DC Animated Universe
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Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero is a DCAU direct-to-video animated film set in the time period between the end of Batman: The Animated Series and before the The New Batman Adventures. It was originally slated for release in 1997 as a marketing tie-in for the live-action film Batman & Robin, but Warner Bros. decided to delay the release of Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, with it coming out the following year.

Plot[]

Freeze remembers

Freeze remembers when he first met his wife.

A lone man and two polar bears swim in the ocean in the Arctic, catching a school of salmon. The man is Victor Fries, who along with his pet polar bears, his comatose wife Nora, and surrogate son Koonak, is living a more or less normal life in the Arctic. As Fries quietly speaks to Nora's sleeping form on the 15th anniversary of their first meeting, a submarine crashes through the ground on which they stand, causing a brief quake. Nora's container is shattered, and in retribution, Fries dons his suit and freezes the entire crew of the submarine.

Freeze belson

Freeze manages to get a hold of Belson.

Two weeks later, just after foiling a robbery as Batman & Robin, Bruce Wayne & Dick Grayson attend a friend's party. As Bruce and Dick flirt with Veronica Vreeland and Barbara Gordon respectively, a disgruntled guest, Dr. Gregory Belson, argues with his stockbroker, Dean Arbagast, about an unpaid debt, and angrily storms out. However, on his way home, he is ambushed by Mr. Freeze, once his old colleague, who abducts him. Meanwhile, Dick begins to reveal his feelings for Barbara by inviting her to spend the weekend with him by the coast, which she accepts. On their way home, Bruce & Alfred come across Belson's wrecked car.

Elsewhere, Belson analyzes Nora's blood and concludes that her disease has relapsed, noting that she only has a few weeks and saving her will be very expensive, with the only thing that could save her is a successful organ transplant. Freeze offers him a piece of gold, and Belson agrees to check the hospital files for a suitable organ donor to save Nora. Due to the fact people whose blood type is AB like Nora's are rare, the only ones available are live donors, and Freeze bribes a skeptical Belson with an offer of an entire vein of gold he discovered during his time in the Arctic in exchange for performing the operation illegally. Belson checks the list and finds the perfect donor: Barbara Gordon.

Belson calls Barbara in her University room, but her roommate answers and tells him that she and Dick are at a restaurant and won't return until Monday. Freeze finds Barbara at the restaurant and kidnaps her, despite Dick and the police's efforts to stop him. Commissioner Gordon, particularly angered at his daughter's abduction, investigates and learns that the person who phoned Barbara's roommate claimed that she was a blood donor. Bruce secretly checks the list of donors with Barbara's blood group and finds Nora's name on it. Bruce & Dick realize that the reason Mr. Freeze abducted Barbara is that he plans to use her to somehow save his wife.

Freeze polar bears

Freeze points his freeze gun at Barbara as Notchka & Shaka roar at her.

Meanwhile, Barbara awakes at Freeze's hideout and attempts to escape, but finds out that she, Freeze, and Belson are at an oil rig five miles offshore, meaning that there is no escape. Belson explains that they need her as she was the only suitable donor for Nora's "blood transfusion". Barbara agrees to help, but not this way, and when she tries to escape again, Freeze chains her in her room.

Bruce & Dick ask some questions at GothCorp and learn that Freeze was once a colleague of Belson. Remembering Belson's name on the wrecked car after the party, Bruce and Dick realize Freeze has abducted him as well to save Nora. They search Belson's house for clues and find a message from Arbagast. Using Arbagast's number from the message, Batman and Robin confront him at his home. Arbagast tells them about the debt earlier: Belson gambled everything on a drug hoping to get rich quickly. But side effects were discovered, and he lost big. Just then, Belson calls Arbagast, claiming he will have the money to pay his debts. Batman & Robin record the conversation and analyze it in the Batcave. Hearing a ship's foghorn and a buoy in the background, they track him through the shipping lanes and realize they are on the abandoned oil rig 5 miles from shore out there. Meanwhile, Alfred has analyzed the list Batman also found on Belson's desk and reveals to the Dynamic Duo that the reason Freeze abducted Barbara is so he can save his wife by using Barbara in an allograft procedure, to Batman's horror. Robin asks him what's wrong and Batman reveals that Allograft procedure is the medical term for an organ transplant. Robin is horrified due to knowing what will happen to Barbara. An equally horrified Alfred tells the Dynamic Duo "I think you'd better hurry."

Freeze & Belson drag Barbara to the operation room and prepare to sedate her, revealing that the blood transfusion was just the cover story. Koonak, who Freeze had promised no harm would come to Barbara, appears and attempts to stop them, buying Barbara time to run off and hide. As Belson gives chase with a gun, Batman & Robin arrive in the Batwing and knock Belson out. However, a spark from one of Belson's gunshots lands in a puddle of oil from a leaking fuel tank and starts a fire that begins spreading rapidly. Robin's attempt to put the fire out with a hose is interrupted by Freeze's polar bears, whom Batman and Robin trick into jumping off the rig, although they land safely in the water. But the fire has spread so far that the oil rig is beginning to collapse. Freeze still insists that Belson perform the operation, but he pushes Freeze under some falling debris and makes a run for it, although he is crushed by falling debris as he attempts to escape in a speedboat.

