Female psychopaths have always been my favorite on screen characters. When normal little girls were being tucked into bed with their barbie dolls, my cuddle buddy was Harley Quinn. Some might call it a crush, but as a psychology major I prefer to think of it as a "professional curiosity" in the same vein as Bedelia's "professional curiosity" for Hannibal. So yeah, basically a twisted crush. I had the same opinion of Disney movies growing up. I always found the evil queen or wicked stepmother infinitely more intriguing than the princess. I wanted to know why she is the way she is. Villains always have a fascinating backstory. That's why I loved Snow White and The Huntsman, starring Kristin Stewart and Chris Hemsworth as the title characters, respectively, and Charlize Theron as Ravenna, the evil queen. The evil queen was given her due and played to perfection by the formidable Oscar Winner.
In the past few years, live action adaptations of popular princess-based stories have become a hot topic in Hollywood. We've seen Alice from Alice in Wonderland, Cinderella, Rapunzel, and Aurora already, with an adaptation of The Little Mermaid on its way. However, my favorite to come from this trend has been Snow White and the Huntsman. I preferred that film to the others because it embraced the darkness of the original fairytale.
Fortunately, this did well enough to earn a sequel, or rather, a spin-off titled The Huntsman: Winter's War. It will not include Stewart's Snow White (although she will be missed), but instead will focus on the sister of the vanquished evil queen. Emily Blunt will play Freya, a queen with a broken heart that has equally powerful supernatural abilities to her older sister, Ravenna (Theron). Judging by Freya's powers, you could compare her to Elsa if she had turned to the dark side.
Freya is attempting to raise an unstoppable army of deadly warriors with one request - that they refrain from romantic entanglements. However, the two leaders of her army, Eric (Chris Hemsworth) and Sara (Jessica Chastain) defy her orders and fall in love, which enrages Freya enough to want to retrieve her dead sister's magic mirror. Freya seems to be more concerned with power than beauty. She soon learns that she's able to resurrect Ravenna from its depths, and they join forces to cloak the kingdoms in a darkness unlike anything they'd experienced before.
It was hinted in Snow White and The Huntsman that Ravenna was hallucinating the man in the mirror due to what I assumed was mental illness. Is Freya resurrecting Ravenna a similar situation, or is she actually able to harness the mirror's power?
Early reports said that 2016's The Huntsman would be a prequel explaining the antagonist's origins. However, the release of the teaser trailer showed that it is not a sequel, but a spin-off - which raises a lot of questions. Snow White and The Huntsman ended with a happily ever after. Snow White vanquished the evil queen and took the throne herself, presumably with The Huntsman at her side. These events preceded the formation of Freya's army. However, in the trailer it's clear that Freya's Hemsworth Huntsman, Eric, has been training to become the legion's leader since childhood.
Yet, in the final moments of the trailer, Theron's Ravenna says "Hello Huntsman, I've missed you", more than hinting at the fact that they have a history together, a history like the one illustrated in the first film. My theory is that Freya's Huntsman was created in Ravenna's Huntsman's image. Sort of genetically engineered, which would explain why the love story between he and Chastain's Sara is forbidden - they were created for a specific purpose and shouldn't have been given the ability to foster real emotion.
When theories began to fly around about The Huntsman being a prequel, it was assumed that Chastain would be playing Ravenna's Huntsman's deceased wife whose death was a major point of contention between he and Ravenna. BUT, now that the events are evidently subsequent to that story line, it seems that Chastain will be playing an original character of the same training and background as Freya's Huntsman and of the same name as Ravenna's Huntsman's wife. Unlike Stewart's Snow White, she will not rely on the hope that the universe's fabric is inherently moral and that good must prevail over evil. She (and Hemsworth) will instead be "divergents" of sorts, breaking away from their former master (Blunt) for the sake of their love, predominantly, and justice as a secondary goal.
A more radical theory I have is that the mirror serves as a portal of sorts to a parallel universe where Freya lives. When Ravenna was killed by Snow White she became "of the mirror" and Freya was eventually able to pull her to the other side. In that universe, The Huntsman's timeline is just beginning. He's just met his wife, Sara, and they must battle against Freya to be together. If his timeline follows that of the original, Sara will die and he will become a drunk before meeting Snow White and beginning the events of the first film. Because it's a parallel timeline, though, this version of events could be that Eric and Sara prevail against Freya and Sara lives, leaving Snow White solely for the other universe. In either case, The Huntsman Winter's War would be all three- a sequel, prequel, and a spin-off. Confusing, I know.
It could be a case of history repeating itself. Like I said above, if Freya created her Huntsman in Ravenna's Huntsman's image then it's possible that these two souls, Sara and Eric, were meant to be together like they were in the timeline that came before he met Snow White and are simply falling back into the roles that they were born to play.
So, why is a Snow White-less sequel exciting? Without the inclusion of a "pure as the driven snow" character, the others in the film, despite their shortcomings, become more likable. Yes, I may have been the only one rooting for the evil queen in the first one, but with their being two this time, I assure you there will be a moment when it becomes necessary to choose the lesser of two evils. I don't see any world in which two highly skilled, yet mortal Huntsman could take down two sorcerers with supernatural powers. My theory is that Theron's Ravenna will get power hungry like in the original, and that Freya will join forces with the huntsman. OR, that Ravenna will dip back into the humanity that she showed brief glimpses of in Snow White and help to defeat her younger sister.
This is of course my own personal speculation. All that we know for sure right now is that the film will start Blunt/Theron vs. Hemsworth/Chastain, which will make for an epic battle of extremely talented proportions.
The ensemble of Blunt, Theron and Chastain is probably the most impressive collection of talented women I've seen in an action/adventure film. All three have shown that they are capable of balancing deep, emotional performances with the physicality and thought processes of a tortured/war-hardened soul. Seeing them all three on one screen might be dangerous to the monitors. Just by them showing up, they've assured that the movie will be worth seeing. Again, I don't mean to be disparaging towards Kristen Stewart, I enjoyed the first film and her performance as the protagonist, but if it was her declining to be in the sequel that opened up an opportunity for Chastain, then it was very much worth the potential plot holes that will arise from Snow White's absence.