Okay, not really. But why not? If you have not seen Frozen, this probably won’t make a lot of sense to you. But as a hopeless romantic, comic book geek, and life-long addict to Disney animated movies, I think this really needs to happen. Now, before my Disney fanatics and Comic-con fans beat me to death with season passes, bags, and boards, I have to ask, when you saw Frozen and saw Elsa breaking loose with her powers, didn’t you think, “Dang, this lady has got some power!” See, it’s not just me.
If you would, allow me to make my case as only a storyteller and gaming-geek can. First I should point out as a teller, that Disney has been playing with myths, folktales, and legends for many years (a few examples: Snow White, Cinderella, Mulan, Aladdin, Sleeping Beauty, Hercules). So I figure, if they get to use storytelling content kept alive for thousands of years by storytellers (for fun and profit), it’s only fair that a storyteller should be able to make a comment or three.
A little back-story is in order. Elsa was inspired by the character called the Snow Queen (Snedronnigen) in a fairy-tale published by the same name in 1844 by none other than Hans Christian Anderson. Anderson was obviously influenced by the various snowy myths and legends and folktales growing up in Denmark. And if you’ve ever read any of Hans Christian Anderson’s stories, you will realize that Anderson saw the world a bit oddly by our standards, or even by the standards of anyone living in Denmark in the 1800s.
I should point out that Disney pointed the “D-Ray” at another of his other stories as well, a tiny little movie called The Little Mermaid and Disney did okay by that. The original Hans Christian Anderson Little Mermaid did not have a Disney-esque ending. But I digress.
In his original Snow Queen story, the Snow Queen was the villain and very scary. She kidnaps a boy named Kai, and the girl who rides to the rescue him is named Gerda. She is helped by a crazed pistol-packing robber girl, talking flowers, a talking reindeer, and other creatures. Gerda, it turns out, has the ability to cry magical tears, and she can summon angels, which is pretty handy. If you get a chance, you can check out the original story. It’s only a few pages long and … odd.
There are tons of traditional myths and folktales of cold and deadly beings, and that makes sense. If you live somewhere where you can freeze to death outside, you are probably going to have lots of stories about such things. For instance, the original Jack Frost was not a nice guy, and in Norse myth we have Snow (Snærr) son of Glacier, who also has a son named Frozen Snow, and three daughters, Snowdrift, Snow Fall, and Powdered Snow. Do you sense a theme? And if you really want to raise your “cold-hearted, beautiful snow lady” fear up a notch, check out the Japanese folktales about Yuki Onna, the Snow Woman. Trust me, there are some truly terrifying icy stories out there.
The influence of those myths and legends were part of the world that Hans Christian Anderson lived in. Many folks believe that the Hans Christian Anderson original Snow Queen probably inspired the The White Witch in C.S. Lewis’s The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. That was the role was later icily played by Tilda Swinton in the Narnia movie series released in 2005. Now imagine her singing, “Let it Go.” Brrr!
And speaking of the song “Let it Go,” when the Disney creators of Frozen were working on the storyline, originally, Elsa was designed as a villain. But after hearing the song, they realized they had two heroines in their version of the story. And that’s a unique twist for Disney canon. Yes, “true love” does save the day but it’s the love of the two sisters for each other that saves them and possibly prevents an ice age. And the Prince is a schmuck. This story makes for a nice change, having female heroes as well as having the theme of personal empowerment that little girls all over the world can sing madly about.
So despite her age (roughly 169 years old) the Snow Queen (a.k.a. Elsa) was created by a writer, and has inspired many stories and illustrations. Strangely enough, the Avengers were created by writers and illustrators as well! Who knew?
The original Snow Queen is no spring chicken, but then, the Avengers themselves were created long before there were mega-lines at Comic-Con. The Avengers originally débuted in 1963 featuring Iron Man, Ant-Man, the Wasp, the Hulk, and Thor. It is a running joke in the Marvel universe that when someone says, “I am an Avenger,” the standard reply is, “Who isn’t?” Seriously, you would need a S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier just to host an Avengers reunion, With all the variants in comic book land, we’re looking at close to a hundred various heroes.
