Dr. Victor Fries was a scientist who specialized in cryogenics, and through tragic circumstances, became the coldhearted, remorseful supervillain known as Mister Freeze. Obsessed with his dying wife, Nora Fries, he committed many crimes to save her from her disease, and fought Batman and Batman II on numerous occasions, even after Nora left him.
Victor Fries was one of GothCorp's most brilliant scientists and cryogenic researchers. When his wife Nora Fries became infected with a deadly disease, he developed a special freezing cell and planned to cryogenically hold until a cure was found. However, Fries had been misappropriating GothCorp's money, which left the company in debt and the experiment unauthorized. When he was interrupted by GothCorp's CEO Ferris Boyle, a fight ensued and Fries grabbed a handgun, and pointed it at Boyle and the security guards. Fries was then calmly ordered to drop the gun. The reasoning that it was not his nature to resort to violence and that a possibility may have existed to legitimately bankroll Nora's experiment. When Boyle's smooth talk got to Fries as he relaxed and let down his guard, the deceitful CEO kicked the scientist into a lab table full of beakers which exploded. The resulting explosion smashed Fries into his cryogenic freezing tanks and the accident soaked his entire body with the freezing solution and rendered him unable to survive outside of a sub-zero environment. After he vowed revenge on those who had wronged him, Fries became known as "Mr. Freeze" and created a vacuum tight suit which maintained his body temperature at 50 degrees below zero and tripled his strength as well as built a laser-powered cold gun.
Driven by hatred over the destruction of his life and maddened by his condition, Mr. Freeze sought revenge on Ferris Boyle. He first attacked GothCorp, although his plan was stopped by Batman who managed to capture one of Freeze's underlings. Freeze intended to kill Boyle in revenge at a party where GothCorp's CEO was due to earn the "Gotham Humanitarian of the Year" Award, but Batman foiled it on account of Freeze putting innocent civilians in danger in his quest for vengeance. Freeze managed to trap Boyle in ice that was caked up to the waist when Batman tackled him and the fight ensued. However, Batman had defeated Freeze by using a thermos of chicken soup at the spur of the moment to crack Freeze's helmet, thus raising his body temperature and rendered him unconscious. Batman handed over the video security footage to the Gotham Police, which presented evidence that led to Boyle's arrest for misdeeds involving Nora. Freeze was also arrested and placed into a sub-zero holding cell (7021059), in Arkham Asylum. Unsuited, Freeze wore a prison uniform and was holding a snow globe of a ballerina which resembled his wife and cried to himself that he failed to save Nora, but hoped that his beloved was living peacefully in Heaven, where they may be together again.
Sometime later, entrepreneur and businessman Grant Walker discovered Nora Fries's frozen (but living) body and used it as a bargaining chip to gain what Mr. Freeze had always seen as a curse: immortality. Freeze transformed Walker's cell structure to a frozen prison that was similar to his own. Upon completion, Freeze betrayed Walker and destroyed the "Utopian" society that Walker been building. Freeze then secluded himself in a self-made ice block, floating in colder waters until he finally settled in the Arctic. He stayed there with Nora, and continued to look for a cure.
Saving his wife
During his stay in the Arctic Circle, Freeze met the orphaned boy Koonak who he took in as a surrogate son, adopted two polar bears, Notchka and Shaka, as loyal pets, and formed a sort of family. Unfortunately, an exploration crew inadvertently crashed into Mr. Freeze's home. Nora's containment cell was destroyed and her deadly disease progressed into its fatal stages. After he froze the entire crew of the sub, Freeze headed to Gotham City with Nora, Koonak, and his polar bears to enlist the aid of head cryogenic researcher Gregory Belson, while he hid out at an abandoned oil rig that was five miles offshore. Although reluctant at first, Belson agreed to work on Nora for a hefty fee, which Fries could afford as he discovered a gold vein while in the Arctic. Together they found a way to cure Nora's disease, but it required an organ transplant. With no deceased donors available, they were forced to pursue a live one. Belson initially refused, but relented when Freeze promised large quantities of gold that would solve financial troubles. The "donor" they chose was Barbara Gordon who they proceeded to kidnap. However, Batman and Robin managed to interrupt the operation before it took place. The battle that ensued caused the oil rig to explode. Batman, Robin, and Barbara were able to evacuate Nora and Koonak in time, but Freeze had fallen into the fiery blast and was assumed dead, but survived and returned to the Arctic with his polar bears. Sometime later, Freeze watched a news report through a window and heard that his wife had been successfully revived by an operation that was funded by Wayne Enterprises, and he himself had been posthumously credited with having kept Nora alive long enough for the operation to take place. He shed a tear in happiness and wandered off into the Arctic with his two polar bears.
