For the past three seasons, ABC's fantasy series Once Upon a Time has made its bread and butter by putting a new twist on a few well-known fairy tales. Classic Disney animated characters like Snow White, Belle from Beauty and the Beast and Hook from Peter Pan have all been central to the ongoing storyline. But in an effort to expand the series' scope, the writers have begun to search for more source material to use.
The Wicked Witch of the West from Wizard of Oz took over from Peter Pan as the main villain this past season, adding an exciting element to the characters' increasingly problematic lives. And now, in what many are saying is a blatant cash grab by Disney, Once Upon a Time is poised to make another big change with a new yet very familiar villain for the first half of its upcoming season 4.
In the last few minutes of the season 3 finale, Elsa, the Snow Queen from Disney's animated hit Frozen, was seen entering the world of Storybrooke after being held captive in Rumpelstiltskin’s vault. Her introduction comes at just the right time as the film has made $1.2 billion at the box office since its release in November 2013 while also winning two Academy Awards for best animated feature and best original song.
But in an interview with THR, executive producers Eddy Kitsis and Adam Horowitz were adamant that their decision to include Elsa in Once Upon a Time came from a place of passion, not money, with an idea they pitched to the studio and network instead of the other way around. Fans of Frozen might also be worried about how the series plans to use Elsa as villain, but Kitsis had this to say about it:
[What] we loved so much about the character of Elsa was that she was considered a villain but she never really was. She was misunderstood. That, on our show, speaks to us so strongly, that it was a toy we had to play with. It’s funny because I see lots of people [saying] "Oh! Did Disney ask them to do this?” It’s quite the opposite. It’s actually quite hard to get these characters on the show. It’s not like you get a call from Mickey Mouse saying, “I want you to sell mermaids this week.” It’s the opposite. It’s very hard to get these. We were very honored that Disney allowed us to take this toy off the shelf and let us play with it.
Meanwhile, Horrowitz confirmed to EW that Elsa won't be the only character from Frozen visiting Storybrooke:
Yeah — we’d be disappointed if Elsa was the only one we saw, but we’re not quite ready yet to tell you who else we may encounter.
For many it may seem too early to adapt Frozen, which is itself an adaptation of the fairytale The Snow Queen by Hans Christian Andersen. But in an industry that has seen multiple versions of Spider-Man and Superman in the last ten years, time doesn't appear to be much of an issue these days. And as fans of the film themselves, along with of course their daughters, Kitsis and Horowitz may be just the right people to do her story justice.
We won't know until the fall what the writers of Once Upon a Time have in store for viewers. For now, the next important step is casting the right actress to play Elsa, which Kitsis and Horowitz say will happen after Memorial Day.
Until then, who do you think should play the Snow Queen? What other characters from Frozen are you hoping will join the series? And most importantly, is it really too soon for the film to be spun off into TV?
Once Upon a Time will return to ABC for season 4 in Fall 2014.