Mr. Freeze: Yes. It would move me to tears...if I still had tears to shed.
The episode opens with a closeup of a snow globe with a spinning ice skater in the middle. A red-goggled figure in a strange suit laments that this is how he remembers "her", and that he plots to get revenge on the monster that took her away from him.
Cut to a newscast by Summer Gleeson, reporting the latest in a series of cold-related crimes on Goth Corp facilities during the hottest August in Gotham history. Witnesses said that the attacker used a freezing gun. Goth Corp CEO Ferris Boyle says that his company is willing to listen to what the attacker wants. Batman watches the newscast while analyzing these crimes. He had gotten information from the police earlier about what was stolen from each facility, and his computer has determined that each device stolen can be put together to create a weapon that generates intense cold. There is just one component missing, and only one Goth Corp facility makes it.
At this facility, a truck with the same figure and henchmen drives through security, with the Batmobile in close pursuit. The villain then uses his freezing gun to freeze the road so that the Batmobile skids, so Batman, with quick maneuvering, grapples on to a pole and stops the car. At the factory's warehouse, the figure and his henchmen steal certain canisters. Batman then drops in and takes out the henchmen and commands the villain to freeze, at which point he reveals his name: Mr. Freeze. Batman engages Mr. Freeze in combat. One of the henchmen accidentally gets hit in the legs by the freeze ray, and Freeze is able to use the cold gun to shatter a catwalk underneath Batman, causing him to fall and become incapacitated. Mr. Freeze makes a quick getaway, telling his henchmen to leave the one whose legs got frozen. Batman recovers and takes the unlucky henchman to the Batcave.
In the Batcave, Batman places the henchman in a hot chemical bath where his legs can recover. He is able to heal, but Batman isn't feeling so good himself; he caught a cold during the fight. He says that he can't worry about that right now, since Bruce Wayne has an appointment with Ferris Boyle. Bruce asks Boyle who would make attacks on Goth Corp. Boyle describes one man who could possibly hate the company—if he was still alive, of course. One employee, a scientist, was using Goth Corp equipment for personal reasons, so Boyle called company guards to arrest him, but there was an explosion and they lost the employee. Boyle doesn't seem too heartbroken over this; he says that he can't have "wage slaves" acting like they own the place. Boyle gets a call that his next appointment has arrived, explaining that Goth Corp is hosting a ceremony for the Gotham Humanitarian Industrialist of the Year Award, which Boyle has won. Bruce quietly expresses his disbelief, then congratulates Boyle, assuring him it's well-deserved.
From his sub-zero lair, Mr. Freeze watches the ceremony, then shoots the TV, saying that "she" needed compassion and charity, but didn't get any. He then directs his henchmen to build his freezing cannon.
Back in the Batcave, Batman remembers a newspaper headline that described an explosion at a Goth Corp facility, but the headline describes the explosion as caused by a leak, and Batman deduces that it was just a cover up. Batman heads to Goth Corp, in disguise, to investigate their secret files for further information. He finds a file on a woman named Nora Fries, which has a videotape of her husband, Dr. Victor Fries, describing a cryogenic chamber of his own design that he created to save people from terminal illness—including Nora herself. However, the tape shows Ferris Boyle barging in with some Goth Corp guards. Boyle demanded that the project be shut down because it was putting him in debt, heedless of the frozen woman in the chamber, who would die if the power was cut off. A protesting Fries tried to pull a guard's gun on Boyle, but Boyle convinced him to back down with an offer to discuss things before kicking him back into several chemicals that froze him. The tape ends there, and Mr. Freeze suddenly appears behind an appalled Batman, shooting him with his freeze gun.
Batman is later seen frozen to the ceiling in a cave with snow falling, as Mr. Freeze talks about how beautiful the snow is, and how vengeance is cold. Batman deduces that Mr. Freeze's suit is the result of having been bathed in the coolants, and Freeze confirms it, saying that he can no longer survive outside of sub-zero temperatures, never again to feel the warmth of the sun, or the touch of another human hand. Mr. Freeze describes how he is going to take revenge on the man who ruined his life, and Nora's also, ignoring Batman's objections that the giant freezing cannon will also kill everyone else in the building.
