For the last 20 years, the comic book genre has constantly found an approach that worked and then milked it for all it’s worth. After X-Men arrived in 2000, we were inundated with leather-clad superheroes. Following Batman Begins in 2005, it was all about dark and gritty reboots. The success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Phase One saw everyone else try and build a shared mythology of their own, while Deadpool led to a slew of R-rated adaptations.
The latest potential game-changer could be Todd Phillips’ Joker, which became the highest-grossing R-rated movie ever made and went on to find plenty of awards season glory. It hasn’t happened yet, but you can guarantee that unconventional origin stories for various villains have already been discussed behind the scenes.
There are plenty of iconic bad guys that have engaging backstories of their own, and in a recent interview Joker producer Michael Uslan admitted that he’d love to see Mr. Freeze get similar treatment based on his Batman: The Animated series arc.
“One of the most amazing things about the Batman movies, and Batman-related movies, is three times now they have redefined what a superhero or comic book movie could be. Tim Burton did it in 1989, Chris Nolan did it with the Dark Knight trilogy, and Todd Phillips did it with Joker. Completely redid what this could be and how you can approach a movie like this. What Todd did, and his genius, can be applied to I think any other villain. If any villain was studied like that, there are some great possibilities. One of my favorite episodes of Batman: The Animated Series, which I love, absolutely love, dealt with Mr. Freeze and the loss of his wife. The empathy, the emotions that that created, I could see.”
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Uslan was quick to put out any fires he might have inadvertently started by shooting down any chances of it actually happening, and instead praised the quality of the Dark Knight’s rogues’ gallery as a whole, and how many of them have the capability to headline their own movie.
“I’m putting on my fanboy hat, not my producing hat. This has nothing to do with any plans, or this or that. I don’t want that part on the Internet. It’s just that as a fanboy, I can see taking that iteration of Mr. Freeze and doing something amazing with his backstory. But it doesn’t matter if it’s Scarecrow, Riddler, Catwoman, Penguin, they’re so juicy. And part of their success has been their mystique, where all the dots haven’t been dotted and the Ts haven’t been crossed. It allows filmmakers to come in and take it to places it’s never been taken before.”
The Mr. Freeze solo movie would definitely work in the right context if the material was handled correctly, especially when that particular storyline was one of the highlights of Batman: The Animated series. Joker proved that the Caped Crusader’s villains can take center stage without his involvement, but on the other hand Halle Berry’s Catwoman also showed what happens when the studio gets it all wrong.