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So I recently saw the movie Frozen, and got to wondering about Elsa's amazing Ice Powers.

Where exactly did they come from? It's apparent that there's some type of curse from the dialogue between her parents and the Trolls, and possibly that it's an inherited curse from her father's knowledge of how to control it by wearing gloves, but does anything beyond that indicate how Elsa (and possibly the whole family) came to be cursed this way?

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The X-Gene, obviously. –  Michał Politowski Jun 4 at 8:36
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@MichałPolitowski - youtube.com/watch?v=Dach1nPbsY8 –  Richard Jun 5 at 16:48
    
It's inborn, not cursed. –  Nescient Jul 14 at 4:38

3 Answers 3

up vote 38 down vote accepted

In-universe answer:

It seems quite plausible that Elsa is descended from someone who was cursed by ice magic. That power may have transferred down the family line.

As you can see from the image below, the King has access to a book detailing the risks of being hit by ice powers. In this book we see a picture of a man being cured by trolls.

Ice Powers

Given the fine clothes he's wearing (and the royal crest on his tunic) it's quite possible that he is of noble birth and hence, an ancestor of Elsa's.

Assuming some of the 'ice magic' was left in this man's system after being cured, it could explain why one of his descendants was born with those same ice powers.

Out-of-Universe answer:

Screenwriter Jennifer Lee specifically spoke to this point in an interview with Scriptnotes. The origins of Elsa's powers (planetary alignment, predestination, etc) were intentionally obscured in order to simplify the story.

In a nutshell she has powers because she has powers.

Jennifer: And that there’s a connection between them, but yet it’s not in your face, but it’s just something that… — Because what I always loved about, particularly Pixar films for me, was that everything just added up. And everything had a special little, “Oh my god, oh my god, wait, and that, and that!” And it was my favorite thing and we wanted to make kind of every time we had a scene trying to say what is that that’s maximum, why is it here. If there’s anything extraneous we got to get rid of it.

But yet adding all that flavor, so that’s why. But to move onto Elsa, it was an exhausting process coming to the simplicity of her powers. At times we had a narration by a troll, who used to have a Brooklyn accent for no reason other than I miss Brooklyn. You know, no reason. But, we had this whole explanation like when Saturn is in this alignment with such-and-such on the thousandth year a child will be born and blah, blah, blah. And then –

John: Ultimately you almost throw it away with one line. So, the line is just like, “Was she born with the powers or was she cursed?. And it’s born with it and that’s the last piece of it.

Aline: It’s so great.

Jennifer: And that’s it. But I think part of what it was is if anything about us felt like it was like, “Oh, god, like okay, we have to say this,” then we didn’t want to say it. And then also we found the more you explained the more questions you had about magic and the rules. It was like, argh. You know?

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The out of universe detail is nice. Your in-universe answer suggesting remnants of a curse leading to a descendant being born with it is a stretch and doesn't add anything (In fact seems to be debunked by the interview excerpts.) I don't think Tangled serves as precedence, as Rapunzel was actually in-utero when Queen Primrose was treated with the flower and absorbed it's powers directly. –  Mr.Mindor Jun 3 at 21:24
    
The patient in the picture does appear to have Arendelle's crest on his tunic, but is wearing an unadorned helmet not a crown. Seems as likely to just be a soldier or guard as a descendant. Just as plausible explanation to the quick and ready access to the book... King: 'Hey, my daughter has these strange ice powers, maybe I should research them...' –  Mr.Mindor Jun 3 at 21:38
    
@Mr.Mindor - Ah, but we do see the powers transferred, suggesting it's at least a possibility. –  Richard Jun 3 at 22:08
    
When do we see the powers transferred from one person to another? Other than by birth, which is a supposition by evidence that I allow for. Also, while this lends credence to it being an inherited trait, we can't realy determine that they 'cured' the fellow in the picture by this image alone. For all we know, that's an evil Troll who created the curse, and the other trolls are helping his decendents out of a need to atone for their wicked 'cousin''s behavior. –  Zibbobz Jun 4 at 13:10
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That the King immediately knows what to do suggests personal or family experience with someone getting zapped by frosty magic—I'm putting my money on it being a family trait that's skipped a few generations :-) –  Brian Warshaw Jun 4 at 18:28

When they visit the trolls, the Grand Pabbie asks "Born or cursed?" Elsa's dad answers "Born." Aside from this, there is no other reference to how she got her powers. Here's a link to the screenplay. On page 6 is where they visit the trolls.

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Odd, I remember it being a curse from the movie...are you sure that's the final screenplay draft? I'll check it personally when I get home but...my memory must either be foggy, or it must've been changed at some point. –  Zibbobz Jun 3 at 15:01
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It's the final. I've got an 8 year old daughter. I've seen this movie half a thousand times. He says she's born with it. –  MyCodeSucks Jun 3 at 15:03
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Pretty solid credentials. I accept this as fact...unless something else emerges to debunk it. (like, say, a sequel) –  Zibbobz Jun 3 at 15:37
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I was going to chime in as an authority with two young daughters as well, but then for the first time in forever, I decided to just let it go. –  corsiKa Jun 3 at 16:31
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@corsiKa: Bad puns are bad. Put 2 quarters in the bad pun jar, please. –  MyCodeSucks Jun 3 at 16:33

Frozen is cited as being inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen.

However, the link seems pretty loose, and the titular Snow Queen's powers don't seem to have a specified origin beyond simply being her nature.

Furthermore, Elsa's character doesn't really bear any resemblance to the character of the Snow Queen, and in general there is very little similarity between the plots.

As MyCodeSucks points out, the only reference to the power's origin in Frozen is that Elsa was born with it.

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Originally, it was much closer, but it changed a lot in development. –  Bobson Jun 3 at 17:19

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