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Mr. Freeze
Freezebig.png
Mr. Freeze and Batman
Art by Greg Land
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Batman #121
(February 1959)
Created by Bob Kane
In-story information
Alter ego Victor Fries
Team affiliations Injustice League
Secret Society of Super Villains
Notable aliases Mister Zero, Doctor Zero, Doctor Schimmell
Abilities - Genius-level intelligence in cryogenics
- Wields a Freeze Gun and wears an exo-suit that keeps his body temperature below freezing and gives him superhuman strength.

Mr. Freeze, real name Dr. Victor Fries (pronounced as Victor "Frees" or "Freeze"), is a DC Comics supervillain, an enemy of Batman. Created by Bob Kane, he first appeared in Batman #121 (February 1959).[1]

Freeze is a scientist who must wear a cryogenic suit in order to survive, and bases his crimes around a "cold" or "ice" theme, complete with a "cold gun" that freezes its targets solid. In the most common variation of his origin story, he is a former cryogenics expert who suffered an industrial accident while attempting to treat his terminally ill wife, Nora.

In the original Batman television series, Mr. Freeze was played in various episodes by George Sanders, Otto Preminger and Eli Wallach. He was voiced in Batman: The Animated Series by Michael Ansara, and by Clancy Brown in The Batman. In the 1997 film, Batman & Robin, he was portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

IGN's list of the Top 100 Comic Book Villains Of All Time List ranked Mr. Freeze as #67.[2]

Contents

Overview

Originally called Mr. Zero,[1] he was renamed and popularized by the 1960s Batman television series, in which he was played by several actors.[3][4][5] Over two decades later, a television adaptation of Batman revitalized him once again. Batman: The Animated Series retold Mr. Freeze’s origin in a landmark episode by writer Paul Dini , introducing his terminally ill, cryogenically frozen wife, which greater explained his obsession with ice and need to build a criminal empire to raise research funds.[6] The episode was seen as groundbreaking for a Saturday morning cartoon and helped set the tone for the complex moral motivations seen constantly in the rest of the series. This backstory was also made canon in the comics and has been Fries' official origin in almost every incarnation of Batman since. This leads many fans to think of him as the most sympathetic villain.

Elements of this back story were incorporated into the 1997 film Batman & Robin, in which he was portrayed by Arnold Schwarzenegger.[1][7]

Fictional character biography

From the time of his first appearance in 1958 onward, Mr. Freeze was portrayed as one of many "joke" villains (see also Killer Moth, The Mad Hatter) cast as stock enemies of Batman.[1] Originally called Mr. Zero,[1] the producers of the 1960s Batman television series renamed him Mr. Freeze (and portrayed Batman addressing him as "Dr. Schivell"),[1] and the name quickly carried over to the comic books.

Nearly 30 years later, Mr. Freeze would receive another update on television. In the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Heart of Ice", he was made into a more complex, tragic character.[6] This version of Mr. Freeze was enthusiastically accepted by fans, and has become the standard portrayal for the character in most forms of media, including the comic book series itself, which previously had the character casually killed off by the Joker. Freeze was resurrected in the comic after the episode aired.[1]

Silver Age

Batman #121 (1959), the first appearance of the character as "Mr. Zero". Cover art by Curt Swan

In the Pre-Crisis continuity series, it is explained that Mr. Freeze is a rogue scientist whose design for an "ice gun" backfires when he inadvertently spills cryogenic chemicals on himself, resulting in his needing subzero temperatures to survive.[1]

Modern Age

Post-Crisis, Freeze was revamped utilizing Paul Dini's backstory. Dr. Victor Fries is an expert molecular biologist. As a child, he is fascinated by freezing animals. His parents, horrified by his "hobby", send him to a strict boarding school, where he is miserable, feeling detached from humanity. In college, he meets a woman named Nora, whom he falls in love with and ultimately marries.[1]

