Brrrrrr, did it just get frosty in here? CBR’s pretty sure we know why: it's because of all the supervillains with ice-related super-powers out there! As a result, we’re about to lay down the best ice-cold slices of prime villainy the worlds of TV shows, animations, video games and comic books have to offer. It’s pretty chilly company, but with the weather so bleak at the moment, we’re sure they’ll feel right at home!
All jokes aside, there are some pretty awesome abilities available in the super-power lottery including flight, telepathy and super-strength, but no single power is quite so cool (okay, one more joke, we’re done now, we promise) as the ability to generate, manipulate or otherwise weaponize ice. Unlike heroes, villains are far more likely to push the boundaries of their abilities and so we reckon these characters are some of the most bad-ass beings in the fictional universe. So wrap up warm, huddle down and enjoy our list of the best ice-powered villains!
As most fans of the “Mortal Kombat” video games already know, before he became a wraith ninja, Noob Saibot was the original Sub-Zero, a mercenary assassin from the Lin Kuei Clan and a stone-cold killer, emphasis on the cold: his powers of ice manipulation enabled him to shock, impale, flash-freeze and shatter his opponents, and his signature finishing move was the classic “Spine Rip” (which isn’t ice-related, but is too iconic not to mention).
CBR knows assassins doesn’t necessarily equal villain, but let’s not forget Sub-Zero was responsible for mercilessly killing his long-time nemesis Scorpion (of “Get Over Here!” fame) and wiping out the entire Shirai Ryu Clan, and only agreed to join the MK Tournament in “Mortal Kombat I” to complete a hit on the tournament’s host, Shang Tsung. That’s pretty chilling behaviour! Plus, after the resurrected Scorpion challenged him to a fight to the death and won (yes, MK’s confusing, no-one stays dead, a bit like in comics!) Sub-Zero transformed into Noob in the Netherrealm because his heart was so corrupted by evil. That's proof enough for CBR that he’s villainous to his icy core! Luckily the new Sub-Zero, Noob’s little bro, is a bit more heroic.
14 MR. FREEZE
Mr. Freeze may have started out as a rather laughable villain cooked up by Bob Kane et al. in the late ‘50s (debuting as Mr. Zero in “Batman” #121) with few comic successes under his belt, but Freeze’s C-list villain status changed forever when he was reinvented for “Batman: The Animated Series.” Here, Mr. Freeze’s history as a dedicated and brilliant scientist with a tragic origin story involving a dying wife, a damaged cryogenic chamber and some greedy corporate types was revealed, making him a complex and more believable villain fuelled by grief and cementing his place in DC canon (plus a top spot in Batman’s Rogues’ Gallery!). Scott Snyder later made his origins a whole lot creepier for the New 52, but that arguably just brought out his super-villainy even more.
So what can he actually do? Mr. Freeze has superhuman strength and durability, granted by his enhanced cryo-suit; he can also freeze stuff (obviously) using his Freeze-Gun and other tech. During DC’s “Underworld Unleashed” crossover event, he was temporarily granted the ability to generate sub-zero temperatures by Neron, but this superpower was quickly negated. Still, with his crazy-smarts and super-cool tech, Freeze is a tough man to beat!
13 MINISTER BLIZZARD
Despite stiff competition, Minister Blizzard is probably the zaniest entry on this list, purely because his history and diabolical schemes are so laughable. He first debuted in "Wonder Woman" #29 back in the ‘40s as the Prime Minister of the icy kingdom of Ice-Berg Land and a key political advisor to its monarch, Princess Snowmina (yes, really!), but later revealed himself to be an eco-terrorist hell-bent on creating another Ice Age (because, y’know, who doesn’t like snow?). He’s teamed up with various villain collectives in different continuities to help achieve this goal, including joining the Cold Warriors in “Justice League Adventures” and the Ice Pack in “DC Super Friends.” In the New 52 era, he’s also employed religious fanatics.
Like other villains on this list, Minister Blizzard’s powers are largely reliant on his weapons and gadgets, such as the climate-changing device he stole from Chemico and his custom-design ice gun. However, he does have a natural acclamation for chillier climates, which isn’t a super-power, but sure is handy for an ice-based villain. If nothing else, Minister Blizzard surely deserves some kudos for making it snow in Ecuador.
