ceremony is held at Wayne Manor in Dent's honor, of whom the public hails as a hero for the imprisonment of thousands of criminals. With the newly instated Dent Act, every criminal connected to the mob is imprisoned and denied parole, regardless of how much power and wealth they may have had, effectively and completely wiping out all organized crime from Gotham.
However, Gordon believes that enough time has passed to finally reveal the truth behind Dent's descent into madness in his speech at the memorial, but relents at the last minute for fear that it would undo eight years of progressive peace. As the days go on, Gordon realizes that Gotham is once again being targeted, now by a terrorist named Bane. Infiltrating Bane's headquarters by accident during a chase with his men underneath Gotham in the sewers, Bane steals Gordon's speech off of him after Gordon was shot by one of Bane's henchmen, but Gordon is able to roll into the ravine to escape back outside.
He is found in fatal condition by John Blake, a young cop with a strong sense of morale, and is sent to the Gotham hospital, requesting that Batman must come to see him. Blake relays the message to Bruce Wayne himself, having deduced his identity through logical deduction and persuades him to visit Gordon. As Wayne does so, wearing a ski mask, Gordon asks his old friend and ally to return to Gotham as their savior as evil has once again emerged. Wayne finally realizes that he must return and retrains himself, receives the latest technology from Lucius Fox, and comes back as Batman just as Bane orchestrates a massive attack on Gotham's stock exchange to hack into Wayne Enterprises' account and bankrupt the company with the use of Wayne's fingerprints, pilfered from his Manor by Selina Kyle.
As Batman pursues this new threat to Gotham, he is chased by hundreds of police vehicles as Gordon smiles while watching the coverage, happy to see that his strongest ally and best hope for Gotham has finally returned after eight years. However, as Bane's plans progress more rapidly, Gordon promotes Blake to detective and orders every officer on the force to attack Bane's stronghold underground to finally smoke him out of hiding. This order later turns out to be a huge mistake as Bane detonates hundreds of explosives all over Gotham, killing thousands of citizens, including the Mayor, cutting Gotham off from the rest of the world, and trapping the entire police force underground.
As Bane is fully aware that Gordon is still in the hospital, he sends a handful of his mercenaries to murder the Commissioner. While Blake attempts to save Gordon, Gordon takes out his attackers himself before they could even lay a finger on him. Gordon and Blake go into hiding and could only watch in horror as Bane reveals his plans to hold the city hostage and institute his own regime under the threat of detonating a nuclear bomb, formally part of a Wayne Enterprises fusion reactor meant to serve as a source of renewable energy. He tells Gotham that the detonator is in the hands of a civilian to give them a false sense of hope and entice them to obey his orders.
The situation reaches the pinnacle of destruction when Bane reads Gordon's speech to all of Gotham at City Hall, revealing that Dent was not the hero he was believed to be. Bane then releases all the Blackgate prisoners and begins to brutally drag all the rich and powerful from their homes and performs mass executions on them in a kangaroo court headed by Dr. Jonathan Crane. Blake is disgusted at Gordon's part in Dent's coverup, but Gordon admits that he was not proud, but that it was a necessary course of action to save the city at the time.
With police officers being ruthlessly hunted down, Gotham City under Bane's complete control, and the nuclear bomb set to detonate in several months, Gordon and several surviving officers form a resistance, but are impeded at every chance they attempt to overthrow Bane and find the bomb. Wayne Enterprises CEO Miranda Tate offers Gordon assistance in tracking the bomb. They are eventually all rounded up and sentenced into exile, except Miranda; they are forced to walk over the fragile sheet of ice over the water separating Gotham from the mainland.
However, once Batman finally returns back to Gotham, having previously been exiled by Bane to an ancient prison, he rescues Gordon and his associates and frees the officers trapped in the sewers. Batman gives Gordon the device needed to jam the signal between the bomb and the detonator. While Gordon attempts to find the mercenaries' truck that holds the bomb, the entire police force and Batman engage Bane and his forces at Gotham City Hall, cultivating in an extremely brutal war where hundreds of lives are lost.
