Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero (1998) Director: Boyd Kirkland
“Fifteen years today, darling. Did you think I forgot? How could I?”
A direct-to-video release as part of a tie-in media marketing campaign with Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin, Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero is a fun Batman adventure based on plotlines developed in The Animated Series, primarily the episode “Heart of Ice.” This is a nice sequel to Mask of the Phantasm, though it is more of a surface-level adventure, Batman’s character is not explored in any nuanced way as in Mask of the Phantasm.
Somewhere in the arctic, a man named Victor Fries, also known as “Mr. Freeze” (Michael Ansara) dwells in a remote cave with two polar bears, an Inuit boy named Koonak, and a cryogenic tube preserving his terminally ill wife, Nora. Suddenly, a submarine with a research team bursts into his cave, breaking open the cryogenic tube. Thus, in order to save his rapidly decaying wife, Mr. Freeze returns to Gotham and enlists the help of Dr. Gregory Belson to help him track down a liver. It just so happens that Commissioner Gordon’s daughter, Barbara Gordon, also known as Batgirl (Mary Kay Bergman), is a perfect organ match. While on a date with Dick Grayson/Robin (Loren Lester), Barbara is kidnapped by Mr. Freeze and taken to an abandoned oil rig. The rest of the film concerns Batman and Robin following a trail of clues leading to Mr. Freeze with the hopes of rescuing Barbara. In the end, the oil rig explodes in a fiery inferno, and amidst the chaos, Mr. Freeze’s leg is broken. A rescue attempt is made by Barbara, Batman, and Robin. But in the end, he is presumed dead. In time, however, he secretly returns to the arctic, and in one of the best scenes in the film, Victor Freeze can be seen trudging through the snow with his two polar bears and he stops by a window to hear a news report that his wife has been saved using his own technology. It brings a tear to his eye.
Victor fries is a tragic and compelling villain, however Batman & Mr. Freeze: SubZero is a somewhat middle of the road Batman movie –fun, nostalgic, but it does not yield too much depth or complexity. At least it greatly overshadows both Joel Schumacher films.