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"Heart of Ice"

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Batman: The Animated Series episode
Heart of Ice-Title Card
"Heart of Ice"
Airdate: September 7, 1992
Production Number: 14
Airdate Order: 03
Animation Services by: Spectrum Animation Co.
Written by: Paul Dini
Directed by: Bruce W. Timm
Episode images (15)

"Heart of Ice" is the third episode of Batman: The Animated Series. It was the fourteenth in production order.

Plot

Freeze makes a vow

Mr. Freeze reminisces over his wife, and makes her a promise.

As a ballerina effigy dances in her glass dome, a strange, armored man talks to the small dancer, promising a "best served cold" revenge against the "monster" for taking her from him.

Later on, Summer Gleeson gives a report on a series of mysterious heists pulled at various offices of GothCorp, all with the same M.O.: a "freeze gun" that creates a cold wave capable of generating thick sheets of ice and snow, according to eyewitnesses. Ferris Boyle, GothCorp's CEO, says he doesn't know what the mysterious perpetrator has against GothCorp, but hopes any differences can be patched up.

Batman inspects stolen tech

Batman investigates the connection between the robberies.

In the Batcave, Batman examines a list of the stolen devices, and finds that, when combined, they form a larger version of the freeze gun, large enough to become a fully-operational freezing cannon to the extent of being a city-wide threat. However, the machine is still missing one more component, meaning Batman knows where the thieves will strike next.

That night, an armored vehicle attacks the GothCorp installation in question. When the Batmobile arrives, a freeze ray from the van creates a sheet of ice that causes the car to spin out of control and crashes. Batman exits the car and engages the thieves. Their ringleader appears, a man in a strange suit of armor calling himself Mr. Freeze. He fires his freeze gun at Batman, but misses and accidentally hits one of his own men in the legs, before managing to freeze Batman. Freeze orders his men to leave his comrade behind, and they escape. Batman manages to shatter the ice on himself, and is forced to take care of the thug, who is dying of hypothermia, rather than pursue Freeze.

Batman frozen

Batman gets frozen.

After using a special bath to revive the man and melt the ice sheet on his legs, Batman, who has himself developed a cold from the encounter, visits Gothcorp as Bruce Wayne, hoping to learn who might have a grudge against it. Boyle says the only person he can think of is dead: a former research scientist who used the company's funding for his own benefit and who apparently died in a laboratory accident. When Bruce expresses mild surprise, Boyle states that when employees get out of line, it's time to "pull the plug" so to speak and admits that his "People's Company" speeches are just an act he puts on for the sake of Public Relations. As Bruce is leaving, Boyle comments that he is to be presented with a humanitarian award.

Posing as a security guard, Batman sneaks into Gothcorp's offices and finds a security camera tape with footage of the accident: on it, a man named Victor Fries records that he has put his wife, Nora, into cryogenic stasis after she became terminally ill, to give himself time to research a cure. Suddenly, Boyle and a pair of security guards burst in. Victor protests this intrusion but Boyle says that Fries's funding has been cut and he is using company equipment without authorization. He orders his guards to disconnect the equipment, despite Fries's horrified objections that Nora will die if they do so. In a panic, Fries seizes one of the guard's guns and orders them to stay back. Scared, Boyle attempts to reason with Fries. Fries lowers the gun... and then Boyle kicks him in the chest, sending him crashing back onto a table of chemicals, which fill the room with vapor. As Boyle and his guards flee the room, Fries drags a hand over his wife's tank, calling her name as they are both cryogenically frozen.

Freeze's tragedy

The tragic accident is disclosed.

Watching this, Batman can only mutter "My God!", when Fries, now Mr. Freeze, appears behind him and telling him "It would move to me to tears, IF I still had tears to shed." and blasts him with his cold gun.

Batman captured

Freeze takes Batman prisoner.

Batman is kept prisoner in Freeze's hideout, partially frozen and without his utility belt. Freeze's men have finished assembling the giant cold gun, with which Freeze plans to attack Boyle's award ceremony. Freeze explains his suit: after the accident, he is incapable of living outside of a sub-zero environment, which the suit maintains. Batman tries to reason with Freeze, but he refuses to let the man who ruined his life and effectively murdered his wife go unpunished.

Freeze in reach of revenge

"How I've longed to see that look frozen on you".

After Freeze leaves, Batman manages to free himself. At the building, Freeze's cannon opens fire, covering the lower part of the building in ice. Freeze tells his men to go on firing until the entire building is covered, but Batman arrives and barely stops the cannon. Unwilling to admit defeat, Freeze smashes a fire hydrant and uses his gun to convert the fountain of spraying water into a column of ice that lifts him to the top floor of the building. Smashing his way into the awards ceremony, Freeze confronts Boyle and begins freezing him slowly from the legs up. He has just reached Boyle's waist when Batman arrives and distracts him. However, Freeze reveals that his suit's circuitry also triples his strength, and Batman is outmatched.

As Freeze holds Batman aloft, helpless, Batman remembers he is carrying the thermos of hot chicken soup that Alfred gave him for his cold. He dumps the soup onto Freeze's helmet, and the temperature difference causes the helmet to crack and shatter, letting the room-temperature air into Freeze's suit and paralyzing him. Freeze laments that he has been denied justice, but Batman says he won't be: he gives Summer Gleason the video tape of Fries's accident, then leaves, without freeing the still-shivering Boyle who he bid a disgusted farewell to.

Freeze's sorrow

Freeze grieves for not living up to his promise.

In Arkham, Freeze laments above the same ballerina effigy, and asks Nora to forgive him for failing to avenge her, while Batman watches from an adjacent rooftop.