12 THE SNOWMAN
The Snowman is one of Batman’s more obscure villains, but the sheer bizarreness of Gerry Conway and Roy Thomas’ creation makes him rather difficult to overlook nonetheless. First appearing in “Batman” #337 as the love-child of a Himalayan explorer and a Tiberian Yeti (CBR isn’t sure how that would work, and we don’t really want to think about it), he tried to freeze Gotham City but was quickly dispensed by Batman. Then, in “Detective Comics” #522, the Caped Crusader pursued Snowman to Tibet and hurled him off a cliff. He was presumed dead until he re-emerged as one of the Cold Warriors in “Justice League” #12 and attempted a hostile takeover of a small African nation (like you do), but his current whereabouts are something of a mystery.
Snowman's got some pretty cool powers including ice and snow manipulation, icy “radiation” that causes any nearby person or object to freeze solid, and incredible strength owing to the fact that he’s half-Yeti. However, his abilities do have downsides: he has to seek out cold climates, travelling extensively and committing robberies to pay for it, thereby making his villainy more of a necessity than a life choice!
11 QUEEN ELSA
When most people hear “villain” they don’t picture a Disney princess, but CBR reckons Elsa from the 2013 hit “Frozen” counts as one: after all, she does seriously hurt her sister (twice!) and plunge the kingdom of Arendelle into eternal winter a few hours after being coronated, all because she cannot control her cryogenic powers! On top of that, rather than helping her freezing subjects deal with the chaos she’s unleashed, she instead builds an (admittedly kick-ass) ice palace somewhere remote, dons a cape and sings an insanely catchy song about how misunderstood she is.
Elsa escapes full villainy because her sister offers her unconditional love despite the ice-queen façade (which conveniently fixes everything, hooray!), but the full force of Elsa’s powers might have been unleashed without Anna’s intervention… and that would have been pretty damn scary. Not only does Elsa have a proficiency for both creation and destruction on a large scale, plus the power to control the weather of an entire nation, but also she can bring ice and snow to life. You may see an innocent-looking princess, but CBR sees an unlimited supply of snow-henchmen, an impenetrable ice fortress and an out-of-control temper. Looks pretty villainous to us!
Technically, there have been four versions of Icicle since the villain’s first appearance in “All-American Comics” #90, as the mantle was passed down the generations (which has become pretty standard superhero/villain practice). The first, Joar Mahkent, was a notable European physicist who faked his own death before joining the Injustice Society of the World, the anti-hero team hell-bent on antagonizing the JSA. His son Cameron followed closely in his footsteps, joining Injustice Unlimited (basically Injustice Society 2.0) and teaming up with the Secret Society of Super Villains during “Infinite Crisis.” Then, in “Flash” Vol.2 #56-58, James and Doyle Christie both briefly adopted their grandfather Joar's name and methods, although Doyle decided to fight for the good guys instead.
The most impressive by far though, at least for the purposes of this list, has to be Cameron Mahkent: he doesn’t need a gun to enable his ice manipulation, as his father's altered genetics (due to prolonged exposure to the Icicle tech) gave Cam super-human abilities including the power to freeze objects and people, create blasts or walls of ice from ambient moisture, and generate sleet, snow and freezing rain. His tech-free villainy makes Icicle II the coolest in the family!
Laufey, who debuted in “Journey into Mystery” #112 back in 1965, is probably best-known among fans for his parentage of the trickster-runt Loki and his defeat at the hands of Odin, which is a shame because he’s actually pretty badass. Evil, yes, but badass nonetheless! As the King of Jotunheim (the Asgardian land of eternal winter) and a powerful Frost Giant, he’s a super-strong immortal being with a bloodlust to rival any top-notch villain’s. He’s usually armed to the teeth with his super-sized club, sword and axe, and he’s got a gift for battle strategy. On top of that, he’s skilled in ice manipulation and weather control, and can also wield magic to a certain degree.
Okay, yes, he wasn’t powerful enough to survive Odin’s attack in “Thor” Vol.2 #80 (an event that was later retconned in “Thor” Vol.3 #12 so that Laufey did survive, but was promptly decapitated by Loki, whose daddy issues apparently aren’t limited to Odin), but thanks to the Minotaur and some sinister blood magic, death didn’t put a stop to Laufey’s villainy. He’s alive and kicking once more and, as part of the Dark Council, poses a serious threat to the new Thor.
