Stitch Writes About Disney’s “Frozen” Or How Disney Came Up With A Screen Villain That Scared The Fuzzy Blue Fur Outta Stitch
Okay, y’all REALLY, REALLY need to see “Frozen” unspoiled. Do NOT spoil this for yourself. Just watch the movie, have fun and come back here when you’re done.
Here’s the thing about Disney.
Generally, when you watch a Disney ‘toon, you can tell who the villain is from the get-go. You can’t miss the malevolent expression and the Awesome Terrifying Black Dresses of Evilness on Snow White’s Evil Queen Stepmother and Maleficent. You know that especial evil gleam in the eyes of Ursula, Jafar and Captain Hook. Less than five seconds into the Lion King, you know Scar can’t be trusted and when Gaston started rambling on and on about his Glorious Muscles, we were all with Belle is saying “Oh, honey, NO. And NO MEANS NO.”
And seriously, if y’all can’t figure out Frollo in the Hunchback of Notre Dame is a Sick Sadistic Pervy McPerv, watch the movie again. I suggest watching the “Hellfire” sequence - bring your popcorn. Even in Tangled, you know Mother Gothel was the Evil Antagonist Person straight away.
Frozen had none of these kinds of “tells.”
When we first meet Prince Hans, it’s a meet-cute kind of thing with Anna. He’s genuinely friendly and charming and chivalrous and the entire sequence of him and Anna courting and getting to know each other is like a classic staple of old Disney cartoons like Snow White and Sleeping Beauty. I mean, how long did Snow and Aurora know their respective princes anyway? There was a “meet cute” in the forest or by the well, if I remember right, Evil Queens curse our Princesses into Enchanted Sleep, the Princes wake ‘em up and we get the “Happily Ever After” ending, right?
And Anna thinks she knows how this goes. She says “It’s true love” to both Elsa and Kristoff, who are actually the Voices of Reason here. Elsa is the “parental-type” figure who cautions “wait, don’t jump into marriage right away based on a first meeting.” And in conventional fairy-tale storytelling, she’s the one the Handsome Prince will impress with his good heart and win her approval. So you’re thinking, “Yeah, okay, I’m not going against Elsa, but I know where she’s coming from.”
And then Kristoff is actually One of Us. We’re the ones in the audience lulz-ing over the “OMG falling in love already and getting married? In less than a one day meeting complete with the Classic Montage of Courting and Falling in Love and a Theme Song To Go With It?”
And so the Seeds of Doubt are planted. And you’re wondering, holy shit, is Hans going to be the Disney Villain?
But wait - he’s doing all the Right Things. He’s genuinely concerned with the townspeople. He’s standing his ground against the weaselly Duke of Weselton. He goes after Anna without hesitation and does his best to save Elsa.
Even when Elsa’s chained up, he looks genuinely regretful and given that Elsa’s powers go out of control when she’s emotional, you’re thinking that his caution makes sense.
And here we are thinking, hey, maybe there isn’t going to be an actual Disney Villain here other than the Duke of Weselton. Maybe Hans is okay after all. But maybe Anna’s journey will be about realizing that you can’t fall in love and decide to marry a guy in less than a day. Maybe she’ll figure out the difference and will end up with Hans as a dear friend and Kristoff as the Real Love Interest, because it’s Kristoff who makes the real Journey to Adventure with Anna and who she’ll get to know better, nose picking and all.
And then suddenly, there’s that Evil Standard Disney Villain Gleam of Evil in Hans’ eyes and suddenly his words aren’t just “BWAHAHAHAHAHA I was just marrying you to take over your kingdom, loser!”
His first words to Anna, in the Villainous Reveal, are Nobody will ever love you.
And they are vicious and cruel and in the midst of the shock, there is this deep disappointment.
Because Hans didn’t seem like this Evil Guy. There wasn’t a tell. Not a single one. No Weird Costume of Evulz, no Maniacal Laughter, no Disney Villain Gleam of Evil. You actually liked Hans before he revealed himself to be this manipulative sociopath.
And now you’re feeling this with Anna - hurt and betrayed and afraid and so desperately alone.
Now if you’ve seen the movie, you know how this ends. And it’s a great ending. True love isn’t just contained in a kiss between a courting couple. True love is also something between family and the reaffirmation of the relationship between Elsa and Anna is wonderful and absolutely satisfying.
You’ll probably hear commentary about how Elsa herself finds her freedom and acceptance of herself and she gets this done without having to fall in love with someone or having a Prince to “save” her from her “peril.” Elsa is the Queen and she discovers her own strength within herself and that’s AWESOME.
And I do love the fact that Anna and Kristoff’s love story doesn’t end in a fairytale wedding of Happily Ever After. It ends the way a real love story would end - a couple courting, still getting to know each other, falling in love a little more day by day and actually building a relationship together. That’s awesome too.
But let’s go back to Prince Hans.
To me, he’s the scariest Disney Villain, because he is the Bad Guy you won’t see coming. He’s the person you trust, the one who seems so kind and helpful and loving. You let him into your life, into your heart and you think everything is okay, not knowing he’s manipulating you, not knowing he’s leading you into a world of hurt. There’s no tell, no obvious sign that he’s a Bad Guy and the Scary Thing is that’s how it is in Real Life.
In real life, you can’t tell who the Villains are. And for once, Disney actually drops the usual Hamfisted Visual and Storytelling Tells and drives home this valuable lesson. That’s awesome too.
Now in the meantime, I’m just going back into my Blanket Fort and set Fili and Kili on Hans in case he comes calling. Elsa, Anna, Kristoff and the rest of the Frozen gang are welcome to stay though. :)