Gotham City definitely isn’t the most peaceful place on Earth. With supervillains running amok, it’s constantly under threat of being torn apart, burnt to a crisp or thrust into a new ice age at the hands of villains like Mr. Freeze. He is a special one. Since losing his wife and being forced into that suit, all warmth in his heart has long since cooled. He’s not likely to destroy the city for the heck of it, unlike others in Batman’s rogues gallery, as you probably already know if you’ve been reading “Detective Comics.”
As touching, thrilling and generally entertaining as it is seeing his appearances in comic books, there’s nothing quite like seeing adaptations of him on screen and there have been quite a few. From the outrageous to the elegantly animated and written, we’ve ranked his many appearances throughout television shows, films and video games.
15. BATMAN & ROBIN
You don’t need to say it. Everyone agrees that “Batman & Robin” (directed by Joel Schumacher) was far from being the “Dark Knight” of its time. The costumes were tacky and every character would spew the worst jokes and puns. No one among them was more guilty of that than Mr. Freeze, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. While his origin story was essentially kept intact, his character seemed less like a cold-hearted former scientist and more like a villainous stand-up comedian, dropping gems like, “Stay cool, bird boy” and “Let’s kick some ice.”
It was over-the-top and so bad you just had to love it. After all, that’s why people can’t forget “Batman & Robin” or Schwarzenegger’s colorful portrayal of the icy Mr. Freeze. It’s one of those things that are just so ridiculous and unexpected that it’s actually charming in a way, at least in hindsight. Those of you who watched it as children might agree.
14. INSTANT FREEZE – BATMAN (1966)
It was this TV series that saved Mr. Freeze (Mr. Zero back then) from disappearing into obscure comic book history. He was portrayed in three two-part episodes by three different actors: George Sanders, Otto Preminger and Eli Wallach. In the episode “Instant Freeze,” we found out that Freeze (played by Sanders) was unintentionally created by Batman after he spilled instant-freeze on Dr. Schivel, causing him to require an ice cold containment suit to stay alive, an expensive one at that.
This was his first live-action appearance and its success led to his continued media appearances. Sanders’ portrayal was quite different from what you’d find nowadays. For one thing, he was German (Schwarzenegger’s portrayal seems a little less “out there” now, doesn’t it?) and his suit wasn’t as technologically fancy as it might appear today. Still, for a first live-action portrayal, Sander’s Mr. Freeze was, dare we say it, pretty damn cool.
13. LEGENDS OF THE DARK-MITE
Keeping in the spirit of a more light-hearted Dark Knight series, “Batman: The Brave and the Bold” offers up a lot of familiar characters who are slightly less disturbing than their comic book counterparts. “Legends of the Dark-Mite!” (written by Paul Dini) gives us Mr. Zero for the first time in a while, though it’s just a small cameo in the head of Batman’s biggest and possibly most troublesome fan.
It’s fun seeing the cartoon give us just a nod to the 1960s’ live-action TV series through Mr. Zero’s appearance being more akin to the simple refrigeration suit, complete with ice-ray gun. In Bat-Mite’s little fantasy, he defeats the subzero villain by shattering his helmet with a batarang. This version, being taken from an old appearance that had been frozen in time decades prior, doesn’t have that tragic backstory and so fits in with the cartoon’s general atmosphere as another zany Batman villain who makes us laugh.
12. BOLD BEGINNINGS
Mr. Freeze returns (having abandoned his “Mr. Zero” moniker) in “Bold Beginnings!” (written by Alan Burnett, Paul Dini and Steven Melching) capturing the heroes Aquaman, Green Arrow and Plastic Man. Unable to escape from their cold prison, the three take the time to regale each other with tales of their adventures fighting alongside Batman (who they expect to come and rescue them at any moment). Freeze himself shows up afterwards and actually proves to be quite a challenge.
Don’t think that the humorous and merry tone of the series means that action scenes aren’t exciting. Freeze is relentless and even when faced with four superheroes, he’s undeterred and not afraid to dish out ice blasts and the occasional ice-pun, along with everyone else in the episode (a nod to “Batman & Robin”). For a first full appearance in the series, this was quite an enjoyable ride, especially for those who might have enjoyed the old portrayals of him, before “Batman: The Animated Series” gave him a tragic backstory to match his frigid demeanour.
11. THE ICY DEPTHS
When an auction is rudely interrupted by Penguin in “The Icy Depths” (written by Steven Melching), Batman arrives to save the day before Mr. Freeze follows suit, to their shock. It seemed as though everyone wanted the ornate umbrella Penguin was after. As it turns out, though, the ornate umbrella is the key to a long-lost treasure stolen by the Cobblepot family centuries ago. The episode focuses on Freeze as a thief and a truly cold one at that.