8 THE ICE KING
If you think cutesy cartoons can’t harbour powerful villains, you’re dead wrong! In Cartoon Network’s “Adventure Time,” the Ice King possesses a magical crown giving him the power to manipulate ice and snow, as well as some non-cryogenic abilities such as flight (achieved by flapping his beard), command over penguins and the power of trippy visions resulting from his Wizard Eyes. Abilities like that are no joke, even if they are mostly wasted on evil schemes to kidnap all the princesses in the Land of Ooo (which, luckily for the Ice King, has a disproportionately high number of royal figures!) and his far-fetched attempts to get Finn and Jake to befriend him.
The Ice King may be powerful, but his abilities come at a terrible price, as the penultimate episode of Season 4 (“I Remember You”) reveals that, before discovering the crown, he was an archaeologist called Simon Petrikov who, in the wasteland of the Mushroom War, found little Marceline crying and took care of her. However, the crown gradually drove him insane and made him forget all about his past life with his fiancée (his “princess”), as well as erasing all memory of Marceline.
Since his debut in “Tales of Suspense” #45, Blizzard has had three different incarnations, including Gregor Shapanka, Donald Gill and Randy Macklin, respectively, but in each case, they’ve retained the signature cryo-suit and icy abilities that we all associate with Blizzard (Gill is CBR’s personal favorite though, if only because She-Hulk once threw up on him in a bar). In his various guises, Blizzard has clashed with Iron Man, Spider-Man and Daredevil, and teamed up with other notable supervillains including Electro and his fellow Thunderbolts Speed Demon and Whirlwind, using his cold-themed abilities in tandem with their powers to give these heroes a whole lotta trouble.
Blizzard derives power from his micro-circuited cryogenic suit, allowing him to shoot ice projectiles and freezing rays at his enemies. After his suit is upgraded by Beetle and Fixer, the Donnie Gill version of Blizzard can also encase people in snow/ice, create an ice barricade and generate “ice-sleds” for transport. If all that wasn’t enough, Gill also gained electro-kinetic abilities following his Terrigenesis in “Infinity: Heist” #4, meaning he can manipulate electrical currents and charge the energies in his body in addition to all the snow-based stuff. Cool, eh?
6 CAPTAIN COLD
Don’t be fooled by the fluffy parka and squinty visor: Captain Cold could freeze you in an instant with that “absolute-zero” weaponry, and his extensive experience as the Rogues' leader and arch-enemy of all Flash incarnations means he could easily out-manoeuvre most heroes. Since his debut in “Showcase” #8, he’s proven to be a formidable foe, and little wonder: when you combine his smarts and considerable tech with the metahuman abilities he acquired in the New 52, he’s practically unstoppable!
Captain Cold’s weaponry creates ice beams and cold fields that will stop anything (even the Flash!) in its tracks. His guns can also freeze victims’ skin so they cannot move, but still feel pain, a technique used to kill Chillblaine in brutal fashion. Additionally, his tech can summon stalagmites to impale his enemies, launch ice grenades to flash-freeze large areas, and turn the ground beneath the Flash’s feet to ice. His metahuman abilities enabled him to “freeze” molecules and thus negate super-human speed, but sadly he lost this power in the 2013-14 “Forever Evil” crossover. Still, the Captain remains cool in every sense of the word!
5 KILLER FROST
Not many comic book villains could suck the warmth out of a room quite like Killer Frost! The moniker has been held by several supervillainesses over the years who share their ice-based powers, a chilly disposition and some pretty strange ideas about appropriate winter-wear. The original Killer Frost, Crystal, first appeared in “Firestorm” #3 as an unbalanced student whose spurned affections drove her mad, and being caught in a thermafrost transformation made her more cold-hearted than ever. Since then, Louise Lincoln, Loren Fontier and Caitlin Snow have all taken up the mantle at various points, using similar methods to cool their jets and get their villain on.
Killer Frost is often described as a “heat vampire” because she can absorb warmth from external sources and invert it to fuel her powers, which have near-limitless potential: she’s able to freeze living beings on contact, create offensive or defensive tools out of ice (such as body armor, walls/structures, weapons or projectiles) and generate bone-chilling blizzards. Fire-based weapons that would normally destroy icy villains only make her stronger, but she becomes weak without a source of heat. Unfortunately, heroes are usually warm-blooded, so trying to fight her usually just makes her stronger!
