If you have found and downloaded the bible for Batman: The Animated Series (I wish I remembered where I got the PDF I have) I’m going to be skipping around the villain profiles, trying to match up characters. For example, Two-Face is next in the book but I’m skipping The Scarecrow, Ra’s Al Ghul, and Poison Ivy for now and jumping right to Mr. Freeze. (Don’t worry, we’ll get to the others over the next two weeks.) Of all of the characters in the show theirs are the origins we get to see and they are indeed the most tragic of the regular characters.
Harvey Dent was a brilliant District Attorney that we saw slowly become a villain, which is brilliant. Victor Fries’s back story was so well-done that the comics and other spin-off media actually use it instead of the classic one. Fun fact: one of these origins wasn’t the one that was suggested in the bible. Since there are only two characters in this installment you’ll be able to guess which one rather quickly. We’re starting with Two-Face, though.
Easily the most tragic figure in Batman’s Rogue’s Gallery is the grotesque creature now known as Two-Face. Originally Harvey Dent was the most handsome and charismatic district attorney in Gotham City. He was a real crusader for justice, and even consulted with the Batman on key cases. Then, while tracing down a gangland boss on a lead supplied by Batman, Dent surprised the criminal and tried to subdue him himself. During the fight, the gangster threw as vial of acid into Dent’s face. This permanently and hideously disfigured the left side of the D. A.’s face, and when he saw the scars, Dent went hopelessly insane.
The show actually went with the origin of the original Two-Face from the comics many, many years ago, that a criminal on trial somehow snuck acid into the courtroom and threw it on Dent. Batman tried to stop it but half of Dent’s face was still hit, and Dent ended up with a warped sense of justice, needing a two-sided coin to decide his course of action.
Our series will be unique in that we will show Harvey Dent not only as Two-Face, but, in at least the first few weeks of episodes, as Gotham City’s justice-minded district attorney. Two-Face’s story is too emotionally rich to do as one episode, and the tragedy of his condition will be made all the more real if we first meet him as Batman’s closest ally in the Gotham legal system. In these stories we’ll show the beginning of the trust and friendship between the two men, all of which will be irrevocably destroyed along with Dent’s face. He’ll blame Batman for what happened to him, and will not rest until he’s hunted down the Dark Knight and killed him.
There was an addition to this that would not have existed had they went with the plan of making Bruce almost a non-entity, like Batman: The Brave And The Bold would later do. Bruce Wayne was also friends with Harvey and his fiance. He was even there to meet his last girlfriend, Pamela Isley, alias Poison Ivy, who wanted to kill Harvey. (This would actually be referenced in an episode where Ivy mentions to the other villains at the poker table that they “used to date”.) Now that I think about it, Harvey got engaged rather quickly after his last girlfriend tried to kill him with a death garden. Anyway, having Bruce friends with Harvey as well as D. A. Dent one of the few people who accepted Batman’s aid, made things harder on Bruce.
With the loss of his face, Dent turned his back on law and order. Still, the crusading D. A. is not completely dead inside him. Two-Face always carries a two-headed silver dollar, one side pristine mint and the other side hacked up and scarred. A flip of the coin will decide if Two-Face will commit an act of good or evil.
The show took time to build on this by introducing “Big Bad Harv”, an alternate persona full of rage, and his slow emerging into Dent’s story. It’s this split personality that would lead to Two-Face as much as the acid and it makes both more sense and a tragic. The comic tie-in, as I was hoping to have reviewed by the time we got here, even suggested that Harvey had issues with his father that led to the creation of the “alter”, as one of my mom’s canceled soaps used to call it.
As a result of his accident, Two-Face became obsessed with the number two. He has a psychotic attraction to anything in pairs or anything that even suggests a dual nature. He might rob a company on the twenty-second floor on a high-rise, for example. or steal from a firm on Gemini Street. He’ll go after any object in twos, and in one planned story, after objects in three with the express purpose of destroying one of them. Two-Face’s very unpredictability makes him one of Batman’s most dangerous enemies.
