It seems I missed a cameo character while playing Injustice: Gods Among Us, since in the opening cutscene another very well known face can be clearly seen: it’s Commissioner Gordon, one of the few onest policemen in Gotham City. He was first portrayed on screen by Lyle Talbot in 1949 serial Batman and Robin, in a version quite similar to his comics’ counterpart; he then appeared in the 1960s’ tv series and in the spin-off movie, portrayed by Neil Hamilton and depicted as a police officer who cannot do anything without the help of Batman. In Tim Burton‘s and Joel Schumacher‘s four films he was portrayed by Pat Hingle, again as a cop unable to stop Gotham’s crime and always depending on Batman’s help (in Batman & Robin he was also seduced and almost killed by Poison Ivy). Finally, we have a much more independent and tough version of the character in Christopher Nolan‘s trilogy, with Gary Oldman portraying the character first as Lt. Gordon, the only honest cop in Gotham, than as Commissioner Gordon, head of GCPD. Let’s see together who this upright man is in the comics.
James Worthington Gordon was a simple cop in Gotham City, one of USA’s most violent cities. Once, patrolling a street, he found two burglars sneeking out of a warehouse, and ordered them to stop; the two instead attacked him, and the agent was forced to shoot them down, just in front of their son, whom he didn’t see. It was later revealed that the two “burglars” were in fact a dirty cop and his wife, and Commissioner Gillian B. Loeb forced Gordon to leave Gotham in order to avoid scandal, sending him to Chicago. Gordon obeyed, and he and his wife, Barbara, moved to Illinois. In the big city, the young policeman was even more shocked by the power criminality had over normal citizens, and started to study by night in order to become an officer and to fight criminals in a more effective way. He became a lieutenant, and uncovered two fellow officers who were stacking the mayoral elections. Once again, Jim‘s integrity costed him his position, and Chicago’s police discredited him and sent him back to Gotham. After fifteen years of absence, Gordon found Gotham even worse than how he had left it: almost no policeman was honest, criminals ruled the city without even trying to hide themselves and corruption had invaded every single social level. With a family to protect (Barbara had given birth to a son, James Jr.), Lt. Gordon tried his best not to oppose Commissioner Loeb and his maneuvers too openly, but he was always a black sheep in a flock of corrupted agents. About the same time Gordon came back to Gotham, a new figure had appeared, a vigilante who struck criminality with brutality and precision: Batman, a mysterious coated hero who acted far beyond the limits of the law. At first, Gordon was more than suspicious towards Batman, but when the vigilante finally approached him and talked to him, the two of them understood they were on the same boat, and formed a secret alliance. From that moment, Gordon informed Batman about corrupt policemen, while Batman informed Gordon about Mafia’s organization.
Together, Gordon and Batman managed to uncover Loeb’s relation with the Falcone Family, the major criminal power in Gotham, and to have him arrested. Lt. Gordon then convinced Loeb’s temporary successor to build the Bat-Signal, in order to contact Batman whenever police needed him. Along with District Attorney Harvey Dent, another rare honest man in town, Gordon and Batman brought down Carmine Falcone and his so-called Roman Empire, thus inflicting a fatal blow to racquet. Unfortunately, victory didn’t come without a price to pay, and Dent lost his sanity when Sal Maroni, one of Falcone’s underlings, disfigured him with acid, turning him into murderous Two-Face. Dent was but the first psychopaths who would have haunted Gotham’s nights. Meanwhile, Gordon was promoted to commissioner, and he replaced Loeb at the head of Gotham’s police. Another picturesque menace came when the son of the couple shot down by Gordon in his youth came back as an adult, seeking vengeance. Inspired by Batman, he created the costumed identity of The Wrath and hunted down Gordon. The Wrath got killed after falling from a building he himself had set aflame, but Gordon understood that, being near to Batman and fighting with him against the city’s underworld, he himself wasn’t safe from this new, deadly kind of criminals. When Batman trained Robin, a partner in crime-fighting, Gordon was more than unpleased at the idea of a kid jumping from roof to roof and dealing with deadly psychos like Two-Face or The Joker, maybe the deadliest of them all, but in time he came to accept Robin and to trust him just like he did Batman. The bonds became even closer when Roger and Thelma, his brother and sister-in-law, died in a car accident, and Jim became the legal tutor of his niece, Barbara Gordon. Years later, a new heroine appeared and joined the Bat-Family, a girl named Batgirl: although he immediately realized that his niece/adoptive daughter was actually the new heroine, Gordon didn’t tell her anything, and kept fighting crime with Batman and his allies as he had always done.
Commissioner James Gordon is an unbreakable man, with an indomitable will and a genuine thirst for justice. He cannot stand criminality in any possible way, and fights for what he believes is right, even sacrificing himself and his private life doing so. Gordon is an excellent marskman and an expert hand-to-hand combatant, trained to face Gotham’s many menaces; he’s also a skilled investigator and a charismatic leader for his agents. Despite being often seen just as a support for heroes like Batman and Robin, Gordon has proved more than once to be a hero by himself, able to stay focus and retain his sanity even in situation in which Batman himself, or even Superman, would have been broken.