It’s true, we can’t always get what we want, but in the case of the Give Elsa A Girlfriend fan campaign, it seems like it wouldn’t be all that hard to make all our dreams come true. In case you missed it, Disney Animation gave Elsa (Idina Menzel) and Anna (Kristen Bell) a whole other movie’s worth of adventures. Surely, there’s space for a romantic entanglement along the way? Well, not so much, per head of Disney Animation and Frozen II co-director Jennifer Lee.
“Ultimately Frozen’s about the power of all kinds of love over fear, and that resonated and that means everything,” says Lee. But unfortunately, she says the character wasn’t ready for an explicitly romantic subplot.
“With Elsa, we did all of these personality tests, these in depth questionnaires, we did journaling, we did all of this, and it was saying she's just not ready for a relationship and we weren't going to force something. She'll tell us where to go. And she told us, I've got to know the origins of my powers,” explains Lee.
Menzel, for her part, largely agrees that now wasn’t the time for a romance of any kind for Elsa.
“I'm not trying to avoid your question, but what's important to realise is that it's not about romantic love — she's never been about that. In these films, the most powerful thing is that she's always trying to find and build the love inside for herself. She doesn't need a man to complete her in any way, and that focus isn't there,” she says. “Maybe one day in another incarnation or another sequel, who knows. But I think it's important for our audiences to realise that this is someone that's an independent thinker, who's about trying to figure out who she is and how she can use her power to change the world and love where she comes from. That’s who she is and what she's about.”
Okay, so technically, Elsa didn’t get a girlfriend.
There are some teensy, tiny nods at what Elsa’s life could look like after Frozen II. It turns out that Elsa’s mother is a member of the Northuldra tribe, who were at odds with Arendelle for many years, meaning Elsa and Anna are half-Northuldra. That brings into the fold a host of new characters, and some blink-and-you’ll-miss-’em hints at Elsa’s romantic future. Enter, the new character Honeymaren (Rachel Matthews), one of the Northuldra people and the person who first suggests Elsa should leave Arendelle and live with her mother’s people instead. While Honeymaren and Elsa don’t share any explicitly romantic moments — her friendliness toward Elsa seems just as openly romantic as her brother Ryder’s (Jason Ritter) friendship with Kristoff (Jonathan Groff) — there are hints at something more, even if the filmmakers say that wasn’t their focus.
For one, Honeymaren is a key stepping stone to Elsa deciding to move out to the woods — “You belong out here,” says Honeymaren, after holding Elsa’s hand in hers, towards the end of the film. In their first scene alone, the duo gently sing the lines of Elsa’s mother’s lullaby together over a campfire. Lastly, Honeymaren can be seen smiling at Elsa’s side in the final moments of the film, when our heroine has finally found a place that feels like her true home. It seems like a pretty decent set-up for a little romance to bloom. Unfortunately, the movie doesn’t explicitly state anything about a romantic relationship between the two characters.
In that very last shot of the film, what we'll say, is she is just happy. She's truly free.
Frozen II co-director chris buck
“Everyone I've ever loved is here within these walls / I'm sorry, secret siren, but I'm blocking out your calls / I've had my adventure, I don't need something new /I'm afraid of what I'm risking if I follow you,” croons Menzel in the sequel.
The lyrics, which call out to someone Elsa thinks is another woman with powers, somewhere in the great unknown (it turns out, the powers are her own), certainly feel like a spiritual successor lyrics from “Let It Go” that originally endeared Elsa to the LBGTQ+ community: “Don't let them in, don't let them see / Be the good girl you always have to be / Conceal, don't feel, don't let them know / Well, now they know.”
But for those who have become instant Elsamaren (or should it be Honeymelsa?) shippers after hoping Frozen II would be the moment we get our first explicitly queer Disney Princess, there is a teensy bit of good news.
Lee did point to the possibilities for Elsa now that the character has finally learned the truth about who she is.
“What I loved is she meets a group of people and this is the future, the people she'll spend time with and she'll figure out where she's going,” offers Lee, with the caveat that whatever comes next for Elsa hasn’t yet been written. “We haven't thought past the last shot of the film — that matters, it really matters — but what we also have to do is say, where is she now? And stay true to what she's ready for on her journey. And that's all we can do.”
Of course, Lee’s co-director Chris Buck pointed out one very important detail, and one we all know as the hallmark of anyone who’s truly ready for a romantic relationship: Finding happiness within themselves, first. “In that very last shot of the film, what we'll say, is she is just happy. She's truly free,” he points out.
Add to that the fact that Frozen II just shattered box office expectations and records, leaving both its new leads with wide open futures: Anna is a new Queen of Arendelle with a shiny new fiancé, and Elsa is basically the Sansa Stark of the Disney realm — Queen in The North with upgraded abilities, a power gown, and a whole new world at her feet. It’s looking pretty likely that Disney will soon give these gals a trilogy with Frozen III if they like money (word has it they do).
Until then, fanfic it up, Disney fans.