Mr. Freeze is one of Batman’s oldest and most dangerous enemies, a scientist with an obsession with ice, forced to live in freezing conditions for the rest of his life. He’s been a persistent supervillain in Batman’s rogues gallery, has featured in the live-action 1960s TV show and numerous animated TV shows and movies, as well as video games.
You may have seen Mr. Freeze and wondered more about him, especially if you watch the TV show “Gotham.” In 2015, Victor Fries was introduced, played by Nathan Darrow as a man obsessed with freezing people to save his wife Nora. With Mr. Freeze making regular appearances on the FOX TV show, it’s time to revisit Batman’s chilliest enemy. Here are 15 things you probably didn’t know about Mr. Freeze.
15. MISTER ZERO
Mr. Freeze started out as Mr. Zero in 1959’s “Batman” #121, written by Bill Finger and penciled by Sheldon Moldoff. In the original story, Mr. Zero had an “ice gun” that would fire both heat and cold blasts, and was a really campy Silver Age villain who drove around in an ice cream truck and had a jester’s collar. Back then, his origin was that he spilled chemicals on himself that forced him to live in “zero temperatures.” Mr. Zero was actually cured at the end of his first story, thanks to a steam bath, but returned in brief appearances later on.
Mr. Zero didn’t become popular until his appearances on the 1960s TV show, where they renamed him Mr. Freeze in the 1966 episode “Instant Freeze.” His three two-part episodes made him a staple of Batman’s Rogues Gallery from then on. The comics officially renamed him Mr. Freeze in “Detective Comics” #373 in 1968.
14. 1960s FREEZE
In his first appearance on the “Batman” TV show, Mr. Freeze was played by George Sanders. In the series, Freeze was originally a scientist named Dr. Art Schivel who Batman accidentally spilled cryogenic chemicals onto, leaving him needing a refrigerated suit to survive. Otto Preminger took over the role in the next two-part appearances, and Eli Wallach played Mr. Freeze in his final appearance. At some point, they got rid of the refrigerated suit in favor of a “freeze collar.”
The 1960s TV series made Mr. Freeze a major Batman villain, and set up the way people see the character in their minds. For instance, both Sanders and Wallach used German accents, except for Preminger, who used his natural Austrian accent. That set up the idea of Mr. Freeze having a German/Austrian accent in people’s minds, which is one reason Arnold Schwarzenegger was cast as Mr. Freeze in 1997’s “Batman & Robin.” He never had the accent in the comics.
13. THE ANIMATED SERIES
Mr. Freeze had always been a vaguely defined character until “Batman: The Animated Series” took him on, and gave him a tragic and touching origin. The Animated Series had a knack for finding ways to make lesser-known characters into real villains, and 1992’s “Heart of Ice” nailed it. It was the animated series that came up with the idea of Mr. Freeze being a scientist who was motivated by a desire to save his beloved wife Nora after she had been cryogenically frozen from a terminal illness. Instead of just committing crimes, Freeze was dedicated to getting justifiable revenge against the boss who caused the accident.
His animated origin proved surprisingly influential. “Batman & Robin” copied the origin almost exactly, even recreating a scene where Mr. Freeze has a music box of Nora. The origin was also made canon in the DC universe in 1997’s “Batman: Mr. Freeze,” written by Paul Dini and penciled by Mark Buckingham.
12. THE HELLBOY CONNECTION
Let’s talk a little bit more about his appearance on the Animated Series, since it’s critical to the evolution of Mr. Freeze. That “Heart of Ice” episode was directed by Bruce Timm and written by Paul Dini, who also ended up writing the comic that introduced Freeze into the DC comic universe. The episode defined the look of his character with his freeze suit’s domed helmet, and eyes hidden behind circular goggles. That look was later adopted by the comics as well. An interesting fact about Mr. Freeze’s animated version is that there was a famous name behind it: Mike Mignola.
In 1991, Mignola was hired to design characters for “Batman: The Animated Series,” including Mr. Freeze. Mignola had been working in comics for years before that, including the Batman Elseworlds mini-series “Gotham by Gaslight” with Brian Augustin in 1989. If that doesn’t ring a bell, Mignola is best known for his comic series “Hellboy.”
11. FREEZE’S ORIGIN
Before his increased exposure in the 1990s, very few comics had gotten into the evolution of the villain. That all changed with 1997’s “Batman: Mr. Freeze,” where it was revealed that a young Victor Fries had been a troubled childhood, beaten and abused by his father, leaving him obsessed with freezing animals and insects in ice to protect them. He was sent to a boarding school where more abuse from students and teachers made him hateful of humanity, shaping his cold personality.