Leaving Batman hanging in his lair, Mr. Freeze proceeds to enact his plan to take revenge on Boyle. He blasts the Goth Corp building using his giant freezing cannon. Batman is able to escape, however, and after he stops the freeze cannon, Mr. Freeze simply goes into the party in order to personally settle his vendetta with Boyle. Freeze reminds Boyle of who he is, and after Boyle begs him to stop, he reminds Boyle that in his dreams, he sees Nora begging to be saved. Batman then goes to fight Mr. Freeze in hand-to-hand combat, but initially has a hard time because Freeze's suit enhances his strength. Batman defeats Mr. Freeze by pouring a thermos of hot chicken soup (which Alfred had given him earlier to help with his cold) over Freeze's helmet, cracking it and exposing him to the warm August air. Freeze falls to his knees, gasping for breath, his strength gone. Batman gives the tape of Boyle ruining Victor Fries's life to Summer Gleeson, so that the world may know that Ferris Boyle is not the man everyone thinks he is. Batman's parting line to a shivering Boyle is "Goodnight, humanitarian."
Freeze is incarcerated in Arkham Asylum in a special cell that keeps him at sub-zero temperatures, holding his snow globe with a skater in it. He cries to himself, saying that he failed Nora, and begs her forgiveness. Batman sympathetically watches him from atop an adjacent building, and walks away.
Tropes in this episode include:
- Actor Allusion:
- In his introduction, Mr. Freeze says "Revenge is a dish best served cold", often referred to as a Klingon proverb in pop culture. Michael Ansara had played the Klingon Captain Kang in Star Trek: The Original Series.
- The episode contains two references to The Empire Strikes Back. Batman returns a criminal partially frozen by Mr. Freeze to health using a similar device to the "Bacta Tank" that revives Luke. Later in the episode, Batman is frozen upside down on to the ceiling by Dr. Fries much like Luke Skywalker was.
- Anti-Climax: While Mr. Freeze is more than a match for Batman throughout the episode, after a brief fight during the climax, Batman quickly defeats him by throwing a thermos of hot chicken soup (which Alfred had given him to aid his cold) over Freeze's freezing cold containment suit helmet, which shatters it open via thermal shock and leaves him powerless, struggling and gasping for breath on the floor.
- Anti-Villain: This episode was considered a turning point for the character of Mr. Freeze, who was previously a silly and unremarkable one-shot villain from the Silver Age. He was revamped in this series as a heart-breakingly Tragic Villain who only wanted revenge on the person who ruined his life.
- Apocalyptic Log: The videotape inside Victor Fries's case file. It starts out as a normal video log, with Fries describing his invention, before Boyle interrupts him, eventually causing the accident that renders him unable to survive outside of a sub-zero environment, and turns him into Mr. Freeze.
- Asshole Victim: Ferris Boyle, the target of Freeze's plan. Batman still feels compelled to save Boyle, but he also sympathizes with Freeze and outs Boyle for who he really is — complete with the evidence of him trying to kill Victor and Nora — right after subduing Freeze. Then he leaves Boyle half-frozen, when he wouldn't even do that to one of Boyle's henchmen.Batman: (disgustedly leaves Boyle without bothering to unfreeze him) Good night... humanitarian.
- Bad Boss:
- Mr. Freeze, who lacks regard for an unlucky henchman who got hit with his freeze gun and threatens the other henchmen of whom do show concern.
- Ferris Boyle, who cheerfully accepts humanitarian awards in public while calling his employees "wage slaves" to fellow one-percenter Bruce Wayne, and who thinks Murder Is the Best Solution because Screw the Rules, I Have Money!
- Baddie Flattery: Before his Motive Rant, Mr. Freeze sincerely complements Batman for deducing from the security footage that being shoved into the coolant by Boyle radically altered his genetic makeup, to the point that he can no longer survive outside of sub-zero temperatures.Mr. Freeze: Very good, a detective to the last.
- Best Served Cold: Mr. Freeze says it word-for-word. Also, a literal case.
