Starring: Kevin Conroy, Michael Ansara, Loren Lester,
Written by: Bob Kane (Characters), Randy Rogel, Boyd Kirkland, Mary Kay Bergman
Directed by: Boyd Kirkland
Distributor: Warner Home Archive
Original Year of Release: 1998
Running Time: 1hr, 10 minutes
It seems hard to believe that 20 years ago, Warner Bros. released BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO. I remember it arriving on VHS, in a monster clamshell box. I always wondered why it never got a big release like Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993). Today, I simply have to look back and assume that with the release of the live action debacle that is and forever will be known as Batman & Robin, just one year prior, is more than enough to know why. I am sure that some Warner Bros. executive thought “kids don’t want Mr. Freeze, release the cartoon on home video”. Which highlights two things that haven’t really changed at Warner Bros. The first is that the people in charge don’t know what they are doing. The second is that the people in charge at Warner don’t appreciate the level on which Bruce Timm and his crew are operating.
It had been a long time since I had seen BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO, which is a shame really because Bruce Timm’s incarnation of Mr. Freeze from the perfect Batman: The Animated Series (BTAS) is actually my favorite. He is the right mix of tragic villain and a cold calculating adversary that the Dark Knight requires in his Rogues Gallery. If this is your first time watching BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO or introducing it to a member of a younger generation, you are in for a treat. Warner Bros. has included each and every episode that Mr. Freeze appeared in on the BTAS and even an appearance on Batman Beyond. In short, this is the complete Mr. Freeze Saga on one Blu-ray.
The significance of including all of these episodes allows the viewer to see the whole tragic story play out. From Mr. Freeze’s tragic origin to his dark conclusion is a fantastic tale of a man with an obsession to save the one he loves. Dr. Victor Fries (voiced by the late great Michael Ansara) is working on cryogenics when his wife, Nora, is taken ill. Fries places her in a deep sleep with the hopes of one day saving her. As it is with any tragic villain, he is born of greed when Fries’ employer wants the project stopped and the machines turned off. Knowing this will kill his wife, Fries tries to prevent this from happening and tragically gets turned into the Mr. Freeze. A lot more to chew on than the likes of Mr. Freeze played by Otto Preminger in the Adam West 66’ Batman series, but Bruce Timm and Paul Dini knew this was a different type of audience.
Over the course of four classic cartoon episodes and one “straight to video” release, we see Mr. Freeze’s tragic tale play out. With each pass, we see every bit of his humanity taken away from him. This villain is far beyond the likes of the Joker or the Riddler. He is one that is fighting for the very thing he loves, Nora, and will do anything to protect her. Anyone with a heart will find it breaking with each and every turn, even far into the future when Mr. Freeze gets his last chance at humanity.
As for BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO, this “straight to home video” release has never looked better. The wonder of Bruce Timm’s vision of Batman has never been fully realized since and its homage to the Max Fleisher Superman cartoons of yesteryear is never more obvious. Each scene unfolds in a brilliant palette of colors bathed in the Dark Knight’s black. Explosions burn with a red and orange that are unsurpassed even by today’s standards. Batman has the right voice, Kevin Conroy, so no arguments or complaints can be thought of. In fact, hands down, the disc, the film, and all the episodes, are the very best of not only animation but of Batman as well.
A Perfect 10 all around Warner Bros. Thank you for getting this right!
Chilling Special Features:
The Mr. Freeze Saga - In Chronological Order
1. Heart of Ice (Batman: The Animated Series)
2. Deep Freeze (Batman: The Animated Series)
*Note: Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero Occurs Here*
3. Cold Comfort (The New Batman Adventures)
4. Meltdown (Batman Beyond)
Art of Batman: Music Montage
Get the Picture: How to Draw Batman - Trailer
Order BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO HERE from Warner Archive.