James "Jim" Worthington Gordon is a supporting character in DC Comics' Batman series. Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane, he first appeared in Detective Comics #27 (May 1939). He was the first Batman supporting character to be introduced.
In most incarnations of the Batman mythos, Gordon is the police commissioner of Batman's home of Gotham City. He shares the heros deep commitment of ridding the dark and corrupting city of crime. In Golden and Silver age comics and on the 1960s Batman television show, Gordon fully trusts, and is even somewhat dependent on Batman. In most modern stories, he is somewhat skeptical of Batman's vigilante method but recognizes the necessity of Batman and the two have a mutual respect and tacit friendship. He was the husband of Barbara Kean Gordon and Sarah Essen Gordon. Gordon is also the father or adopted father, depending on the continuity, of Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl and later Oracle, and James Gordon, Jr..
Gordon is an important part of the Batman mythos and has appeared in most other media adaptations of the character.
In most versions of the Batman mythos, he is at one point or another depicted as Gotham City's police commissioner. He succeeded Commissioner Grogan in the rank at GCPD. Gordon frequently contacts Batman for help in solving various crimes, particularly those committed by supervillains. Because DC Comics retconned its characters' history in the 1985 miniseries Crisis on Infinite Earths, and because of different interpretations in television and film, the details of Gordon's history vary from story to story.
In the original pre-Crisis version of his history, Gordon was a police detective who initially bitterly resented the mysterious vigilante's interference in police business. Although the Batman seemed to fight on the side of justice, his methods and phenomenal track record for stopping crimes and capturing criminals embarrassed the police by comparison. Eventually, Batman met up with Gordon and persuaded the detective that they needed each other's help. Batman was deputized and worked with Gordon as an agent of the law.
Batman: Year One
The post-Crisis version of the character was introduced in the mid-1980s storyline Batman: Year One, written by Frank Miller. In this version, Gordon was transferred back to the city after spending more than fifteen years in Chicago. A man of integrity, Gordon found that his only ally against the mob-controlled administration was the Batman. One of the most significant differences in this version is that Batman was never deputized and Gordon's relationship with him was kept out of the public eye whenever possible. It was also added that he was a Special Forces veteran who was more than capable of hand to hand combat.
When Gordon needs to summon Batman, he uses the Bat-Signal, a specially modified Klieg searchlight with a stylized symbol of a bat placed on it so that it projects a large emblem shaped in Batman's bat insignia on the sky or buildings of Gotham City. Batman often disappears silently when Gordon's back is turned, often while Gordon is in the middle of a rant about legal red tape.
The miniseries Gordon of Gotham takes place about nearly twenty years prior to the current events of the DC Universe and ten years before coming to Gotham in Batman: Year One. It reveals that Gordon, during his tenure in Chicago, struggled with his wife over conceiving a child while taking university night classes in criminology. He faces brutality among other officers after uncovering corruption within the force. Later, Gordon uncovers evidence of rigging the mayoral election and brings down two of his fellow officers, which leads to his commissioner recommending to him that he transfer to Gotham quickly.
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 naked in an effort to drive him insane, thus proving to Batman that even the most grounded, seemingly normal people can lose their minds after having "a very bad day." Batman eventually apprehends the Joker and rescues Gordon. Despite the intense trauma he has endured, Gordon's sanity and code of ethics is intact; he insists that Batman apprehend the Joker without harming him in order to "show him that our way works."
No Man's Land
The No Man's Land storyline took place after Gotham was destroyed by an earthquake and isolated from outside assistance. Inside Gotham, Gordon struggled to maintain order amidst rampant crime. Batman was mysteriously absent for the initial three months, and Gordon felt somewhat betrayed. He forged an uneasy alliance with Two-Face but was later double-crossed, kidnapped, and put on trial by Two-Face for breaking their "legally-binding" alliance. He escaped punishment, and later met with Batman once again. In this confrontation, Gordon expressed his disgust towards Batman for letting Gotham "fall into ruin". Batman offered to prove his trust by revealing his secret identity, but Gordon refused to look when Batman removed his mask. Eventually their relationship was repaired.
The death of Sarah Essen
Gordon fell in love with and married fellow officer Sarah Essen. However, Essen could not comprehend why Gordon needed Batman so much, which occasionally put a strain on their relationship. Unfortunately, she was fatally shot by the Joker at the end of the No Man's Land storyline. An enraged Gordon wanted to kill Joker, but instead was persuaded to shoot him in the leg, in revenge for Joker's shot which had paralyzed Gordon's daughter. Not long after this, Gordon was gunned down by a crook seeking revenge for a previous arrest. Though seriously injured, he eventually pulled throug
Gordon retired from the police force after having served more than 20 years in it. He remained in Gotham, and occasionally enjoyed nighttime visits from Batman who came to him for company and advice. Commissioner Michael Akins has taken his position.
