"Deep Freeze" is the tenth episode of the third season of Batman: The Animated Series. It originally aired on November 26, 1994.
A large, powerful robot breaks into Mr. Freeze's cell at Arkham Asylum at around 7 AM. Freeze shouts for the guards, but the robot picks him up and places him inside a compartment in its chest, then leaves as easily as it came.
Reviewing the security tape from Freeze's cell, Batman believes that Freeze's fear was authentic and someone else is behind his escape. Batman and Robin go to consult robotics expert Karl Rossum, who has now retired and gotten into a hobby of making animatronic toys. Rossum says the robot bears a slight resemblance to some benign models he built for Grant Walker, the famous theme park mogul.
Walker's latest theme park is Oceania, located on an artificial island a short distance out to sea from Gotham City. There, Walker releases Mr. Freeze from captivity and provides him with a new freezer suit and cold gun, explaining that he's studied Freeze's work closely. Walker says that Freeze's condition has slowed his aging process so much that he's practically immortal. Walker, who is elderly and in failing health, wants Freeze to duplicate the accident that caused his condition, and "freeze" Walker into immortality so he can continue his work.
Freeze refuses, saying his condition is no fit state for any man. Walker reveals his trump card: Nora Fries, alive and still in suspended animation in her cryo-tube. Freeze believed his wife perished in the accident, but Walker explains he was a major investor in GothCorp, and managed to salvage Nora's tube and hire scientists to look after her suspended state. Freeze agrees to help Walker in exchange for the restoration of his wife.
Batman and Robin head out to Oceania in the Batboat. It is destroyed by the island's torpedo defense systems, but Batman and Robin manage to eject and make their way to the island. There, they see Walker explaining his larger plans to a group of his followers: he has built a cannon-size version of Freeze's cold gun, with which he plans to freeze Gotham, and then the rest of the world, as he believes it is too corrupt and cruel to survive. Oceania will serve as a utopia for those whom Walker believes worthy to live there. Before they can act, however, Batman and Robin are captured.
Freeze successfully duplicates the accident, "freezing" Walker, and places him in a cybernetic suit similar to Freeze's own. Exhilarated, Walker prepares for his strike on Gotham. Freeze disclaims any further interest, saying their deal is finished and he is returning to his wife.
As Freeze gazes at Nora's capsule, Batman, who is being held prisoner nearby, appeals to Freeze, saying that Nora would despise him for helping Walker kill so many innocent people. Freeze relents, and releases the Duo.
All three of them attack Walker's command center. Taking down the robotic workers and covering the consoles with ice, Freeze traps Walker in a wall of ice and publicly broadcasts a warning for the inhabitants and Walker's scientists to evacuate, then sets the cannon's main power core to overload. A chain reaction begins that slowly engulfs Oceania in ice. Batman and Robin urge Freeze to follow them, but he says he's staying with Nora. To drive his point home, he freezes Robin below the neck, forcing Batman to save his partner rather than go after Freeze. As they escape the island, the ice tears through the main power core and it explodes.
Walker regains consciousness as he sinks to the sea bottom alongside the debris of Oceania, so thoroughly encased in a block of ice that he cannot move, even with his cybernetic strength. As he realizes where he is, and that his new immortality has trapped him there forever, he lets out a scream that no one can hear.
Robin recovers at Wayne Manor, and asks Bruce whether they'll ever see Mr. Freeze again. Bruce reflects that, if Freeze really is immortal, it's very possible that they will...
Another block of ice drifts by icebergs in Arctic waters. Inside an air bubble within, Freeze kneels solemnly before his wife's capsule and reaches out to her hand.
- Mr. Freeze makes his first appearance since his introduction in "Heart of Ice". Also, it is revealed in this episode that Nora Fries survived Ferris Boyle's interruption of her husband's experiment.
- Karl Rossum reappears from "Heart of Steel" and "His Silicon Soul".
- This episode sets up the major events for the feature film Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero .
Home video releases
- The Adventures of Batman & Robin: Fire & Ice (VHS)
- The Adventures of Batman & Robin: The Joker/Fire & Ice (DVD)
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume Three (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (Blu-ray)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- The reason for such a long gap between episodes featuring Mr. Freeze is that the creators were so proud of "Heart of Ice" that they wanted to leave it as a stand-alone episode.
