Suggested by Sonic Mr Freeze has always been a fun villain. I like his ice gimmick and the guy has quite the tragic backstory. That said, I don’t think this will be enough to beat Hawkman. I may not like this hero very much but the guy does have super strength and flight. It shouldn’t be hard to dodge Mr Freeze’s attacks and then launch a counter right at the end. Freeze doesn’t have the durability to endure that. Hawkman wins.
Suggested by Sonic Cassandra is probably the most powerful of the various Batgirls. She has been able to hold her own against foes like Lady Shiva. Her physical stats are all basically superhuman. While it’s true that taking a direct hit from Mr Freeze could end up being fatal, he won’t be able to tag her. She has been dodging enemy attacks for ages and her gadgets will deal him heavy damage. Freeze has had several free gun upgrades over the years but nothing massive enough to defeat her. Batgirl (Cassandra) wins.
It’s time to look at what makes for a good villain. Now, there are a lot of factors to consider when looking at such a sweeping generalization. There are many different kinds of villains and different situations to put them in of course. As such it can be difficult to just grab a few attributes and say that they make a villain. As a disclaimer you have to consider a whole lot but I am going to list 5 factors which I see in my favorite villains. If you have all 5 you are basically guaranteed to be an amazing villain but even just having one of them should help quite a lot in rising you up the charts. As you may or may not know, I consider Bass EXE to be the greatest villain of all time. He is an example of a villain who meets all 5 criteria. He also happens to be the most powerful villain if you ask me but that’s a discussion for another time. So without further build up, lets take a look at the 5 main criteria.
This first one is pretty obvious. It’s hard to like a villain when you just don’t like their design. It would be next to impossible for me to like a villain like Bubbleman. No matter how powerful he may become, I wouldn’t be able to take him seriously. To a degree voice is a similar aspect that can make or break a villain but it’s not universal the way a design is. You could be reading a book or a manga where the description of the design is still there but you can’t picture the voice as well. A good design is a great first step for a villain. It helps you instantly assess what this guy/girl is all about. It’s your initial impression and those are absolutely critical. You’re not likely to forget your first impression of a villain.
As with just about everything media related designs are very subjective. What I consider to be a good design will typically have a strong color contrast/sleek design. Purple is a color that is usually associated with villains and always tends to work quite well. Red and black make for a solid pair. Then you’ve got pure white/silver like Zeref which is pretty great. Ideally you want a design that looks combat ready although you can also go for one that is startlingly happy/unassuming which can work out well like the final boss of Undertale. A bad design to me is one that is either very generic so you forget it, or a design where you can instantly tell the villain can’t fight.
The honor code is definitely a pretty big one. I don’t want a villain who hides behind others or hostages all the time. I want a villain who is confident in their own abilities and isn’t afraid to tangle with the heroes whether it be physically or mentally. A good villain knows exactly what their goals are and sticks true to them. It’s a matter of pride and villains need to have that as well as heroes. The main example I’m using for this is Grimmjow. He and Ichigo had a rivalry right from the start of the series. Grimmjow absolutely wants to crush the lead but he wants to do it on his terms. He’s not going to be satisfied beating up on a weakened Ichigo. He even has Orihime heal the lead so they can tangle which is pretty much unheard of. That always helps me gain respect for a villain. A true villain should be able to overcome his opponent when they are at their peak and without outside help. Grimmjow’s even willing to fight other villains to ensure he gets his fair fight.
I’m not opposed to friendship power within the villains of course, but in general I like when a villain can just handle his business right from the start. Likewise a “dirty” trick during a fight may not be out of bounds if it was already 1 on 1. At that point anything goes of course and if the villain has already been fighting then more power to him. A villain who admits defeat and starts attacking random civilians to distract the hero has already lost in every sense of the word. You have to stay true to your ideals to the very end.