When he was older, Fries met and fell in love with Nora, who married him and made him happy for the first time in his life. When he began cryogenics research using technology that was valuable but expensive, he learned she contracted a terminal illness. He used his technology to freeze her in hopes of keeping her alive until he found a cure. Sadly, his employer tried to shut down the experiment, almost killing Nora, and Fries was caught in an explosion that caused his condition.
10. ARKHAM ASYLUM
Mr. Freeze is a powerful and cunning villain, but he’s not perfect, and always makes mistakes that end with him getting caught by Batman. Whenever Mr. Freeze is arrested and put away, they always have a nice prison cell waiting for him at Arkham Asylum. Anyone who’s played the “Arkham Asylum” video games has run into Mr. Freeze, since he’s been in the games since the first one in 2009. Players might have wondered why he was there.
Mr. Freeze isn’t known for being mentally ill, at least certainly not on the level of the Joker or the Mad Hatter, who are normally kept at Arkham for treatment and imprisonment. Mr. Freeze usually ends up at Arkham for practical concerns like his need for a specially refrigerated cell. Regular prisons aren’t equipped to set up cells with below-freezing temperatures, but Arkham Asylum has to handle inmates who are half-crocodile or made of shape-changing clay. For Arkham, making a cell cold is easy.
9. A GIFTED SCIENTIST
While most people tend to focus on Mr. Freeze’s freezing weapons, his real threat is his mind. He specializes in cryogenics, skills which he used to put his wife Nora into suspended animation for years. After his accident, he was able to save his own life by designing and building the cold suit he wears. When he turned to crime, he created his cold gun and the other weapons that can generate ice and freeze anything instantly.
Besides his engineering, Victor is brilliant at multiple fields, including science, engineering and medicine. He’s also fluent in English, Latin, German and Greek. Over the years, Mr. Freeze has put his skills to help others. In the 2008 “Heart of Hush” storyline in “Detective Comics” #846–850 (Paul Dini, Dustin Nguyen), Catwoman had her heart removed by the supervillain Hush and Freeze designed a life support machine for her. In “Detective Comics” #850, Mr. Terrific compares Freeze’s technology to the level of Lex Luthor or the science of Apokolips.
One of the most iconic parts of Mr. Freeze is his protective suit, which he needs to stay alive. If Mr. Freeze was ever exposed to normal temperatures, he would die. Since he has to stay in freezing temperatures to survive, he can only leave his lair in a special containment suit that keeps his body cold. In his first appearances, Mr. Freeze’s suit was nothing more than a walking refrigeration unit with a domed helmet. Beating Mr. Freeze just involved breaking his suit and getting him warm until he passed out.
Over time, the suit has become a suit of armor, thick enough to protect him from fists, bullets and other impacts. That makes him harder for Batman and others to take down. The suit also works like an exoskeleton, giving him enhanced strength in his arms and legs, making him even tougher for the Dark Knight to stop.
7. NORA RETURNED
For most of Mr. Freeze’s history, Nora Fries hasn’t been much of a character. She really just existed for him to pine over, usually floating in a cryogenic tank, unconscious and unresponsive as he talked to her in one-sided conversations. That all changed in 2005’s “Batgirl” #69, written by Andersen Gabrych and penciled by Pop Mhan. That was the issue where Nora Fries came back to life, and became more deadly and animated than ever.
In the story, Nyssa Raatko had recruited Mr. Freeze to turn the world’s oil solid in exchange for bringing Nora back to life with a Lazarus Pit. She insisted she needed to calculate it to make the resurrection work, but Mr. Freeze became impatient and threw Nora into the pit. Nora emerged from the pit as the supervillain Lazara, given the power to create fire and bring an army of the dead back to life. Mr. Freeze was forced to encase her in ice again.
6. MR. FREEZE: THE RIDE
Amusement park rides based on superheroes have become almost commonplace at many theme parks. There’s a roller coaster at Six Flags Great America called “Batman: The Ride,” Six Flags America has “Superman: Ride of Steel” and there’s an “Incredible Hulk Coaster” at Universal Studios Orlando. A few supervillains also have themed rides, but Mr. Freeze is one of the few to have not one, but two roller coasters.
Six Flags Over Texas and Six Flags St. Louis both got Mr. Freeze-themed roller coasters to celebrate the release of “Batman & Robin” in 1997. Unfortunately, the construction was delayed until 1998, at which point everyone pretty much wanted to forget that movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger and George Clooney were supposed to be the first riders, but Arnold bowed out due to scheduling and Clooney basically said, “Well, if Schwarzenegger’s not going, then neither am I.” The roller coasters are still running today, although they’ve been reversed and are now called “Mr. Freeze: Reverse Blast.”
