I know what you’re thinking, “But didn’t Bryan Cranston already voice James Gordon in Batman: Year One?” Yes he did, and he was absolutely perfect.
Now obviously the new show, Gotham, is going for a much younger version of James Gordon so Cranston is pretty much out of the running but how awesome would it be if we could fast forward in time to a point where he’s been Commish’ for awhile and Barbara is all grown up and he finally has a goddamn mustache. Dare I dream? I DARE.
Bryan Cranston was painfully hesitant to take on the role of James Gordon because he had little experience with the Frank Miller comic it was based on and didn’t want to do something silly and meaningless. Then he took a look at the script and quickly changed his mind. After three years of playing the diabolical Walter White he was eager to jump into the shoes of a cop who is being morally challenged on all sides.
Commissioner James Gordon is the real hero of Gotham. He’s clever and loyal and matures into one of the most ethical men in comics. He’s basically the opposite of Heisenberg. And the best thing about him is that, pre-52, he’s actually aged. Cranston wouldn’t need to compete with the rippling abs of men less than half his age. Granted this is in my fantasy world where motion adaptations are based on a world before Flashpoint.
Cranston has spent the last few years cultivating the public’s idea of him from a leotard and roller skates folly to a formidable force of contention during awards season. While the spark of comedy will always glisten behind his eyes he has more than proven he has the skill to make an audience shudder in trepidation and wince in agony. That’s exactly what is needed to portray the grizzled and jaded Gordon. When Gordon was first transferred to Gotham he was appalled by the blatant disregard for justice or even civility. But instead of buckling and giving in to the city’s temptation he fought it. Gordon was on a mission to do what’s right and fight for those who needed it most.
If you think about it, Gordon does what villains fantasize about doing late at night when all the henchmen are tucked tightly in their henchbeds: standing up to The Bat. Batman truly believes that he’s 1000 steps ahead of everyone else and while that might be true in some circumstances, as time goes on, it becomes less frequent with Gordon. Gordon is scary in that ominous fatherly sort of way, he has you second-guessing yourself with just a cold glare and judgmental twitch of the ‘stache. He absolutely reeks of power without the needed to jumped from the shadows wearing giant bat ears on his head. He’s such a natural bad ass and as he gets older he only gets more brilliant and more admirable.
Who better to play the stern, gives-no-fucks Commissioner? Cranston can balance charming and intimidation like I can balance a Double Double and fries on my lap. I would love to see him standing on the police station rooftop with his trenchcoat and tie blowing in the wind. He would blast through the procedural dialogue without missing a beat but also be able to hold the rapt attention of the audience during quiet scenes between the action. He’s relatable but there is just some unseen aura that demands respect.
Cranston is a phenomenal actor and Gordon is a character that is not shown enough honors. Be it an hour-long drama or yet another gritty adapatation I think Cranston would be able to enjoy the serious tone and heavy weight that comes from playing such a strong character and Gordon would finally be respected and appreciated. Nothing against Gary Oldman, but the Nolan-verse is centered around Batman and that is the opposite of what I want. In fact, lock down Greg Rucka and Ed Brubaker to write your script for you! They killed it on Gotham Central and they would be more than capable to write a compelling piece about a man who doesn’t fight crime because he has a hard-on for therapeutic violence or because he’s filled with unyielding strength but because it’s the right thing to do. Gotham is his city, his family, his most prized possession and under his watchful eye its citizens survive.
Maybe I’m being selfish and repetitive and not at all creative but I think there was some serious genius in casting Cranston for Batman: Year One, I just wish they would take it a little further.