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Off My Mind: Why Mr. Freeze Needs to be Updated in "The New 52"

BATMAN writer Scott Snyder tells us why he wants to make Mr. Freeze a serious Batman villain.

When it comes to villains and rogues galleries, Batman has the best ones. They're extremely colorful and there is a wide variety in what motivates each of them. When DC Comics announced "The New 52," many were concerned with characters being rebooted. The fear was decades of history would be erased in order to make the comics easier for new readers.

There have been some changes seen but in the Batman universe, pretty much everything has remained intact. What many fail to remember, we have seen reboots and updates over the years. With the Golden Age, Silver Age and Crisis on Infinite Earths, there have been different versions of the DC characters.

Mr. Freeze is a good example. He has seen some changes over the years but never really had a definitive shining moment in comic books. When Mr. Freeze first appeared, he wasn't even called Mr. Freeze. His origin was simple but he never really had impressive motives. Later updated by Paul Dini in Batman: The Animated Series, this was the origin readers wanted. Yet there is still room to add a little more and "The New 52" is the perfect time to give him another update.

== TEASER ==

If you ask comic readers to give the definitive Mr. Freeze story, the answer will probably be "Heart of Ice" from the animated series. Mr. Freeze needs a big epic story/origin in comic books to elevate him even further among the Batman Villains. First, let's look at who he was.

Mr. Zero

When he first appeared in 1959's BATMAN #121, he called himself Mr. Zero. He was a scientist who developed an ice gun. An accident occurred and his freezing solution splashed on him. This made it that he could only breathe in the extreme cold. Luckily his lab also had a cold storage freezer. He later created an air-conditioned costume to "help [him] commit [his] crimes."

The origin might have been enough for the time but he never had a motive. It wasn't clear why he was building a freeze gun. It's possible he was a simple scientist trying to develop the freeze gun for altruistic purposes. Because there were thugs at his side when the accident happened, you have to wonder if his intentions were always geared towards crime. There was no mention of stealing in order to fund research to cure his condition. He actually was cured by Batman accidentally in this first appearance due to steam from a busted pipe.

Mr. Freeze

It seems Mr. Zero didn't make another appearance until 1968's DETECTIVE COMICS #373. No explanation was given to where he had been all this time besides being in a "deep freeze hideout." He was back and ready to make his debut with his new name, Mr. Freeze. His reason for coming out of retirement was simple. He wanted to steal a painting that was a "perfect representation of a winter wonderland.

Mr. Freeze was an ordinary criminal forced to live in a special suit. He used his invention to steal. That was his only motive.

"Heart of Ice"

It wasn't until 1992 in Batman: The Animated Series that Mr. Freeze was given an actual motivation besides just stealing for money.

Dr. Victor Fries was a molecular biologist. He created a cryogenic freezing chamber that was used to preserve his wife, Nora, who was suffering from an inoperable ailment. The hope was for her body (and others) to be preserved until a cure could be developed.

Fries had locked himself in the lab and was using the funding from the corporation he worked for. Despite funding being shut down, Fries caused the corporation to be $3 million dollars in debt. When security attempted to shut down his experiment, including the chamber, Fries was exposed to the chemicals and was transformed.

As Mr. Freeze, he was determined to find a way to save Nora.

Is That Enough?

Trying to save Nora gave him more of a motive. It gave him more depth instead of being a simple crook with a cold gun. There still weren't any truly great Mr. Freeze stories. With all his appearances, he doesn't really have an epic, stand out story in comics. And why does he keep getting sent to Arkham Asylum? Does being obsessed with saving his wife make him insane?

Now is the time for a change. He doesn't need to be radically changed and shouldn't be completely altered. But with some changes occurring in "The New 52," now is the perfect time.

DC Comics has announced BATMAN ANNUAL #1 for May and it's said to "introduce Mr. Freeze into the 'New 52.'"

The first thought again could be one of fear. Should Mr. Freeze be altered? Is DC going to make changes just for change's sake? They haven't so far. But Mr. Freeze needs more of a motivation besides just trying to save his wife. He never did and I don't consider throwing her in a Lazarus Pit and transforming her into Lazara counts. I've blocked that from my memory.

