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Western Animation / Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero

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The second movie spun off from Batman: The Animated Series. If you were looking for the time Batman actually met Sub-Zero, that didn't happen for a few more years (and Mister Freeze wasn't involved).

Victor Fries alias Mister Freeze has made a home for himself in the Arctic, where he has the peace to continue working on a cure for his cryonically preserved wife, Nora, in the company of Inuit boy Kunac and two fully grown polar bears. As you might expect, this doesn't last long — a luckless submarine crew has the misfortune to surface right in the middle of his home, shattering Nora's preservation chamber. Enraged, Victor turns his freeze gun on them all before returning to Gotham in search of help.

The good news: He finds an old colleague, Dr Gregory Belson, who is heavily in debt and desperately in need of a windfall — which Victor can provide, having discovered a large vein of gold in the Arctic. The bad news: The only thing that can save Nora is an organ transplant, there aren't any deceased donors with her rare blood type, and any living one would die. Victor is undeterred, and the two of them quickly pick a target: Barbara Gordon.

This film contains examples of the following tropes:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The Chase Scene
  • AB Negative: The plot involves Mr. Freeze kidnapping Barbara Gordon because she shares the AB- blood type with his wife. Barbara even brings up that he could use any negative blood for a blood transfusion, but it turns out that it's not her blood that he needs. This is Shown Their Work in that organ transplants are ideally done between people of the same blood type to reduce the risk of rejection, and Mr. Freeze is obsessive enough over getting his wife back that he'd try to be as exact as possible.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Veronica Vreeland, who was a redhead in the series, is blonde in this movie. This was possibly a deliberate decision by the filmmakers to make her visually distinct from Barbara.
  • Advertised Extra: Barbara Gordon is an important character in the movie, but she only suits up as Batgirl for an unimportant scene less than 15 minutes into it just so Batgirl can be in the trailer.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: Barbara gets out of her cell this way, only to discover that they're on an abandoned oil rig.
  • Almost Kiss: Dick and Barbara at Shaugnessy's, but they're interrupted by a supervillain and his pet polar bears. Just another night in Gotham.
  • Animation Bump: Compared to the original series, with much smoother and clearer animation.
  • Anti-Villain: Mr. Freeze, again.
  • Art Evolution: Despite being released after the style changes made in the TNBA era, it retains the designs and animation style of the BTAS era (though Bruce and Dick's eyes are Skintone Sclerae as opposed to their usual white with Black Dot Pupils) coupled with some of the earlier uses of Conspicuous CG.
  • Artistic License – Biology: Nora's blood type is AB Negative, which is actually compatible with most other blood types. Freeze probably wouldn't have had a problem finding an organ donor if this hadn't been used though.
  • Asshole Victim: Gregory Belson is the only one who dies during the conflict between Freeze and the heroes. But his motives and actions made Belson's fate fully deserved.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: A more sympathetic version than most. Freeze finally achieves his dream of Nora getting cured, and he escapes unpunished for the crimes he commits, barring a broken leg.
  • Bears Are Bad News: Two polar bears, trained to obey Mr. Freeze and assist him as muscle.
  • Big Bad: Mr. Freeze, kidnapping Barbara in order to save Nora.
  • Billy Needs an Organ: They make it through the entire movie without ever specifying which one(s), only that the donor cannot survive after removal. It's implied that several are needed.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Barbara not only is rescued, but she is able to save Nora's life without losing her organs—WayneCorp's resources find a deceased donor for Nora. But Freeze is believed dead—he isn't, but he cannot return to society due to his crimes or his condition. He's last seen crying Tears of Joy as he learns that Nora will live on, and quietly leaving with his polar bears.
  • Call-Back:
    • Towards the beginning of the movie, Commissioner Gordon is talking with Dick about Barbara, which is intercut with scenes of Batgirl beating up some muggers much the same way Batman foiled a prison getaway while Harvey Dent is talking with Pamela Isley about Bruce in "Pretty Poison".
