“Batman: The Animated Series” – Heart of Ice (EPISODE REVIEW)
A strange man in a suit, wielding a freezing gun, who goes by the name of Mr. Freeze, has been attacking the offices of GothCorp, so Batman has been trying to investigate who this rogue could be. He meets with GothCorp CEO Ferris Boyle, who likes to put on the act of a humanitarian for PR, but is much less compassionate behind closed doors.
After digging through some files, Batman discovers that Mr. Freeze was really a scientist called Dr. Victor Fries, who tried to use GothCorp equipment to cure his terminally ill wife Nora, but Ferris shut down the project, resulting in a fight that led to a coolant accident that caused Victor to not be able to survive above sub-zero temperatures – hence the suit.
This Emmy winning episode of “Batman: The Animated Series”, introduces a more sympathetic villain to the series, a baddie who has developed an apathy to humankind after Ferris lacked remorse in his wife. Mr. Freeze is a red eyed pale faced menacing threat, unwilling to reflect emotion after everything he’s been through, even to his henchmen, expressing all his dialogue with a deadpan cold tone.
But we do feel sorry for Victor, because we can see why he’d lose remorse for everyone except his wife, his only hope betrayed him, and now he sees that Ferris cared more about money than saving lives. We don’t agree with Victor’s methods or forgive his crimes, but we get why he’s the way he is, because he now only has faith in himself after GothCorp let him down.
This is why I love Batman in this episode, adore him even, he does show genuine sympathy towards Victor, angered by Ferris’ attitude towards his personal mission to save his wife, even though the GothCorp CEO is out doing charity work to look good in the media. That’s not to say that he completely sides with Victor, he still puts all lives before Victor’s determination to save his wife; including the cruel arrogant Ferris.
I also like how Batman has a cold in this episode, it reminds audiences that he is still human, he’s just as vulnerable to low temperature conditions as everyone else, but he doesn’t let his fever hinder his responsibility as the caped crusader. It’s adorable that Alfred shows concern for his master’s cold, he is Bruce’s only family after all, even lovingly giving Bats a flask of chicken soup to help cure him; a beverage that will later come in handy!
Batman must find a middle ground as a hero, by defeating Mr. Freeze for the safety of people’s lives, while also exposing Ferris’ crimes too, killing two birds with one stone if you will. This decision helps to show that Batman cares about Victor’s pain, but that he should be punished for using this heartache for criminal activity, because a sob story doesn’t justify putting others in danger.
By the episode’s end, Victor is placed in Arkham Asylum, where he is shown begging his wife for forgiveness, weeping at a music box that resembles her, a powerful moment that brings a humanity to one of Batman’s foes. It’s moments like this, that show why Batman’s gallery of rogues are so memorable, they’re either wildly fun to watch or have a sympathetic tragic backstory that expands their characters.
To conclude, “Heart of Ice” really deserved it’s Emmy, an episode that shows that villains don’t always have to be one track minded enemies for Batman, they can be just as human as he is, and it’s this extra dimension that makes Victor into an actual fully fleshed out character.
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