- After Walker undergoes the cryogenic treatment, his skin turns pale blue, just like Mr. Freeze. However, when Freeze revolts against Walker and uses his freeze gun to encase Walker in ice, Walker's face reverts to its pre-cryogenic flesh color for a moment.
- This episode shares its title with an episode of the 1960s Batman live-action series, also featuring Mr. Freeze.
- "Oceania" is also the name of the fictional country in George Orwell's novel 1984, and Walker addresses his followers via a giant television screen, in the same manner as that novel's "Big Brother".
- There are several obvious parallels between Grant Walker and Walt Disney:
- Walker refers to his theme park designers and builders as his "Visioneers", a reference to Disney's "Imagineers".
- Disney's brand of entertainment is often criticized as being too fictionalized, and for trying to impose a sort of "make-believe" atmosphere on the rest of the world, while ignoring or cutting out the bad parts of reality. Likewise, Walker dreams of creating a fascist state free of "bad" things while killing the rest of the world.
- Walker's dream state resembling a fascist state also may allude to a frequent (and false) criticism that Disney was an anti-Semite and a Nazi sympathizer.
- Up until the last days of his life, Disney drafted plans for EPCOT, a "City of Tomorrow", which would be honored in one of his theme parks. However, while Walt Disney envisioned a self-contained city, there is no evidence he claimed it would be crime-free or utopic.
- Lastly, there is an urban legend that Disney wanted to be cryonically frozen before his death, in order to continue his work. The legend was given credence by then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner, but has been frequently disproved by the facts that Disney's death certificate shows he was cremated, and cryonics were not actually invented until after his death in 1966.
- Outside of Karl Rossum's office, the dynamic duo are assailed by a robotic Bat-Mite. In the DC Comics, Bat-Mite was Batman's biggest fan from another dimension. Near his toy chest are toy versions of Earth-One DC comic book characters Krypto the Superdog, Streaky the Supercat, and Mister Mxyzptlk.
- Grant Walker does not appear again in the animated series. He does appear in several issues of the comic book Batman: Gotham Adventures, as the "second Mr. Freeze". In those comics, Walker escapes the ice after several years of imprisonment, an experience which drives him insane, and goes on a rampage, including kidnapping a team of Wayne Enterprises scientists commissioned to find a cure for Freeze's condition. In deleted material meant for issues of Batman: Gotham Adventures, Walker is killed by a robotic doppelganger of Mr. Freeze made by Nora Fries's new husband to frame Victor Fries.
- Walker was voiced by Daniel O'Herlihy, a character actor whose roles included "The Old Man" in the first two Robocop films, the CEO of the corporation that creates Robocop.
- The name "Rossum" is a reference to the titular character in the 1921 play Rossum's Universal Robots by Karel Čapek, who coined the term "robot" in this play.
- The storyline of Nora Fries frozen alive in a cryogenic tube is later adapted in the film Batman & Robin. Indeed, in the film's commentary on the 2-Disc DVD, director Joel Schumacher mentions how it was taken from the animated series, indirectly referring to this episode.
- Rossum's collection of robotic toys meant to keep him company is another allusion to J.F. Sebastion from the movie "Blade Runner", who is also played by William Sanderson.
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne/Batman|
|Loren Lester||Dick Grayson/Robin|
|Michael Ansara||Mr. Freeze|
|Daniel O'Herlihy||Grant Walker|
|William Sanderson||Karl Rossum|
Bat-Mite: Greetings, Dynamic Duo! I'm your biggest fan!
Walker: You're practically immortal, my friend.
Batman: Men like Walker are obsessed with getting their own way, and they don't let little things like the law stop them.
Walker: As for those folks outside, well, it's sad but I'm only speeding up what they were doing to themselves.
Batman: We've seen your insane vision of the future, Walker.
Walker: This is my dream, my vision! I cheated death to make it real, and you won't stop me!
Walker: What are you doing?! That's the main power core! An overload will blow this city out of the water!
Freeze: We're together again, my love.