Director Jennifer Lee weighs in. Unfortunately, her remarks seem disappointingly ambiguous.
Is the world ready for round two of Frozen fever? There is still over a year to go before Frozen 2 hits cinemas. However, given that the first film was such a smash hit for Disney, it is doubtful that anyone truly left its winter wonderland in the dust.
There is a lot at stake with Frozen 2, both financially and culturally. The 2013 animated feature took the world by storm and made children everywhere croon along to some seriously overplayed music. But if you look past weathered parents everywhere (okay, enough puns), you’ll find that Frozen managed to posit some vital messages about self-love. The film has proven to be particularly important to LGBTQ+ viewers, who identify with its themes of acceptance and confidence.
The good news is these fan interpretations of Frozen haven’t gone unnoticed. Writer/director Jennifer Lee is aware that many fans want Elsa (voiced by Idina Menzel) to get a girlfriend in the sequel. A hashtag exists, and petitions have been made championing a canonically lesbian Elsa. According to The Huffington Post, Lee is supportive of introducing more LGBTQ+ storylines into the franchise. Or rather, she’s perfectly open to the notion of creating a more inclusive world in Frozen 2. This week, while promoting her new movie, A Wrinkle in Time, Lee acknowledged the wider cultural impact that Frozen has had on young viewers, although she does not speak with much specificity over where Elsa will go next in the sequel.
According to Lee:
“I love everything people are saying [and] people are thinking about with our film ― that it’s creating dialogue, that Elsa is this wonderful character that speaks to so many people. It means the world to us that we’re part of these conversations.
“Where we’re going with it, we have tons of conversations about it, and we’re really conscientious about these things. For me … Elsa’s every day telling me where she needs to go, and she’ll continue to tell us. I always write from character-out, and where Elsa is and what Elsa’s doing in her life, she’s telling me every day. We’ll see where we go.”
Lee’s remarks, although positive overall, don’t really tell us anything we don’t already suspect. Sure, the idea of Elsa having a girlfriend is fantastic, but will anyone actually put that into the script? Menzel herself is “excited” about the prospect of Elsa liking girls — or rather, she’s happy that Frozen allows audiences to “have these kinds of conversations.”
Elsa’s solo song “Let It Go” — excessively played as it was — has been called a coming-out anthem. Her overall arc in Frozen is all about self-acceptance, and sends an empowering message to audiences of all ages. Especially for young LGBTQ+ fans, this could mean multitudes and makes Elsa — whether she’s gay or bisexual — so vital to the cultural conversation.
Clearly, Lee and Menzel have good intentions. For the time being, they’re not even actually making promises they’re bound to break. But while the thought counts, Frozen 2 can only go so far without a more adamant stance on representation within it, especially when you remember that this is Disney. LGBTQ+ love is minimal and at times rather iffy in their movies and that needs to change. Ideally, the entire Le Fou debacle from last year’s Beauty and the Beast would be a wake-up call for the studio to at least try when it comes to inclusivity. Enough with morally shady characters with ambiguously “not-straight” traits.
Of course, for now, we don’t know the definitive future of Frozen 2. Considering the number of straight relationships that flourish in many Disney films, the excuses against LGBTQ+ inclusion run thinner and thinner. It would just be great if Lee unequivocally wrote Elsa as a woman who loves women. Don’t be like J. K. Rowling; break the pattern of coy sidestepping.