In Gotham City, Nora waited patiently for her husband to return, but received no form of contact from him. Freeze was ashamed of his illness and could not bear to return to his beloved when he could not touch personally. Unbeknownst to anyone, the effects of the accident that had made him "immortal" caused his body to deteriorate. By the time Freeze was able to kidnap doctors to halt the deterioration's progress, only his head remained intact. Freeze used robotic spider-like legs that were attached to his head's capsule to maneuver around and a larger robotic body when he needed to walk further. Resigned that he would never again be united with his beloved wife, a new layer of ice froze over his heart. Having lost that which was most precious to him, Freeze resolved to stamp out warmth wherever it glowed.
With a newer, more powerful robot body and a chillingly sardonic personality, Freeze lost his obsession over his wife and instead concentrated on bringing misery to the people of Gotham and its protector Batman. With a group of "Ice Maidens" who were armed with ice guns that were based on his own design, Freeze launched a series of attacks on Gotham, sought out that which renowned individuals valued most, and destroyed them.
Despite a few encounters with Batman, Freeze succeeded in ruining many dreams, brought terror to Gotham, attacked Wayne Manor, and froze Alfred Pennyworth. That, however, was only a prelude to Freeze's ultimate blow against the Caped Crusader: using a "reverse fusion bomb", he hoped to leave all of Gotham frozen solid, and thereby destroy Batman's hope. Fortunately for Gotham, Batman and Batgirl managed to catch up to Freeze, and Batman encountered him within his bomber plane. A battle ensued in the plane with Freeze greatly overpowering Batman. Freeze was about throw Batman out of the plane, but managed to latch Freeze onto his bomb via grapple gun. With the bomber plane flown over the ocean, Batman opened the plane's hatch dropped the bomb over the water with its maker attached to it. The blast created an enormous pillar of ice in the water, with Freeze's suit trapped within. However, the cryogenic suit was without Freeze's head, revealing that the icy villain had managed to escape.
Victor Fries was eventually apprehended, but not returned to prison. For forty years, his disembodied head remained in storage at Wayne-Powers, where he retained consciousness, but frequently wished his body would stop working simply to be free from the retarded aging of his frozen state. Derek Powers and Dr. Stephanie Lake transferred his brain to a new clone that was built from his baseline DNA. Lake convinced Fries to participate in the experiment by appealing to his intellect, arguing that a brilliant mind like his had much to offer and deserved a healthy human body. In actuality, Fries was to be used as a prototype of a plan to attempt a similar process for Powers, as Powers and Fries both had systemically damaged DNA as a result of past exposure to unique compounds.
At first, the process seemed to work for Fries. It was implied that Victor had accepted Nora's end and was starting a new romantic relationship with Stephanie Lake when the pair visited the cemetery where Victor's original head was interred. During the visit, an assassin attempted to kill Victor, though he was thwarted and caught by the new Batman. The assassin was unmasked, revealing a scared, distraught man who explained that he tried to kill Victor to avenge his family, whom Victor had murdered years ago as Mr. Freeze. Much to Batman's surprise, Fries let the assassin go, sorrowfully apologizing for his past actions and vowing to make up for everything he had done in the past. To this end, Fries used an interview to announce that he had established a Foundation to make amends to Gotham City. After that interview, however, Victor's cloned body started showing signs of reverting to his original body's previous low-temperature state. As a result, Powers and Lake opted to terminate the experiment in favor of performing a biopsy of Fries' organs, with Stephanie coldly turning up the temperature drastically in Fries's sealed cubicle. After he realized what was happening, Fries used the gurney that he was sitting on to break the glass partition that sealed the cubicle off and escaped.
Soon after this, Fries returned to the Wayne-Powers medical complex and donned an advanced suit that he had kept in "cold storage", becoming Mr. Freeze once more. He then returned to exact revenge on both Powers and Lake, as well as destroy the compound so he could commit suicide. After killing Lake and freezing Powers, Freeze was confronted by the new Dark Knight, though their fight was interrupted when Blight attacked and badly injured Freeze. He recovered in time to save Batman from Blight, blasting the latter out of the compound just as he was about to land the finishing blow. When Batman tried to save Freeze from the self-destructing facility, though, the despairing Victor refused, saying that Batman was the only one who cared about him. Freeze’s last act was to delay the compound's collapse long enough for Batman to escape the destruction while he remained at its heart, perishing in the explosion.
Powers and abilities
As a result of the accident, Mr. Freeze's normal body temperature left him able to withstand levels of cold that were ordinarily fatal to other humans. The reverse of that was an extreme vulnerability to heat to the point where he could not survive outside of a subzero environment. Another side effect of Freeze's condition was that his body's natural aging process slowed completely. Freeze maintained his body's temperature with a cybernetic environmental suit that also tripled his strength to superhuman levels and was heavily armored.
Freeze's signature weapon was his freeze gun, a ray gun that could create ice from airborne water vapor or any nearby water source. Both the suit and gun were of Freeze's own invention and he developed several other pieces of technology that made him extremely dangerous.