Scott Snyder's Take on Mr. Freeze

Because BATMAN writer, Scott Snyder, is involved, that should restore our confidence in the Annual. When asked about Mr. Freeze in the "New 52," this is what Scott told Comic Vine:

I love Mr. Freeze, but my favorite stories with him are actually from the animated series. "Heart of Ice," Sub-Zero, Batman Beyond... In comics, there are stories I love with him in them, like the opening arc of GOTHAM CENTRAL, but for the most part, I feel like he's been more like one of the rogues than a singular frightening villain. So what we wanted to do here, James Tynion IV, Jay Fabok and I, was to take our favorite iterations of Mr. Freeze and build on them here, sort of use them as a foundation for a version that wouldn't tread on what came before so much as expand the mythology and history of the character - in ways that'll be both comforting and surprising at times to readers old and new. My feeling is that he needs to be scary - someone with that tragedy and sadness through Nora - but also someone obsessed, someone deeply disturbed, someone downright fucking terrifying to meet. I really hope you all enjoy our version as much as we've enjoyed creating his story.

That sounds good to me. Mr. Freeze should be scary. We can look forward to the change in May. But for as much enthusiasm and creativity Snyder will put into Mr. Freeze to make his scary. Nothing could ever be as scary as this:

85 Comments
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Posted by InnerVenom123

So, Snyder knows what he's doing, and has awesome stuff planned.

In other news: the sky is blue.

Posted by WildValentine
@InnerVenom123 said:

So, Snyder knows what he's doing, and has awesome stuff planned.

In other news: the sky is blue.

Genius. Pure genius. xD
 
I swear Scott Snyder isn't human. The things he is doing with his Batman run is just beyond human belief.
Posted by Mediumflyer7

Interesting article. Your right. its time for change

Posted by Mr_riddler

Giffen, give me strenght.

Edited by InnerVenom123

One thing (and it's the ONLY thing) I despise about Arkham City is that they changed Freeze's backstory a bit. And it was generic and awful.

They literally made it so that, as a kid, Mr. Freeze froze his neighbors' pets.

Let that sink in.

He froze. His neighbors'. Pets.

I really wish I was making this up.

Posted by leokearon

Mr Freeze is sent to Arkham, not beacuse he's insane, but Arkham is the only place which has a cell specially designed for his unique physical condition

Posted by Ganthetsward20

I just hope he becomes evil for the sake of being evil he's smart and if they move that pillar or ice that's his wife out of the picture they have something to work with. He is my favorite Ice based characters that includes heroes and villains! But they make him so lame, I love the way he articulates his sentences I can connect to him but If he didn't do that I guess he wouldn't really be insane and just a criminal.

Edited by DarthShap

@InnerVenom123:

Actually, if I remember it correctly, Dini invented that in his very VERY disappointing "prestige" one-shot Batman: Mr. Freeze which was supposed to just translate what had be done in Heart of Ice to comics but because this was the 90's and all, Dini overdid it and it saddens me to say that the result is a failure, especially in comparison to the original which really did not need any modification.

http://www.comicvine.com/batman-mr-freeze-mr-freeze/37-217408/

Posted by TDK_1997

I believe that Snyder will make a wonderful take on Mr. Freeze in the New 52(I hope so because he is one of my favorite villains).

Posted by SilentButcher

I''m looking forward to this annual quite a bit. Mr. Freeze has been one of my favorite Batman villains since seeing him on Batman: The Animated Series as a kid. Like Snyder, I think his best stories are confined to the animated series though. So naturally, I'm very interested to see what Snyder does with him.

Posted by RUSTMAN

Awesome! My favourite Bat-villain, my current favourite writer - May can't come quickly enough...

Posted by goldenkey

I couldn't agree more with this article. Speaking of "Hear of Ice" it might be the single best episode from the best cartoon ever.

Posted by Lokheit

I didn't remember Bane on that film! O.O

Posted by InnerVenom123

@DarthShap: Either way, it sucks. Hard.

Posted by Chaos Burn

@InnerVenom123: that was an excellent detail! lots of serial killers start of killing pets and such.... Jeffrey Dahmer used to 'experiment' on his pets by killing them, dissecting them and then using chemicals on their corpses - makes Mr. Freeze psychologically deep and legit as a criminal

Posted by Jonny_Anonymous

Oh god G-Man, why did you post that video, for the love of god, why?

Online
Posted by SavageDragon

What killed the Dinosaurs? The Ice Age!! ahahahaha

Posted by InnerVenom123

@Chaos Burn said:

@InnerVenom123: that was an excellent detail! lots of serial killers start of killing pets and such.... Jeffrey Dahmer used to 'experiment' on his pets by killing them, dissecting them and then using chemicals on their corpses - makes Mr. Freeze psychologically deep and legit as a criminal

That'd be all well and good if Mr. Freeze was a regular psychopath like other Batman villains.

But Mr. Freeze is best as a tragic villain. He's not supposed to be insane or bad until Nora is frozen, and then he only does what he does for her.

