Hey everyone! Welcome back, so cool of you to join me again in talking about ice-based DC super- villains. This time we talk about the cold-blooded Mr. Freeze. He’s probably our most famous of these frozen fiends as he’s been on TV (both live-action and animated), film (infamously so), and video games alongside his comic book appearances. In fact, his animated version from the 1990s may be the best rendition the character ever got. What did he use to be like before then? What’s he like now? Sit back, chill out, and read on!
When he first arrived in the comics he went by Mr. Zero but his appearance on TV would have him go by Mr. Freeze. This would be the first but not the last time that Mr. Freeze’s story would be changed by his television appearance. Originally a mad scientist who was transformed while trying to create a freeze ray that made it so he could only survive in freezing temperatures. Building a special suit with similar designs to his freeze ray allowed him to walk around freely without dying of heat. Mr. Freeze kept this gimmick of just being a mad scientist with ice in his veins until Batman: The Animated Series breathed new life into him.
Victor Fries was a molecular biologist with a wife named Nora. He was making breakthroughs in his field and they were happy together but we don’t read stories about people who are always happy. Nora got sick. The really bad kind where you spend a lot of time in the hospital wondering about things. Nora wasn’t going to live for very long but Victor had an idea. That sentence is chilling when you know the rest. I got to make a pun and be totally sincere, I should get a reward.
Using some experimental cryogenics he had been working on, Victor was able to freeze Nora so that he could find a cure for her illness. Something went wrong though, Victor got messed up real bad in the freezing process causing him to become a frozen man. Any temperature above freezing would cause him to burn in agony. Victor couldn’t let this hold him back, he had to save Nora, so he build himself a suit that allowed him to stay in a safe temperature.
All this stuff, you know, cryogenic freezing vats and refrigeration suits cost a lot of money to maintain. Victor used his know-how to make a freeze ray and decided that he needed to get more money or else he’d lose Nora, he’d die too but that was only a problem because then who could save Nora? Banks have a lot of money and are not usually prepped for dealing with men in armored refrigeration suits with freeze ray guns. You know who is ready for such people though? Batman and Robin. Freeze would fight Batman and his allies many times trying to get money and other materials to keep Nora alive or try and cure her.
Batman was not made of stone, he spends every night trying to save people. Batman and Freeze would team up on occasion, trying to save Nora and those with her illness. In fact, many have tried to rescue Nora Fries and those like her but none have succeeded. Sometimes being part of an ongoing story meant to go forever is a different tragedy altogether.
Victor would grow colder as it became years of having his wife imprisoned, sleeping in ice while he had to live in a frozen, waking hell. Unable to touch her, even if he could save her he’d never be able to touch her skin again without burning up, he’d probably be okay with that but she wouldn’t.
Usually I write here about the comics versions of the characters but the best Freeze was the Batman: The Animated Series, he had a story arc. So we’re going to take a look at him. When Freeze is locked away in Arkham Asylum, it’s the only place that can accommodate him a special freezer cell.
One time he was broken out of Arkham by a man with an idea for an underwater city to save those he felt worthy from the next apocalypse. Bioshock kept making me flashback to this episode of the cartoon. Freeze was asked to make this leader like himself, a frozen man. Freeze refused at first but the man knew he could get Freeze to do whatever he wanted if he could offer him the things he needed to try and save Nora. Freeze was willing to give the man what he wanted, a frozen body like his and the rest of the world frozen so he and his disciples could live in peace. Batman and Robin were able to convince Victor that if he did these things for her, let the world freeze, she’d never forgive him. Victor realized they were right but the machines made the place unstable and caused it to implode. Freeze and Nora were able to escape to the Arctic.
Living in a cave with Nora’s chamber, Victor leads a quiet life raising an Inuit boy named Kunac and two polar bears Victor has trained. Until a submarine unknowingly hits their cave, damaging Nora’s chamber. Desperate for help, Victor heads to Gotham to visit a scientist who may hold the key to restoring Nora before her chamber becomes to unstable to keep her alive. In Gotham, after kidnapping the scientist he learns that Barbara Gordon (Batgirl at the time) may be the closest match for the process necessary to save Nora.
Freeze goes on a rampage to get Barbara Gordon. While on vacation with Dick Grayson (Robin at the time) Victor attacks the restaurant they are at demanding she come forward. Barbara selflessly hands herself over, not wanting others to be hurt for her sake. Taking everyone to an abandoned oil rig, the best place to do experimental surgery. Batman and Robin arrive and the whole plan goes to hell with Barbara, Batman, and Robin rescuing Kunac and Nora while the polar bears save Victor unbeknownst to the rest. Back in the Arctic, Victor learns that Nora has been cured and is alive once more. Knowing that she is alive pleases him greatly. He broke his leg in the oil rig so he waits to heal before returning to Gotham.
When Victor finally arrives back in Gotham, he learns that Nora, believing he was dead from the explosion had remarried and left Gotham. On top of that, his condition was growing worse, by the time he was able to get any aide he was a living head strapped to mechanical limbs. Using a new suit that is more like a robot he controls, Victor was finally fed up with all life and was going to make Gotham pay for all his suffering. Batman was able to stop him but this would greatly reduce Batman’s sympathy with Victor.
In the possible future of the Batman Beyond series, it is learned that Victor’s head was put in storage staying frozen at his age. When the supervillain Blight was looking to cure his own condition of a radioactive body, he used Victor for an experimental procedure to transfer his consciousness to a new body. It worked, Victor was in a normal human body and desired to be a new man. The procedure was faulty though and soon his body reverted back to needing to be cold, he was also nearly killed by Blight’s people and thus took them out and nearly the whole building. Fighting Blight damages his old suit and the new Batman tries to save him but Freeze decides it’s best to let this all end and dies in the collapsing building. Before dying he let’s Terry McGuiness (the new Batman) know that with Batman attempting to save his life, he is the only one who cares about Victor’s life at this point.
Thus ends the story of animated Victor. In the comics, before the New 52, Victor had taken Nora to a Lazarus Pit, where she was revived. Since he didn’t wait for the chemicals to be prepared correctly Nora is revived with strange powers, because of course she does, of flame and reanimating the dead. She is twisted by the Lazarus’ effect and blames her husband for it all, she calls herself Lazara and Victor and Nora just can’t have nice things.
In the New 52, Victor is a sociopath that froze animals as a child. He had an ailing mother and tried to kill her but only made things worse for her and causes her to be nearly immobile and catatonic. He then succeeds in killing her by throwing her in a frozen lake. It also turns out that this Victor has no wife Nora, just a woman he thinks is his wife. This woman was the first successful cryogenically frozen patient and Victor became obsessed with her in his studies. I do not care for the New 52 Mr. Freeze.
That’s it. The tragic tale of a man frozen in life while his wife frozen in near-death. Never to truly be together and trapped away from the world. Maybe Victor could have been a superhero instead had he not taken to crime to try and save his beloved wife. Maybe he’d have the world and every superhero on his side and could have used that to get closer to saving her. There are a lot of maybes. The only thing we do know is that Mr. Freeze is one cool dude. Sorry, I couldn’t help but end this on a pun, even if it leaves my audience with a cold reaction to me.
(Batman: The Animated Series)
BTAS: Heart of Ice
BTAS: Deep Freeze
The New Batman Adventures: Cold Comfort
Batman & Mr. Freeze: Sub-Zero
Batman Beyond: Meltdown
Dr. Alexander Bustos