J.K. Simmons returning as Commissioner Gordon for Batgirl

Sources report that J.K. Simmons has been in talks to reprise his role as Commissioner James Gordon for the Batgirl HBO Max film starring Leslie Grace.


After the controversy behind the DC Extended Universe film Justice League, it was initially thought that J.K. Simmons’s role as Commissioner James Gordon was a one-and-done deal. However, it appears that might not be the case as entertainment sources report the Oscar award winning actor is in talks to return to the role for the Batgirl HBO Max exclusive film.

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J.K. Simmons as Commissioner James Gordon. (Images: DC Entertainment/Warner Bros.)

What does this entail for the future of the Commissioner James Gordon role and how does it affect the DCEU? Read on for the full details.

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Batman’s buddy cop

The character of James Gordon has been tied to the Batman mythos for the longest time. In fact, Gordon has been there since Batman’s first appearance in DC Comics' Detective Comics issue #27 (1939).

Although Gordon started with the police commissioner position and that is the most familiar role the character has played, he has been portrayed with various ranks, from a street level officer to Lieutenant and Police Captain. One constant is that Gordon plays Batman’s closest ally and friend with police authority in the city of Gotham.

While Gordon’s faith in Batman has been tested over the years, considering he is effectively bending the rules for a vigilante, the bond between the two men has been one of the constants in the mythology.

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Ben Mckenzie played a younger Detective James Gordon in the Gotham TV series.

The role of Jim Gordon has been played in live action by many actors, including Gary Oldman from Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy and by Ben Mckenzie in the Gotham TV series, among others.

Batgirl’s dad

While Batman’s friendship with Jim Gordon connects them, it is the fact that Gordon’s daughter Barbara is Batgirl that binds them. Although it is often depicted that Gordon is unaware of his daughter’s nocturnal activities, the Commissioner has usually been depicted as a believer in Batgirl’s own mission.

This was a particularly key element in the legendary comic Batman: The Killing Joke. Written by Alan Moore with art by Brian Bolland, Jim Gordon is captured by the Joker in an attempt to drive the Commissioner insane. One of the mental and emotional tortures the Clown Prince of Crime hatches for Gordon is the assault and severe injury caused to Barbara Gordon.

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Even in mental and emotional duress, Jim Gordon remains by-the-book. (Batman: The Killing Joke, Art: Brian Bolland)

The madman makes the imprisoned Gordon look at photographs he himself took after shooting Barbara with a gun point blank. Although James Gordon broke down from the horrific experience, the police commissioner pushed back and retained his sanity long enough for Batman to come to the rescue.

Barbara would recover from the ordeal to become Oracle, the DC Universe’s top hacker and information broker. Later on, Barbara would find the means to heal and recover the use of her legs and return to the Batgirl persona. In some depictions, Commissioner Gordon is aware of Barbara’s activities and allows her to continue without letting her know that he knows.

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Fan reaction

Fans are generally happy that J.K. Simmons is returning to the Commissioner Gordon role. Although Simmons reportedly signed on for a three-picture deal to appear as the character, the mixed reaction to the Joss Whedon version of Justice League had a negative impact on that deal.

Fortunately, the Zack Snyder cut of Justice League through the HBO Max platform in early 2021 helped swing things back in Simmons’s favor. With the upcoming DCEU films and Warner Bros. having a more fluid handling of their cinematic multiverse, opportunities for past actors in key roles have opened up. It is a factor in how Michael Keaton was enticed to come back to the Bruce Wayne/Batman role from 1989 to the current DCEU.

However, there are some fans who are not as enthusiastic with Simmons returning as Commissioner Gordon and playing Leslie Grace’s father in her role as Barbara/Batgirl.

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Fans consider J.K. Simmons as Commissioner James Gordon as one of the best parts in either the Joss Whedon or the Zack Snyder versions of Justice League.

One triviality with the casting that some fans have mentioned is that Leslie Grace is of Afro-Latina descent. Having J.K. Simmons in the role of her father Jim Gordon would appear to be a mismatch. However, that is easy enough to resolve, by having Gordon’s wife and Barbara’s mother match the singer-actress’s ethnicity. Also, there are continuities in the comics and other media that Barbara Gordon is not the Commissioner’s biological daughter.

On a lesser note, there is also a subsection of fans who feel Simmons should not take the Jim Gordon role, as he is also playing J.Jonah Jameson in the upcoming Marvel Studios/Sony Pictures collaboration, Spider-Man: No Way Home.

What about Ben Affleck’s Batman?

If J.K. Simmons is returning to the Commissioner Jim Gordon role, then could it also mean Ben Affleck isn’t done with the Batman role for the DCEU?

Not necessarily.

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Although their interactions were brief, Ben Affleck and J.K. Simmons had a chemistry that was pitch perfect in their roles as Batman and Jim Gordon.

As the current status of the DCEU multiverse is yet to be codified, it is certainly possible for Ben Affleck’s fan-favorite version of Bruce Wayne/Batman to return after his locked in role in The Flash. Moreover, as previously reported, Affleck’s Batman will have a more extensive appearance in The Flash than prior information and leaks have claimed.

In 2019 Affleck had stated that he was done with the role. Yet, he came back for The Flash. Of course, some insiders stated that this is his farewell. That may be the case, but at the end of the day, nothing is set in stone in Hollywood as long as there is an opportunity for an actor and a role to be filled.

Certainly, despite the short interactions that Gordon and Batman had in Justice League, the chemistry between Simmons and Affleck onscreen was undeniable. It would be awkward to have Gordon as Gordon and not have Affleck to interact with him, even if the continuity in the HBO Max Batgirl film is different.

The Batgirl HBO Max exclusive film release date has yet to be announced.

Geoff Borgonia
Geoffrey "Borgy" Borgonia is a veteran writer, artist, journalist, gamer, and entrepreneur based in the Philippines. When not contributing to some of the top pop culture sites on the planet, he spends the rest of his time running his business, practicing martial arts, working on and developing books, comics, and games. In his man-cave, his only luxury is sleep. Borgy on Linkedin.