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"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!"[2]

Dr. Victor Fries was a scientist who specialized in cryogenics, and turned into the coldhearted, remorseful supervillain known as Mister Freeze through tragic circumstances. He committed many crimes to save his wife Nora from dying and fought two different generations of Batman on numerous occasions.

History[]

Tragic accident[]

Victor Fries

Dr. Victor Fries before his transformation.

Victor Fries was the husband of Nora Fries and one of GothCorp's most brilliant scientists and cryogenic researchers. When Nora was 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. Fries was interrupted by GothCorp's CEO Ferris Boyle and a fight ensued and Fries grabbed a handgun, pointing it at Boyle and the security guards. Fries was then calmly ordered by Boyle to drop the gun, reasoning that it was not his nature to resort to violence and that a possibility may have existed to legitimately bankroll Nora's experiment. Boyle's smooth talk got to Fries as he relaxed and let down his guard, allowing the deceitful CEO to kick the scientist into a lab table full of beakers which exploded. The resulting explosion smashed him 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. Vowing revenge on those who had wronged him, he was known as "Mr. Freeze" as he created a vacuum tight suit which maintained his body temperature at 50 degrees below zero and tripled his strength and a laser-powered cold gun.[3]

Revenge[]

Freeze emerges

Mr. Freeze now driven by vengeance.

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 managing 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 being exposed for misdeeds involving Nora. Freeze was 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 Nora and cried to himself that he failed to save his wife, but hoped that his beloved was living peacefully in Heaven, where they may be together again.[3]

Further harassment[]

Freeze reaches

Together with Nora again, Mr. Freeze reaches out.

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. He 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. Freeze stayed there with Nora, and continued to look for a cure.[4]

Saving his wife[]

Freeze polar bears

Mr. Freeze with his two polar bears.

During his stay in the Arctic Circle, Mr. Freeze met the orphaned boy Koonak who he took in as a surrogate son, adopted the polar bears Notchka and Shaka as loyal pets, and formed a sort of family. Unfortunately, an exploration crew inadvertently crashed into his home, resulting in Nora's containment cell being destroyed and deadly disease progressing 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. Belson was reluctant at first but 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, Fries suggested a "live" donor. Belson was reluctant to engage in organ harvesting, but relented when Fries handed him some gold nuggets. 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 abandoned by Belson. The blast was assumed to have killed Fries, but it was revealed that he somehow survived, albeit with a broken leg which he encrusted in ice as a makeshift cast. 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. Freeze shed a tear in happiness and wandered off into the Arctic with his two polar bears.[2]

Withering away[]

"Ironic, isn't it? After all I did to keep my wife whole, I end up like this. You understand now why I could not return to my Nora. My treasure. There's no hope for me... or you or your city. Everyone's going to feel my loss."[5]

Nora Fries waited patiently for her husband to return to Gotham City but received no form of contact from him. Mr. 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 he 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.

Freeze has a newer, more powerful robot body and a chillingly sardonic personality, having 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 the items.

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, his cryogenic suit was without his head, revealing that the icy villain had managed to escape.[5]

Redemption[]

"You've got to get out of here, Fries! The whole place is gonna go!"
"Believe me, you're the only one who cares.
"
Batman and Victor Fries[1]

Victor Fries lives

Victor Fries, human again.

Victor Fries was eventually apprehended but not returned to prison. For almost fifty years, his disembodied head remained in storage at Wayne-Powers, where he retained consciousness but frequently wished what remained of his body would stop working, simply to be free from the slow 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 Fries had accepted Nora's end and was starting a new romantic relationship with Lake when the pair visited the cemetery where his 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 Fries to avenge his own family, whom he 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 a foundation to make amends to Gotham City. Afterwards, however, his clone 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 autopsy of Fries's organs, with Lake 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, he donned an advanced suit that he had kept in "cold storage" to become Mr. Freeze once more. Freeze then returned to exact revenge on both Powers and Lake, as well as destroy the compound so he could commit suicide.

Final Freeze

Freeze in his final moments.

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 Blight was about to land the finishing blow. Batman tried to save Freeze from the self-destructing facility, but the despairing Fries 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.[1]

Powers and abilities[]

Freeze aims gun

Mr. Freeze aiming his gun.

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.

Background information[]

  • Prior to Batman: The Animated Series, Mr. Freeze had been seen as a 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, which featured Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze. 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). 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.
  • According to Martin Pasko, the late Leonard Nimoy, of Star Trek fame, was initially approached to play Mr. Freeze, but he declined. Bruce Timm also first thought of casting (both famous actors) Anthony Hopkins or Anthony Zerbe to play Mister Freeze,[6] but at the end, Michael Ansara got the part.[7] Mark Hamill had originally been interested to voice Mr. Freeze, eager to play a lesser profile villain from Batman's rogues gallery, but Michael Ansara had already been cast for that role, though Hamill went on to voice Ferris Boyle in the episode "Heart of Ice" and later voicing the Joker.
  • According to Bruce Timm, there was difficulty getting Michael Ansara to play Mr. Freeze "flat", when he first recorded "Heart of Ice". "It was really frustrating for him. He kept giving these line reads with all this inflection in them. I kept telling him it had to be less, a lot less, like a robot. He kept saying it sounded so flat. Everybody else was looking at me too, and was asking me if I was sure. To them it sounded flat. I think it really sells it. I wanted his voice to sound like the Ebonites in that old Outer Limits episode "Nightmare". They sound real metallic and hollow."[8]
  • 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.[9] However, the producers felt that the character deserved a proper sendoff which resulted in the episode "Meltdown".
  • In the tie-in 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 from Francis, leaving him for good to go look for Freeze.
  • 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.[10] Per the opinion of Timm and Paul Dini, they had always considered Nora to be dead, even in the episode "Deep Freeze", until Kirkland and Rogel decided to revive Nora in Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero.[11]

Revamp[]

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.

See also[]

Appearances[]

Batman: The Animated Series

Feature film[]

The New Batman Adventures

Gotham Girls

Batman Beyond

Justice League Unlimited

References[]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Bader, Hilary J., Burnett, Alan (writers) & Geda, Curt (director) (February 14, 1999). "Meltdown". Batman Beyond. Season 1. Episode 5 (airdate). Episode 7 (production). Kids WB!.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kirkland, B., Rogel, R. (Producers), & Kirkland, B. (Director). (1998). Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero. United States: Warner Bros. Animation.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Dini, Paul (writer) & Timm, Bruce W. (director) (September 7, 1992). "Heart of Ice". Batman: The Animated Series. Season 1. Episode 3 (airdate). Episode 14 (production). FOX Kids.
  4. Dini, Paul, Timm, Bruce W. (story) & Dini, Paul (teleplay) & Altieri, Kevin (director) (November 26, 1994). "Deep Freeze". The Adventures of Batman & Robin. Season 3. Episode 10 (airdate). Episode 84 (production). FOX Kids.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Bader, Hilary J. (writer) & Riba, Dan (director) (October 12, 1997). "Cold Comfort". The New Batman Adventures. Episode 3 (airdate). Episode 3 (production). Season 1. Kids WB!.
  6. Batman: The Animated Series - Heart of Ice at TV.com
  7. "Heart of Ice" A Look Back Page 2 at The World's Finest
  8. "Episode Guide" - Cinefantastique Vol. 24 #6/Vol. 25 #1 (February 1994)
  9. "Heart of Ice" A Look Back Page 4 at The World's Finest
  10. Back Issue #99 by TwoMorrows Publishing - issuu
  11. https://www.cbr.com/batman-the-animated-series-nora-fries-death-retcon/
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