Nora later falls terminally ill. Fries takes on a job working for a large company run by the ruthless Ferris Boyle. Fries discovers a way to put Nora into cryo-stasis (using company equipment without permission), and places her in that state hoping to sustain her until a cure could be found. Boyle finds out about the experiment and attempts to have her brought out of cryo-stasis, overruling Fries' frantic objections. A struggle ensues, in which Boyle kicks Fries into a table full of chemicals and leaves him for dead. Fries survives, but his body temperature is lowered dramatically due to mutations triggered by the chemicals; he can now only live at subzero temperatures and is thus forced to wear a special refrigerating suit to stay alive. As Mr. Freeze, he uses cryonic technology to create a gun, which fires a beam that freezes any target within its range.[1][8]

His first act as a costumed criminal is to take revenge upon Boyle, a plan with which Batman interferes.[1][6] Mr. Freeze fires his freeze-gun at Batman, but he dodges, causing the beam to shatter Nora's capsule. Freeze blames Batman, and swears to destroy whatever the Dark Knight holds dear (mainly Gotham City, and eventually Robin).[1]

Freeze's crimes tend to involve freezing everyone and everything he runs into [1] so he hardly ever forges alliances with the other criminals in Gotham, preferring to work alone. On rare occasions he has worked with another member of Batman's rogues gallery, such as the time he was a hired enforcer/hitman for the Black Mask.[9]

In Villains United #1, Freeze has frozen everyone inside a courtroom. While using a frozen man as a chair, he talks with the Calculator, who convinces him to join the Secret Society of Super Villains. During his time with the group, he fashions for Nyssa al Ghul a sub-zero machine in exchange for the use of her own Lazarus Pit. He attempts to restore Nora to life without waiting for the adjusting needed in the pool chemicals. However, she returns to life as the twisted Lazara, and escapes. She blames her husband for her plight, and estranges herself from him.[10]

He is usually imprisoned in Arkham Asylum when apprehended by the Batman, as he has been found insane. The facility has accommodations for his medical requirements with a refrigerated cell.[11] He has been seen among the new Injustice League and is one of the villains featured in Salvation Run.

He has been seen as the main villain in "The Battle for the Cowl" One Shot "Commissioner Gordon".[12]

Powers and abilities

Like most Batman villains, Mr. Freeze plans his crimes about a specific theme; in his case, ice and cold.[1] In darker incarnations of the Batman mythos, Mr. Freeze's obsession with ice stems from personal tragedy, and his crimes are inspired by his desire to make the rest of the world as miserable as he is.[13] He freezes areas around him using special weapons and equipment, most notably a handheld "cold gun". His refrigeration suit grants him superhuman strength and durability, making him a powerful villain in Batman's rogues gallery.[1] Some interpretations suggest that because the serum Freeze was soaked in was intended to be used for cryo-preservation, his age progression has slowed drastically.[6]

In the Underworld Unleashed storyline, the demon Neron grants Mr. Freeze the ability to generate subzero temperatures, no longer needing his freeze-gun or refrigeration suit. However, after his encounter with Green Lantern, Donna Troy, and Purgatory in Central Park, he reverted back to his original subzero biology. He then gained a new subzero armor and weaponry.[14]

Animated abilities

According to Batman: The Animated Series, Freeze understands how to reproduce his condition.[15]

In The Batman, Freeze has the ability of cryokinesis (i.e. to generate ice and cold with his hands).[16]

In other media

Television

Live-action Batman TV series

In the 1960s Batman television series, Mr. Freeze was played by George Sanders, Otto Preminger, and Eli Wallach.[17][3][4][5]

Before Mr. Freeze was on the show he was always called Mr. Zero. The show's version of him continues to be campy like the comic books. In his first appearance, "Instant Freeze", it is revealed that it was Batman who spilled the cryogenic chemicals on him during an attempted arrest. Batman thus feels a certain amount of guilt for his condition.[18] Mister Freeze was also given a different name: Dr. Schivel.[1] Sanders and Wallach put on German accents for the role, while Preminger used his own Austrian accent.