After Barbara required surgery to save her life from the Brainiac virus, Gordon visited his adoptive daughter in Metropolis. She revealed to him her current role as Oracle, as well as her past as Batgirl. Gordon admitted that he knew of her life as Batgirl, but was pleasantly surprised to know of her career as the computer information broker of the heroes. He is very proud of her accomplishments.
As part of DC's "One Year Later" Gordon has returned to the role of Commissioner; as of the year-long jump he has been back in the job for 3 months. The circumstances behind this are currently unknown, though there have been allusions to extreme corruption within the GCPD. These allusions are supported by events within Gotham Central, especially involving Detective Jim Corrigan. Most recently, Gordon survived an attempt on his life by the Joker (Batman #655), who had drugged him with Joker Venom in an attack on the GCPD. He was taken to the hospital in time.
Gordon and Batman's Identity
In most versions of the mythos, Gordon is ignorant of Batman's identity, though some fans and writers feel that Gordon is smart enough to solve the puzzle but chooses not to in order to preserve Batman's effectiveness. In the 1966 Batman theatrical movie, Gordon explicitly states his desire not to know for such a reason. In Batman: Year One, Gordon claims not to see the unmasked Batman well (whom his wife at that time, Barbara, also sees) because he doesn't have his glasses on. The Batman: The Animated Series episode "Over the Edge" ends with a conversation between Commissioner Gordon and Barbara (his daughter not his wife) which implies that Gordon at least knows that Barbara is Batgirl but cannot acknowledge it because that would put him in an uncomfortable legal position. During No Man's Land, Batman attempts to regain Gordon's trust by revealing himself, but Gordon turns his face away, stating that he does not want to know his 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. In Batman: Year One, Gordon suspects early on that Bruce Wayne may be Batman, though he never follows up on his suspicions. In Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns, Gordon and Bruce Wayne are portrayed as close friends, with Bruce having revealed his identity to Gordon years ago.
In Pre-Crisis continuity, James Gordon was the biological father of Anthony "Tony" Gordon and Barbara Gordon (later Batgirl). Originally referred to as a college student, Tony later disappeared while hiding from Communist spies. He was later reunited with his sister Barbara and perished in a battle with the Sino-Supermen. (Batman Family #12, Detective Comics # 482)
In Post-Crisis continuity, there has been no mention of Tony Gordon. James Gordon has a brother, Roger Gordon. James and his wife, Barbara Eileen Gordon, are the parents of a son, James Gordon, Jr. (Batman #404-407)
Roger Gordon and his wife, Thelma Gordon, are parents of Barbara "Babs" Gordon (later Batgirl and Oracle). When Babs was 12 or 13, her parents (Roger and Thelma) died. She moved to Gotham City and lived with her uncle, aunt and cousin. Eventually, James and Barbara adopted Babs. However, the couple divorced and James retained custody of Babs, while Barbara moved to Chicago with James, Jr. (Secret Origins #20). Barbara and James, Jr. are rarely mentioned and presumably still reside in Chicago. It has recently been revealed that James had an affair with Thelma, and might be the biological father of Babs. (Batman: Gotham Knights #6)
In one post-crisis story, James and Babs visit the grave of his late wife. However, this story is later retconned when it is revealed that his wife is not dead, but instead they are divorced. James eventually marries Sarah Essen. (Batman Annual #13, Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight Annual #2). Unfortunately, Sarah was murdered by the Joker at the end of the No Man's Land storyline. During the One Year Later storyline, Gordon makes a slight reference to his ex-wife Barbara "doing well," implying that he keeps tabs on her.
In the 2005 film Batman Begins Gordon is popularly portrayed by Gary Oldman. 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 Bruce Wayne 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 needs after his parents' death. Seventeen to eighteen years later, after promoted as a detective-sergeant on the force, while working late on 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. This is kept secret from all other police officers, with Gordon proving 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 vaporising the 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 to the Dark Knight, and also to 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.
Although he does not condone vigilantes, Gordon sees that it is necessary to operate outside of laws in the crime-filled Gotham City, especially since most members of Gotham's police department are mired in corruption. Before the emergence of Batman, he was increasingly jaded and disillusioned of the corruptions around him. 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.
James Gordon is a police lieutenant in the Gotham City Police Department. He has become a friend and ally to the Batman.