Robert Pattinson wasn’t the only actor with big shoes to fill when “The Batman” hit theaters this weekend. The DC Comics franchise is so beloved that nearly every supporting character has been played before by esteemed actors, and fans were eager to compare the new cast to their predecessors.
Jeffrey Wright, who plays Gotham City Police Commissioner Jim Gordon in Matt Reeves’ film, told The Hollywood Reporter that he eventually watched several previous Batman movies during a COVID-induced quarantine toward the end of filming but wasn’t particularly interested in other actors who played Commissioner Gordon, most recently Gary Oldman.
Wright preferred to read comic books to learn his character’s history and then looked to prominent, real-world Black police figures to find inspiration. One prominent influence: New York City mayor and former NYPD captain Eric Adams.
“[Adams] first came to my attention back in the ’90s during these major police brutality cases in the city. So I used him as a touchstone. And now, the current police commissioner of the NYPD is a Black woman named Keechant Sewell,” Wright said. “So I looked for real-life references to justify my place in this role, but I largely relied on the comics for the underlying psychology and emotional journey that the character undergoes and for the relationship with the Batman.”
Wright said deciding to study real police officers rather than past Commissioner Gordon portrayals allowed the production team to create a film that speaks to the unique needs of today’s audiences.
“When you take on something that’s been visited so many times before, the intent is not to repeat the steps that have come before,” he said. “Obviously, there’s momentum that can be carried forward based on what’s come before, and you want to push past it because each of those films and each of those performances represented the time in which they were made. So we very much wanted to make a Batman film for today. But that said, it does take into consideration what came before, of course, because we’re not doing this in a vacuum.”