In preparation for the release of Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, we are celebrating the rich history of DC Comics by detailing their characters’ history and legacy through animation. In something we’re calling, The DC Animated Chronicles.
We’ve gone through Phase I of this project which looked at the origins of our favorite heroes. For Phase II, we learn that a hero is only as good as the enemies they face. Unlike the heroes though, most villains don’t get these multiple episode arcs nor standalone films to tell their origins. Instead, it is usually told in contrast to the hero’s tale.
Much like the hero’s origins though, we’re kicking this Phase off with what many may consider the best villain’s origins outside of comics, the Batman: The Animated Series’ origins of Mr. Freeze, Heart Of Ice.
Mr. Freeze, thirsting for revenge against the sleazy CEO who destroyed his life, begins to steal various equipment from GothCorp. Batman’s sympathy is with Freeze, but first he has to stop him from using the equipment to destroy a building filled with innocent people in order to carry out his vendetta.
It is considered one of the finest episodes of Batman: TAS, and for good reason. More than 20 years later, the episode still holds up and packs a ton of emotional punches in just over 20 minutes.
The episode is also one of the finest episodes of taking a relatively obscure character, Mr. Freeze, and turning him into perhaps one of Batman’s most iconic foes. I’m fairly certain this episode, for better or worse, was responsible for Mr. Freeze being part of the Batman & Robin movie…
Anyhow, this episode, as noted early, works because at its core it isn’t about good (Batman) vs evil (Mr. Freeze), and truth be told Freeze isn’t a villain in this. He is a victim. A victim who is given power to exact revenge, and goes too far for it. Attempting to make some of the villains sympathetic was the biggest strength of the animated series. Not only did we care for them as characters, but it also made Batman a better character. He would defeat them but still try to get them the help they needed at the end.
Mr. Freeze is given a lovely chilled cell at the end, and a wonderful snowglobe!
This episode is full of great moments and expressions. And the entire origins of Mr. Freeze is so memorable, it became his accepted one.
But for me, the coolest part (no pun, I promise) of the episode is the animated opening how the credits fade into the opening of the episode is wonderful.
You won’t be left in the cold too long. The DC Animated Chronicles returns with another Batman:TAS episode looking at Bane!