- Big "OMG!": Batman himself when he discovers Freeze's motives. The production team is still shocked that they got away with it.
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Ferris claims GothCorp is "the people company", and that if Freeze has a problem with them, he'd be willing to talk about it. During his meeting with Bruce, he reveals his true greedy colors and calls "the people company" good PR, but he reveals this to Bruce while still acting friendly and cordial towards him, possibly thinking Bruce is a fellow Corrupt Corporate Executive, oblivious to the fact Bruce is a Honest Corporate Executive who is actually subtly disgusted with Boyle's true colors, to the point he declares "I feel ill" (both figuratively and literally, as Bruce was suffering from a cold following his initial encounter with Mr. Freeze) before politely excusing himself due to his cold.
- Bittersweet Ending: Yeah, Boyle is exposed and likely sent to prison, but Nora's (presumed to be) dead, Victor's still frozen and believes he failed his wife.Mr. Freeze: I failed you. I wish there was another way I could say it. I cannot... I can only beg your forgiveness, and pray you hear me somehow... someplace... someplace where a warm hand waits for mine...
- Blessed with Suck: Due to being pushed into chemicals that froze him, Victor Fries needs his suit to stay cold, otherwise he will die. This is how Batman incapacitates him, using a thermos of chicken soup.
- Bookends: The episode begins and ends with Mr. Freeze gazing at his snowglobe with a skater inside.
- Breakout Villain: Mr. Freeze. He was meant to be a One-Shot Character, but he was so popular they kept bringing him back.
- Broken Tears: Mr. Freeze at the end of the episode.
- Call-Back: One of the newspaper headlines Bruce flips past while looking for information on GothCorp is about the ceremony to open Harvey Dent's new prison from "Pretty Poison".
- Catch Your Death of Cold: Fighting Mr. Freeze is enough to give Bruce a cold. Justified: it's stated there's an exceptional heat wave occurring; the temperature shift would weaken his immune system.
- Chekhov's Gun: Alfred gives Batman some hot chicken soup in a thermos to help his cold. It proves useful against Mr. Freeze at the end, when he uses it to break open his special helmet and incapacitate him.
- Corrupt Corporate Executive: Ferris Boyle, under the guise of saying that his company is "the people's company."
- Create Your Own Villain: Ferris Boyle thought Victor Fries was pathetic and harmless. Oops.
- Darker and Edgier: Not only taking a joke villain like Freeze and turning him into a legitimate threat, but for a cartoon show to delve into themes such as vengeance and that characters could die...
- Dirty Coward: Notice Ferris Boyle assaults Victor Fries, after he got Fries to willingly lower his gun on him.
- Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Mr. Freeze to Batman, who expresses condolences about what happened to his wife.
- Even Evil Has Standards:
- The other henchmen object to Freeze leaving a man behind, saying that he's "one of us"—at least, until Freeze threatens them with the same fate. They still don't seem comfortable about it when the guy pleads with them and clutches at their legs in desperation.
- Overlapping with Pragmatic Villainy, Freeze doesn't try to kill people until he makes his move on Boyle, at that point accepting them as collateral damage. Indeed, he gives Batman a chance to back out of their first encounter, and spares Batman until it's clear he won't let Freeze get his revenge.
- Everybody Has Standards: Batman may be stoic at times, but even he can't hide his horror and disgust when he discovers how heartless Mr. Boyle was to Victor.
- Freeze Ray: Mr. Freeze's weapon of choice. His objective is to build an enormous one with which he can freeze Boyle's entire building with him inside.
- Freudian Excuse Is No Excuse: Batman genuinely feels horrible for Freeze at what he had to endure, but still will not let Freeze get away with murder.
- Funny Background Event: As Summer Gleeson is finishing up with her report on Mr. Freeze's latest crime, you can see several kids run up to the snow and start playing with it. A policeman chases them off, as this is a crime scene. However, just as he shoos them away, the kids pelt him with snowballs.
- Harmless Freezing: Averted by Mr. Freeze's guns. The henchman who is hit needs a hot chemical bath to return him to normal. Even Batman has to cope with the aftereffects.
