Batman has an incredibly fascinating and deep roster of villains. After the enormous success of Joker, it isn’t surprising to hear that other DC villains could end up with their own solo feature films. If one of the producers of that film had his way, he knows exactly which villain he would like to see get a standalone story.
Michael E. Uslan, who has been a producer on many Batman projects going back to Tim Burton’s Batman in 1989, suggested that a solo film centered around Mr. Freeze is what he would like to see. Uslan referenced the Batman: The Animated Series episode “Heart of Ice” as the foundation for such a story. The episode is considered one of the absolute greatest in that show’s illustrious run and it also crafted a completely new origin story for the character of Mr. Freeze.
“One of my favorite episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, which I love, absolutely love, dealt with Mr. Freeze and the loss of his wife. The empathy, the emotions that that created, I could see [making a movie].”– Michael E. Uslan
In the episode, Victor Fries is a scientist trying to find a way to save his cryogenically frozen wife. The despicable owner of the company Fries works at closes the experiment down and causes an accident that turns Fries into a being that can only survive in sub-zero temperatures. Fries takes on the moniker of Mr. Freeze and seeks revenge. Naturally, Batman has to put a stop to him.
The Emmy-winning episode was so beloved that its new origin for Mr. Freeze has become widely accepted as canon for the character across all forms of Batman media. It is another tragic tale – as are a lot of the origin stories for Batman’s adversaries – that elicits incredible sympathy for a villainous figure. The ending of “Heart of Ice” is not some triumphant celebration over defeating the bad guy. It is a somber and remorseful rumination on lost love.
Unfortunately, the only big-screen version of Mr. Freeze that audiences are familiar with is the version played by Arnold Schwarzenegger in the campy comedy Batman & Robin from 1997. That film is not as odious as its reputation would lead you to believe, but it is fair to say that it did not capture the tragedy and pathos of the Mr. Freeze character. It would be satisfying to see a cinematic take on the character that properly nailed these elements of his character.
However, making a bunch more solo villain films does not seem like the right lesson to learn from the success of Joker. Perhaps it is a formula that could keep audiences interested, but it does not seem like the best application of the Batman franchise. Though it is fun to speculate what a solo Mr. Freeze film would be like. Would it lean more into the science-fiction elements of the character? Would it be a more straightforward revenge story as opposed to the more cynical approach that was taken with Joker?
Regardless, this idea is nothing more than a pipe dream at this point. But, Uslan is still deeply involved with the future of the franchise. He is a producer on The Batman and remains one of the most respected experts on the Caped Crusader. If he were to be a rallying voice behind a Mr. Freeze solo film, it could potentially gain some traction.