Can you believe it? It has been an entire year since I last fan-cast for a Batman small- or large-screen series. (Lucius Fox and Dr. Leslie Thompkins, to be precise.) I figured it was about time I addressed the primary characters from the Gotham City Police Department, so this week I’ll cast for Jim Gordon, and in the next couple weeks I’ll follow up with Harvey Bullock, Renee Montoya, and Crispus Allen. I have to be honest, I am not quite as satisfied as I’d like to be with who I came up with, so I’m still on the lookout. But, in the meantime…
Commissioner James Gordon
Jim Gordon is, of course, a central and beloved character in the Batman mythos. When Batman first shows up in Gotham, Gordon is a lieutenant in the GCPD. Though he sometimes likes to put on a somewhat gruff exterior, Gordon is generally known for being even-handed, fair, even compassionate. He is extremely competent at his job, despite dealing with all of the horror, crime, & corruption that Gotham City is infamous for. Recognizing him as a crusader for justice and one of the few cops in Gotham who hasn’t been corrupted, Batman establishes a professional relationship and, eventually, a mutual trust with Gordon that would serve them both well for many years to come. They have saved each others’ necks on several occasions, and Gordon has come to a measure of peace about allowing — even aiding — the Dark Knight’s vigilante-ish methods. Gordon’s rise to the position of Police Commissioner gave him even more freedom to cooperate with Batman (and other masked heroes).
Of course, Gordon is the uncle and adopted father of Barbara Gordon, the original Batgirl, who was crippled by the Joker and later became Oracle. Gordon’s second marriage was to his former partner, Sarah Essen, who temporarily succeeded Gordon as Police Commissioner and was killed by the Joker during the events of “No Man’s Land”.
Physically, Gordon is fairly trim and in good shape. DC’s wiki lists him as 6′ tall and about 168 lbs., though I’m sure the weight varied a little over the years. A height between 5’10” and 6’2″ is probably a reasonable requirement. Gordon has reddish hair that turned white in middle-age, as well as a bushy mustache, glasses, is often seen smoking a cigar or cigarette, and he typically wears a trenchcoat while “in the field”. By my calculations, Gordon is ~15 years older than Bruce Wayne, give or take, making him about 40 when the Batman debuts. If a TV or movie series begins around this time, then obviously the actor to play Gordon should be roughly 40 years old. Unfortunately, the youngest candidate I’ve come up with so far is already 54. So, assuming such a production sticks to post-Crisis/pre-52 continuity, these actors would be better cast for much later in Gordon’s life & career. (In fact, I think the events immediately preceding the “new 52” reboot would make Bruce Wayne about or almost 40, putting Gordon in his mid-50s.) BUT,… the writers/producers could simply make Gordon about 10 years older than his comicbook counterpart without changing much of significance about the character, which would make the actors below within acceptable age parameters.
First, a few that I rejected. With the possible exceptions of Sam Elliott and Tom Selleck (both of whom would’ve been in the running several years ago) and Burt Reynolds, nobody rocks a full mustache better than Alex Cord (6′,b.1933), who you might remember as “Archangel” in the ’80s TV series “Airwolf”. But, he’s over 80 now, so he’s obviously out of the running. I also think Kent McCord (6’2″,b.1942) — from “Adam 12”, “SeaQuest 2032”, & “Farscape” — could’ve made a great James Gordon… 20 or 30 years ago. I really like James Remar (5’10”,b.1953) for the part, too. (Remember him from “Dexter”? He’s also done a lot of genre voicework.) But, I’d like to limit it to those under 60 — at the moment, anyway. Kevin Bacon (5’10”,b.1958) fits this parameter and he even has red hair, but something about him keeps me from seeing him as Gordon. (I thought Gary Oldman was fantastic, btw.) So, we’re down to my favorite three (for now):
I’m not the first to suggest him for the role, but Bryan Cranston (5’10.5″,b.1956) would be great! I mean, look at this image from Trumbo. The hair may be a little dark, but that’s Jim Gordon! Cranston has been around for quite awhile, including playing the dad on “Malcolm in the Middle”. But, he has done a lot of genre stuff, too, including the recent Godzilla, which I finally saw the other night. Of course, he became most widely recognized with his starring role in the hugely popular “Breaking Bad” series.
Can you imagine Viggo Mortensen (5’11”,b.1958) — Aragorn/Strider himself — as Commissioner Gordon? I can (obviously). He always brings such an intensity to his roles, and I think he would do great as a frustrated and weary Gordon. He’s also played lawmen before. There are older pics of him with a bigger mustache (and longer hair and/or a beard), but I wanted a fairly recent one. Just imagine the mustache bushier… and glasses.
The youngest of my trio is Elias Koteas (5’10.5″,b.1961). Besides playing Casey Jones in two Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies in the ’90s, you might have seen him in Cyborg 2, Gattaca, Skinwalkers, “The Killing”, or any number of other things. Koteas is a wonderful, underrated actor, who I think could play a terrific Jim Gordon. He’d need to wear a toupee, of course, but that’s not a big deal.
The more I think of it, the more I like these candidates — assuming, of course, that the character is written to be about 10 years older than he is in the comics. Bullock, on the other hand, is a bit tougher. You’ll have to wait until next week to see my potential candidates for ol’ Harve, but here’s a nice pic with him and the Commish to hold you over….
* All ideas copyright Christopher Harris, 2013-2015.