Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero is a DCAU direct-to-video animated film set in the time period of Batman: The Animated Series, and a stand-alone sequel to Batman: Mask of the Phantasm. It was originally slated for release in 1997 as a tie-in for the live-action film Batman & Robin, but due to that movie's poor reception, SubZero was delayed and did not see release until a year later.
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.
Two weeks later, just after foiling a robbery as Batman and Robin, Bruce Wayne and 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 and Alfred come across Belson's wrecked car.
Elsewhere, Belson analyzes Nora's blood and concludes that her disease has relapsed: she only has a few weeks, and saving her will be very expensive as the only thing that can save her now 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. The only ones available are live donors, and Freeze bribes a skeptical Belson with an offer of a larger sample of gold in exchange for performing the operation illegally. Belson checks the list and finds the perfect donor: Barbara Gordon.
Belson calls Barbara at 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 donor's with Barbara's blood group and finds Nora's name on it.
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 and 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. 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 discover and he lost big. Just then, Belson calls Arbagast, claiming he will have the money to pay his debts. Batman and Robin record the conversation and analyze it in the Batcave, hearing a ship's foghorn and a bouy in the background and tracking him to the oil rig. 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 term for an organ transplant.
Freeze and Belson drag Barbara to the operation room and prepare to sedate her, revealing that the blood transfusion was just the cover story. Koonak, whom 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 and 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 which begins spreading rapidly. Robin's attempt to put the fire out with a house 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 himself is crushed by falling debris as he attempts to escape in a speedboat.
Freeze, however, is still alive, with a broken leg. Batman, Robin and Barbara rescue him. As Robin prepares the Batwing for departure, Batman and Barbara rescue Nora and Koonak from the operation room. At Freeze's request, they take Nora and 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.
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.
- Renee Montoya is promoted from officer to sergeant; she would later be transferred from beat to Special Crimes.
- Mr. Freeze returns in "Cold Comfort", in which his condition has deteriorated his body and Nora has left him for her doctor.
- This film serves as the finale to Batman: The Animated Series, pre-revamp. It also picks up after the events of "Deep Freeze" and "Batgirl Returns", the final two episodes of the series.
Home video releases
- Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (VHS)
- Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (DVD)
- Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero/Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (Double Feature) (DVD)
- Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (Blu-ray)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- Veronica Vreeland is portrayed as a blonde rather than a redhead, though it may have been done to prevent confusion with fellow redhead Barbara Gordon. She would be changed back into a redhead for her appearances in The New Batman Adventures.
- 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 and 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 lets 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.
- "Am I Blue?", the 1929 jazz standard written by Harry Akst and Grant Clarke, is featured in this film, heard playing on the radio of Barbara Gordon's roommate. The song would later appear in the Justice League Unlimited episode "This Little Piggy", where Batman would perform the song in order to rescue Wonder Woman from an enchantment.
- 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.
- For a while, SubZero was the highest rated Batman film of all time, live-action or animated, on Rotten Tomatoes.com, gaining an 90% approval rating, narrowly beating Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (87%). With the release of The Dark Knight (94%) in 2008, it went down to second place, but remained the highest rated direct-to-video until Batman: Under the Red Hood in 2010 (100%). It is now third overall.
- Mary Kay Bergman replaces Melissa Gilbert as the voice of Barbara Gordon/Batgirl in this film.
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne / Batman|
|Michael Ansara||Victor Fries / Mr. Freeze|
|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|
|Lauren Tom|| Additional Voices|
|Townsend Coleman||Additional Voices|
|Brian George||Additional Voices|
|Ed Gilbert|| Additional Voices|
Sub captain (uncredited)
|Carl Lumbly||Additional Voices|
|Tress MacNeille|| Additional Voices|
|Neil Ross||Additional Voices|
|Randy Thompson||Additional Voices|
Batman: Listen, scum. We're gonna be watching you.
Barbara: How can you treat people this way?
Batman: If I'm not back in time, go without me!