Yes, I hate to admit it, but we need Frozen 3. After forcing myself to rewatch both films of Disney’s beloved franchise, I’m convinced that we need a third installment.
I know that there are scores of voices shouting from the Twitterspheric Void (and Tumblr) to get something more out of Frozen. Ignore all of it. Personally, I think Frozen is overrated, and people need to get on with their lives. But as a storyteller, I can tell the writers aren’t done yet. Frozen 3 is coming. It’s just a matter of “when.”
Also, I’m not including any spoiler warnings. Frozen 2 has been out long enough. Let’s proceed.
The Three Act Structure of a Trilogy
Let’s go back to school for a second. When you are telling a story on screen, most screenwriters follow a three-act formula. This formula is both at work in each movie as well as the overall trilogy.
Act 1: The Setup
Introduce the heroes, the villains, the conflict, and the setting. Jumpstart the journey.
- Frozen: Act 1 begins with the opening credits and ends with Anna beginning her journey to find Elsa.
- Frozen 2: Act 1 carries through the opening credits to the earthquake that sends the gang on their journey north following “Aurora”‘s voice.
- The Franchise: Act 1 is the entire movie, Frozen. We have the setup. Arendelle, Anna and Elsa, the primary issue, and the journey of these two sisters ruling their Nordic kingdom begins.
Act 2: Confrontation/The Journey
The heroes leave home and begin their journey. Conflict develops, love interests spark, we learn the true identity of the antagonist, and the hero learns what s/he must do to win. Act 2 is a darker part of the story, where the low point is usually crossed.
- Frozen: Act 2 of the first film opens with “Let it Go” and carries through “Fixer Upper.” It ends when we discover that only a kiss or act of true love will save Anna.
- Frozen 2: Act 2 begins when Elsa leads everybody through the mist and ends when Elsa loses Anna and Olaf and heads north on her own.
- The Franchise: Frozen 2 is the Second Act of the Franchise. We continue to learn more about Elsa’s powers and discover the real events of Arendelle’s past. Both Anna and Elsa grow into the women they were meant to be. We are also made aware of the overarching conflict between humanity and nature.
Act 3: The Resolution
We have come home with a renewed spirit, receive jaw-dropping realizations, and the hero emerges no longer reluctant, and more confident than ever. But, we often find the low point here instead of Act 2. Act 3 is where we finally get our “Happily Ever After.”
- Frozen: Act 3 begins with Anna rushing back to Arendelle with Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven, and carries until the end.
- Frozen 2: Act 3 begins with “Show Yourself” and carries to the end.
- The Franchise: Act 3 will be Frozen 3. While Frozen 2 does not necessarily end on a cliffhanger, but the story still isn’t finished. We now know the characters, the setting, and the laws of the land. We know the struggles between the magical realm of nature and the human realm. Can harmony exist?
Anna & Elsa Still Needs to Prove Themselves
This point will ruffle some feathers, but, sorry, it’s true. No, Anna and Elsa have not proven themselves yet.
Movie 1 is about acceptance. The “reluctant hero” accepts her special-ness; her destiny. Elsa comes to terms with the fact she has powers and is responsible for the people of Arendelle. Anna steps up to save her sister and discovers the meaning of true love.
Movie 2 is about evolution. Yes, Elsa has powers now. Cool. But she has them because she is called to something more. She is a bigger deal than she thinks she realizes. Because of that, she must separate herself from others and discover who she is meant to be. Anna also evolves. Her naivete is broken, yet she still finds an optimism made possible through her own strength. Anna also evolves from princess to queen and single to engaged.
Movie 3 will be about endurance. The status quo has been set. Anna is Queen of Arendelle and Elsa is some magical super-queen guardian that bridges the gap between nature and humanity. Now, that status quo must be challenged and maintained. Can that balance be maintained? Can Elsa control her powers and avoid the temptation to become the dark Ice Queen from Hans Christian Andersen’s original fairy tale?
Anna & Elsa Won the Battles but are Yet to Win the War
By following that three-act formula, we know that Anna and Elsa are not out of the woods yet. The ending of Frozen 2 lulls us into a false sense of security. Our favorite sisters have a renewed spirit to keep going. They’ve been through the low point. They now have the confidence they need. Now, it’s time to make the final blow.
But, make the final blow on what exactly? Who is the literal antagonist(s)? I don’t know. But I will say there are two different stories in these movies: Elsa’s and Anna’s. Elsa is basically walking the path of the Jedi. She has other-worldly powers and must take a place above and outside “normal society” as its guardian. Anna is the modernized Disney Princess story. A generation character, she is disillusioned but finds hope through her own strength and leadership. She finds a better “happily ever after.” She finds genuine love and her role as queen.
The past two movies have asked, “Who am I?” “What’s going on?” “What happened?” “What do we have to do?” The heroes know who they are now. They know the roles they must play. But, now, they must hold fast to who they are to defeat the physical and spiritual demons that come their way.
If I were to make predictions now…
…I’d say Frozen 3 will pick up after Anna and Kristoff‘s wedding. Like how it was with Tangled, Anna’s wedding is perfect “animated short” material. Elsa will be dealing with mystical nature-spirit drama, and Anna will be pregnant and about to give birth.
Since Frozen 2 redeemed the past crimes of the human realm, and everything ends “all square,” I’d say that the baddies of Frozen 3 will appear much as they did in Frozen: The “Red Herring” baddie (ex. The Duke of Westleton), and then the Real baddie (ex. Prince Hans of the Southern Isles). In this case, the Red Herring will be a group of human baddies with another futile effort for humanity to control nature and the world’s magic. The real antagonist will be found in the magical spirits.
Because Anna and Elsa’s grandfather was right: magic does provide people the power to no longer need and even defy a King or Queen. The Duke of Westleton was also right to see the threat of magic imposing itself upon the human realm.
Anna and Elsa will side with nature to fight the human baddies off. But that won’t be enough for the power-crazed spirits. They will want to put an end to “the plague of humanity” once and for all. Maybe, we could see the original evil Ice Queen here.
I predict this fall-out will occur–conveniently–right as Anna goes into labor. This fight to save her family will be Elsa’s finest hour. She is the fifth spirit and connects all the elemental spirits literally to humanity. I see Elsa winning this battle, but it ends up costing her life. As Elsa’s spirit moves on, we will see her transfer her powers to Anna’s newborn. All is well, and hope for the future is restored.