4 CHIEF UNALAQ
When Chief Unalaq first appeared in Nickelodeon’s “The Legend of Korra,” he seemed like an all-around good guy: he protected the Northern and Southern water tribes from the danger created by their ongoing disrespect of Spirits, and even taught the Avatar a thing or two about her spiritual responsibilities. However, it was soon revealed that Unalaq had not only tricked his brother (Korra’s father, Tonraq) into desecrating a sacred forest in order to steal his place as Chief, but also was working with the Order of the Red Lotus to bring the Avatar down.
Unalaq is an extremely powerful water-bender, even before he merges with Vaatu -- the embodiment of darkness that balances Raava’s light -- during Harmonic Convergence (a period of cosmological alignment deciding the fate of the world for the next 10,000 years) and becomes the Dark Avatar. He’s repeatedly proven himself to be more than a match for Korra when using his water-whip, spouts, waves, ice-drills and daggers, even though she has the powers of earth, air, fire and water at her disposal. If not for Jinora’s timely intervention, it’s likely he would’ve finished off the Avatar once and for all!
3 LUMI THE SNOW QUEEN
Multiple characters in comics, films and books have been known as “Snow Queen” -- perhaps the most notable being the antagonist in Hans Christian Andersen’s fairytale of the same name -- but CBR’s favorite has to be the powerful sorceress Lumi from Vertigo’s “Fables,” who once ruled the coldest season in partnership with her three sisters (who brought in the seasons of spring, summer and autumn, respectively), but now serves an a commander in the Fable Emperor’s personal guard.
Lumi proved that Hell hath no fury like a Snow-Queen scorned when she gave her heart -- and her powers -- to a dishonest trickster who broke her heart and abused her gift to become Jack Frost. Though she regained her powers, the experience left Lumi profoundly cold and bitter, and since then, she’s been one of the cruellest, most cold-blooded tyrants in comics. Her abilities verge on the terrifying: she can fully control all the elements of winter and adeptly perform aerokinesis and hydrokinesis, command legions of frost creatures (including giants), and even release “plagues” on the Mundane World powerful enough to wipe out mankind if she wanted to (which she does!). This is one Queen you wouldn’t wanna mess with!
So far we’ve featured a half-yeti, a ninja, a giant, some mad scientists and even a few monarchs, but arguably they all pale in comparison to Ymir, the malevolent ice-god worshipped by the Frost Giants of Asgard who debuted in “Journey Into Mystery” #97 and has since caused untold misery and bloodshed throughout the Golden Realm. Ymir is a 1,000-foot tall mega-giant that considers all forms of life -- with the exception of his kin -- to be aberrations in need of immediate destruction. Couple that with the insane amount of power he possesses and you’ve got yourself an ice-cold killing machine!
Ymir is one of few beings in the Marvel Universe with sufficient power to take on Surtur or Odin and potentially win (well, he is a god): he’s immensely strong, super-durable, can generate intense and deadly cold capable of freezing pretty much anything, reform his body from the smallest particle of ice, and is rather good at bludgeoning stuff to death with his massive icicle-club. As an immortal, he’s also immune to the effects of time. He cannot be beaten, only contained, and if that doesn’t make him a super-cool villain, then CBR’s certain such a thing doesn’t exist!
1 THE NIGHT KING
Easily the most terrifying villain in HBO’s “Game of Thrones” (or anywhere, really!) is the Night King, the original White Walker -- which, if you’re not aware, is a super ice-zombie that is almost impossible to kill. After being created millennia ago by the Children of the Forest, the Night King has accumulated an undead army that poses an ever-increasing threat to the Night’s Watch and the free folk beyond the Wall in Seasons 4-6… and it’s not hard to see why.
The Night King has some truly formidable abilities: not only does he possess superior strength and invulnerability to all weapons except Obsidian and Valyrian steel (like Jon Snow’s bastard-sword, Longclaw), but also he can use his cryogenic powers to create seismic events and manipulate the weather. Additionally, he can convert human children into White Walkers and raise armies of wights (reanimated corpses), turning the enemy’s own forces against them. Oh, and did we mention he can psychically track and mark his enemies and use that connection to break any magical barrier? (Yeah, we’re looking at you, Bran.) CBR is confident it won’t be long before he topples the Wall and all Hell breaks loose in Westeros. Winter is coming!
Are there any other cold-themed villains you think should have made the list? Let us know in the comments below!