    • GothCorp, where Victor Fries was turned into Mr. Freeze, is visited by Bruce and Dick to consult with a scientist there about the cryonic freezing process. Wayne had likely acquired ownership of Gothcorp after Batman exposed Ferris Boyle's actions which likely led to Boyle's arrest, back in "Heart of Ice".
  • Comic-Book Adaptation: The movie was adapted to the medium of comics in a one-shot issue titled The Batman and Robin Adventures: SubZero.
  • Contrived Coincidence: Out of 17 potential donors, the one Belson and Freeze choose (because she had the closest height and weight to Nora, making her the best chance for a successful surgery) is Batgirl.
  • Cool Plane: Batman's plane. Although he doesn't get to use the tech toys much this round.
  • Defiant Captive -> Damsel out of Distress: Barbara does her best to defend herself at first and only agrees to go with Victor after he starts threatening innocent bystanders. She then not only enacts multiple escape attempts and won't go quietly even if there's no apparent way off the oil rig, but she empathizes to a degree with Freeze's motivations (despite obviously not wanting to lose her organs) and befriends his Kid Sidekick Kunac.
  • Description Cut: Three in a row when Commissioner Gordon's talking about Barbara at the beginning.
  • Determinator: Dick does impressively well trying to save Barbara in his civilian identity. He only loses in the fundraiser when attacked by polar bears, and only loses when pursuing the truck after Freeze ices the road. He actually outlasted the police, and Commissioner Gordon even thanks him for his efforts.
  • Dirty Coward: Belson leaves Freeze to die out of fear for his own safety. The heroes then risk their lives to save him while Belson gets fatally smacked with karma.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: When the submarine crew accidentally destroys Freeze’s home and Nora’s capsule, Freeze freezes every one of them to death for nearly killing Nora.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The scene that starts with Barbara groaning heavily offscreen while her bed is moving about. (She's jumping on it to reach the Air-Vent Passageway in the ceiling.)
  • Establishing Character Moment: We're introduced with Gregory Belson when he accidentally bumps into Dick and spilling his drink without apologizing. Then, he interrupts a conversation between his stockbroker and another man to berate him for ruining him financially. Viewers will know we're not suppose to sympathize with this guy.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Subverted. When Freeze makes it clear to Belson that he's planning to kill Barbara to save Nora, the scene begins to play out like a typical Even Evil Has Standards moment... and then it's shown that Belson actually is acting disgusted and reluctant about doing it because he feels Mr. Freeze isn't paying him enough for it. He happily goes along with it once Freeze ups the payment.
  • Falling Chandelier of Doom: Mr. Freeze shoots down a chandelier to cover his escape from the fundraiser.
  • Family-Unfriendly Death: Belson dies screaming as the burning oil rig collapses on him.
  • Groin Attack: During her fight against a couple of thugs from within the park, Batgirl kicks one of them in the groin, leaving him aching in pain as he falls to the ground.
  • Gunship Rescue: Batman and Robin do this with Batwing to save Barbara Gordon.
  • Hate Sink: While Mr. Freeze is an Anti-Villain and too sympathetic to be hated, his sidekick, Dr. Gregory Belson, on the other hand is a greedy Slimeball who's willing to harvest a teenager's organs if he's paid enough.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Dick Grayson had attempted to reach his car to pursue Freeze, but due to being in a hurry, he takes a random guy's motorcycle instead, though he gives him the keys to his Corvette in exchange.
  • High-Class Gloves: Some of the ladies at the fundraiser are wearing these.
  • If I Do Not Return:
    Batman: If I'm not back in time, go without me!
    Robin: What?! Wait!
  • Incorrect Animal Noise: Notably, Mr. Freeze’s two polar bears constantly let out big cat roars and growls and seldom utter actual bear vocalizations.
  • Karma Houdini: Mr. Freeze. He kills a submarine crew for accidentally wrecking his Arctic hideout, and was the one who instigated the plan to kidnap Barbara to harvest her organs, yet he not only achieves his goals, but also survives in the end free of prison and with the knowledge that Nora is cured. Averted in the rest of the series proper, however, as there's still a lot of pain and misery in store for him.
