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Mister Freeze
Mr. Freeze
Publication Information
First appearance Batman #121
Story: "The Ice Crimes of Mr. Zero!"
Created by Dave W. Reed
Sheldon Moldoff
Origin Batman #121
Legends of the Dark Knight #121
Countdown to Final Crisis #5
Biographical Information
True Identity Victor Fries
Hair Bald
Eyes Blue
Height 6'0"
Weight 190 lbs
Skin color Icy white
Gender Male
Affiliations Secret Society of Supervillains
Partner(s) Black Mask (former)
Known alias(es) Mr. Zero
Abilities Expert in cryogenics
Wields a "cold gun" capable of
encasing anything in ice
Wears a "cold suit" that
gives him increased strength and durability
Arch-nemesis Batman

Mr. Freeze (Dr. Victor Fries) is a fictional character, a DC Comics supervillain. Created by Bob Kane and Sheldon Moldoff, the character first appeared in Batman #121 (February 1959) as "Mr. Zero".

Publication HistoryEdit

"Mr. Zero" initially started off as one of the Caped Crusader's dozens of "gimmick" villains, possessing little depth to his character. It was the 1960s live-action Batman TV show that revived the character, renaming him "Mr. Freeze" and giving him a closer link to Batman (making it so that it had been Batman who spilled the cryogenic chemicals on "Dr. Schimmell" - Freeze's past self).

Though Freeze's character was revived, his popularity levels remained lukewarm, and the character was eventually killed off by The Joker [1]. Around the same time, however, the landmark cartoon Batman: The Animated Series had boosted the character's popularity to unimaginable heights with the Emmy-award winning episode "Heart of Ice", adding a sense of tragedy to Freeze's character. As a result, the character's death was ret-conned [2], and his tragic backstory was quickly adapted into the comics themselves.

Fiction Character BiographyEdit

OriginEdit

Pre-CrisisEdit

Originally, "Mr. Zero's" condition came about from an ice gun that he had been inventing; upon spilling some chemicals used in the gun's freezing gas onto himself, the inventor became unable to breathe or survive outside of a sub-zero environment. The inventor, furious at a world that shunned him for being different, and at the lack of effort made to help him return to society, donned the name of Mr. Zero and became a criminal that wielded a "cryo-thermal gun".

Post-CrisisEdit

Even after the groundbreaking limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths took place and re-established the history of the DC Universe, Freeze's backstory, abilities, and personality remained relatively unchanged. It was Paul Dini's 1997 one-shot comic Batman: Mr. Freeze that finally gave Freeze an entirely new backstory, largely adapted from the critically-acclaimed 1992 cartoon Batman: The Animated Series, but with several changes.

The one-shot changed the pre-transformation Freeze's name to Victor Fries (keeping in line with the cartoon), but also added the element of Fries having been a boy who grew up in a wealthy but strict household. As a boy, Victor was painfully introverted, and was possessed of the disturbing hobby of freezing his pets in ice cubes. Victor's parents, horrified, called in a psychiatrist to examine him, and were informed that Victor's actions were probably a result of the constant pressure that they put upon him to live up to their expectations.

Victor was eventually sent away to a strict boarding school where he was harassed by teachers and students alike, and, to add insult to injury, learned during winter break that his parents had disowned him, seeing him as a failure and an embarrassment. It was at that very boarding school, however, that Victor met his beloved Nora, who, despite being the school's top athlete, took interest in Victor and often ice-skated with him. A year after the two had met, they were married, and Victor took a job as a science teacher, though with an increasing interest in the science of cryogenics.

Tragedy, however, soon struck the happy couple. Two years after their marriage, Nora fell victim to a rare form of cancer, which, while treatable, would require an enormous amount of money to cure. Desperate to heal Nora, Victor joined the soulless business corporation GothCorp, the only corporation for whom such a price was not out of the question. Eventually, Victor's dream appeared to be within reach, as he had began to develop a special cryogenic chamber that could be used to heal the sick. Before the chambers could be mass-produced, however, tragedy struck again - Nora's condition was worsening, and she would probably die before the money was raised.