Posted by garrison12795

Please, Scott Snyder, please do something with the Riddler.

...Please?

Posted by DarthShap

@InnerVenom123 said:

@Chaos Burn said:

@InnerVenom123: that was an excellent detail! lots of serial killers start of killing pets and such.... Jeffrey Dahmer used to 'experiment' on his pets by killing them, dissecting them and then using chemicals on their corpses - makes Mr. Freeze psychologically deep and legit as a criminal

That'd be all well and good if Mr. Freeze was a regular psychopath like other Batman villains.

But Mr. Freeze is best as a tragic villain. He's not supposed to be insane or bad until Nora is frozen, and then he only does what he does for her.

@InnerVenom123 said:

@DarthShap: Either way, it sucks. Hard.

Agreed. Heart of Ice is just as close as it gets to perfect. It is Mr. Freeze's Year One, no need to rewrite it.

And supervillains losing their mind after a tragedy (such as the Joker, Two-Face and Mr. Freeze), "a bad day", as the Joker best put it in The Killing Joke, really make sense opposite to Batman, for obvious reasons.

Posted by Deranged Midget

Nice.

Props for posing the Schwarzy quotes, best part of that movie!

Moderator
Posted by NightFang

@InnerVenom123: I kind of like what they did with Mr. Freeze backstroy.

Posted by InnerVenom123

@NightFang said:

@InnerVenom123: I kind of like what they did with Mr. Freeze backstroy.

Why? Adding in childhood animal cruelty doesn't fit.

Posted by Chaos Burn

@InnerVenom123:i know he isn't a psycopathic killer, and more of a tragic villain, But there is something in the experimenting of his pets which confirms (to me) that he isn't simply a lovelorn man with a freeze gun, but someone actually willing to kill and do what ever is neccessary for his own causes

Posted by InnerVenom123

@Chaos Burn said:

@InnerVenom123:i know he isn't a psycopathic killer, and more of a tragic villain, But there is something in the experimenting of his pets which confirms (to me) that he isn't simply a lovelorn man with a freeze gun, but someone actually willing to kill and do what ever is neccessary for his own causes

That's why I think it's unnecessary. He had no "cause" with the animals. He was just doing it because he could, and they were sick. I mean, they weren't even HIS animals. If they were his, that'd be an entirely different story. Heck, I might have even liked that. But they weren't his.

That's not a tragic villain in the making, that's an entirely different beast.

Posted by Chaos Burn

@InnerVenom123: the fact that they're other peoples pets means (again, to me) that he doesn't have any qualms about doing what he wants, and feels he needs to, again relating to his determination to revive Nora. It makes sense that he would become someone willing to kill and overpower innocents to get what he needs if he had a past of simply doing what he feels justified to do, like with other peoples pets.

Just spitballing, I think your opinion is just as valid as mine - thats what makes these deeper characters more interesting!

Posted by InnerVenom123

@Chaos Burn: I'd agree with that analysis if the pets were his. But they're not. So, yeah.

Posted by NightFang

@InnerVenom123 said:

@NightFang said:

@InnerVenom123: I kind of like what they did with Mr. Freeze backstroy.

Why? Adding in childhood animal cruelty doesn't fit.

From how Freeze told the story he wasn't hurting animals out of cruelty, but understanding and thought he could repair them like he's now trying to do with Nora.

Posted by InnerVenom123

@NightFang: Eh. Still don't think he should have been doing that till Nora.

Posted by pingclang

This excites me to no end. I hope they do him justice and really make him a villain to be feared. Freeze and Scarecrow are my favorite rogues and seeing him take off as a serious threat and a far deeper character makes me very happy.

Posted by Outside_85

I am looking forwards to it, and I suppose it's true it does seem odd that Mr. Freezes shining moment is not in comics but in an animated series that more or less reinvented the character.

Funny thing, saw a newpaper back story (not sure if it was recent or not) but there was this picture of Arnold and Stallone lying next to each other in a hospital because they had both injured themselves during shooting of different movies (I think, didnt read the article).

Btw G-Man, it debatable if DC is changing stuff that didn't need to be changed...I know I have my frustrations over some changes i didn't want and I know others have theirs as well. While probably true, some changes were needed to improve otherwise declining sales, but I just wonder if ripping off arms and legs of the given book/character constitutes as justified when they could just have created something new to fill that particular slot.