Freeze falls

Freeze falls into the ocean.

Freeze, however, is still alive, with a broken leg. Batman, Robin, and Barbara rescue him. As Robin prepares the Batwing for departure, Batman & Barbara rescue Nora and Koonak from the operation room. At Freeze's request, they take Nora & Koonak to the Batwing first, and Batman goes back for Freeze, now hanging over a ledge for his life. Batman attempts to pull him to safety, but a falling pipe lands on Batman's shoulder, causing him to let go of Freeze, who falls into the fiery ocean below. Batman grapples himself to the Batwing and escapes as the oil rig finally explodes and collapses. Unknown to any of them, however, Freeze has survived and is swimming to safety with his polar bears.

Freeze moved to tears

Freeze overjoyed to hear of Nora's revival.

Sometime later in the Arctic, Freeze stumbles across a small house where the residents are watching the news. Through the window, Freeze watches the report of his apparent death, and to his delight, that of Nora's revival thanks to an organ transplant funded by Wayne Enterprises. Moved to tears, Freeze walks back home with his polar bears by his side.

Continuity[]

Background information[]

Home video releases[]

Production notes[]

  • According to Boyd Kirkland, the crew was tasked with making a simpler, less dark, more "kid-friendly" story than Batman: Mask of the Phantasm that could be cross-promoted with Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin film. With this in mind, he noted, "since the last film had been all about Batman, we decided to have him play a less central role in this one, and focused more on Robin and Batgirl instead."[1]
  • Before the film became about Mr. Freeze, it had a different script entirely, featuring Bane as a "terminator" esque villain, but Warner Bros. wanted the film to be about Mr. Freeze, as Arnold Schwarzenegger had just been cast as the character in the live action Batman & Robin film. WB had initially asked Kirkland and Rogel if they could keep the same script but replace Bane's role with Mr. Freeze, but a new script was written from scratch.[2]
  • According to Randy Rogel, despite Warner Bros. intending Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero to be a simultaneous release with the 1997 live-action film Batman & Robin, the film was delayed a year later when the studio decided Subzero would cause confusion in the marketplace with the upcoming live-action film.[3]
  • The movie originally had a different ending, concluding with the cure and redemption of Mr. Freeze. The original ending was bittersweet, with Mr. Freeze being cured by the Wayne Foundation, and able to hold his beloved Nora again, but then being led away to spend the rest of his life in prison. Warner Bros. asked Boyd Kirkland and Randy Rogel to revise the ending. The ending was altered so only Nora Fries was cured, and with Victor to live in seclusion.[4]
  • The Flamingos song "I Only Have Eyes for You" was chosen for the film's soundtrack by Boyd Kirkland and Randy Rogel as the two believed it helped make the characters seem more "real."[1]
  • According to Boyd Kirkland, the CGI Division employed for this film, Warner Digital, was set up out of a desire to incorporate CGI in the original run of Batman: The Animated Series. Though ultimately, they weren't able to utilize the team until Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. In his mind, the implementation of CG in the film "helped elevate "SubZero" visually beyond the normal TV stuff" by allowing the crew "to inject more excitement and a 'live-action' feeling by 'moving the camera' more during action sequences" as well as keeping "vehicles (such as the Batwing) more consistent and solid-looking."[1]
  • Paul Dini made slight contributions to the movie, making a few story suggestions here and there, though ultimately his involvement was minimal.[5]

Production inconsistencies[]

  • When Bruce opens the donor file, the fields for sex, height, weight, and blood type are already filled in, though the data do not match Barbara's. In the next shot, the fields are empty again.
  • Dean Arbagast is holding a wine glass during the party, but when Belson speaks to him alone, it disappears.
  • It is unknown how the Gotham news crew was able to acquire footage of the oil rig's explosion and collapse, as there were clearly no journalists or news helicopters anywhere near the scene at the time.
  • In the series, Bruce & Dick are usually depicted with white sclera in their eyes, but in this movie, they do not (save for a single close-up shot of Bruce).
  • When Batman tries to pull Mr. Freeze up with a grappling hook, he clearly let's go of it after a pipe falls on his shoulder and he watches Freeze fall. However, it appears back in his hand as he gets up and runs back to the Batwing.
  • Barbara's shoes continuously lose and gain their heels.