Filmation produced Batman series

Mr. Freeze appeared in The Batman/Superman Hour episode "The Cruel, Cool Mr. Freeze" voiced by Ted Knight.

Mr. Freeze appears in one episode of Filmation's 1977 animated series The New Adventures of Batman, in which he is voiced by Lennie Weinrib. The Filmation series changes his origin, stating he was an extraterrestrial who would die if exposed to any temperature hotter than -50 degrees Fahrenheit, and that firearms from his world are used as "freeze guns". [19]

DC animated universe

Mr. Freeze as depicted in Batman: The Animated Series.

Mr. Freeze appears in Batman: The Animated Series played by voice-actor Michael Ansara (who also played him in the spin-offs).[20] His appearance in the series was designed by Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, at the request of series creator Bruce Timm[15] Mr. Freeze is introduced in the episode "Heart of Ice", which won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program. In flashback, viewers see that while working for the company Gothcorp, Victor Fries had embezzled funds for an experiment, in order to save his terminally ill wife, Nora, by cryogenically freezing her until a cure could be found. At the last moment, however, Gothcorp CEO, Ferris Boyle, voiced by Mark Hamill, broke into the lab with guards, demanding an end be put to the experiment. When a panicked Fries grabbed a pistol from a security guard and aimed it at Boyle, the CEO first calmly spoke to Fries not to be rash and to see if something can be done to help Nora. When Fries relaxed and was distracted into thinking there is a peaceful solution, the CEO kicked Fries into a table of chemical beakers, leaving him to die. Fries survived, but was severely mutated by the substances and transformed into Mr. Freeze.

Freeze leads a band of henchmen and makes several raids on Gothcorp, stealing the parts for a freezing machine he wishes to build and use in his battle against the company. This leads to his first confrontation with Batman, whom he defeats easily and traps in a block of ice. Later, before another attack on Gothcorp after the machine is complete, Freeze catches Batman in the security room, watching an archive video, revealing Freeze's tragic origin in flashback. Freeze traps Batman and leaves him in his hideout, confronting Boyle at the Gothcorp Humanitarian Party and freezing him up to the waist. Batman escapes, then confronts Freeze at the party, fighting him one-on-one until he smashes Freeze's protective helmet with a thermos of chicken soup given to him by Alfred, rendering Fries unconscious and the heat of the soup causing bad reactions in his body temperature. Batman then presents evidence of Boyle's crimes to the press; and leaves him half encased in ice. Freeze is imprisoned in Arkham in a special cell that is kept at ultralow temperatures, and the episode ends with him remorseful that he failed to save his wife.[6]

Freeze later appears in "Deep Freeze", in which he is taken from prison against his will and brought to an off-shore city named Oceana. There, he meets billionaire Grant Walker, who wants to become like Freeze so he can create a frozen world for selected residents. In return for Freeze's help, Walker promises to cure Nora. Batman and Robin arrive and try to reason with Freeze that if he helps Walker, Nora would hate him. Freeze eventually turns on Walker, pinning him to a wall. Freeze overloads Oceana's power-core, which starts the destruction of the city. Freeze stays behind to die with his wife, and they all disappear in the explosion, though the episode's end reveals that they survive, trapped in icebergs.[21]

In the direct to video movie, Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, Nora's tank is shattered and Freeze kidnaps Batgirl in order to perform a vital organ transplant. Batman and Robin thwart this plan and Mr. Freeze is then presumed killed in the explosion of his lair on an abandoned oil rig. Wayne Enterprises then finances Nora's surgery, saving her life, which Freeze overhears while watching in on researchers in the North Pole.

Mr. Freeze as he appears in The New Batman Adventures.

