One of my favorite things about Frozen, besides everything, is the way the movie turned stereotypes on its head. Which is why I'm so fascinated by this trailer showing us what it would have been like if Elsa was the villain in Frozen. When I first saw that headline, I was more amused than anything, because I felt like Elsa being the villain of anything was so far from the truth. In my mind, she's the hero of the story, so how could she be bad? There's never been a bad or evil Disney princess. But, then, I began to realize that Elsa is actually the antihero of the story; you root for her even though she negatively affects the world around her, because you can tell that her motivations are good. It's just her follow-through that ends up being such an obstacle.
So, with that adjusted in my head, I'm looking at this trailer for the movie-that-wasn't in an entirely different light. This is the movie that we would've gotten if the creators of Frozen were lazy. Specifically when it comes to the writing of female characters, there isn't typically a whole lot of gray area between good and bad, the maiden and the crone. Either Elsa intends to be good and is good, or intends to be bad and is bad. But, in the same way that Frozen's creators upended the stereotype of "love at first sight" for Anna, allowing our own suspension of disbelief when it comes to fairytales to bite us in the butt when Hans turns out to be duplicitous, they also went against convention by refusing to make Elsa a cut-and-dried character like the one shown in this (very well done!) spoof trailer.
Sure, Elsa hurts her sister, she blocks out society, she delights in her power, she hardens her heart, she has a remote, sparkling ice palace — all traits characteristic of the evil witch trope that this trailer uses to great affect to show us what it would've been like if Elsa had swung all the way to that end of the very limited spectrum. But she also presents more traditional princess (or just human) qualities, like love, guilt, fear, uncertainty, courage, responsibility, and the desire to protect her little sister. By trying, and sometimes failing, to do her best, Elsa truly earns the label of "antihero," typically only given to male characters like Breaking Bad's Walter White, Star Wars' Han Solo in Star Wars, and Sherlock Holmes.
Sure, these are weird connections to make when we're talking about an animated ice queen, but they're all quite apt, and realizing the connection gives me a new appreciation for everyone involved in crafting the Frozen storyline. They could have put out another cookie-cutter rendition of all those classics where a wicked stepmother or an evil stepsister prevent our clear-eyed heroine from falling in love at first sight and living happily (and simply) ever after, but, instead, they gave us a surprisingly complex tale of a coupla ladies doing their best. Not to mention a movie that can keep on surprising me almost two years after my initial viewing.
Not too damn shabby.
Images: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures; Giphy