Has to be a threat
This is another one that probably seems obvious but is worth noting. If you’re a villain who gets completely wrecked time and time again then it’s going to be very hard to enjoy the character. This could work for a comic relief villain which follows a very different set of rules but not for a big villain that we’re supposed to take seriously. A villain needs to take care of business and that should be established early on. This is very common so there are probably millions of good examples I can use. The one I choose here would be Hideyoshi’s first appearance in Sengoku Basara or at least his first appearance in the war. He immediately sets the tone by forcing both armies to acknowledge him. He stops a huge array of arrows in their tracks with simple wind pressure and then takes down a captain in a single hit. This guy’s power is on a whole other level and it’s just hard to top that debut. I was certainly very satisfied at the very least. When you’re a threat like that, you’re forced to acknowledge the villain right away.
Has solid motivations
Now, I’m all for the villains who just want to destroy the world of course, but what really takes a villain to the next level is when they have solid goals. If the goal is something you can understand then that will play a big role in how endearing they are. A villain who is upset because some guy elbowed him when walking through a line? That’s so petty you may lose respect. A villain whose world is about to be crushed but can save it by destroying the other world first? Well, that’s something you can buy into. He would even possibly be considered the Hero from another point of view. There’s a saying that everyone is the hero of their own story. While I don’t find that to be true necessarily, I think a villain’s motivation should feel that way. You never lose sight of the fact that they are a villain but that’s not the important thing. The important thing is that this is now a villain you can sympathize with.
For this one I’ll use Mr. Freeze as an example from Sub Zero and the Batman animated series His wife is terminally ill and only has a slim shot of survival. The way to do this is to do a blood transfusion with someone from a rare blood type. Only problem is that the transfusion will destroy whoever undergoes the operation because of how much blood is needed. Perhaps if you could find two people then this could work but there isn’t a whole lot of time and Mr. Freeze is already a known criminal. As a result he decides to kidnap someone so that he can save the wife which leads into the movie. This is a perfect example as you know that what Freeze is doing is wrong and he knows it as well. Still, it is worth it to him in order to save his wife and that’s as solid a motivation as you can get. It made him a particularly great villain in the DCAU and one of the best Batman villains out there. Later on Freeze eventually begins to get buried by feelings of rage and feelings of revenge towards society but this is how he started out,.
Finally we have another trait which ties in to the others. A good villain needs to have absolute confidence. These villains aren’t afraid to defy authority even if a higher up tells them to do something. I already used Grimmjow as an example but that’s something he did quite well. The villains who are quickly to kneel before another don’t have the same true respect for themselves that other villains have. A lot of the best villains in history have always been overwhelmingly confident to the point of arrogance. They may readily lower their defenses just to show the heroes how absolutely outclassed they are. Honestly, it was hard to pick an example here because you could pick almost literally any villain and you would be good to go. That just shows how critical this factor is.
Ultimately I’m going with Jiren. How confident do you have to be to close your eyes and meditate in the middle of a battle with your universe on the line? You got to admit that this takes a whole lot of guts on his part. A lot of villains absolutely wouldn’t dare even if they were powerful. It’s a great moment though because that unwavering conviction in your abilities is exactly what you need in order to succeed.
So those are the 5 traits a good villain really should have. If you have all of these traits then you are probably going to go down as one of the all time great villains. Whenever a villain is introduced with some of these traits I get excited. Now, there are certainly things a villain can do in order to lose that hype which I will go into in my reverse editorial on what makes for a bad villain. That one should be fun and I already know quite a few off the top of my head. A lot of villains will end up having traits from both in which case you just have to see which side wins out. It’s rare to find a perfect character like Bass EXE but there are still tons of other amazing villains. In theory every great series should have a great villain to combat the hero. If you have no great villains then that could be trouble for the series long term.
Suggested by Kaiju115 Elsa has grown more accustomed to using her abilities and did a fair job of stopping her attackers considering that she had no prior training. That being said, Mr Freeze is very experienced with his freeze gun and would have a tactical advantage over Elsa. A Frozen sequel could potentially change things as a mild power up is all that Elsa would need, but at the moment she simply isn’t ready to handle such a veteran. Mr Freeze wins.