Everything from his voice to his demonic red eyes helps gives him that lifeless, heartless look we all know and love, even if his character isn’t quite the same as the Mr. Freeze we’ve grown fond of relatively recently; he’s more or less just a man after material wealth here, after all. He’s dangerous, though, and has greater control over ice (able to create a small, sharp dagger of sorts from thin air to threaten Alfred). It’s quite a unique take on Mr. Freeze and contrasts greatly from Mr. Zero.
10. THE BIG CHILL
His origin story is explored in “The Big Chill” (written by Greg Weisman) when he makes himself known by going after pretty much all the precious jewels in Gotham. His introduction to the series is epic, starting with the iceberg threatening to force the passengers of a yacht into a re-enactment of the Titanic so he could steal their diamonds. This was after making it clear that he was willing to brutally kill someone if they hesitated.
He’s definitely an icy figure here, completely willing to flash-freeze and shatter a man for no other reason than those diamonds. He goes about the theft with such confidence, clearly thinking that nothing in the world could stop him, not even Batman. What was truly chilling about him (pun intended) was that he didn’t feel fear the way the common criminal might; in fact, he didn’t seem to feel anything except for the need for vengeance for his perceived injustice.
9. FIRE AND ICE
Mr. Freeze is more than capable of huge amounts of destruction across Gotham,and though he doesn’t usually do it, he’s not completely opposed to seeking help. “Fire and Ice” (written by Joseph Kuhr) begins with Firefly flitting over Gotham with Batman hot on his trail. It’s revealed that he’s working with Mr. Freeze, who wants to extend winter permanently. After he freezes Gotham’s police force solid, it’s up to Batman to take him down.
Even to allies (if you can call Firefly that here), Freeze doesn’t show the slightest interest in being friends, completely ignoring Firefly’s every attempt at joking around or having the slightest bit of fun. Everything and everyone around him only serves to help him achieve his goals. That’s why he’s so quick to turn on Firefly after he almost blunders the operation in his eagerness to beat the bat. That little battle Mr. Freeze has with Firefly is pretty entertaining too, showing us how easily the cold extinguishes fire.
8. BATMAN: VENGEANCE
Prior to more recent games, Batman didn’t really have many successful games. Ubisoft’s “Batman: Vengeance,” based on “The New Batman Adventures” series, came close, however, and featured four of Batman’s greatest foes: Joker, Harley, Poison Ivy and of course, Mr. Freeze (voiced by Michael Ansara). Freeze is shown here as more of an emotional character, acting out of pure cold anger when a video is sent to him, seemingly as a way of taunting him, unaware that it’s actually part of a complex plot concocted by the Joker.
If you enjoyed watching the battles between Batman and Mr. Freeze in the animated series, the battle sequences and cinematics in the game are just as thrilling, though obviously not nearly as in-depth as the show. It helps that throughout the battle, he doesn’t rush. Like the creeping numbness in chilling winter, he steps calmly toward you, blasting his ice-rays all over. For what it is, this depiction of Mr. Freeze is definitely among the best.
When Batman begins suspecting a plot within Belle Reve Penitentiary, Miss Martian and Superboy are sent in, disguised as the Terror Twins, in order to investigate and prevent a mass breakout. Mr. Freeze plays quite a large role in “Terrors” (written by Greg Weisman), as part of the gang of ice-powered villains leading the operation. He takes down Amanda Waller, frees the supervillains from their power-inhibiting collars and uncovers Superboy’s manipulations.
This depiction of Mr. Freeze is no joke. He’s ruthless, intelligent and determined. When we takes on Icicle Jr., we can see that he’s clearly powerful as well, since Icicle isn’t really able to stand up to Freeze. He’s only defeated when Superboy shatters his glass helmet and forces him to freeze his head. For a twenty-minute episode in which he’s not even a main character, “Terrors” depicted Freeze quite well in the few moments he was in it.
6. COLD COMFORT
As we move away from the wacky and more light-hearted depictions of Mr. Freeze, you’ll begin to see how cruel and sorrowful the character really is. “Cold Comfort” (written by Hilary J. Bader) is a great example of that, beginning with his seemingly random destruction of archaeologist, Margaret Madsen. Days later, he attacks Gotham’s tricentennial celebration and shatters a priceless painting. Why attack these? His intent is clear when he warns Gotham to fear for everything it holds dear.
