Frozen's icy heroine Elsa struck a chord with LGBTQ fans. Her Let It Go not only won an Oscar for best song, it became a queer anthem for its themes of revealing your true self. The character's sexual orientation has never been officially acknowledged by Disney, and fans had been looking for the confirmation she's lesbian in Frozen 2.
But hopes that Elsa will find a girlfriend have been frozen out, as Frozen 2 misses the chance to be the first Disney Animation movie with an openly gay lead.
We won't reveal anything about the plot of the animated sequel, which opens in the US and UK on Friday and Australia Nov. 28. But if you're spoiler-averse be warned: We're about to discuss something that doesn't happen in the movie.
When Disney released a trailer for Frozen 2 in June -- Pride Month -- it added momentum to the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend movement. Audiences of all ages -- and all sexualities -- deserve to see queer characters they can learn from, admire or emulate, so it's about time Disney opted for broader representation in its films and animated features. Pocahontas, Mulan, Jasmine from Aladdin and Tiara from Princess and the Frog have already proved the value of showing audiences an array of Disney princesses from a variety of backgrounds. Why not a queer princess?
The traditionally conservative Disney is making strides with representation in its recent live-action reboots of animated classics. Disney's first official gay character appeared in the 2017 live-action remake of Beauty and the Beast, in which LeFou (Josh Gad) has a crush on Gaston (Luke Evans) and dances with another man. But it was a subtle moment you could easily miss. That same year actress Tessa Thompson talked about her portrayal of Valkyrie in Taika Waititi's Thor: Ragnarok as a bisexual character, but a sequence that made explicit the character's sexuality was cut from the Marvel movie. We'll probably have to wait for Thor: Love and Thunder in 2021 to see an openly bisexual Valkyrie on the big screen.
Meanwhile, Jack Whitehall is set to play the first major Disney character to be explicitly gay in the upcoming Jungle Cruise, which opens July 2020. But even though it looks Disney is making some slow progress, I keep wondering if Frozen 2 was a missed opportunity. It was the perfect chance to make history with a more inclusive and representative film that would answer the #GiveElsaAGirlfriend plea.
"The focus of the first film is the family and the love of family, and it's the same focus looking at 2," co-director Jennifer Lee told me in a recent interview. "When we are developing the story we say: 'Where are you in your life?' She's got her powers calling to her. She's carrying the weight of her kingdom on her shoulders. She's trying to save her family and her sister, understand who she is, and why she has this power. So we felt that was plenty for her."
From a storyline perspective, Lee's words make sense. The first Frozen not only contains the LGBTQ anthem like Let It Go, it's also a very feminist movie where the princesses don't need a prince to live happily ever after. Frozen is the story of two strong sisters, and it's their relationship that drives the movie.
Frozen 2 relies again on the powerful of the love between Elsa and Anna. It also focuses on their growth as they look forward to different things in life. Ultimately the sequel gives us a completely happy Elsa, finding her own way towards independence and contentment.
Would I have liked to see her share her life with a girlfriend? Yes. But maybe the movie is being even more revolutionary with a female lead that is perfectly happy and complete being alone. And there's always time for romantic dalliances for Elsa in Frozen 3, right?