In the universe of Fox’s Batman-prequel Gotham, Bruce Wayne isn’t even in his teens yet and the city is already filling up with his iconic rogues gallery. Season 2 even subtitled itself “Rise of The Villains,” making the focus on introducing familiar bad guys in new pre-infamy forms even more explicit and dramatically ramping up the cast of characters and the villainous weapons and schemes they’ll be bringing to bear on James Gordon and his allies.
One of those new villains is the treacherous Mr. Freeze, whom we can now see more clearly than ever in a pair of new behind the scenes images showcasing his bizarre costume and weaponry.
Portrayed by actor Nathan Darrow, Freeze’s look is hewing fairly close to the most familiar versions of the character: A temperature-controlling armored bodysuit with a grey and chrome color-scheme, a futuristic gun that either shoots liquid nitrogen or some other ice-inducing chemical and even what looks like the bottom half of the character’s iconic “glass bubble” helmet. Notably, he’s also sporting a pair of red goggles that seem to be a reference to his debut in Batman: The Animated Series’ famous “Heart of Ice” episode – which won an Emmy back in 1992.
El. look final de Mr. Freeze en Gotham!!!!! pic.twitter.com/kZUrZdF8Kz— Just Another Boy⚡ (@LuhDarzen) February 5, 2016
“Heart of Ice” is widely credited with creating the backstory and pathos that define Mr. Freeze to most fans today, including his real name being “Victor Fries” and the motivation of seeking a cure for the mysterious illness plaguing his cryogenically-frozen wife – both of which will reportedly figure in Gotham’s version of the character. The image of icy mist spilling out of the suit’s neck also indicates that the accident that traditionally grants Freeze his powers (and need for the suit in the first place) have both already taken place.
Mr. Freeze has had a bizarre path to his currently best-known state, even as comic book characters are concerned. Originating as a minor Batman nemesis named Mr. Zero, the character toiled in relative obscurity until he was resurrected by the 1960s Batman TV series and renamed Mr. Freeze – a role that was played by multiple famed character actors including George Sanders, Otto Preminger and Eli Wallach (though much maligned, that series is also credited with similarly reviving then-marginalized Batman fixtures like Penguin, Riddler and Catwoman). But it wasn’t until “Heart of Ice” that comic writers were inspired to give Freeze a solid chance as an ongoing Batman enemy; bringing the character back from the (then-recent) dead and incorporating The Animated Series’ origin story into the official canon.
Presumably, further liberties will be taken to fit this pre-Batman vision of the character into the Gotham universe. Yet unknown is whether or not the introduction of such a powerful character with extreme abilities will add to the frustration of some series fans with the emphasis on iconic Batman villains as opposed to the stories of its contemporary characters – after all, at this rate, will Batman face any enemies who haven’t already been active for a decade or more (with some presumably already having passed middle-age) by the time he finally arrives?
On the other hand, a character like Freeze significantly ups the ante in terms of what the heroes of Gotham can be expected to battle and the types of small-screen spectacle the creators can serve up for fans. Thus far, gangland violence and gunplay have been the main building blocks of the series’ action beats, so the introduction of quasi-science-fiction concepts like a freezing-gun (it’s unclear how the device will actually be presented in terms of functionality) offers a chance to shake up the status-quo in that regard. And while Freeze may at first seem a strange new element in terms of what we’ve seen so far on Gotham, he can’t be any more uncomfortable than Arnold Schwarzenegger’s portrayal of the same character in 1997’s Batman & Robin – a misfire that many had feared would put the character on ice permanently.
In any case, fans won’t have to wait too long to find out: Gotham is set to return to Fox on Monday, February 29.