- Hate Sink: Ferris Boyle is a corrupt scumbag who is responsible for why Mr. Freeze is who he is now, and actually tried to kill both him and his wife for money. To make it worse, he's a Villain with Good Publicity, and has lied about everything he did.
- Irony: Earlier, Mr. Freeze says that he can't shed tears anymore because his emotions were frozen in the accident, but he does so in his special cell in Arkham. He's so scarred by what has happened to him that he believed he's dead emotionally.
- Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: Ferris Boyle claims to be a part of "the people company". However, as it's discovered, it's all an act so that he could get money and he doesn't care about anyone other than himself.
- Jerkass Has a Point: Sure, Ferris Boyle is a bastard through and through, but Victor Fries was using his equipment without permission, and things only got out of control when Victor pulled a gun on Boyle. In Victors defense though, he was trying to save his wife, and Victor lowered the gun first at Boyle's pleading and looked like he might have surrendered willingly before Boyle kicked him into the chemicals that caused the accident.
- Lack of Empathy:
- Ferris Boyle cares not one whit for any of his employees, and is all set to pull the plug on a machine keeping a woman alive because of how expensive it is to run.
- Also Fries after his accident, most noted by the scene early on where he accidentally freezes a henchman's legs, abandons him, and has the gall to say it was the man's fault for not being careful.
- The Lost Lenore: Nora Fries. Later revealed to be safe.
- Magical Security Cam: Batman watches security videos of Mr. Freeze's origin, which for some reason includes close ups and camera cuts, as though someone not only used a film camera but edited it as well.
- Meaningful Name: Subverted with both Freeze and Boyle. Freeze, despite his motif and declaring himself as having lost all emotions, still possesses empathy and is entirely driven by emotional motives. Boyle ("boil") in contrast, is the cold-hearted one and shows zero empathy.
- Morality Chain: Nora for Mr. Freeze. Freeze put down a gun while she was still "alive" in a cryogenic chamber, but now he is willing to get his revenge and kill anyone who gets in his way.
- Motive Rant: See below.
- Mythology Gag: Alfred's line "With all the compartments on your belt, you'd think there'd be one for tissues" is a reference to the 1960s ''Batman series with his Bat-Belt containing every possible tool to help him in various situations.
- Never Say "Die": Averted twice in the same Motive Rant.Batman: That suit you wear... a result of the coolant?Mr. Freeze: Very good. A detective to the last. Tonight, I mean to pay back the man who ruined my life. Our lives.Batman: Even if you have to kill everyone in the building to do it?Mr. Freeze: (nods in the affirmative) Think of it, Batman. To never again walk on a summer's day with a hot wind in your face, and a warm hand to hold. Oh, yes... I'd kill for that.
- No Celebrities Were Harmed: Mark Hamill based Ferris Boyle's voice on Phil Hartman.
- Not So Stoic: Despite claiming his emotions have been frozen dead, Freeze weeps quietly in his Arkham cell at the end of the episode, after failing to avenge his (assumed deceased) wife.
- Offhand Backhand: Batman to a henchman just after donning his utility belt.
- Offscreen Villain Dark Matter: A recurring question with most if not all Batman villains, but especially egregious in Fries' case. It's not even explained how he got out of the Goth Corp labs alive after the chemical accident (when Boyle would have had every reason to make sure he was dead), let alone how he put together an entire strength-amplifying refrigeration suit and portable Freeze Ray.
- OOC Is Serious Business: Played with. After learning of his backstory, Batman somberly tells Mr. Freeze "I saw what happened to your wife. I'm sorry". Now Batman showing empathy isn't anything uncommon (he is a hero after all). What is serious is that he actually says the two words "I'm sorry", something he seldom ever says in the series. This indicates how exceptionally tragic Mr. Freeze's past is.
- Pet the Dog: During Mr. Freeze's initial break-in, instead of trying to kill the guards, he simply freezes the door so they can't get in his way. A little later, he tells Batman he doesn't want to fight and warns him to stay out of his way instead of immediately attacking him like other villains would.
- Punch! Punch! Punch! Uh Oh...: Batman finds out the hard way that Mr. Freeze's suit gives him enhanced strength, and ends up being thrown across the entire room.Mr. Freeze: The advanced circuitry that powers my suit also triples my strength.