5. THE NEW 52
In the New 52 reboot of the DC universe, Mr. Freeze’s origin changed. “Batman Annual” #1 in 2012 (written by Scott Snyder and James Tynion IV with pencils from Jason Fabok) changed the childhood of Victor Fries, where he explained how he had been fascinated by ice as a child. He froze the body parts of animals to see the effects on them, but a turning point came when his mother fell into a frozen pond. The ice preserved her until help arrived, feeding a lifelong obsession with cryogenics.
In his original origin, GothCorp had been funding his research, but the New 52 version had Fries working for Bruce Wayne, who stopped his research for ethical reasons. Nora wasn’t Fries’ lover, but a woman who had been cryogenically frozen decades before he was born. While studying her for his research, Fries fell in love, and imagined her to be his wife. The changes were controversial, but added new levels of insanity to the character. Now he’s a perfect fit for Arkham.
4. THE COURT OF OWLS
The Court of Owls is a secret society that controlled Gotham City for decades, but finally decided to reveal themselves in 2011’s “Batman” #2, written by Scott Snyder with pencils by Greg Capullo. The Court of Owls became a major enemy of Batman in the “Night of Owls” storyline, where they tried to kill 40 prominent members of Gotham to undermine the city and strengthen their control. The Court of Owls couldn’t have done it without Mr. Freeze.
The Court uses a special team of assassins known as Talons to do their dirty work, and the Talons are frozen and kept in suspended animation to be awakened only when needed. To revive their Talons, the Court used Mr. Freeze’s research, and then tried to kill him during the Night of Owls. He didn’t take kindly to being used and targeted for death, and fought back mightily, but Starfire pointed out that he sold his technology without concern for what people did with it.
3. SLOW AGING
One of the reasons suspended animation and cryogenics are so popular is the idea of slowing or stopping the aging process, and Mr. Freeze has enjoyed the benefits of that. His aging has slowed significantly, to the point where it seems close to having stopped. While this could be considered one of the only good things about his frozen body, it hasn’t exactly lightened Mr. Freeze’s mood any.
In the world of “Batman Beyond,” Mr. Freeze was still alive, even though it took place in the year 2039. Written by Hilary J. Bader and directed by Curt Geda, the 1999 episode “Meltdown” revealed Freeze’s condition had reduced him to just a head kept in storage. Technology had been developed to cure his condition and clone him a new body, but Mr. Freeze’s illness eventually took over and reverted him back to his old form and un-slake his thirst for revenge. With a new suit of armor, he turned evil again, but finally found the peace he craved in death.
2. NEW POWERS
As we said earlier, Mr. Freeze is known for his scientific genius, and is known for making weapons that shoot beams of ice, but he has some powers of his own, too. At times, he’s been able to freeze objects and people, just from the touch of his skin. In “Batman Annual” #1, the New 52 version of Freeze showed he had the power when he froze a water pipe underground, as well as Robin’s arm, just by his will alone.
In some versions, Mr. Freeze can shoot ice blasts from his hands. The version of Mr. Freeze from “The Batman” is a perfect example. In 2004’s episode, “The Big Chill” (directed by Brandon Vietti and written by Greg Wiesman) Victor Fries was just a small-time crook who ended up in an accident that gave him cryogenic powers. In this version, Mr. Freeze generated cold around him instead of needing a refrigerated suit, so his suit was only needed to contain his power to shoot ice beams from his hands.
1. TEAM PLAYER
There are a surprising number of cold-themed villains in the DC universe, so it made sense to have them team up a few times. Mr. Freeze has been a member of two teams of chilly supervillains in the comics: the Cold Warriors and the Ice Pack. In 2002’s “Justice League Adventures” #12 (written by Christopher Sequeira penciled by Min S. Ku, the Justice League faced a team-up of Polar Lord, Mr. Freeze, Icicle, Killer Frost, Snowman, Captain Cold, Cryonic Man and Minister Blizzard, who called themselves the Cold Warriors.
The Cold Warriors appeared again in 2002 with members Killer Frost, Captain Cold, Icicle, Blue Snowman, Minister Blizzard and Mr. Freeze. In the Super Friends comic book, the Ice Pack appeared, dedicated to freezing the city and the Leaguers as well. The Ice Pack didn’t fare any better, especially because they spent more time fighting each other than the superheroes. Both incidents proved that Mr. Freeze is better as a solo act.
What do you think of Mr. Freeze? Let us know in the comments!
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