With the ability to conjure an enormous ice palace in just seconds, cause an eternal winter, and even create sentient life, Elsa was already an incredibly powered character. But in Frozen 2 the icy queen’s legendary powers are taken to another level when she hears a mysterious voice calling to her and she and Anna go on an epic quest to discover the origin of her magical abilities.
We’ll be explaining all of Elsa’s new powers in Frozen 2, her transformation at the end of the movie, and the secret truth about where her abilities came from. There will, of course, be spoilers for the movie, so take care if you haven’t seen it yet.
Elsa’s Powers Grow
By the end of Frozen, Elsa had learned to control her magical ice abilities and over the next three years her powers mature with her, however, the Ice Queen still harbors questions about the origin of her powers.
As Frozen 2 begins, we find that Elsa still doesn’t feel quite at ease with herself and she loses control occasionally, accidentally freezing objects when she gets distracted and is surprised.
In a similar way to what happened when she was younger, although the amount of ice has grown as Elsa’s powers have become stronger.
Frozen Days of Future Past
What’s distracting Elsa is a mysterious voice that only she can hear. And when one night Elsa decides to answer the call, we see her magic begin to create some new and exciting icy visions.
Frozen 2 director Jennifer Lee has explained that during Elsa’s song “Into The Unknown” the voice is “[showing Elsa] pieces of the past and [also] what her magic could be.” The movie’s animators have also said that “while it’s Elsa’s magic, it seems to be taken over by these icy visions. She’s not necessarily controlling it.”
If you watch the scene carefully, you’ll notice Elsa’s ice magic creates visions of what’s to come later in the movie; such as her parting the mist to the Enchanted Forest; the trees inside the forest; reindeer running around; visions of her young mother and father; encounters with the four spirits; and then Elsa stepping inside Ahtohallan and becoming the Fifth Spirit.
Elsa’s magic together with the voice is giving her a sense of foresight into her future. As Elsa continues her exploration of these new powers, the voice from the north calls to her, creating a sudden burst of crystals over Arendelle.
Elsa sees that inside the crystals are symbols which represent the four elements: Air, Fire, Water, and Earth. These same four symbols also show up on the monoliths at the entrance to the Enchanted Forest.
And it’s inside the forest where Elsa’s powers help her access hidden details about the past.
When the gang are swirled up in a tornado by the wind spirit Gale, Elsa is able to direct powerful blasts of ice that freeze the wind still. And Elsa’s icy blasts are also able to freeze water droplets from the air and re-form them into sculptures of events that happened years ago in the forest.
As Olaf’s theory goes, water retains memory, so Elsa’s ice magic is able to reveal that Elsa and Anna’s parents met each other when they were children in the forest. Once Elsa understands this new power when she discovers the wreck of their parents’ ship, she’s able to extract water droplets that have remained soaked in the wooden panels of the ship and freeze them into a tragic icy vision of what happened to their mother and father.
Elsa’s abilities even extend to conjuring up the voices of their parents just before they died in the storm.
A Bridge To Nature
Inside the forest, we also get to see Elsa’s link to two of the other elemental spirits. When Bruni, the salamander fire spirit, sets the forest trees on fire, it’s Elsa who not only puts out the flames but who is also able to face the fiery little spirit creature and make a connection with him.
Although he burns hot on her hand, she’s able to calm him down with little snowflakes that he loves to feel on his tongue.
He can hear the voice that calls to Elsa and helps guide her north towards it. Frozen 2’s animators have also said that Bruni is “misunderstood” and Elsa can relate to that, as they’ve both had problems with their powers running wild and getting out of control.
Elsa is also connected to the Earth Giants, and when they come roaming near their camp in the forest, she is actually a little more excited than scared. She later explains to Anna that the giant sensed her and came looking for her, proving Elsa’s connection to another of the four elements.
During her time in the forest, Elsa also learns from Honeymaren that there is a fifth spirit, “said to be a bridge between [people] and the magic of nature” and that only Ahtohallan can provide an answer to who or what that fifth spirit is.
Is Elsa Worthy?
To reach Ahtohallan, Elsa must face her most difficult challenge: crossing the extremely dangerous Dark Sea, the same water that took the life of her parents when they tried to sail through it.
Elsa’s confidence and ability to concentrate and focus her powers has grown tremendously by this point and she begins by freezing a huge pathway through the waves with an enormous blast of ice.
The titanic waves are still too much though and they smash the pathway into huge chunks of ice, taking Elsa underwater where she’s confronted by the water spirit, which takes the form of a powerful stallion.
This is a mythical creature from Nordic folklore and is a fierce warrior and guardian that only allows past those it deems worthy of its respect. In the myths, it often tries to drown challengers, which is exactly what it tries to do to Elsa.
However, she eventually proves herself an equal match to the water spirit when she uses a barrage of ice powers to protect herself. And as she does with the wind and fire spirits, Elsa is able to tame the water spirit, this time by creating an icy lasso which she uses to mount the horse.