Like Batman, we understand his wrathful cause a bit more in the end when we discover that his body has deteriorated away, leaving him with just a head, kept alive by a small robotic spider-like apparatus. He’s lost Nora, he’s lost his body, of course he’d lash out and attack everyone else for being happy. We’re not saying its wholly justified, but it is wholly understandable. That’s the tragedy seems to follow the character.
For a brief moment in the “Batman Beyond” episode “Meltdown” (written by Hilary J. Bader), Victor Fries was just a man again, more than willing to make the most of his new life after he was thawed out in the future. In the end, though, it appears that Mr. Freeze is an inescapable monster from which Victor simply cannot escape. His new body breaks down and the people who gave it to him seemingly betray him. He dons a new suit and for one last time shows the world how cold he can be.
This is a fantastic ending for the character we were introduced to in “Batman: The Animated Series.” There was only one way it could have ever ended for Mr. Freeze — in tragedy — and the saving grace here was that in his final moments, he acted nobly, choosing to force Batman to leave instead of risking death by way of rubble. When Bruce and Terry talk about him being a good and evil man, it makes us think about what really makes a someone evil.
4. BATMAN ARKHAM SERIES
As technology developed and people started taking video games more seriously as a story-telling medium, we continue to see deeper characters and more complex villains than just the ones we have to beat up because we’re told to. We were fortunate enough to get a Mr. Freeze that was both a tough bad guy, as well as a great character to get invested in. Throughout “Batman: Arkham City” and “Batman: Arkham Knight” (developed by Rocksteady Studios), we see him fight vigorously for Nora who is both his greatest source of strength and his truest weakness.
Mr. Freeze (voiced by Maurice LaMarche) was partly right in blaming Batman for the predicament we find him in here. Villains like the Joker, and later Scarecrow, would use Nora to get to Freeze only because they wanted to use him to take down Batman, so we can understand his ire and pain. Aided by the level of interaction you have with the world of the “Arkham” series, his depiction is both touching and powerful, which is why we had to include it here.
3. DEEP FREEZE
We first discovered that Victor’s love Nora was still alive in “Deep Freeze” (written by Paul Dini and Bruce Timm) when Grant Walker, a theme park mogul, broke Freeze out of prison because he wanted to become just like the immortal supervillain. In exchange, Grant promised to give him his frozen wife.
Freeze is capable of a lot and we see that when he captures Batman and Robin. As a villain, he is without a doubt powerful, but despite his history freezing things and threatening to end life as we know it, he isn’t evil. When Batman appeals to him by asking him what his wife would think of his association with Grant (who revealed that he wants to freeze Gotham because it’s too corrupt), Freeze relents and frees Batman and his sidekick from their restraints. He even fights alongside them for a while, but when things take a turn for the worst, he chooses to stay with his wife. He doesn’t really care about anything else, even his own survival.
2. HEART OF ICE
Of course, of all his appearances on screen, we have to mention his first one in the animated series. He was introduced to us not as Mr. Zero, but as the much darker Mr. Freez, in “Heart of Ice” (written by Paul Dini). Even Batman is shocked to discover Freeze’s origins. His frosty state, his determination for vengeance and the apparent death of his wife were all caused by Ferris Boyle, a man of greed who acted heartlessly, unintentionally creating an even greater monster.
It was actually this episode that gave Mr. Freeze this origin and added depth to Freeze, where before he was pretty much just another criminal; interestingly, this places Batman in a more morally grey area. He takes out Freeze to stop him from killing, but he leaves Boyle in his encasement and ensures he does his time for the horrid acts he committed. This episode features a lot of the things that made the series so great and Mr. Freeze is just a perfect example of why so many characters rose in popularity because of it.
1. BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO
No matter how great his first appearance was, it’s still second to the animated feature film, “Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero. Written and directed by Boyd Kirkland, it actually follows the events of “Deep Freeze” in the animated series. We find Freeze in the arctic, accompanied by an inuit boy and two polar bears. After a submarine damages Nora’s containment vessel, Freeze returns to Gotham, desperate to find a cure.
The film shows us everything you really need to know about Mr. Freeze. At the end of the day, he’s just a man who would do and risk anything for his wife. He knows exactly what he’s become and while a lot of the time he seems to embrace it, there will always be that human part of him that keeps him from becoming just as cold and lifeless as the metal suit that keeps him alive. After everything the world seems to have done to earn his hate, and how much he sometimes wants to be that cold and dead inside, he isn’t. That is why he’s still able to shed that tear in the end.
What was your favorite Mr. Freeze story? Let us know in the comments!
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