Time to revisit another Batman classic! After the success of the Phantasm film, it was good to see Batman make another theatrical appearance. SubZero is definitely a solid film, but it makes the controversial choice to place plot over action. This will likely work for the critics, but it definitely works against the film on this site. It’s a good film experience, but it could have been better.
Batman and Robin are enjoying themselves at a party when Mr Freeze decides to strike. He has been resting at a hideout far away from Gotham, but the villain was forced to make his move when some humans decided to blow away his kingdom. It was accidental as they panicked and crashed through the ice instead of through the water, but it was a mistake that they won’t get to make again. To restore his wife, Mr Freeze needs someone with the same blood type so that the doctor can unleash a fatal operation on her. Barbara Gordon fits the bill so he kidnaps her. Can the Dynamic Duo reach her in time or is it already too late?
The plot in itself isn’t bad. Mr Freeze has always been one of the better DCAU villains and this is a pretty good portrayal of him. As always, he’s not being evil for the lolz, but he is actually doing it to help Nora. It’s a pretty sympathetic goal although the way that he goes about it is not the best. Considering how advanced science is in the DC world, a hospital would probably be able to do something about her condition. Not a normal hospital though, he would have to get some connections to help her. Instead, he opts to just do the transfusion and naturally this makes him a villain, but one that you can sympathize with.
I’ve always had a soft spot for characters who place those closest to them at higher priority than the rest of the world. A Sword Art Online example is Kirito basically saying that he’ll leave everyone to die so that he can take Asuna to safety during one of the final battles or Sasuke deciding to do whatever he had too in order to avenge his clan. You can tell that the acts aren’t exactly heroic, but you can still root for the characters. Naturally, it’s hard to root for Mr Freeze here since it would mean the death of Batgirl, but in his position it’s easy to see why he would make the choice. (Assuming that there is no other way) If it’s between Nora and Barbara, he’s going to pick Nora every time. For us, if it’s a stranger or a family member in a random circumstance, like a sudden fire and you can only pick one, who wouldn’t pick the family member? Naturally, a “true” hero may factor in something like who is younger, who will have a better life, or other things to decide who to save, but it would be hard not to save the family member. Thus, I don’t excuse Mr Freeze’s goal, but it’s one of the reasons why he has always been one of Batman’s best written villains.
Robin gets a bigger role here than usual. Unfortunately, it’s mostly a romance subplot for him as he doesn’t get to act as Robin for a very long time here. There’s not a whole lot of action here so that makes sense, but it doesn’t help his case as a character. I think it’s safe to say that Batman is more likable here. Robin still needs more experience so while he is a good fighter, he still has a ways to go. I would have liked to have seen some more effort from him so that he could save Batgirl. (At least he doesn’t try to throw the fight like Batman does at times) He’s still one of my favorite Batman characters, but this probably wasn’t his best appearance.
Batgirl also gets a big role, but only in her normal identity. She doesn’t put up the greatest fight against Mr Freeze and I think that she should have been able to escape at one point. Not off of the ship of course, but heading to the very top would have bought her a lot of time. She did a good job of buying time for herself, but I’m just saying that she could have done even better if she really put the effort in. Her brief moment as Batgirl made her look pretty good though so that was a preview of how the film could have gone for her. She could have probably given Mr Freeze and his minions a decent fight if she had been prepared.
Batman’s portrayal is pretty spot on as expected. He quickly starts to assemble the clues that he had gotten throughout the film and then he found out where Mr Freeze was hiding. He still is the world’s greatest detective so nothing is too tricky for him to figure out. He also looks pretty tough in the fight scenes and he’s a hero from start to finish. There’s nothing more that you can really ask for from Batman so the portrayal is just about perfect.
