Frozen 2 explains that Elsa receives her ice powers as a gift from the elemental spirits – why is she the only one in her family bestowed with powers?
Disney’s Frozen 2 delves further into the mythos of the Frozen franchise, exploring the origins of Elsa’s (Idina Menzel) elemental ice powers – but why doesn’t Anna (Kristen Bell) also have them? After Iduna (Evan Rachel Wood), a member of the Northuldra tribe, rescues Agnarr (Alfred Molina), the son of King Runeard, during a battle between the Arendellians and the Northuldra people, the four elemental spirits gift their daughter Elsa with ice magic as a reward for Iduna’s selfless act.
Within Frozen 2, Elsa sets off a journey along with Anna, Kristoff (Jonathan Groff), Olaf (Josh Gad), and Sven through the Enchanted Forest to discover the source of an unknown voice calling to her from a distance. As Elsa encounters different embodiments of the four elemental spirits, including the fire spirit Bruni, the Kelpie Nøkk, the Earth Giants, and the wind spirit “Gale,” she begins to notice that she has a calming influence over these elemental figures. Traveling to Ahtohallan, the mythical river rumored to retain memories from the past, Elsa discovers that her powers were a gift from the spirits, and that she is the reincarnation of the fifth spirit, a mediator between the natural world and human civilization. While Frozen 2 explores the reasons why Elsa herself has magical powers, it doesn’t directly address why Anna and her parents have no magical powers to speak of.
Since Elsa’s powers are a gift from the spirits, Anna’s lack of powers may be attributed to the simple fact that she was born second. When Iduna saved Agnarr during the battle between the two feuding nations, the spirits took note of her courage not only because she risked her own life to save Agnarr, but because he was the son of Northuldra’s enemy. Since Northuldra has a connection to the elemental spirits and Arendelle has a link to the modern world, both nations represent on a microcosmic scale the larger divide between nature and civilization, which the spirits aim to correct. Since the union of Agnarr and Iduna ultimately embodies the balance that could be achieved between civilization and nature, the spirits then blessed their first-born child Elsa with the powers of the fifth spirit to help further that cause. Anna, who had the misfortune of being born second, simply missed out on the spirits’ gift.
With their first-born child Elsa as the recipient of the spirits’ gift, Frozen 2 also answers the alternate question why Agnarr and Iduna don’t have magical powers themselves. Within the mythos of Frozen, the ability to create ice magic isn’t common amongst humans. In Frozen, even Iduna, who grew up with a cultural connection to the elemental spirits as a member of the Northuldra community, was uneasy about Elsa’s unexplainable powers and sought out the rock trolls for advice regarding Elsa’s condition, since only elemental beings have first-hand experience with this type of magic, not humans. While Iduna’s selfless actions were the reason Elsa was bestowed with ice powers to begin with, her daughter received powers instead of her because beings are born with elemental powers in the Frozen universe and don’t acquire them later on in life.
While Elsa’s powers may have been portrayed within Frozen 2 as a gift from the spirits, one could argue that Elsa’s elemental powers were actually a curse on their family. Flashbacks throughout Frozen and Frozen 2 show that Anna and Elsa had a rough childhood filled with fear and isolation, ultimately because of Elsa’s inability to control her powers. Her ice magic is also indirectly the cause of her parents’ deaths since Iduna and Agnarr got caught in a storm when they were traveling to Ahtohallan to discover more information about Elsa’s powers. From a positive perspective, Elsa was born with powers because the spirits wanted to honor Iduna’s actions, but from the opposite viewpoint, the spirits may have given Elsa uncontrollable ice magic as punishment for the actions of Agnarr’s father, King Runeard, who killed the Northuldra leader and built a dam to deplete the Northuldra peoples’ resources.
Since Elsa eventually finds inner peace after discovering that she’s the fifth spirit at the end of Frozen 2, the two viewpoints that Elsa’s powers were either a gift or a curse could ultimately coincide since Elsa’s powers caused both positive and negative outcomes throughout both films.
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