"Heart of Ice" is the third episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It was the fourteenth in production order.
Later on, Summer Gleeson gives a report on a series of mysterious heists pulled at various offices of GothCorp, all with the same M.O.: a "freeze gun" that creates a cold wave capable of generating thick sheets of ice and snow, according to eyewitnesses. Ferris Boyle, GothCorp's CEO, says he doesn't know what the mysterious perpetrator has against GothCorp, but hopes any differences can be patched up.
In the Batcave, Batman examines a list of the stolen devices, and finds that, when combined, they form a larger version of the freeze gun, large enough to become a fully-operational freezing cannon to the extent of being a city-wide threat. However, the machine is still missing one more component, meaning Batman knows where the thieves will strike next.
That night, an armored vehicle attacks the GothCorp installation in question. When the Batmobile arrives, a freeze ray from the van creates a sheet of ice that causes the car to spin out of control and crashes. Batman exits the car and engages the thieves. Their ringleader appears, a man in a strange suit of armor calling himself Mr. Freeze. He fires his freeze gun at Batman, but misses and accidentally hits one of his own men in the legs, before managing to freeze Batman. Freeze orders his men to leave his comrade behind, and they escape. Batman manages to shatter the ice on himself, and is forced to take care of the thug, who is dying of hypothermia, rather than pursue Freeze.
After using a special bath to revive the man and melt the ice sheet on his legs, Batman, who has himself developed a cold from the encounter, visits Gothcorp as Bruce Wayne, hoping to learn who might have a grudge against it. Boyle says the only person he can think of is dead: a former research scientist who used the company's funding for his own benefit and who apparently died in a laboratory accident. When Bruce expresses mild surprise, Boyle states that when employees get out of line, it's time to "pull the plug" so to speak and admits that his "People's Company" speeches are just an act he puts on for the sake of Public Relations. As Bruce is leaving, Boyle comments that he is to be presented with a humanitarian award.
Posing as a security guard, Batman sneaks into Gothcorp's offices and finds a security camera tape with footage of the accident: on it, a man named Victor Fries records that he has put his wife, Nora, into cryogenic stasis after she became terminally ill, to give himself time to research a cure. Suddenly, Boyle and a pair of security guards burst in. Victor protests this intrusion but Boyle says that Fries's funding has been cut and he is using company equipment without authorization. He orders his guards to disconnect the equipment, despite Fries's horrified objections that Nora will die if they do so. In a panic, Fries seizes one of the guard's guns and orders them to stay back. Scared, Boyle attempts to reason with Fries. Fries lowers the gun... and then Boyle kicks him in the chest, sending him crashing back onto a table of chemicals, which fill the room with vapor. As Boyle and his guards flee the room, Fries drags a hand over his wife's tank, calling her name as they are both cryogenically frozen.
Watching this, Batman can only mutter "My God!", when Fries, now Mr. Freeze, appears behind him and telling him "It would move to me to tears, IF I still had tears to shed." and blasts him with his cold gun.
Batman is kept prisoner in Freeze's hideout, partially frozen and without his utility belt. Freeze's men have finished assembling the giant cold gun, with which Freeze plans to attack Boyle's award ceremony. Freeze explains his suit: after the accident, he is incapable of living outside of a sub-zero environment, which the suit maintains. Batman tries to reason with Freeze, but he refuses to let the man who ruined his life and effectively murdered his wife go unpunished.
After Freeze leaves, Batman manages to free himself. At the building, Freeze's cannon opens fire, covering the lower part of the building in ice. Freeze tells his men to go on firing until the entire building is covered, but Batman arrives and barely stops the cannon. Unwilling to admit defeat, Freeze smashes a fire hydrant and uses his gun to convert the fountain of spraying water into a column of ice that lifts him to the top floor of the building. Smashing his way into the awards ceremony, Freeze confronts Boyle and begins freezing him slowly from the legs up. He has just reached Boyle's waist when Batman arrives and distracts him. However, Freeze reveals that his suit's circuitry also triples his strength, and Batman is outmatched.
As Freeze holds Batman aloft, helpless, Batman remembers he is carrying the thermos of hot chicken soup that Alfred gave him for his cold. He dumps the soup onto Freeze's helmet, and the temperature difference causes the helmet to crack and shatter, letting the room-temperature air into Freeze's suit and paralyzing him. Freeze laments that he has been denied justice, but Batman says he won't be: he tells everyone what Boyle did and gives Summer Gleason the video tape of Fries's accident, then bids Boyle a sarcastic "Good night...'humanitarian'" out of disgust and leaves without freeing him from the ice.
In Arkham, Freeze laments above the same ballerina effigy, and asks Nora to forgive him for failing to avenge her, while Batman watches from an adjacent rooftop.
- Mr. Freeze believed Nora died in the accident. It is later revealed that her cryo-tube was salvaged and preserved by Grant Walker in "Deep Freeze".
- Newspaper clippings from "Nothing to Fear" and "Pretty Poison" appear on the Batcomputer.