In the New Batman Adventures, Mr. Freeze returns with a new, sleeker look, in which his head is mounted on four thin, robotic legs, and which crawl and lock into a suit. Director Dan Riba admitted that his change was because of his recurring loss, and belief that his wife had no hope for recovery, leading to this darker, colder personality.[22] In the episode "Cold Comfort", Freeze learns that the serum that mutated his body is slowly destroying it; although he has kidnapped many scientists to try and stop the process, they only succeed after the process has claimed all but his head. Because of this, Freeze felt unable to return to Nora who, believing her husband had died in the events of Subzero, married the doctor assigned to her case and left Gotham permanently. The trauma destroys whatever is left of Freeze's humanity, and he begins committing crimes in order to inflict on others the loss he's suffered, by taking away the things they value most. One of his targets is Bruce Wayne, and he almost kills Alfred Pennyworth at Wayne Manor. At his hideout, Freeze is confronted by Batman and Batgirl, and he reveals his true condition to them as well as his goal of taking away what Batman holds dear: all of Gotham, by dropping a "Reverse Fusion Bomb" that will freeze the city. Freeze boards a helicopter to drop the bomb, but Batman follows him, and they engage in a duel in which Batman uses his grappling gun to hook Freeze to the bomb and drop it into the river, where an explosion creates a huge iceberg. Freeze is presumed killed, but the episode's end reveals that Freeze's head is missing from his frozen armor,[13][23] and as revealed in Batman Beyond, Freeze escapes with his life.[24][25]

Freeze has made numerous appearances in the comics set in the same universe. In Batman: Gotham Adventures issue #5 he was found shortly after the battle and back in action.[26] He has made further appearances in Batman Adventures. The comic's writers intended Batman Adventures #15 to be Mr. Freeze's final appearance. Though the issue's ending is ambiguous, it does set up for his eventual fate, as revealed in Batman Beyond.[27] Nora finally encounters Victor after her new husband is nearly killed by a robot he himself created in Freeze's image to attack him, hoping to prove to Nora that her first husband was a monster. The story ends with Mr. Freeze's head falling into a pond at the Arctic. Deleted material from the comic portrays Ferris Boyle and Grant Walker being killed by the Mr. Freeze robot. While the end of the story is left ambiguous, it was intended for Mr. Freeze to be taken by Powers Technology and put in storage. The company's owner, Warren Powers, father of Derek, a Batman Beyond' villain, states that the secret to immortality is locked inside that head.[27]

.[13]

In Batman Beyond, which is set 50 years in the future, Bruce Wayne still has one of Mr. Freeze's guns in the Batcave. His successor as Batman, Terry McGinnis, uses it to freeze Inque when she infiltrates the Batcave, and Inque destroys it in a later episode. The episode "Meltdown" reveals that the disembodied head of Victor Fries survives the events of "Cold Comfort"; thanks to the cryogenics technology, he now essentially possesses eternal life. Stephanie Lake, a doctor working for Derek Powers, uses Mr. Freeze as a test subject for a process she hoped would be able to cure Powers' mutation (suffered in the series' pilot episode). She creates a clone body for him and transfers Fries' mind into it. Given a normal life, Fries tries to right some of the wrongs he committed as a criminal. However, the new body soon begins to revert to the same sub-zero biology. Lake and Powers betray Fries when he returns to their lab for help, hoping to learn more from a biopsy. He escapes, recovers an old suit of sub-zero armor, and becomes Mr. Freeze again. He seeks revenge by killing Lake, freezing Powers, unintentionally revealing Powers' mutation into the villain Blight, and attempting to blow up a Wayne-Powers complex. Batman foils the plan while Freeze and Blight do battle. Freeze redeems himself by saving Batman from Blight, but apparently perishes when he refuses to escape the exploding complex with Batman.[24][25] He later appears in the second issue of the Batman Beyond comic, although the canonicity of the comic is debatable.

