"Heart of Ice"
Batman: The Animated Series episode
Episode no.Season 1
Episode 14
Directed byBruce Timm
Written byPaul Dini
Original air dateSeptember 7, 1992
Guest appearances
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"Heart of Ice" is the fourteenth episode of the American animated television series Batman: The Animated Series, first aired on September 7, 1992, written by Paul Dini, and directed by Bruce Timm. This episode features the first appearance in the series of Mr. Freeze. In the comics, Freeze first appeared in Batman #121 in February 1959, with this episode providing a complete overhaul of his character, going from laughing stock to tragic villain.[1] The episode also introduces Freeze's wife Nora Fries and his motivation to find a cure for her terminal illness, both of which were later carried over to the comic books.

"Heart of Ice" helped to rocket the series to fame, after it won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Writing in an Animated Program.[2]

Plot summary

Mr. Freeze, as he appears in the episode.
Mr. Freeze, as he appears in the episode.

Batman (Kevin Conroy) follows a strange trail of heists pulled at various GothCorp offices, all by the same man: Mr. Freeze (Michael Ansara), a strange figure clad in a powerful suit and armed with what seems to be a "freezing gun", a weapon that fires a beam capable of freezing anything into sheets of ice. Batman pieces together the stolen items and discovers what the mysterious man is building with them: a massive cannon capable of casting a magnified ice beam, and that it is complete save for a single vital piece of equipment from GothCorp. Acting rapidly, he arrives at the GothCorp offices in time to engage Mr. Freeze, only to be partially frozen under a sheet of ice; as Freeze and his henchmen escape, he orders they leave behind one of their own, his legs accidentally frozen by Freeze's weapon. Batman chooses to help the man rather than chase Freeze.

After using a special chemical bath to revive the man and melt the ice covering his legs, Batman (who has himself developed a cold from the encounter) visits GothCorp's CEO Ferris Boyle (Mark Hamill) as Bruce Wayne, hoping to learn from him who might have a grudge against the company. Boyle says the only person he can think of is dead: a former research scientist employed by the company whose funding was cut, and later apparently died in a laboratory accident. Later that night, during a dinner where Boyle is to be presented with a humanitarian prize, Batman sneaks into the GothCorp security offices, and looking through files, finds a tape from the accident. On the tape, a cryogenics scientist for GothCorp, Victor Fries, is using the tape to record an experiment, in which he has placed his terminally ill wife Nora in cryogenic stasis until he can find a cure for her condition. Boyle arrives and orders the experiment to be ended, exclaiming it is unauthorized as he shut down the project for draining his company's funds, and ignores Fries' warning that turning off the equipment keeping Nora in stasis at that point would essentially sentence her to death. Fries begs for Boyle to not do this, but Boyle callously refuses, and in the ensuring scuffle kicks Fries into a table of cryonic chemicals. As a horrified Batman watches the tape, Mr. Freeze (now revealed to be Fries himself having survived the accident) sneaks up behind him and captures him with his cold gun. Freeze confirms to Batman the accident left him unable to live outside of a sub-zero condition. Batman tries to reason with Freeze over how Freeze intends to destroy the man who ruined his life, even if anyone else gets killed in the process, but Freeze refuses to give up his plan.

Leaving Batman, Freeze arrives with his completed cannon at the humanitarian prize dinner. He fires the immense weapon at the building, slowly freezing it from bottom to top. After Batman escapes from captivity and attacks the cannon, Mr. Freeze kicks open a fire hydrant and freezes the water with his freezing gun to get to the floor where Boyle is. Once there, he freezes Boyle to the waist before Batman intervenes. Freeze ends up overpowering Batman until he takes a thermos filled with hot chicken soup (which Alfred had provided for his cold) and breaks it on Freeze's helmet, dousing the contents on it to induce thermal shock and shatter it. Freeze is immediately subdued by the surrounding room temperature, after which Batman hands over the tape with the evidence of Boyle's crimes to Summer Gleeson (Mari Devon), so the GothCorp CEO can at least be exposed as a fraud and a murderer if not sent to prison. Batman leaves the still-frozen Boyle with a disgusted sneer — "Goodnight... humanitarian."

Freeze is taken to Arkham Asylum and put in a sub-zero cell designed to hold him. The episode ends with Freeze tearfully gazing at a music box of his beloved Nora and begging her forgiveness for, in his absolute revenge-driven mind, failing to avenge her, while Batman watches sympathetically from outside.

