What happened in 1997 may recall rumors that actor Patrick Stewart, who had not yet played Professor X in Bryan Singer’s “X-Men,” was in talks to play Mr. Freeze in the then-upcoming Batman movie. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Joel Schumacher eventually denied these rumors, stating that Stewart was never contacted, auditioned, or even suggested by anyone. However, the director admitted, “It’s a good idea.”
Stewart, a classically trained Shakespearean actor and then fresh out of “Star Trek: First Contact,” would certainly play the role differently from Arnold Schwarzenegger, who reaches the high camp more often and often puns about ice and frostbite. (Sample dialogue: “Let’s throw some ice.”) Indeed, storyboard artist Steve Burgard claims that an earlier version of the script attributed to Akiva Goldsman is free of puns. Burgard said that Mr. Freeze was originally written mostly for an actor like Stewart and contains a classic element of tragedy:
“All the dialogue was for Mr. Freeze, you could say it was made for someone to tell it in a Shakespearean style. It was hysterical; in my head, I was reading Freeze’s dialogue as Schwarzenegger.”
The character changed when the production revealed Schwarzenegger, one of the world’s biggest movie stars, who made it hard to say anything but “yes.” Burgard said the silly puns were only made after the script was cast. Shakespeare’s grades fell, and camp slowly creeped in, reminiscent of the 1966 “Batman” movie.