Seeing no other choice, Victor placed Nora in his experimental chamber, hoping to stall the progress of the cancer until he raised the money to cure it. A month later, however, Ferris Boyle, GothCorp's president, shut down the operation, as it was frighteningly over budget and had already made him lose millions. Victor, of course, refused to allow Boyle to shut down Nora's cryogenic chamber without a fight, and in the ensuing struggle, one of the other chambers were shattered, and the coolant inside spilled onto him. The heartless Boyle left Victor for dead, but in reality, he had survived, and spent a year building his new identity as Mr. Freeze (ironically, Nora's chamber had survived the ordeal, and Boyle had had it placed into cold storage, hoping to make some sort of profit from it).

As Mr. Freeze, Victor wasted no time in hunting down each of Boyle's GothCorp cronies, using a special flash-freezing cannon to kill each one. These murders attracted the attentions of the police, as well as Batman, the latter of whom eventually tracked Freeze to the GothCorp cellar where Nora's capsule was stored. Freeze, who had cornered Boyle in the cellar for his final kill, was interrupted by Batman, and in the ensuing fight, his ice gun inadvertently shattered Nora's chamber, killing her. A despairing Freeze made good on his promise to kill Boyle, but also vowed revenge on Batman himself, devoting his life from that point on to taking away the things that the Dark Knight himself held the closest.

Criminal CareerEdit

Pre-CrisisEdit

Utilizing his "cryo-thermal gun", Mr. Zero made his criminal debut in Gotham by robbing diamonds from a jewelry store. From there, he robbed a visiting princess of her diamonds, all of which he stashed in a secret hideout in the mountains that was kept refrigerated. During these robberies, Mr. Zero came into conflict with Batman and Robin several times, and was eventually able to get the upper hand on the Dynamic Duo, using his "cryo-thermal gun" to trap them into blocks of ice as his "trophies". The Caped Crusaders, however, were able to escape by smashing a steam pipe, causing their icy prisons to melt (and, incidentally, curing Mr. Zero of his breathing problems in sub-zero temperatures). Subsequently, Mr. Zero was sent to prison. [3]

Mr. Zero later returned with the new alias of "Mr. Freeze", having inexplicably regained his unique metabolism. This time around, he schemes to steal a rare painting known as the "Winter Wonderland", but unknown to him, Batman and Robin are in need of his cryothermal gun to save a dying Aunt Harriet. Despite carrying a spare cryothermal gun and encasing Batman in ice, Freeze is still defeated at the end, and the technology in his gun proves to be instrumental in Aunt Harriet's operation.

The cold-themed criminal would return to bedevil the Caped Crusader again and again throughout the Silver Age of comic books, sometimes in tandem with other supervillains. For instance, when The Joker called for an assembly of Batman's various enemies to discuss the growing threat of newcomer criminal Killer Croc, Freeze attended, and attacked Talia al-Ghul when the latter proclaimed that she would not follow The Joker's plan to kill Batman before Croc does. Unfortunately, Freeze's cold gun was no match for Talia's reflexes, resulting in him accidentally freezing (and possibly killing) fellow rogue Captain Stingaree instead. [4]

Post-CrisisEdit

As Freeze's new backstory was not incorporated into the comics until roughly a decade after Crisis on Infinite Earths had reestablished much of the DC Universe's history, many of his early Post-Crisis appearances still depicted him as a mere ice and cold-themed criminal. Paul Dini's Batman: Mr. Freeze one-shot, however, established that Freeze's first crimes were the murders of several GothCorp cronies.