Prior to Batman: The Animated Series, Mr. Freeze had been a rather poorly received, clownish villain from the old live action Batman television series and the DC Comics of the 1960s. This continued on into an earlier animated series produced by Filmation, albeit with deemphasis on freeze puns. The Filmation Mr. Freeze was a criminal from outer space who often used cold-related crimes, such as threatening to freeze all of Gotham unless he was paid a $1 billion ransom in gold bullion, and needed "warm corridors" to accommodate his human goons. One aspect of this villain that shared a similarity with the later DCAU version was that he would be killed if exposed to any temperature hotter than -50 Fahrenheit. Paul Dini and Bruce Timm re-imagined the entire history and motivation of Mr. Freeze to produce a villain that could be taken as both a believable character and a deadly, serious threat. The creative team invented the character of the terminally ill Nora Fries to flesh out the backstory of a fully-realized tragic villain. It was the first complete overhaul of a pre-existing character in the DCAU, and to this day it was arguably the most successful.
The DCAU backstory on Mr. Freeze became so popular that it was used as the backstory in the Joel Schumacher film Batman & Robin (with Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze) as well as the comics. However, aside from the similar origins, the live action Mr. Freeze had been received poorly, as he almost always used "chill" or "freeze" puns and used an abandoned ice cream factory as his hideout, where he also kept Nora's cryotube. It was apparent Schwarzenegger had largely reverted to the campiness of the 1960s villain and slapped on the frozen wife story. The film's failure had cancelled plans for a fifth Batman Burtonverse film.
Mr. Freeze's overall backstory was often cited among fans as one of the most humane and sad episodes of Batman: The Animated Series. The character's history in DC comics was likewise retconned in keeping with the DCAU version. In the revamped comics, Victor Fries first developed an interest in science as a child, and froze insects and small animals in water to preserve them.
Mr. Freeze's original character design for the series was done by comic book artist Mike Mignola (later of Hellboy fame). Interestingly, Freeze bore a marked resemblance to other Mignola characters, most notably mad Nazi scientist, Herman von Klempt whose disembodied head was kept in a glass tank and was attached to a robotic body. There was also a similarity with Mignola's The Amazing Screw-On Head. Interestingly, Freeze's childlike obsession was shared by Karl Ruprecht Kroenen (another of Mignola's characters) who experimented with cryonics and ways of re-animating the dead from an early age.
According to Martin Pasko, the late Leonard Nimoy, of the Star Trek fame, was initially approached to play Mr. Freeze, but he declined. Bruce Timm also first thought in cast (both famous actors) Anthony Hopkins or Anthony Zerbe to play Mister Freeze, but at the end, Michael Ansara got the part. Mark Hamill had originally tried to voice Mr. Freeze, eager to play a lesser profile villain from Batman's rogue's gallery, but Michael Ansara had already been cast for that role, though Hamill went on to voice Ferris Boyle in the episode and later voicing The Joker throughout the series.
As an interesting fact, Mr. Freeze's appearance in Batman Beyond was originally supposed to be a cameo. When Bruce Wayne told Terry McGinnis to go to the fridge to get him a drink, he did so and found Freeze's head staring right back at him when he opened the fridge. However, the producers felt that the character deserved a proper sendoff which resulted in the episode "Meltdown". Interestingly enough, Mr. Freeze made a single appearance in each Batman series of the DC Animated Universe (Batman: The Animated Series, Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, The New Batman Adventures and Batman Beyond) and was only mentioned beyond that (Gotham Girls, Justice League and Justice League Unlimited).
In the comic Batman: Gotham Adventures, Mr. Freeze was suspected of killing Ferris Boyle as well as Grant Walker. However, it turned out to be a robotic duplicate that was developed by Nora Fries' new husband, Francis D'Anjou, who was frustrated that Nora still had affections for Victor Fries, whom he viewed as being a monster. By framing Freeze, D'Anjou tried to prove that he was completely irredeemable. At the end, Freeze was seemingly killed in a fight with the robot, Nora divorced, left Francis, and looked for her husband.
According to Bruce Timm, he originally 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 in order to adapt the original issue. However, he didn't address Nora's state in "Deep Freeze", which predated SubZero.
Much like the other characters of Batman: The Animated Series, Mr. Freeze underwent a Stylistic Change when the show transferred to The New Batman Adventures. His changes were subtle, and the character's story was augmented with the introduction of his deteriorated body.
- "Heart of Ice"
- "The Worry Men" (Cameo as one of Mad Hatter's mannequins of Batman villains)
- "Deep Freeze"
- "Gotham in Pink" (Mentioned Only)
- "Hear Me Roar" (Mentioned Only)
- "A Cat in the Hand" (Mentioned Only)
- "Cold Hands, Cold Heart" (Mentioned Only)
- "Epilogue" (Mentioned Only)