Actor J.K. Simmons is best known among superhero fans for his absolutely iconic portrayal of J.Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films, but he’s about to leave his mark on another mustachioed comic book character when he steps into the shoes of Commissioner Jim Gordon for next year’s Justice League. The role was previously portrayed by chameleon actor Gary Oldman in Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy, and though some may consider that portrayal the definitive Gordon, there’s still ample opportunity for Simmon’s to make his Commish a memorable one. After all, the very nature of Jim Gordon has evolved right alongside Batman, reflecting different eras with different concerns.
We’ve already had a hint of how Simmon’s Gordon will differ from previous versions (that “Gym” Gordon photo, for instance), giving us the implication that Ben Affleck’s tougher Batman will need an equally tough Commissioner. And frankly, it only makes sense for the police commissioner of the DC Extended Universe’s Gotham – which has been overrun with supervillains for years by the time of Justice League – would be a battle-hardened officer of the law.
In a recent interview with EW, Simmons discusses how he wants to make his portrayal of Jim Gordon unique, intending to play up the more “badass” side of the character:
“One of the things that’s interesting to me is investigating hopefully a little bit more of that badass [side]…You’re living in a universe where it’s pretty tough to be a badass compared to somebody like Batman, but in the universe of non-superheroes I like the idea of Commissioner Gordon as a guy that can take care of himself, a guy that’s a real partner to Batman, not just a guy that turns on the bat signal and goes, ‘Help! Help, Batman!’”
A Jim Gordon who can take care of himself isn’t entirely new, and like Simmons mentions, the comic books have featured several iterations of Gotham’s commissioner who could easily handle whatever the city threw at him. In Frank Miller’s Batman: Year One, for instance, a new-to-Gotham Gordon quickly learns how menacing of a town it is, but isn’t deterred, later laying down one hell of beating to a corrupt cop who had threatened his family. (Gordon was voiced by Bryan Cranston in the animated adaption of Year One, which gives a sense of the sort of hardened character he is in that story.) More recently in the comics, Gordon himself took on the role of Batman via a mechanical suit that allowed him to protect the city in Bruce Wayne’s absence, proving himself an all around capable crime-fighter.
For his part, Simmons is an actor who has certainly played his share of tough guys in the past, from his starmaking role in HBO’s prison drama Oz to his Oscar-winning performance as the harsh drum teacher in Whiplash. Bringing that level of intensity to Gordon shouldn’t be much of a stretch then, allowing for Simmons’ performance to reflect the savage nature of the Gotham he protects. And it’s a performance we should expect to see more of beyond next fall’s Justice League, with Simmons hoping “to play Commissioner Gordon in a handful of movies.” Which, assuming the DCEU only continues to grow and improve, should prove to be the plan for a solo Batman film and beyond.
Suicide Squad will arrive on August 5, 2016, followed by Wonder Woman on June 2, 2017; Justice League on November 17, 2017; The Flash on March 16, 2018; Aquaman on July 27, 2018; an untitled DC Film on October 5, 2018; Shazam on April 5, 2019; Justice League 2 on June 14, 2019; an untitled DC film on November 1, 2019; Cyborg on April 3, 2020; and Green Lantern Corps on July 24, 2020.