Batman is able to finally defeat Bane, damaging his life support system and has him at his mercy until Miranda reveals herself as Talia, the daughter of Ra's al Ghul, and the planner of the entire operation with Bane in honor of her father. As she prepares to set the bomb off, Gordon finally locates it and jams the signal, making Talia's detonator useless. She leaves to be escorted to the bomb truck that Gordon is hiding in the back of.
Gordon remains inside the back of the bomb truck until it crashes after a chase with Batman in the Bat and Selina on the Batpod. He goes around and sees that the driver is the woman he thought to be Miranda. Talia reveals to Gordon, Batman, and Selina that she has flooded the corridors containing the control panel needed to deactivate the bomb and dies. Batman realizes that his only choice is to fly the bomb away from Gotham so that it blows up in a safe location.
As Batman prepares to leave with the bomb in tow in the Bat, Gordon finally asks the hero who he really is so the people can know who saved the city. Batman states that he was the boy he comforted all those years ago with a brown jacket and calls Gordon a hero before leaving as Gordon remembers in shock who that young boy was: Bruce Wayne. Batman flies the bomb out of Gotham's range and seemingly sacrifices himself in the explosion, saving Gotham from annihilation for a third time.
Gotham is finally secured again, all prisoners are recaptured, and Gotham is finally at peace. Gordon is finally relieved to commemorate the true hero of Gotham, Batman, with a statue in his honor at City Hall. Gordon, Fox, Blake, and Alfred hold a private funeral ceremony for Bruce Wayne outside his mansion, knowing that Bruce was not the spoiled playboy Gotham believed him to be, but a hero who sacrificed everything to ensure no one felt the same pain he felt as a child.
As Gordon is standing on top of the GCPD overlooking Gotham he notices to his suprise that the Bat Signal has been repaired, indicating that Batman is indeed alive, and is finally content once more in his life. The peace that Gotham finally has is now in an honest light.
Friendship With Batman
- James Gordon: “I never said thank you.”
- Batman: “And you'll never have to.”
- ―Gordon and Batman[src]
Although he does not condone vigilantes at first, Gordon sees that it is necessary to operate outside of laws in the crime-filled Gotham City, especially since most echelons of Gotham's police department are mired in corruption. Before the emergence of Batman, he was increasingly jaded and disillusioned of the malfeasance around him, disdaining his fellow officers even as he acknowledges that he cannot do anything about it, both due to his own refusal to be a 'rat' and a lack of anyone he could actually tell.
The arrival of the Dark Knight gives the police detective the hope he needs to build a better Gotham for his wife and children. After being promoted as a lieutenant, he is determined to clean the department up from within. The detective is still clueless of who Batman is, or that he is one of the people who inspired the Dark Knight to be what he is now. At the end of the The Dark Knight he is one of the few people who knows about Batman being innocent and that Dent was responsible for the murders Batman took the blame for.
In The Dark Knight Rises, Gordon's immense admiration for Batman leads him to feel incredibly guilty for condemning the man responsible for saving his family and city and has to glorify a madman to give the people hope. With Jim's persuasion, Batman finally returns and helps save the city for a third and seemingly final time. John Blake questions Gordon about lying to Gotham, to which Gordon responds by telling him that one day he may find himself in a similar situation, and that Gordon hopes Blake has a "friend" like he had. Gordon is finally relieved that Gotham knows the truth behind Dent and who the true hero is. He has a statue constructed in Batman's honor as a lasting monument to the hero's selfless heroism and smiles as he sees that someone has repaired the Bat Signal, implying that Batman is still alive. In the end, Gordon had the uppermost respect and trust for Batman and believed him to be the true hero the city needed and the one to finally save it and give it peace for the first time in decades.