So all I’m asking is that if the Avengers can lift the velvet rope for Thor (a mythological Norse God of thunder and lightning), can’t we let in a fairy tale queen? Seriously, let’s geek this out. Everyone please put your pocket protector and nerd glasses on now.
Elsa of Arendelle (Fairytale Queen and #13 in the line of Disney princesses), what do we know about her?
Physically: She’s beautiful and immune to cold. While she may have average strength, having another beautiful lady on the Avengers team couldn’t hurt. She has above average dexterity and some amazing singing chops. (By the way, Iron Man/Robert Downey Jr. ain’t too shabby either. Google him singing with Sting.) She also did not appear to need much sleep up there on the mountain.
Mentally: She’s smart and very mature for her age. She has a strong sense of morality, and she has battled against her power for years to protect her sister and her Kingdom. Considering that, she has amazing willpower, and she seemed pretty diplomatic and charming until everything gets all freeze-y. She is also brave and strong emotionally and, toward the latter part, very independent and generous.
Resources: She’s a Queen, so that doesn’t hurt. And we have plenty of precedent for Super-nobility, for example Black Panther (King of Wakanda), Thor (an Asgardian Prince), and Dr. Viktor von Doom (ruler of Latveria). And at the end of the movie, she seems to be doing a good job as Regent.
Powers (a.k.a. the Fun Stuff): World class magical cryokinesis/frigokinesis. It gives her the ability to create almost anything from snow and ice. Her power is so great that she can change global weather patterns and freeze cities, miles away. It is also seemingly somewhat semi-autonomous and seems to react before she consciously does.
Among some of the displays of her freezing abilities:
- Creating sentient animated snow creatures: Olaf and Marshmallow (the Guardian)
- Filling a castle full of dangerous and growing ice spears, from miles away
- Creating ice walls and shields in a fraction of time, and the ability to move them without touching them
- Freezing a massive body of water thick enough to be walked on in seconds (she ice-locks an entire harbor with ice several feet thick) (Did you know that Elsa has a beautiful “Signature Snowflake” pattern which you can see as a subtle motif throughout the movie? You can see it when she steps on the ice.)
- Creating objects small and large of breathtaking beauty such as the brilliant Ice Castle on the mountain and her designer dress (Frank Lloyd Wright, Christian Dior, and Buckminster Fuller, eat your designer hearts out. Other Ice-slingers like Iceman (Bobby Drake, from the X-Men) and Frozone (Lucius Best, of the Incredibles), let this lady show you how to build ice bridge!)
- Creating a magical ice that does not kill targets immediately and can turn them into ice-statues
- Creating localized weather patterns such as the localized cold cloud for Olaf
- Controlling ice/water in multiple states: crystalline, liquid, and gaseous
- Freezing metal to the point of it becoming brittle and breaking (chains and handcuffs)
- Creating a “stasis” area of suspended wind/snow/ice, which she can dismiss with a wave of her hand
Weaknesses: Her powers can be deadly if she is distraught or surprised. She might to need to wear gloves on a day to day basis. Orphaned. She has a Dependent NPC (Anna). And she has a strong sense of duty to her Kingdom.
So, if you sum it all up, we have a world class Super Heroine. We are talking a Magneto, Phoenix, Silver Surfer level, Four color, front cover, multiple story arc heroine.
Like Thor, she’s magical. Like the Hulk, she has to be careful to control her emotions. Like the Black Widow, she’s smart, tough, and beautiful. Like Iron Man, she can create thinking beings (Jarvis in the movies), and make amazing items, and she rules her own country. Like Captain America, she’s strong willed, has leadership abilities, and a strong moral code. And she could turn Hawkeye into a snow-cone with a wave. Can’t you see it? Elsa “Snow Queen” in her designer ice armor with a sub-zero sword? She could trash Hydra while doing a musical number. Maybe if we ask Joss Whedon, we could get a duet with her and Dr. Horrible? Hey, a geek guy can dream. Plus, think of all the little girls who would want merchandisable “Ice Armor.” Think about it, Disney!
Believe in the power of stories!
Robert Seutter is a graduate of USC’s Navy-Marine Cinema Program; a professional storyteller, known as True Thomas; a sci-fi novelist; a scholar of folklore, myth, and legend; a proud geek and a gamer since D-20 dice were carved from mastodon bones!