Home video releases
- Batman: The Animated Series, Volume One (DVD)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (DVD)
- Batman: Secrets of the Caped Crusader (VHS)
- Batman: Secrets of the Caped Crusader (DVD)
- Batman: Secrets of the Caped Crusader (Mini-DVD)
- Batman: Gotham Knight (2DVD, Blu-ray only)
- Best of Batman (DVD)
- Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (Blu-ray)
- Batman: The Complete Animated Series (Blu-ray)
- The original idea for the flashback video was to have Freeze cling to Nora's cryogenic tank and realize in horror that his hair, now frozen, is breaking off in chunks. Paul Dini stated that he wanted to do this in pre-production, but they were over air time and cut it out.
- Batman's uttering of "My God!" after watching the tape is unusual in a cartoon, as the censors generally considered any mention of religion or any expletive unpassable. Bruce Timm mentioned on the commentary for the episode that he considers it strange they never caught it. This was cut from showings in Toon Disney (now Disney XD). (The phrase would later show up in at least one other episode of the series, as well as both movies, and it eventually became fairly common in the DCAU—See List of "God" utterances in the DCAU.)
- The planned ending was to have a weeping Freeze in his cell, with his tears freezing and turning into snowflakes. Timm and Dini mentioned that if they could go back and do any episode again, they would do "Heart of Ice" and include this. This was used in Batman & Robin.
- The henchman that Mr. Freeze froze was wearing shoes. However, when Batman thaws his legs, his shoes are gone.
- When Batman is posing as a security guard, he reaches into his utility belt to pull out a key card. As he does so, the card is not visible, but in the next frame it suddenly appears.
- Twice in this episode Batman's chest logo colors are reversed. In the commentary, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm joked that this was deliberate, a subtle nod to past cartoons with their usual animation errors.
- The security footage of Fries' confrontation with Boyle and subsequent accident is taken from several different angles, including a close-up of Boyle's angry face, yet there are no security cameras anywhere near the required positions. This is also noted by the creators in the DVD commentary.
- This is the first episode of the series directed by Bruce Timm, as well as the first one written by Paul Dini.
- The plot of this episode was largely used for Freeze's revised origin in the 1997 graphic novel Batman: Mr. Freeze, also written by Dini.
- In February 2002, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, polls were held at the website The World's Finest to determine the best episode of the show. "Heart of Ice" was the winner and so received its own sub-site, complete with exclusive comments on the episode provided by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and other officials behind the show. 
- In 2005, Wizard Magazine selected this episode as the best of the series.
- This episode provided such a burst in the popularity of Mr. Freeze that his comics' counterpart has his origins retconned to more closely resemble this episode.
- Ferris Boyle was Mark Hamill's first ever voice role for Batman: The Animated Series (and thus, for the DCAU). He based his portrayal as an omage to the late Phil Hartman. He had originally been eager to play a lesser profile villain from Batman's rogue's gallery, but Michael Ansara had already been cast for Mr. Freeze. However, Hamill's performance as the slimy Boyle tremendously impressed the creators of the series. When Tim Curry dropped out for the role of The Joker, Hamill was one of their first choices to replace him, and was asked if he would like to audition.
- Spectrum Animation Studios, who created this episode, added the hint of frost around Freeze's helmet, giving it a sense of realism. Bruce Timm wanted a thin white line around his head, implying it was a helmet, but he admitted he was impressed with the final product.
- This episode contains two references to the film Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back:
- Batman trapped upside down in a cold cave is similar to what happened to Luke Skywalker early in the movie;
- Batman returns a criminal partially frozen by Mr. Freeze to health using a similar device to the "bacta tank" that revives Luke. Interestingly, Luke Skywalker was played by Mark Hamill.
- Ferris Boyle does not appear again in the animated series. He does appear in deleted material meant for issues of the comic book, Batman: Gotham Adventures, in which he is killed by a robotic doppelganger of Mr. Freeze made by Nora Fries's new husband to frame Victor Fries.
- Alfred's line "With all the compartments on your belt, you'd think there'd be one for tissues" is a reference to the 1960s Batman series with his Bat-Belt containing every possible tool to help him in various situations.
- The episode inspired a story-based campaign for Batman: Arkham Origins, titled "Cold, Cold Heart". Set a week after the events of the main game, on New Year's Eve, the narrative focuses on the origin of Mr. Freeze, who attacks when Ferris Boyle is presented with a "Humanitarian of the Year" award.
|Kevin Conroy||Bruce Wayne/Batman|
|Efrem Zimbalist, Jr.||Alfred|
|Michael Ansara||Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze|
|Mari Devon||Summer Gleeson|
|Mark Hamill||Ferris Boyle|
|Michael Bell||Additional voices|
|Robert David Hall||Additional voices|
|John Mariano||Additional voices|
Alfred: With all the compartments on your belt, you'd think there'd be one for tissues.
Freeze: "Humanity". "Compassion". "Charity". Where were those pretty words when she needed to hear them?
Alfred: If you're going to go sneaking around a crowded office building you'll need this.
Batman: My God!
Freeze: The snow is beautiful, don't you think? Clean, uncompromising...
Batman: I saw what happened to your wife. I'm sorry.
Batman: That suit you wear... a result of the coolant?
Freeze: It can't end this way. Vengeance...
Freeze: I failed you. I wish there were another way for me to say it, but I cannot. I can only beg your forgiveness, and pray you hear me somehow, someplace... someplace where a warm hand waits for mine.