In “Batman: The Animated Series,” Mr. Freeze (Michael Ansara) was brilliantly reimagined as a tragic figure who justified his criminal activity to rescue his terminally ill wife, Nora (Kristen Hager). While it seemed like Freeze died in “The New Batman Adventures,” the villain’s unique physiology allows him to survive decades into the future. He resurfaces in “Batman Beyond,” with Ansara reprising his role. Given a cloned body that initially doesn’t possess his cryogenic condition, Freeze appears to have a new lease on life, but manipulative forces steer him back to his old wicked ways.
Several DCAU stories revolve around various supervillains attempting to achieve redemption only to revert to evil schemes, underscoring that no one can escape their past sins. “Meltdown” handles this narrative formula the best, escalating the tragedy of Victor Fries, who genuinely attempts to atone for his past — even as Bruce Wayne remains highly suspicious of his old enemy. By the end, Bruce and Freeze reach an understanding. Freeze decides he is better off dead, giving “Batman Beyond” one of its most heartbreaking endings. Freeze is one of the villains who gained emotional depth and tragic motivation in “Batman: The Animated Series,” and “Batman Beyond” effectively builds on that character’s legacy. Though Freeze never quite feels like a fully fleshed out villain for Terry, he provides closure for Bruce, and his arc ends on a high note.