Frozen Proves We Can Have a Female Superhero Movie
The superhero movie has come of age, and I think we can all agree it's a glorious age. Sure, it would be nice to have Spider-Man, the X-Men, and the Fantastic Four in the Marvel Studio pen rather than being executed with varying degrees of success by other studios that understand comic movies are big now but not exactly why, but I can live with that if it nets me Winter Soldier and Rocket Freakin' Racoon on the big screen. I'm even excited about Ant-Man, and that sentence has probably never been typed before.
But look at that amazing line up of films stretching back to Iron Man and Batman Begins and you'll notice a pattern. I'll give you a hint; it's the parts that do not involve flying mammals or alloys. Superpowered females in any form are almost non-existent in the modern cinematic universe, and yet we've all just seen the best example that this is an error in movie studio judgment in the fact that Disney's biggest hit in years is for all intents and purposes a superhero movie.
Think about it... first off, Elsa has a superpower, the only Disney princess to do so that doesn't involve talking to the animals. Rapunzel has that healing hair trick and some of the rest are capable fighters, but Elsa has cryokinesis. That puts her in the big leagues as far as powers go. Iceman was classified as an omega level mutant, the highest level of genetic potential, for basically the same power. She is a magic-based meta-human. No argument.
Second, she has a tragic origin story that involves misuse of the power she was born with that almost killed her beloved sister. Throw in the fact that Anna's care falls to her after they are orphaned and you end up with the best parts of Spider-Man and Batman combined with the inner pain of having to conceal her abilities lest horror strikes again.
Is there any appreciable difference between Elsa building her ice castle while singing "Let it Go" and Peter Parker's initial joy at swinging happily through the city of New York? Not really. Next thing you know she's fighting off the army totally Hulk style with her snow golem as well as using pinpoint accuracy with her own abilities to go Wolvie-berserk style on the ones that make it through the juggernaut of her first line of defense.
Eventually, Elsa is forced to return to her kingdom, is betrayed and imprisoned, and then manages to escape and save the day. Granted, the final victory comes from the magic of true love more than Elsa's physical heroics, but even that has a fair precedent in the stupid reverse-the-world ending of the first Superman.
Still, at their heart superhero movies are about what powers represent. X-Men is a dissertation on civil rights. Spider-Man and Superman embody the concept of social responsibility. Tony Stark is a rumination on the right of military force. Elsa's powers too are an allegory not only for the dangers of emotional repression, but also the deadly double-edged nature of wielding authority. In the hands of a loving, stable person like she eventually becomes her powers are a gift. To a broken wreck wrought with guilt and pain she was a monster.
Frozen touched every single important trope of the superhero movie and it did so with a nuanced, unsexualized female protagonist... while singing!
Story continues on next page.