Trivia[]

  • At the very beginning, during the title screen, the music used was the theme composed by Danny Elfman for Tim Burton's 1989 live-action film Batman.
  • "Am I Blue?", the 1929 jazz standard written by Harry Akst and Grant Clarke, is featured in this film, heard playing on the radio in Barbara Gordon's dorm with her roommate Jenny. The song would later appear in the Justice League Unlimited episode "This Little Piggy", where Batman would perform the song to rescue Wonder Woman from an enchantment.
  • Veronica Vreeland's hair is blonde rather than her natural red hair. From a production standpoint, this may have been done to prevent confusion with fellow redhead Barbara Gordon. She would have red hair again for her appearances in The New Batman Adventures.
  • This appears to be one of the few instances where Veronica Vreeland seems to explicitly be Bruce Wayne's date, rather than his friend.
  • In The New Batman Adventures episode "Cold Comfort", Batgirl states that after Nora Fries was revived, her husband never came to see her. However, the episode aired before this film was released, which may have spoiled some of its ending. Also, Bruce tells Freeze that Wayne Enterprises helped save Nora, prematurely revealing her fate.
  • This is the first time Barbara Gordon and Dick Grayson are officially seen as a couple. This relationship would later be shown and explored further in The New Batman Adventures episode "Old Wounds" where it would come to an official end after Dick finds out she is Batgirl and leaves Gotham and Bruce out of disgust and deception, although Barbara and Dick would resume it unofficially when he returns to Gotham.
  • This film is the last time the Batman: The Animated Series models are used in the DCAU as a result of the series being revamped with The New Batman Adventures.
  • According to Boyd Kirkland, Melissa Gilbert had been contacted to reprise the role of Batgirl, but due to other acting commitments, was unavailable and replaced by Mary Kay Bergman.[1] When The New Batman Adventures was in production, Bruce Timm had decided to recast Melissa Gilbert with Tara Strong, as the creative team wanted a different, younger sounding take for the character.[6]
  • According to Bruce Timm, originally he wanted to adapt "White Christmas", a story from The Batman Adventures Holiday Special, for the "Holiday Knights" episode, but was forced to drop the idea when he discovered that Nora Fries was revived at the end of the story of Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, written by Boyd Kirkland and Randy Rogel, as it was required to have Nora dead to adapt the original issue.[7]
  • Per Boyd Kirkland, he was originally involved in a follow-up movie titled Batman: Arkham, which would have featured Joker and Bane (both prisoners in Arkham) teaming up to take revenge on Batman. Bruce Wayne also would have been dealing with a heavy romance, causing him to consider giving up the cape and cowl. It was scrapped by Warner Bros. in favor of greenlighting Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker.[8]

Cast[]

Actor Role
Michael Ansara Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze
Kevin Conroy Bruce Wayne/Batman
Loren Lester Dick Grayson/Robin
Mary Kay Bergman Barbara Gordon/Batgirl
George Dzundza Dr. Gregory Belson
Efrem Zimbalist Jr. Alfred
Bob Hastings Commissioner Gordon
Robert Costanzo Detective Bullock
Marilu Henner Veronica Vreeland
Dean Jones Dean Arbagast
Mari Devon Summer Gleeson
Liane Schirmer Renee Montoya
Rahi Azizi Additional Voices
Koonak (uncredited)
Lauren Tom Additional Voices
Mariko (uncredited)
Townsend Coleman Additional Voices
Brian George Additional Voices
Ed Gilbert Additional Voices
Sub captain (uncredited)
Carl Lumbly Additional Voices
Tress MacNeille Additional Voices
Marion (uncredited)
Scientist (uncredited)
Neil Ross Additional Voices
Myron (uncredited)
Randy Thompson Additional Voices

Uncredited appearances[]

Quotes[]

Freeze: Fifteen years today, darling. Did you think I would forget? How could I? The day we met was the happiest day of my life. A gift for you. I found it in the snow. Fragile beauty clinging to life in this frozen wasteland. Like you, Nora.

Batman: Listen, scum. We're gonna be watching you.

Dick: Thanks, Alfred. Don't know what we'd do without you.
Alfred: Frankly sir, neither do I.

Commissioner Gordon: Come on, people! A guy in a weird suit with two polar bears can't be hard to spot! I want my daughter found, and I want her found now!
Officer: Don't worry, sir. We're on it.
Commissioner Gordon: Then why are you still standing here talking to me?!

Barbara: How can you treat people this way?
Freeze: It's the way they've always treated me. Nora was the only good thing in my life, and they took her from me. I don't care what I have to do to get her back.

Batman: If I'm not back in time, go without me!
Robin: What?! Wait!

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Boyd Kirkland Interview (Apr. 1, 1998)
  2. https://Batman-on-film.com/1905/batman-mr-freeze-subzero-wondercon-18-panel (stated by Randy Rogel)
  3. Back Issue! 99: TwoMorrows Publishing, The Future of Comics and LEGO™ Publications.
  4. World's finest 2002 interviewhttps://dcanimated.com/WF/batman/heartofice/interview/03.php
  5. "Batman: The Animated Series writer" by Animation Arena
  6. "Batman: The Animated Series 25th Anniversary Panel
  7. Back Issue #99 by TwoMorrows Publishing - issue
  8. Beyond Bumps Boyd's Batman By-Production. Boyd Kirkland interview (1999).
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