The animation is pretty sharp as you would expect. Batman always makes full use of the theater budget so the cape and cowl are sleek and sharp. There are no scenes where they look pale or out of focus. That being said, the film made the unwise choice of deciding to add a lot of CGI to the film. I’ve always thought that CGI is inferior to hand drawn animation so deciding to add some of it to a film because you can is still not a good reason to add it. The normal scenes look better than the CGI moments so they don’t help the film. It’s intriguing to look at since the scenes really stand out. It’s not like it’ll hurt the score or anything like that, but the film would have looked even better without the CGI moments.
Batman’s soundtrack is also about as good as you would expect. The intro theme is pretty good and it gets you in the mood for a good adventure. After that, the themes become a little more generic, but they definitely age well. It gives the film the look and feel of a theater film and that’s what I always expect. Nowadays, that isn’t always a guarantee. It’s not as good as the soundtrack was in Mask of the Phantasm, but it’s definitely good enough.
Mr Freeze didn’t have any human minions this time as he just teamed up with two Polar Bears and I have to say that this was another dicey move on the film’s part. Adding in animals means that there is a chance that they will have to fight so that’s always sad to see. The heroes are pretty passive when fighting them for the most part, but who wants to see the evil bears get blasted with water? I definitely could have done without them having to engage in the fights, but it certainly could have been a whole lot worse.
The main thing that stops this film from getting the usual 7 stars is the lack of action. We only see Batman at the very beginning when he fights a robber and at the very ending where he moves in to save Batgirl. It’s hard to call the movie a Batman film when the main star barely gets to appear. We get some Bruce Wayne scenes of course and Dick Grayson gets development, but I need action. Mr Freeze doesn’t even get to fight the heroes since it’s too late by that point. That’s definitely a missed opportunity right there. Sometimes, the gamble to have more plot than action works out, but that is very rarely and it typically only works when the action scenes wouldn’t have been enjoyable anyway. That is definitely not the case here so the strategy never really had a chance.
You could also argue that the film had a little too much romance in it. I definitely wouldn’t stop that argument since I agree with it. The romance is handled decently well at least since the scenes typically won’t leave you cringing, but it’s still a plot that I could do without. Batgirl and Robin should always stay as just friends especially when you know that it’s not going to last. It also stopped the characters from being as likable as they could have been.
Overall, SubZero is a pretty decent Batman film. As far as the DCAU titles go, it’s probably going to have to take last place, but that’s more of a “by default” thing. 6 stars is still pretty good after all so the film was still fun. The animation and soundtrack are good and Batman looks great. The brief action scenes that we do get are pretty good. The film may drag on a little towards the middle and the romance was probably too heavy as well, but it’s still a film that you will want to see as a Batman fan. I definitely recommend it to DC fans and if you want an even better Batman tale, just check out Mystery of the Batwoman.
Mr Freeze has his handy Freeze gun, but I think Vanessa Z has this. She has many suits that come with heightened defense systems and she can spam her various beam attacks. Not to mention that Vanessa Z is more athletic than Mr Freeze and should be able to dodge his ice attacks easy enough. Vanessa Z wins.
Human Torch is back and this time he’s up against Mr Freeze. Mr Freeze has his ice gun, but I’m gonna be direct on this. An ice gun can’t stop a Supernova. Human Torch can fly around Mr Freeze and take him out old school. Mr Freeze just couldn’t stop him this time. Mr Freeze drops down the ranks. Human Torch wins.
Mr Freeze is a tough foe and has used his ice skills to fight Batman for a long time. These two are rivals for life and will keep on fighting each other for the rest of their lives. Mr Freeze is deadly, but that’s only if he can freeze Batman.
Batman has a GL ring and a fire gun, both of which can help protect him from Mr Freeze. So in this match Batman takes the win. Mr Freeze just couldn’t defeat someone as powerful as Batman. Batman gets yet another win with this match. Batman wins.