Mr. Freeze made two appearances in Justice League Adventures comics. In the first, he claims that Captain Cold has stolen his freeze gun design, but in the second they are working together, alongside other cold-based villains.[28] He never appeared in the Justice League animated series, but his freeze gun is used by the Thanagarian Kragger in the Batcave, as seen in the episode "Starcrossed". Kragger attempts to use it on Superman, who blows the freeze charge back, freezing Kragger instead.[29]

In the third season of the Flash series Gotham Girls, a new villain is introduced: Dora Smithy, Mr. Freeze's sister-in-law. She dons his freezing equipment in a quest to wipe out Gotham's supervillain, due to a misunderstanding that Mr. Freeze's actions killed her only sister. As a result, there is an emphasis on Mr. Freeze himself throughout the season, and he is discussed several times, although he never actually makes an appearance.

The Batman

Mr. Freeze in The Batman.

In The Batman, he is played by voice-actor Clancy Brown. Unlike other sources, this Freeze was not a former cryogenics expert, but a simple criminal who is condemned to life in a cryogenic suit after an accident in a cryogenics lab while being pursued by Batman after a jewelry heist.[9] The accident turns him into a being who generates extreme cold and is forced to wear a special suit to prevent him from freezing everything he comes in contact with.[16] In a later episode, Mr. Freeze teams up with Firefly to put Gotham in a permanent winter.[30] In "The Icy Depths", he competes against Penguin to claim an umbrella that is in fact a map to a sunken treasure.[31] He was hired by Lex Luthor (played by Clancy Brown), along with Black Mask, Clayface, and Bane to kidnap Lois Lane and use her as bait for Superman. Though Brown was on hand to reprise his role of Luthor from Superman: The Animated Series, Brown had no lines as Freeze. In the episode "Artifacts", set in 2027, Freeze's powers have increased to the point that he wears a special mecha suit. However, he loses an unhealthy amount of weight and becomes unable to walk, and now uses mechanical spider legs. After a near-death escape, Freeze places himself in cryogenic suspension, until someone wakes him up 1,000 years in the future in 3027. Once his suit is repaired, Mr. Freeze continues terrorizing Gotham. Eventually, law enforcement officers use methods saved for the future by Batman to defeat Freeze.[32]

In the Japanese dub of the series, Freeze is voiced by Tesshō Genda, who played Batman in the Japanese dub of Batman: The Animated Series.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Mr. Freeze appears in Batman: The Brave and the Bold with his Silver Age appearance and his original name Mr. Zero in episode "Legends of the Dark Mite!". Mr. Freeze later appears in "Chill of the Night!", with a design resembling his Filmation appearance.

Film

Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero

In the direct-to-video film Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero, Freeze is voiced by Michael Ansara. In the film he finds out that his wife needs an organ transplant, and uses Batgirl to get it. Mr. Freeze makes a deal with a greedy old colleague of his to help cure his wife in exchange for gold.[33]

Batman & Robin

Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin played by Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Mr. Freeze appears in Batman & Robin, played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The film features a largely campy interpretation of the character, although it includes the animated series version's tragic origin, but portrayed it as being a machinery accident. Throughout the movie, he spouts puns related to cold weather and temperatures (e.g., "You’re not sending me to the cooler!", "Allow me to break the ice", etc). The film's characterization of Mr. Freeze, as well as Schwarzenegger's performance, was largely criticized by critics, like the rest of the film.[34][35] Freeze's suit is given a complete redesign to make it distinctive from the animated series and comic book incarnations. The suit, as in the comics and animated representations, is depicted as giving Freeze enhanced strength. Interestingly, Freeze possesses a cure for an early infection of the same virus from which his wife suffers, which he gives to Batman upon being defeated, Batman having revealed that he saved Freeze's wife- I'vy having previously attempted to kill her and claim that Batman did it to win Freeze's assistance- and reminding Freeze that, while anyone can kill, only a few people like Victor Fries can legitimately save lives like he can save people from the virus.