Continuity

Background information

Home video releases

Production notes

  • The original idea for the flashback video was to have Freeze cling to Nora's cryogenic tank and realize in horror that his hair, now frozen, is breaking off in chunks. Paul Dini stated that he wanted to do this in pre-production, but they were over air time and cut it out.
  • Batman's uttering of "My God!" after watching the tape is unusual in a cartoon, as the censors generally considered any mention of religion or any expletive unpassable. Bruce Timm mentioned on the commentary for the episode that he considers it strange they never caught it. This was cut from showings in Toon Disney (now Disney XD). (The phrase would later show up in at least one other episode of the series, as well as both movies, and it eventually became fairly common in the DCAUSee List of "God" utterances in the DCAU.)
  • The planned ending was to have a weeping Freeze in his cell, with his tears freezing and turning into snowflakes. Timm and Dini mentioned that if they could go back and do any episode again, they would do "Heart of Ice" and include this. This was used in Batman & Robin.

Production inconsistencies

  • The henchman that Mr. Freeze froze was wearing shoes. However, when Batman thaws his legs, his shoes are gone.
  • When Batman is posing as a security guard, he reaches into his utility belt to pull out a key card. As he does so, the card is not visible, but in the next frame it suddenly appears.
  • Twice in this episode Batman's chest logo colors are reversed. In the commentary, Paul Dini and Bruce Timm said this was deliberate, a subtle nod to past cartoons with their usual animation errors.
  • The security footage of Fries' confrontation with Boyle and subsequent accident is taken from several different angles, including a close-up of Boyle's angry face, yet there are no security cameras anywhere near the required positions. This is also noted by the creators in the DVD commentary.

Trivia

  • This is the first episode of the series directed by Bruce Timm, as well as the first one written by Paul Dini.
  • The plot of this episode was largely used for Freeze's revised origin in the 1997 graphic novel Batman: Mr. Freeze, also written by Dini.
  • In February 2002, to celebrate the tenth anniversary of Batman: The Animated Series, polls were held at the website The World's Finest to determine the best episode of the show. "Heart of Ice" was the winner and so received its own sub-site, complete with exclusive comments on the episode provided by Bruce Timm, Paul Dini and other officials behind the show. [1]
  • In 2005, Wizard Magazine selected this episode as the best of the series.
  • This episode provided such a burst in the popularity of Mr. Freeze that his comics' counterpart has his origins retconned to more closely resemble this episode.
  • Ferris Boyle was Mark Hamill's first-ever voice role for Batman: The Animated Series (and thus, for the DCAU). After getting the role of Boyle, he offered to play one of the villains, preferably Joker, his favorite. The producers informed him Tim Curry had been already cast in the role, but when Curry dropped out, Hamill was happy to oblige in playing the Joker, which became his best-known role, and also launched a new career for him as a voice-over actor.
  • Spectrum Animation Studios, who created this episode, added the hint of frost around Freeze's helmet, giving it a sense of realism. Bruce Timm wanted a thin white line around his head, implying it was a helmet, but he admitted he was impressed with the final product.
  • This episode contains two references to the film Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back:
    • Batman trapped upside down in a cold cave is similar to what happened to Luke Skywalker early in the movie;
    • Batman returns a criminal partially frozen by Mr. Freeze to health using a similar device to the "bacta tank" that revives Luke. Interestingly, Luke Skywalker was played by Mark Hamill.
  • Ferris Boyle does not appear again in the animated series. He does appear in deleted material meant for issues of the comic book, Batman: Gotham Adventures, in which he is killed by a robotic doppelganger of Mr. Freeze made by Nora Fries's new husband to frame Victor Fries.
  • 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.
  • The episode inspired a story-based campaign for Batman: Arkham Origins, titled "Cold, Cold Heart". Set a week after the events of the main game, on New Year's Eve, the narrative focuses on the origin of Mr. Freeze, who attacks when Ferris Boyle is presented with a "Humanitarian of the Year" award.

Cast

Actor Role
Kevin Conroy Bruce Wayne/Batman
Efrem Zimbalist, Jr. Alfred
Michael Ansara Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze
Mari Devon Summer Gleeson
Mark Hamill Ferris Boyle
Michael Bell Additional voices
Robert David Hall Additional voices
John Mariano Additional voices

Uncredited appearances

Quotes

Freeze: This is how I'll always remember you. Surrounded by winter. Forever young. Forever beautiful. Rest well, my love. The monster who took you from me will soon learn that revenge is a dish best served cold.


Batman: Freeze!
Freeze: That's Mr. Freeze to you.


Alfred: With all the compartments on your belt, you'd think there'd be one for tissues.


Freeze: "Humanity". "Compassion". "Charity". Where were those pretty words when she needed to hear them?


Alfred: If you're going to go sneaking around a crowded office building you'll need this.
Batman: Knockout gas?
Alfred: Chicken soup, the only way to fight a cold.


Batman: My God!
Freeze: Yes. It would move me to tears, if I still had tears to shed.


Freeze: The snow is beautiful, don't you think? Clean, uncompromising...
Batman: And cold.
Freeze: Like the swift hand of vengeance.


Freeze: I'm beyond emotions. They've been frozen dead in me.


Freeze: 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.


Boyle: Stop... please... I... beg you!
Freeze: You... beg? In my nightmares, I see my Nora from behind the glass, begging to me with frozen eyes. How I've longed to see that look frozen on you!


Batman: (To the half-frozen Boyle) Good night... "humanitarian."


Freeze: I failed you. I wish there were another way for me to say it, but I cannot. I can only beg your forgiveness, and pray you hear me somehow, someplace... someplace where a warm hand waits for mine.



Previously produced episode:
"I've Got Batman in My Basement"
Episodes of
Batman: The Animated Series
Next produced episode:
"The Cat and the Claw"
Previously aired episode:
"On Leather Wings"
Next aired episode:
"Feat of Clay, Part I"

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