The aforementioned murder at the hands of The Joker came after Freeze had taken over The Joker's gang, much to the Ace of Knaves' annoyance. Later on, however, Freeze comes back to life, revealing that his suit's "fail-safe" had kicked in once The Joker had penetrated his protective helmet, freezing him solid as to prevent his body from overheating and shutting down. Freeze's "revival" took place during the "Knightquest" arc (itself a part of the "Knightfall" crossover event), and as a result, he was greeted not by the original Bruce Wayne Batman, but by the Jean-Paul Valley Batman instead. Jean-Paul, much less tactful toward criminals, beat Freeze within an inch of his life, and was only stopped from killing him with the intervention of Detective Renee Montoya.

During the 1995 Underworld Unleashed mini-series, he barters his soul to the arch-demon Neron in exchange for the ability to generate blasts of cold without any equipment. He, however, is still defeated by Green Lanter Kyle Rayner and Donna Troy (a Darkstar at the time). [5]

Subsequently, Freeze returned to Gotham, no longer possessing his demonic powers but armed with a new refrigerated suit and wrist-mounted cold gun. Here, he attempted to convince several elderly millionaires into paying him in exchange for cryogenically freezing them until science "eradicates disease and reverses aging". Sadly, all of his "clients" reject the offer, prompting Freeze to come after them, forcibly freeze them, and steal their possessions instead. Batman, as always, stops him, but not before he has killed four people. [6]

During the "No Man's Land" crossover event of the late 1990s, Freeze, like most of the Arkham escapees, chooses to stay in the earthquake-ravaged Gotham. Taking advantage of the lawlessness, he gathers a gang of his own and attempts to take the power plant hostage, intending to cut off the little remaining electricity if his demands are not met. Superman, however, intervenes, and after a brief fight, informs Freeze that he is to keep watch over the power grid, and that if anything else happens, he would come again. [7]

After Superman admits that he will do more harm than good in the ravaged Gotham and leaves, Freeze goes back on his word and overtakes the power plant, building an ice castle next to it to live in. Using the power plant as a bargaining chip, he gains control of the Ghost Dragons street gang, and uses them to take priceless antiques from Gotham to use as fuel, thus gaining revenge on Batman by making a mockery out of the law and order that he so upheld in the city. Batman eventually confronts Freeze, and though Freeze defeats him in combat, his ice castle is destroyed by an explosion from the power plant, which Batman had set in place earlier. [8]

Powers and AbilitiesEdit

Even before his transformation, the man who would become Freeze was an expert inventor and scientist, having created his trademark weapon all by himself. As later stories showed, he was especially talented in the field of cryogenics, and developed the first successful cryogenic chamber.

Though physically unremarkable (and, in fact, usually in danger of dying) without his refrigerated suit, Freeze is often depicted with tremendous strength while wearing it. Thus, he is one of the few members of Batman's rogues gallery who actually presents a physical challenge.

After bartering his soul to Neron, Freeze gained the ability to survive without his suit, and to generate his cold powers by himself (much like the villainess Killer Frost). Using these powers, he became a match for the Kyle Rayner Green Lantern, and would have killed both him and Donna Troy had it not been for the appearance of another man who had sold his soul to Neron, and thus was compelled to kill Kyle. The distraction allowed Kyle to defeat both.

ParaphernaliaEdit

Originally, "Mr. Zero's" gun was a "cryothermal" gun - it could shoot not only ice, but fire as well, sometimes simultaneously. With this function, Mr. Zero was able to easily break down heavy doors by freezing them solid, then rapidly heating them. Both components of the gun were deadly, as they could flash-freeze a person within seconds. The size of the gun has varied from incarnation to incarnation, starting out as the size (and shape) of a tea kettle, but evolving into a fire-hose-like weapon connected to a backpack filled with chemicals in its second appearance.

By the 1980s, the gun had become the size of a handgun, though still sometimes attached to Freeze's suit. Freeze could normally "shape" the ice that shot out of it, making it bind only the opponent's hands and feet like handcuffs.