Edited by fodigg

In my mind there are two modern motivations Mr. Freeze besides just "stealing": the sympathetic one, saving his wife, and the ugly one, he's a horrible sadist (from the pages of GCPD). I think they should merge them. He's obsessed with saving his wife, but his wife doesn't have an "ailment," she's tried to kill herself because he was such a horrible, sadistic freak toward her.

This would kind of be like the "Big Harv" explanation for Two-Face, where the villain was showing signs of their true nature before the event that drove them fully into their--what would the word be, psychosis?

Posted by LordRequiem

I think his suit could do with a bit of a change. His Arkham City design was absolutely brilliant., and the fact he wasn't inherently evil made more sense than him being bad for little reason. Those puns from Batman & Robin are some of the best written lines ever! Case in point, we all remember them!

Let's kick some ice!

Posted by capfan80

G-MAN! That video. Camp... levels... rising. Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!

Posted by mikeclark1982

if you remember his "heart of ice" origin, now that i am older it reminds me a lot of the same thing which happened with quantum leap. he was losing funding for a project but when they were coming to close the project he subjected himself to the project.... to irreversible results.

anyone else feel that way?

Posted by CitizenJP

Well, I think after that video, I've had about enough ice puns for a good while. Worth it though.

Posted by JonesDeini

@InnerVenom123 said:

So, Snyder knows what he's doing, and has awesome stuff planned.

In other news: the sky is blue.

Spot on lol...And is it possible to avoid having to see that "interview" in Arkham City? Because that's terrible lol

Posted by eatmore_payless

they should make freezes' appearance look like Arnolds

Posted by The_Peter_Cosmic

@eatmore_payless said:

they should make freezes' appearance look like Arnolds

No, just no.

Posted by Dedpool

Yeah Frreze's best moments were all those mentioned by Snyder. I epsecially like the batman beyond episode.

Posted by Emperormeister734

I'm ready for the changes for my favorite Villain. My question is will he be trying to save his wife?

Posted by RiddlingGambit

The most disturbing Mr. Freeze story in my opinion was "Cold Comfort", where Mr. Freeze lost his real body and was just a head mounted to robotic legs that would attach to his suit. Nora had married someone else & left Gotham & Mr. Freeze completely lost his humanity & victimized random people by destroying that which they cared about the most, just so he could see them experience great loss. Now that's the Mr. Freeze I'd like to see. The problem I have with stories like "Heart of Ice" (as fine a production it was) is the insistence that an individual can simultaneously be a good person & a villain. That angle almost makes Mr. Freeze's personality more dual than Two-Face's, and makes Freeze not that scary. Freeze should have a tragic origin, but he shouldn't be relegated as a tragic figure always - he's Mr. Freeze, not Mr. Softee - he has to commit crimes that makes us, the reader/viewer, question our sympathy for him. Snyder may be great, but his best Batman stories so far have villains he made (James Gordon Jr. & the court of Owls). We'll see how he deals with Mr. Freeze. I'm a little surprised Snyder liked Sub-Zero. It was my least favorite DCAU movie. Also, the hilarious freeze puns of Batman & Robin will never go away, no matter how many serious Mr. Freeze stories there are. :)

Posted by Lvenger

Looking forward to whatever Snyder has planned for Mr Freeze. Snyder's a brilliant, creative writer so when it comes to characterisation, Freeze should get his 'just desserts' :P

Posted by AMP - Seeker of Lost Knowledge

I can not wait to see Mr. Freeze....he's one of my favorite villains...I only hope that some the animated versions of him remain the same in the comics...as well as Nora.

Posted by Doctor!!!!!

Mr.Freeze should go all Punisher on everyone, but with a freeze gun, cause that would be awesome!

Posted by ChaosAgentLoki

@SilentButcher: I can agree with you on that. The Animated Series gave so much to Batman. It's probably defined the character for many and I still go back to it when I want pure awesome Batman. Anyways, it'll be very interesting to see what Snyder does with this character.

Posted by Mumbles

mr.freeze is great. i think he is one of the best villians batman has.the batman & robin movie made him a joke.

Posted by cobra88king8

Thinking back I really don't remember any good freeze stories from the comics. If anyone can make freeze scare me it's Snyder

Posted by Red Rum

Freeze's suit in Arkham City is much more plausible and functional-looking, with an astronaut-style helmet instead of just a glass dome. He also installed sub-dermal system that can keep him alive (though barely) outside his suit or outside cold areas.

Usually when I talk about rebooting Mr. Freeze, I mention an idea for a more realistic version of him for Christopher Nolan's Batfilms, but I may have talked too much about it in the past. If you want to know, just ask.

Posted by The Impersonator

@Mediumflyer7 said:

Interesting article. Your right. its time for change
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