Batman’s bravery is never in question, but it’s easy to be brave when your status as a billionaire has afforded you the opportunity to train with experts in the field of crime-fighting while paying for your own personal armory. It takes much more determination, guts and courage to fight the same fight with conventional training and resources, as Commissioner Gordon does, and without the benefit of a secret identity to boot. In the face of physical and emotional dangers both public and private, here are the times he was braver than Batman.
10 FOUGHT CORRUPTION IN CHICAGO
A bulk of James Gordon’s early career was spent in Chicago. There, he investigated political corruption at the highest municipal levels, uncovering electoral fraud and exposing several corrupt police officers in the process. Knowingly investigating fellow officers and high-ranking politicians is something most cops wouldn’t touch with a ten-foot pole, but Gordon had the courage to do what was right rather than what was easy. Unfortunately, it cost him his position in the Windy City, but this was the impetus that brought him back to Gotham.
9 FOUGHT CORRUPTION IN GOTHAM…WITHOUT A MASK
As soon as Jim Gordon came to Gotham, he gained notoriety as a tough cop who was incorruptible to the influence of the city’s criminal element. Gordon fought corrupt cops, politicians, and mobsters, and he did it very publicly, not having the luxury of hiding behind a mask. This put him, his wife and family, under tremendous danger and threat. To continue to fight the good fight under such intense pressure was an act of undeniable courage.
8 WALKED INTO A HOSTAGE CRISIS UNARMED
Batman’s got a plethora of methods, tools, and weapons to diffuse a hostage situation, but it takes some cajones to walk into one completely unarmed. Commissioner Gordon did just that in Batman: Year One, when he entered a run-down tenement without his weapon to rescue some kids from an escaped Arkham inmate.
With nothing but superior fighting techniques and excessive guts, he managed to save all the captive children from a potentially messy end.
7 CHOSE TO BE A PARENT IN GOTHAM CITY
It’s a scary world out there, and it’s even scarier when you live in Gotham City. By his own admission, Gotham is a “city without hope,” and considering its violent nature as well as its corrupting influence, that makes Commissioner and Mrs. Gordon’s decision to have and raise a child in this type of environment an act of tremendous courage.
That Gordon’s son was subsequently kidnapped by mobsters due to his efforts in routing corruption in Gotham illustrates the danger he and his family were in, and the guts it took for him to stay the course in his openly public crusade for justice.
6 SUPPORTS VIGILANTISM
In what would prove to be a recurring characteristic for Gotham City’s Police Commissioner, James Gordon has no qualms about doing what is right despite the ramifications his decisions may have on his personal or professional life. This is pretty evident in his public endorsement of a costumed vigilante as the savior of the city. Whether clandestinely in the early years or outright in current continuity, Gordon’s support of the Batman takes courage when you consider the opposition it would face amongst Gordon’s superiors, political opponents, and fellow members of law enforcement.
5 TRUSTS BATMAN AFTER KNIGHTFALL
Trust is essential in any relationship and when it’s broken, it’s hard to mend. This was the case following the events of Knightfall when Commissioner Gordon had to deal with feelings of betrayal for not having been informed of Batman’s injury and substitution.
After all, the relationship between a high-ranking police official and an unsanctioned masked vigilante is tenuous at best, especially when the vigilante starts breaking his pattern of behavior and starts killing people. That Gordon was eventually able to work through his issues and trust the Dark Knight again shows tremendous personal fortitude and courage on his part, especially since Batman had chosen not to reveal his identity to Gordon.
4 BECAME MAYOR OF GOTHAM
In the continuity of the Arkham games, Commissioner Gordon eventually retired from the police force and launched a successful bid to become Mayor of Gotham City. This trumps Batman’s form of retirement in the game – namely exposing his identity and committing apparent suicide by walking into Wayne Manor seconds before it blew up.
Although Batman’s exit seems more dramatic, Gordon’s is actually more practical and brave. Rather than entertain a lifetime of futile vigilantism well into old age, Gordon decided to do something more constructive, which was to use his time and resources to fight corruption from a position of political power and influence.
3 PROTECTS THE JOKER
When it comes to The Joker, Commissioner Gordon shares a similar viewpoint with Batman in that they really, really, would like to kill him, but won’t because of their morals and ideals. However, Commissioner Gordon seems to have more to hold against the Crown Prince of Crime, as The Joker’s crippled his daughter, kidnapped and tortured him, and killed his wife.
Unable to pummel him mercilessly on some Gotham rooftop or back alley, Gordon not only refrains from murdering The Joker but protects his rights as well. That shows immense courage in character, as not everyone would be able to live their principles so steadfastly, considering the circumstances.
2 MARSHALLS THE CITIZENS OF GOTHAM
Batman may be a shining example of sacrifice and heroism in Gotham City, but he’s not the only one. Commissioner Gordon has had his fair share of rallying moments in Gotham’s history, galvanizing the citizenry to take charge of their destinies and save themselves from crime and oppression.
One of the most notable times Gordon was able to do this was shortly after the Soviet EMP attack on the eastern coast of the United States in The Dark Knight Returns. In the face of a disaster of apocalyptic proportions, Gordon courageously unified Gotham’s citizens to provide for each other’s needs, rather than degenerate into looting and anarchy. In this way, Gordon was able to put the needs of the citizens over a personal vendetta with Superman, unlike Bruce Wayne!
1 REPLACED BATMAN
Batman spent a solid ten years training with secret specialists in all types of fields to do what he does, so replacing him isn’t going to be easy. Yet Commissioner Gordon stepped into his shoes (and a large, mechanical exoskeleton) to do just that in the Superheavy story arc. Granted, Gordon’s a highly trained police officer and former special services operative, but that doesn’t quite put him in Batman’s league. Agreeing to replace him, as well as learning how to operate that Iron Man-like suit, was a huge exercise in bravery to be sure.
James Gordon is not a superhero but he has proven to be more courageous than Batman on more than one occasion.