Superman/Batman: Public Enemies

Mr. Freeze appears in this film trying to kill Superman, and meets up with his arch enemy Batman. He is seen with the cold warriors, (Icicle II, Killer Frost, and Captain Cold).

Video games

Mr. Freeze also appears in several Batman video games:

  • He is a boss in Batman: The Animated Series, The Adventures of Batman & Robin for the Sega Genesis (in which Freeze was the game's final boss).
  • Mr. Freeze appears in the video game adaptation of the movie Batman & Robin.
  • Mr. Freeze appears in Batman: Chaos in Gotham.
  • Mr. Freeze appears in Batman Vengeance, targeting a scientist named Isaac Evers, whom he blames for sending him a video promoting Prometheon gas in order to spite him, unaware that the real culprit was the Joker, who planned to use Freeze's invasion of the lab as a distraction for him to steal large quantities of the gas.
  • Mr. Freeze appears in Batman: Dark Tomorrow (the only game to feature the comic book version of Mr. Freeze, as all other games use the animated or movie version).[36][37][38] Michael Ansara reprised his role as Mr. Freeze for Batman Vengeance.[39]
  • He is also one of the main villains in the PC game Toxic Chill, in which Freeze pairs up with Riddler in an attempt to change the very weather of Gotham. He is eventually betrayed and nearly killed by Riddler, who sets off a volcanic eruption. Both are sent to Arkham Asylum, and are made cellmates. It is suggested that Freeze tortures Riddler in Arkham as revenge for his treachery.
Mr. Freeze and The Riddler in Lego Batman: The Video Game.
  • Mr. Freeze appears Lego Batman: The Video Game with his vocal effects provided by Ogie Banks. He appears as an enemy of Batman and a follower of the Riddler.[40] In it his design is based mainly on the animated series, and he uses his freeze gun to freeze enemies and water. The strength granted to him by his suit allows him to pick up objects others cannot.
  • Mr. Freeze's cell can be seen in the Penitentiary area of Batman: Arkham Asylum, which can be scanned to unlock his bio.

Dark Horse comic books

Mr. Freeze appears in the third Batman vs. Predator comic book, Blood Ties. His gang members are killed by the Predators, but he is spared since he is not visible to the Predator because of his body temperature.[41]

In Batman/Aliens 2, Mr. Freeze is not seen, but his freeze gun is used to destroy aliens, and an alien cloned from Fries' DNA can be seen.[42]

Merchandising

Mr. Freeze is also the name of two LIM roller coasters at two Six Flags parks (Six Flags St. Louis and Six Flags Over Texas).[43][44]

Lego's Batman line features two sets, The Batcave: The Penguin and Mr. Freeze's Invasion, which includes minifigure incarnations of Mr. Freeze, The Penguin, Batman, Robin, Alfred Pennyworth, Bruce Wayne, a henchman, and three henchmen. The second set, Batman's Buggy: The Escape of Mr. Freeze, includes minifigures of Mr. Freeze and Batman.

See also

References

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  2. ^ Mr. Freeze is Number 67
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  28. ^ Justice League Adventures #12
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  31. ^ "The Icy Depths". Anthony Chun, Steven Melching. The Batman. The CW. 2006-05-06. No. 38, season 3.
  32. ^ "Artifacts". Brandon Vietti, Greg Weisman. The Batman. The CW. 2007-02-03. No. 46, season 4.
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  42. ^ Edginton, Ian (w), Johnson, Staz (p), Hodgkins, James (i). Batman/Aliens 2 (2) (2003), DC Comics, Dark Horse, 84-7904-703-8
  43. ^ "Mr. Freeze: Six Flags, St. Louis". Six Flags. http://www.sixflags.com/stLouis/rides/MrFreeze.aspx. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 
  44. ^ "Mr. Freeze: Six Flags Over Texas". Six Flags. http://www.sixflags.com/overTexas/rides/MrFreeze.aspx. Retrieved 2008-05-10. 

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