Friend of BOF, Gary Miereanu, hosted a panel on the 20th Anniversary of BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO which is being re-relased from Warner Archive Collection. He is joined by the great WB archives podcast hosts D.W. Ferranti and Matthew Patterson. That show is pretty awesome if you like great commentary and insight on WB history.
They are also joined by Randy Rogel who wrote this film, alongside the late Boyd Kirkland, who also is behind ANIMANIACS and a lot of your favorite BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES episodes. Next we are joined by co-host of the Arkham Sessions podcast, Dr. Andrea Letamendi which is a weekly podcast dedicated to the observation and clinical analysis of the characters in BATMAN: THE ANIMATED SERIES. You should definitely be listening to those episodes as you re-watch BTAS and read those recaps here on BOF 😉
Finally we are joined by Dick Grayson himself, Loren Lester!
We start with the trailer to BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO, ripped straight from a VHS!
The panel starts off with a bit of a rundown of Mister Freeze history and how BTAS has given him a much needed revamp. To give us some perspective they show a clip of Mister Freeze portrayed by George Sanders from the classic 1960s BATMAN television series. I actually kind of like this Nazi Death man version of Freeze. Let’s get a Freeze Rebirth DC! Make him truly reprehensible. ANYWAY…
Everybody agrees that BTAS is the most iconic version of the Mr. Freeze character, and it always goes back to “Heart of Ice” episode. A clip from that episode show where Victor’s tear turns to ice and his humanity is on display. This iteration is considered the gold standard of Mister Freeze representation. It is the embodiment of who the character is tested against in all media. It is not always the comics which gives you the true interpretation, they then mention that Jimmy Olsen began on the Superman radio show.
Andrea gives some thoughts on Mister Freeze’s motivations and why his tragic background makes him so interesting. He is motivated by love. And the real villain of the story is Dr. Belson because he is motivated by money. Only him and Harvey Dent are the victims of circumstance, and why they are the most intriguing of Batman villains.
They move into talking about why the 1997 release got pushed back. Randy mentions Boyd Kirkland asked him to write a screenplay because WB wanted another video to put out. Batman is WB’s biggest investment every 2 years and they wanted to capitalize on the BATMAN & ROBIN live-action film which was seeing release in 1997. They had a story that was going to be Bane as a terminator like character. Then WB said great news, “Arnold is Mr. Freeze! Can you make the character Mr. Freeze instead?” They pushed back and said the story is about Bane though. They asked them to just change the character from Bane to Freeze. Instead they just started over. They delayed the release from the original plan because BATMAN & ROBIN had bad heat on it. The powers that be were insistent on delaying the release to avoid any confusion. They actually apologized for missing it’s theatrical run and said, “it is funny that every live-action Batman is a cartoon and the cartoons are live-action.”
Back to the panel, they say this is really a Robin and Batgirl story. Actually it is a Dick Grayson and Barbara Gordon story at it’s core. They joked that Robin really didn’t know his girlfriend well since he had no idea she is Batgirl. Loren Lester liked that the Robin characters transition and growth, he went from an order taker to really having development and purpose. It transitioned well into his role as Nightwing in The New Batman Adventures. Loren loves the partnership that develops in the relationship between Batman and Robin. Lester’s favorite episode is when Robin solves the riddle in the “If you are so smart, why aren’t you rich?” episode from BTAS.
As to the transfer of the film to bluray, this was all animated on film, and the CGI, though minimal was output to film CG. It was a really great process that they got down from BMOTP. It should be a really great transfer to the upgraded format. I am curious if there are any of the issues people had with this release like there were with BMOTP last year.
As a special bonus, you get all the Mr. Freeze stories on the Blu-ray in addition to the BATMAN & MR. FREEZE: SUBZERO remaster. All in standard definition. 3 from BTAS, 1 from THE NEW BATMAN ADVENTURES and one from BATMAN BEYOND.
They close out the panel by referencing the “Old Wounds” episode of The Arkham Sessions podcast. This is the one where Dick comes to terms with reality of the damage Bruce put him through. Again Loren Lester chimes in and says this was his favorite episode because he got to portray Nightwing and the flashbacks to his time as a more mature Robin.
Loren says he relates to Nightwing more than Robin in a playful jester where he reveals his shirt, a Nightwing logo.
In closing D.W. Ferranti and Matthew Patterson tease of really exciting news to come soon for fans of classic DC animated shows and future WB offerings! Stay tuned! – Justin Kowalski