- Revenge Before Reason:
- Batman points out to Mr. Freeze that his plan for revenge would also affect dozens of people who had nothing to do with what happened to Nora. Freeze doesn't care at this point.
- Even with a broken helmet, gasping for breath and struggling to even crawl on the floor, Victor is still crying out for vengeance and trying to reach Boyle.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Freeze's vendetta against Boyle and his company.
- Save the Villain:
- Batman rescues one of Freeze's Mooks who was unfortunate enough to get hit by the Freeze Ray, and thaws him with a chemical bath.
- Zig-Zagged with Ferris Boyle. Batman does save him from getting murdered, but gives the taped evidence of what Boyle did to Victor and Nora to Summer Gleeson and does not offer to unfreeze Boyle.
- Sick Episode: Batman catches a cold due to being hit by a blast from Freeze in their first fight, and spends a lot of the episode clearly Working Through the Cold.
- Small Role, Big Impact: Ferris Boyle is only in one episode and presumably gets put away for life when his crimes are uncovered. It doesn't change the fact that his actions created Mr. Freeze, who went on to become one of Batman's most prominent enemies, all the way to the distant future. Also, on a meta-example, this role was the very first voice-over role in the DCAU for Mark Hamill, whose performance would lead him to the voice-over role that made him famous, aside from Luke Skywalker, The Joker, which in turn lead him to take up more voice-over jobs up to today.
- Soup Is Medicine: Unable to convince him to stay at home and get some rest, Alfred gives Batman a thermos filled with chicken soup calling it "the best way to fight a cold." It winds up becoming a Chekhov's Gun, but not in the way it was originally intended.
- Sympathy for the Devil: Bruce sympathizes with Freeze when he finds out the latter lost his wife (and even tells him he's sorry), but still won't let him commit murder or harm innocent bystanders.
- Stealth Insult: As Boyle reveals his true contempt for his employees, Bruce remarks, "I feel ill". Boyle shows no sign of understanding that it's anything but Bruce commenting on his cold.
- Tragic Villain: Mr. Freeze, and how.
- Villain Has a Point:
- Ferris' actions clearly become criminal when he assaults Victor despite Fries having already backed down, and his command to pull the plug on Nora is nothing short of heartless, but his complaint is valid. Victor was using equipment that didn't belong to him, and essentially stealing money not just from Boyle, but from the whole company. The project was completely unauthorized, and that's not even going into the legal ethics of using a human subject in a secret experiment. Again though, Victors reasons for doing all this make you hardly want to blame him. Boyle, on the other hand, not so much. Besides this, the ethics of killing someone to save a large company and an already-wealthy man money are utterly deplorable.
- On the flip side, Victor is completely correct when telling Batman that Boyle ruined his life. Losing Nora was bad enough, but Victor has to remain within sub-freezing temperatures due to Boyle splattering him with chemicals. He begged for her life, and Boyle only cared about the bottom line. Victor can't walk in the sun or feel the barest of warmth. Batman even agrees, telling Summer Gleeson about what happened and handing her the videotape with crucial evidence, and furiously leaving Boyle to suffer half frozen. He just disagrees that killing Boyle and any bystanders in the way is the only course of action.
- Villain with Good Publicity: Ferris Boyle, again; a Bad Boss who's nevertheless receiving a humanitarian award. That goes away by the end when Batman gives the evidence of what he did to Summer.
- We Care: Goth Corp's Slogan is "The People Company".
- What Measure Is a Mook?: For Mr. Freeze, none, but for Batman, plenty. He rescues a mook that got caught in ice, whom Freeze forcibly demanded they abandon after his group's raid on Goth Corp to steal parts for his giant freezing gun, and thaws him out to the best of his ability.
- Working Through the Cold: Batman comes down with a cold after being exposed to Mr. Freeze's ice ray, but still has to go out and stop the villain. Alfred makes him take a thermos of chicken soup with him — which ultimately saves the day, as Batman defeats Freeze by using the thermos to smash his containment suit's helmet.