As I’ve been playing through the masterful Batman: Arkham Knight, I’ve been thinking about The Dark Knight and his rogues gallery quite a lot (yes, even more than normal). The thing that makes them the greatest group of heroes and villains is the endless capacity for reinvention. The Arkham series is a perfect example of this, putting its own stamp on nearly every character in the Bat-verse. 1989’s Batman may have put Batman back on the cultural stage, but it was Bruce Timm and Paul Dini’s Batman: The Animated Series that is most responsible for the modern way we think of Batman and his rogues gallery.
The series gave us Kevin Conroy, who still provides the voice for Batman in animated movies (Bruce Timm announced that next year they will be adapting an animated version of Alan Moore’s The Killing Joke) and in the Arkham video games. The best episodes of the show took characters reduced to utter camp by the 60’s show or those who had never had a modern interpretation and gave them definition. Nowhere was this accomplished better than in the 13th episode of the series “Heart of Ice”.
Mr. Freeze is a goofy character (and thank you, Arnold, for undoing pretty much everything Timm did with this in Batman & Robin). Timm took that character and gave him an origin and a reason for being that was so tragic and so touching that Freeze remains one of my favorite rogues to this day. He was treated well in the Arkham video games, but just taking “Heart of Ice” and expanding it would make a worthy feature film. Freeze, aside from Mark Hamill’s Joker, was the best villain in Batman: TAS, but it all stemmed from that first redefinition.