Post-Crisis, the gun's size has varied wildly, from the aforementioned "handgun size" to the size of a rocket launcher. With it, Freeze was briefly able to hold his own against Superman during the "No Man's Land" arc.

CharacterEdit

As mentioned several times before, Freeze was merely a two-dimensional "mad scientist"/jewel thief archetype in his appearances during the Silver Age and a portion of the Modern Age of comic books. After Paul Dini had reestablished the character's new backstory and motives, however, Freeze became more of a tragic character, driven by love for his wife Nora, which has been corrupted into vengeance toward the Dark Knight.

As a result, Freeze rarely commits crimes solely for monetary gain. Instead, he often aims to destroy the things that Batman holds dearest (be it Gotham City of his sidekick Robin), believing it to be a justified action for the damage that Batman has wreaked on his life. As Dini's aforementioned one-shot revealed, with his wife dead, the only thing driving Freeze to continue living is his lust for revenge against Batman.

Relationship with The JokerEdit

Freeze has not interacted much with the Ace of Knaves, though what little interaction between the two (mostly shown in the Robin II: The Joker's Wild limited series) displays a mutual loathing between the two. The Joker, in fact, refers to Freeze as a "second-rate Captain Cold" at one point, seconds before killing him.

Upon being "revived" during the "Knightquest" arc, Freeze refers to The Joker as a "grinning idiot".

Other IncarnationsEdit

Live-ActionEdit

1966 Television SeriesEdit

Mr. Freeze (Batman 1966)

From left to right: Sanders, Preminger, Wallach.

Freeze largely owed his revival during the Silver Age to the campy live-action Batman television series of the 1960s, which gave him his new alias, as well a stronger association with Batman. More specifically, the show established that it had been Batman who had knocked "Dr. Schivel" (Freeze's former name) into the chemicals that gave him his current state.

Throughout the show's three-season run, Freeze appeared three times, each time played by a different actor: George Sanders in his first appearance, Otto Preminger in his second, and Eli Wallach in his third.

Batman & RobinEdit

The 1997 film Batman & Robin cast (in)famous actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in the role of Freeze, one of the story's three antagonists (the other two being Poison Ivy and Bane). Here, Mr. Freeze was a cross between the campy, pun-spouting villain in the original 1960s TV show and the tragic, tortured character from the 1992 cartoon Batman: The Animated Series. Throughout the course of the film, Freeze constantly butts heads with Batman and Robin, as he steals diamonds in order to power his sub-zero suit and to raise money for a cure to save his dying wife Nora. Though Freeze is captured about halfway through the film and sent to Arkham Asylum, he is broken out again by Poison Ivy and Bane, who offer to team up with him.

During the shaky partnership, however, Ivy unplugs the cryogenic chamber keeping Nora alive, stating that "This is a one-woman show", and blames the incident on Batman. A vengeful Freeze, believing that Nora is dead, creates a powerful freezing cannon, intending to use it to destroy Gotham and the world, but is stopped once again by Batman and Robin, as well as the newly-created crimefighter Barbara Pennyworth, AKA Batgirl. After he is defeated, Freeze learns that his wife is still alive (though in stasis), and that Ivy had been responsible. In order to atone for his crimes, Freeze gives the cure to his wife's disease (MacGregor's Syndrome) to Batman so that he can use it to save Alfred, who is suffering from the same disease. Afterward, Freeze is returned to Arkham, where he shares a cell with Poison Ivy (whom he is implied to heavily beat).

Schwarzenegger's performance was largely panned by critics, and often said to be the film's main failing point. The character's constant spouting of ice- and cold-related puns was found to be especially grating for some moviegoers, especially in tandem with such a serious and tragic backstory for the character.

FootnotesEdit

  1. Robin II: The Joker's Wild #1
  2. Detective Comics #670
  3. Batman #121
  4. Detective Comics #526
  5. Green Lantern Volume 3 #68
  6. Detective Comics #525
  7. Batman #566
  8. Legends of the Dark Knight #121

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