Production

This is the first episode of the series directed by Bruce Timm and written by Paul Dini. Timm first thought of Anthony Hopkins and Anthony Zerbe to play Mr. Freeze,[3] but later came up with Michael Ansara to voice the character.[4] Ansara initially clashed with Timm, who wanted Freeze to sound like a robot, without showing any emotion; Ansara said that this would make the character sound too flat. He eventually found the right voice, however.[5]

On the commentary track for "Heart of Ice" on the Batman: The Animated Series, Volume One DVD, producer Bruce Timm stated that Spectrum Animation was responsible for airbrushing Mr. Freeze's helmet in every frame that featured him. Such attention to detail ultimately drove the studio to bankruptcy; most of their staff members are now working for Production I.G.

Batman says "My God!" while watching the tape, which was unusual in a cartoon, as the censors considered any mention of religion or any expletive inappropriate. Timm mentioned on the DVD commentary for the episode that he considers it strange they never caught it. When Toon Disney aired this episode, the network removed the phrase. They also removed Freeze's line, "I'd kill for that."[6]

The planned ending was to have a weeping Freeze in his cell, with his tears freezing and turning into snowflakes. Timm and Dini mentioned that if they could go back and do any episode again, they would do "Heart of Ice" and would include this.[1] It was, however, used in the movie Batman and Robin.

The police officer in the scene which introduces Mr. Freeze was voiced by Bob Hastings, who voiced Commissioner Gordon.[7] Mark Hamill, who voiced Ferris Boyle here, later made the first of many appearances as the Joker in the DC Animated Universe. He originally got the role of Boyle and offered to play one of the villains. When Tim Curry dropped out of the role of The Joker, Hamill got the part.[8]

Legacy

In February 2002, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, polls were held at the website The World's Finest to determine the best episode of the show. "Heart of Ice" was the winner and so received its own subsite, complete with exclusive comments on the episode provided by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and other officials behind the show.[9] In 2005, Wizard Magazine selected this episode as the best of the series.[10]

This episode is widely considered the best individual episode of Batman: The Animated Series. Some fans considered the execution for "Heart of Ice" to be "nearly flawless," with both comic and animation fans appreciating the revamp of the Mr. Freeze character.[4] This episode provided such a burst in the popularity of the character that his comics' counterpart had his origins retconned to more closely resemble this episode.[4] This brought about his resurrection in the comics and introduced Nora Fries to the comics as well. His origin was also used in the 1997 film Batman & Robin, which featured Mr. Freeze as one of its primary villains.

The episode was included among the extra features of the two-disc and Blu-ray editions of the film Batman: Gotham Knight.[11]

The plot and premise of the episode are integrated into Mr. Freeze's origin in the 2011 video game Batman: Arkham City (also written by Paul Dini) - in one of his interview tapes with Hugo Strange, Freeze recounts the events that led him to become a supervillain and the story closely resembles the episode. The 2014 Batman: Arkham Origins DLC campaign "Cold, Cold Heart" incorporated several elements of "Heart of Ice".

In Injustice 2, Mr. Freeze (who is a special skin of fellow ice villain Captain Cold) alludes heavily to the episode, mentioning how he misses being able to feel and also how determined he is to cure Nora's condition.

References

  1. ^ a b "Heart of Ice interview "The Role of Mr. Freeze In The Animated Universe" page 1 - Re-Shaping The Image of Mr. Freeze". worldsfinestonline.com. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
  2. ^ "Batman / Superman Awards on Toon Zone". toonzone.net. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
  3. ^ Batman: The Animated Series: Heart of Ice - TV.com
  4. ^ a b c "Heart of Ice interview "The Role of Mr. Freeze In The Animated Universe" page 2 - Finding a Voice". worldsfinestonline.com. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
  5. ^ "Heart of Ice on Toon Zone (see production notes section)". Toon Zone. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
  6. ^ "Heart of Ice on Batman: Yesterday, Today and Beyond". batmanytb.com. Archived from the original on 2008-01-20. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
  7. ^ "Bob Hastings Credits". tvguide.com. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
  8. ^ "Mark Hamill Credits at TV Guide". tvguide.com. Retrieved 2008-04-18.
  9. ^ "Heart of Ice – A Look Back". worldsfinestonline.com. Retrieved 2008-02-08.
  10. ^ Wizard: The Comics Magazine #164
  11. ^ "Two-disc DVD information". Retrieved 2011-01-02.