Frozen wowed audiences with its message of sisterly love, as the ostracised and isolated Elsa was finally reunited with her sister Anna. And with news about Frozen 2 thin on the ground, new rumours have surfaced that the writers may choose to recycle an original plot concept for the first film: that Elsa becomes a full blown villain!
When Frozen was first imagined it was far closer to the Hans Christian Anderson story The Snow Queen, with Elsa's role being evil and cruel. Somewhere along the way this shifted to become the tale we know and love. But could we see a return to the original ideas in Frozen 2? And would this work for the plot?
Journey To Elsa
In the beginning, Elsa wasn't even Elsa but the Snow Queen, a tyrant that Anna was on a mission to defeat. Their relationship was complex, but without a clear definition or depth as they didn't have that sister connection. The Snow Queen hated Anna and wanted to freeze her heart, but the writers struggled with why.
The first major change came when Let It Go was written. Yes, it turns out that the song that drove the film's popularity was hugely influential from the moment it was written.
"We were still writing a villain song and we started getting into the head-space of what you'd feel like if you were that isolated. We knew in this moment that she would go through a transformation. From repressed to letting her powers out ... trying to get away from society and be who she really was."
From then on, the identity of the Snow Queen was in flux. The song was so uplifting and powerful, it was difficult to reconcile that with a full blown villain. The creative team felt audiences would be conflicted, and so the film was rewritten. But not before they had already recorded some test dialogue, so if you're dying to hear what an evil Elsa would sound like, here's your chance!
The main problem the writers found with combining Elsa's villain character with Let It Go was the idea of ostracising outcasts. They didn't want the message of the film to be that if you're isolated and oppressed then you will inevitably turn out bad. Jennifer Lee, who penned the final script, felt that this idea could be damaging to young children.
"They kept calling her the villain. But there came a point where we said, 'We can't use that word anymore.' You care about someone who's been forced to hide who they are."
As noble as this idea is, was Elsa's character watered down too much?
From Villain To Sidestory
Despite being the one to sing the big number, Elsa doesn't actually get a lot of screen time in Frozen. The story seems to focus more on Anna's love story, and even their final reconciliation takes mere moments.
It's a shame really, that Lee couldn't have found some middle ground with Elsa's characterisation. She has every right to be angry with those who rejected her, while of course she is very misguided in how she reacts. And her flaws are never really developed: she runs away instead of confronting the situation, because she was incredibly isolated as a child.
Perhaps Frozen 2 could expand on this idea, giving Elsa some much needed character development. But if the writers do choose to turn her into a villain again, would this be an interesting twist or a step backwards?
That Perfect Girl Is Gone
It's difficult to see how the writers would make Elsa villainous at this point. She's just reunited with her sister, and after accepting her powers Elsa seems to have got a fresh start in life. However, she is facing the responsibility of being queen, and with Anna spending a lot of her time with Kristoff, could Elsa become isolated again?
It's certainly possible, and though it might feel a bit too much like a rehash of the first film, Elsa never got the chance to show us how badass she can be. If the writers do choose to give her a more villainous role let's hope they tie it in to some character development for Elsa, so that she can finally resolve the problems that have been plaguing her throughout her life.
Until we get more news, we can't know for sure. But what do you think: do you want to see Elsa snap and lash out? Or should she rebuild her relationship with Anna? Let us know in the comments, or write your own post!