The OC’s Ben McKenzie lands the lead in Batman prequel Gotham

The Southland actor will portray Commissioner Gordon in the Fox television series - the role played by Gary Oldman in Christopher Nolan's Batman franchise


Recognise this man? Yep, that’s Ben McKenzie – the actor behind The OC’s resident bad boy Ryan Atwood – and he’s about to get his teeth stuck into another leading role in a television series. 


This time it’s Fox’s Batman prequel Gotham, following Commissioner James Gordon when he was a rookie detective for Gotham City Open Police Department’s Homicide Squad. McKenzie will take the role of Gordon – a part recently made famous by Gary Oldman in Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise – in a series written and executive produced by The Mentalist showrunner Bruno Heller.

Described as a “college football star and a war hero,” Gordon will be seen fast-tracked through the GCDP ranks, working hand-in-hand with the future Caped Crusader to restore the community of Gotham. 

Speaking at the Television Critics Association’s winter press tour, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly confirmed fans could expect to see iconic characters from the Batman cannon making an appearance in the new series.

“This is not one of the things where you bought a franchise and then none of characters people know,” Reilly said. “We will follow Bruce Wayne right up until the point where he gets interesting.”

And while the new show will focus on Gordon’s struggles, Reilly confirmed Gotham would also be an origin story for Batman. Expected to feature The Joker, Riddler, Penguin and Catwoman, Gotham’s protracted ending will be Bruce Wayne donning the cape and becoming Batman – a conclusion that echoes how Smallville treated the birth of Superman when it concluded back in 2011.

“It’s Gotham teetering on the edge,” said Reilly. “This is all of the classic Batman characters.” 

Gotham is currently being written and executive produced by Heller with a pilot to be followed by a full series. McKenzie – who worked with Heller in 2013 on passed-over CBS pilot Advocates – has most recently been seen on cop show Southland which was cancelled last year due to poor ratings. 

Following the news of his casting, McKenzie took to Twitter to confirm his new role: