Batman’s rogue gallery is made up of some of the most recognisable characters in comics. What sets them apart from other villains is that many of them aren’t one-dimensional and have specific goals. Of all of Batman’s enemies, the one I find the most relatable is Mr Freeze. He’s not someone I would consider a ‘villain’ in the traditional sense of the word and here is a look at his history and motivations.
Victor Fries was originally called Mr Zero and first appeared in Batman #121 in 1959. He was presented as a throw-away character, casually killed off by The Joker. It wasn’t until the release of the Batman: The Animated Series episode ‘Heart of Ice’ that made Mr Freeze what he is today.
His origin was redefined as a brilliant scientist, who had a fascination with cryogenics. The episode introduced his terminally ill, cryogenically frozen wife, Nora. Freeze resorted to a life of crime to raise the funds to revive her. This tragic backstory was incorporated into the comic version, with a few adjustments.
Freeze’s comic origin involved him being sent to boarding school by his parents, after they found he had a ‘hobby’ of freezing animals. A miserable Freeze felt disconnected from humanity until he met Nora at university. They fell in love and married. A year and half into Batman’s career, Nora contracted a fatal illness, while Freeze worked on a freeze ray for GothCorp. He decided to use the ray of Nora to put her into cryo-stasis, in the hope he could find a cure for her one day.
His boss, Ferris Boyle, tampered with the experiment and the explosion killed Nora. Freeze survived, yet the chemicals from the freeze ray lowered his body temperature to the point he had to wear a special suit to stay alive. Freeze vowed revenge on the people who killed his wife and he set about finding a way to bring her back.
Eventually, Freeze aligned with the Secret Society of Super Villains and built Nyssa al Ghul a sub-zero machine in exchange for using a Lazarus Pit. He was successful in reviving Nora, but the pool chemicals drove her insane and turned her into Lazara. She blamed Freeze for what happened and estranged herself from him.
The New 52 created a new origin for Freeze, where he was never married to Nora. Instead, he became obsessed with her frozen body and looked for a way to bring her back to life. This origin stripped him of his tragic element and isn’t something I agree with.
What makes Freeze so relatable is that he never set out to be a villain. He loved his wife and wanted to save her life by any means necessary. He was forced to become what he was because of Ferris Boyle. Being a criminal might not justify how far he went, but it’s a human trait we can all relate to. If you thought you could save a loved one, how far would you be willing to go?
To me, Mr Freeze isn’t a villain. He was a good man who got caught up in tragic circumstances and fell into darkness.
Who do you think is the most relatable character in Batman’s rogue gallery?