  • Kidnapped Doctor: Freeze has his polar bears kidnap Belson to perform Nora's operation, but as soon as Freeze shows he can pay, Belson stays around by choice.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: After abandoning Freeze to die (and generally having no redeeming qualities whatsoever), Belson is killed by debris in the end.
  • Lighter and Softer: While this film is still not a lighter-hearted kids' cartoon, it is not nearly as dark as the previous film, Batman: Mask of the Phantasm.
  • Likes Older Women: Kunac takes a shine to Barbara Gordon.
  • Love Makes You Evil: Mr. Freeze will do anything to save Nora, even kidnapping and murder.
  • Magic Skirt: Barbara zips down a line on the burning rig, and her skirt billows up only as high as her thighs.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Barbara Gordon. Her fancy dress she wears to the fundraiser makes her look like a noir flick goddess.
  • Mugging the Monster: Out of the 17 possible donorsnote  in Gotham, Belson picked the superheroine. She also happens to be the Police Commissioner's daughter, which Belson should have known.
  • Papa Wolf: Commissioner Gordon, upon learning of Barbara's kidnapping by Freeze and escaping his lawmen, puts all hands on deck to find his daughter, and he shows it during the briefing that includes Officer Montoya and Detective Bullock.
    Gordon: I want my daughter found, and I want her found NOW!
  • Parental Substitute: Mr. Freeze portrays as one to Kunac; their first onscreen interaction was the former warmly greeting the young boy and presenting salmons for dinner.
  • Pet the Dog: Mr. Freeze seems to genuinely care for his pet polar bears and loves Kunac like a surrogate son.
  • Plucky Girl: Barbara, who mostly kicks ass out of costume in this movie.
  • Precocious Crush: Twelve-year-old Kunac for Barbara. She quickly picks up on this and makes a point of complimenting him on his maturity when trying to get him on her side.
  • Pretty in Mink: Some of the socialites at the fundraiser are wearing fur wraps.
  • Right-Hand Attack Dog: Notchka and Shaka, Mr Freeze's two loyal polar bears.
  • Save the Villain: All three heroes help Freeze after he gets pinned by debris. He then helps them rescue Nora and Kunac, and Batman tries to save him even when the oil rig is about to go up in flames.
  • Say My Name: Batman yells Freeze's name when he fails to save the latter during the climax.
  • Sexy Backless Outfit: Barbara wears a very flattering dark blue one to the fundraiser.
  • Shipper on Deck: Commissioner Gordon is very obviously a Dick/Barbara shipper.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Barbara's frantic escape from the polar bears by way of a freight elevator is reminiscent of Ripley and Newt's escape. Freeze later coming up the same elevator towards Batman & Robin as the rig explodes and blazes, is like when the Queen followed in pursuit.
    • Barbara's discovery that she's trapped on an offshore platform is just like Sean Archer's.
  • Skintone Sclerae: Bruce and Dick. It came up in the actual series, but as an inconsistent coloring error.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: The entire movie is set in motion by a submarine crew who accidentally surfaced in Freeze's cave and shattered Nora's containment vessel, putting her life in jeopardy.
  • Stealth Hi/Bye: Batman and Robin. They do this the way the rest of us breathe.
  • Thematic Sequel Logo Change: The Bat Symbol is made from ice with the title carved into it representing the confrontation with Mr Freeze.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Gregory Belson, Mr. Freeze's sidekick. His first moment of stupidity is when he selects Barbara Gordon — the police commissioner's daughter — as an organ donor for Freeze's wife. When Barbara escapes before the operation can begin, Belson pulls a gun and accidentally shoots several fuel tanks (despite Babs warning him not to), starting a fire that destroys Freeze's lair.
  • Tranquil Fury: Robin is noticeably quieter than his usual DCAU appearances, but after Barbara is kidnapped he's really, really pissed off.