After she rides the stallion to the frozen river of Ahtohallan, they bow to each other showing that Elsa has earned the respect of this fearsome spirit by proving herself worthy.
The Fifth Spirit
Elsa’s arrival at Ahtohallan symbolically represents her arriving home to embrace her true nature and all of her powers, as the lyrics of her song “Show Yourself” prove: “I’m arriving.. And it feels like I am home.”
As Elsa arrives she lets her hair flow loose out of the constraints of her braid, a moment that recalls how she let her hair down during “Let It Go” in the first movie.
And the feelings of shame and guilt about her powers which she’d repressed as she grew up are now tossed aside as she gleefully runs through the glacier’s tunnels and caverns, leaping across chasms and tossing huge ice columns aside.
When Elsa reaches a cavern with symbols of the four spirits, she uses her magic to bring these together around a four-sided star and symbol of unity and Elsa now is revealed as the Fifth Spirit.
Deep in The Frozen River
After uniting herself in spirit with Ahtohallan, Elsa is now able to read the secret memories of the past contained within the frozen river. She begins to see memories of events from her past including snuggling with her mother, Marshmallow, she shudders at herself singing “Let It Go”, and sees villains like the Duke of Weselton and Hans.
And as she goes deeper into the glacier, she uncovers the shameful treachery of her grandfather when he secretly betrayed and attacked the Northuldra people. As powerful as the Fifth Spirit is, Elsa is still vulnerable, and as the lullaby “All Is Found” warned, Elsa’s guilt at uncovering this dark history of one of her ancestors proves too much.
Elsa literally freezes as she discovers each new piece of the Arendellian deceit until she’s overcome and loses control entirely.
Two Sisters, One Mind
And this is where Elsa’s connection back to Anna proves vital to her eventual survival. Remember that Anna talked about “two sisters, one mind” when playing charades with Elsa and the gang at the beginning of the movie.
Honeymaren also told Elsa that the fifth spirit is a bridge between worlds and as Elsa later points out, a bridge has two sides and Anna is the other side of that bridge. Elsa realizes this and with her powers, she sends a ray of ice magic to the cave where Anna and Olaf are sheltering.
The magic forms a sculpture that tells Anna the truth about their grandfather. It’s only when Anna continues on despite the loss of her sister and Olaf, and destroys the dam, that Arendelle’s wrong against the Northuldra can finally be righted, an act which also liberates and saves Elsa from her icy doom. In fact, Gran Pabbie also foreshadowed that Anna would be needed to save Elsa from her fate.
Elsa’s Final Powers
With Elsa free, we finally get to witness the full extent of her powers as the Fifth Spirit. She’s able to call on the water spirit and ride it at incredible speed to Arendelle, where she throws up an enormous ice wall which has the shapes of the four elements and the fifth spirit on it.
The wall blocks the deluge of water that’s about to engulf the kingdom and then Elsa raises her arms, and with the force of her magic, she blasts the ice wall and turns the water to flow away from Arendelle.
Unlike the moment when the crystals appeared at the end of “Into The Unknown”, this time Elsa is in full control and this new power level calls back to GranPabbie’s words: As the fifth spirit, Elsa has the power to summon all four spirits and this is reflected in the design of her final white dress which has motifs of all of the four elemental symbols. And it’s also represented in the unity necklace that Elsa wears around her neck.
Elsa also seems to have the power of resurrection although her rebirth appears to be a gift from the spirits that reward Anna’s act of heroism in restoring balance to the world by destroying the Arendellian dam.
Given Elsa’s almost goddess-like powers that we see at the end of Frozen 2, it will be fascinating to see how a future story could take these forward. Any potential villains would need to be either particularly powerful or able to strike at some hidden weakness in Elsa, either a new one or something we’ve seen such as her feelings of guilt about the past which caused her to freeze while in Ahtohallan.
Fans of other mythic and epic fictional characters may also compare Elsa’s power levels with Gandalf the White from Lord of the Rings, the Avatar from The Last Airbender and Leeloo from The Fifth Element.
Why Was Elsa Born With Magical Powers?
Ahtohallan may be the source of Elsa’s powers, but a question that I’ve seen from a lot of you is why was Elsa born with magical abilities? The answer seems to be that they are a gift from the spirits.
After fighting broke out between the Arendellians and the Northuldra people, Elsa’s mother Iduna saved Agnarr’s life. As Anna explains to Elsa, because Iduna “saved her enemy, her good deed was rewarded with (a magical daughter).”
And as Elsa learns, the star-shaped symbol she sees in the sky is the same as the pattern on the shawl that Queen Iduna gave Elsa and Anna when they were children, establishing both the sisters and mother’s connection with the four spirits.
So what do you think about Elsa’s new powers in Frozen 2? And do you have any theories or ideas on how she could use them in future Frozen stories?