Earlier the bible said that it was unique in that Two-Face’s origin would be shown as we got to know the character, something The Batman did later by having one of Batman’s allies become that continuity’s version of Clayface, and this show would also do with an actor that was turned into Clayface. However, there is one more detail. As far as I recall, this was the first time Two-Face was introduced outside of the comics despite a long history (and numerous versions until the post-Crisis DCU) in the comics. This could be because it’s hard to use a character that scarred in shows designed for younger audiences. Batman: The Animated Series was created for an older audience than the previous animated Batman shows and the live-action series went for a family audience mixed with the camp of the comics at the time. (There was a master of disguise named False Face, though.)
Yes, I know Billy Dee Williams played Harvey Dent in the first Tim Burton movie that inspired the series. However, that was Harvey and he barely did anything in the movie and wouldn’t show up again until Batman Forever, after this appearance, as Two-Face, played then by Tommy Lee Jones. Actually, I was looking through Wikipedia to confirm and found out this tidbit:
Although Clint Eastwood was discussed for the role in the 1960s Batman television series, reimagined as a news anchor who was disfigured when a television set exploded in his face, he did not appear as the character was labeled “too gruesome and too violent” for the “kid-friendly” attitude that surrounded the show (as comics and cartoon strips were subject to strict censorship at this time). The story eventually was made into the Batman ’66 comic called “The Lost Episode”.
He also appeared in the comic STRIP, so my comment about his first appearance outside of comics stands, but not the first time out of comic books.
Mr. Freeze, on the other hand, has the shows to thanks for his life, and even his name. Originally “Mr. Zero” in the comics, it was in the 60’s Batman show that his name became Mr. Freeze, which the comics later adopted and Filmation would also use in their two Batman cartoons. Later this show influenced the frozen felon’s backstory in the post-Crisis DCU although the New 52 screwed around with that like they did the rest of the DCU to prove that this was their universe now, suckers! So we all know Victor’s backstory, but how did the bible write it?
Once a shifty cryogenics “expert” running a body freezing scam, Mr. Freeze eluded the police in his lab only to be found out by Batman. The two fought and Freeze was knocked into a cryogenics chamber where he was frozen into a near-death state. After he was revived he discovered he could only live in sub-zero temperature, and vowed to make Batman pay for what happened to him.
Wait, what? Where’s Nora? Where the guy who canceled his experiment in a way that would have killed her, forcing Victor to fight back and be tossed into the machinery keeping her alive and being sprayed with chemicals? Yep, all of that came later on, and you have the writers to thank for that, namely Paul Dini, one of the writers of this bible and the writer of Freeze’s debut episode, which Timm directed. Interesting that two of the three writers of the bible completely ignored the written origin when it came to actually write the character’s debut episode.
Mr. Freeze wears a specially constructed helmet and suit that preserves his body at 50 degrees below zero. He also carries a “cold gun” that can instantly freeze people or turn metal so brittle that it shatters on impact. Because of his freezing death and revival, Freeze considers himself to be emotionally “cold”, rather like a walking corpse. He cares nothing for innocents who may get hurt by his crimes, or the hoods he employs to carry out his schemes. All human feeling has been frozen out of him.
This was also changed since in the show he had two motivations: curing Nora of the disease that led to her being cryogenically frozen in the first place and getting the diamonds he needed to keep his costume running. And revenge. They found ways to make him get revenge on quite a few people. He’s also one of two villains from this show (not comatose, in case you thought I forgot about Bane) to end up in Batman Beyond without being a hologram robot (the other being the Joker) where he also was after revenge. In the direct-to-video movie Sub Zero he finally cures Nora but in an immoral fashion. Long story short the battle with Batman and Robin left his leg frozen and his body slowly decaying until he was just a head who now lived only to destroy hope, which makes you wonder what would happen if he met Nora, since it was the hope of curing her that kept him going despite his condition.
The bible finally notes that Freeze prefers snow-based crimes, when he really just used his freeze gun, and his cohorts had to wear parkas (and no pants, just possibly a skirt because for some reason Freeze had the sexiest henchwomen of all the villains–sorry, Harley, but I know who I want hot cocoa with) because they were near him. Then he got polar bears because of course he did. He also never teamed up with the Penguin from what I remember, which the bible also suggested.
Next time it’s Batman’s eco-villains, Ra’s Al Ghul and Poison Ivy. I hear they want to team up with Al Gore.