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Frozen 2 may be Tumblr’s Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons lore come to life

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The surprising connection between the Frozen sequel and a fanfic crossover

frozen 2 fall leaf girl Walt Disney Animation

The first trailer for Frozen 2 not only showed off Elsa pushing her ice powers to the limit — it also revealed a new landscape, bathed in a swath of beautiful fall colors. This simple setting already has fans theorizing what it could mean for the story, however — suggesting that Elsa, Anna, Kristoff, and Sven discover a land where it is eternally autumn, much like how Arendelle was doomed to eternal winter in the first movie (for all of three days or something).

The plot thickens when you look a bit closer at Frozen 2’s poster. The large snowflake in the middle has four distinct diamond crystals, each with its own unique design in the middle. What could this mean? Does this imply that there is one set of magical carving for each kingdom/seasonal power? Is the snowflake’s design more tied to the four elements than it is to the four seasons? Are these intricate carvings (which also appear in a brief shot, suspended in the air) the key to understanding just why Elsa randomly has ice powers when no other human in the kingdom seems to have any type of magic?

If you are Very Online, the idea of the four seasons — just the number four, even — tied to CGI-animated characters might spark some deep-rooted memories of animation fandom crossovers.

Yeah, I’m talking about Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons.

Let’s back up here. What does this have to do with Frozen, might you ask? We’ll get there.

First, we must travel back to before Frozen came out, circa 2012. Merida from Brave, Rapunzel from Tangled, Jack Frost from Rise of the Guardians, and Hiccup from How to Train Your Dragon were the current hot animated characters. People started to ship them together, since they had similar animation styles, and it was easy to create photo manipulations and fan videos of them.

In February 2013, YouTube user Crystal .Erin had the idea of putting all FOUR of them together in one fanmade trailer. Entitled “The Big Four,” the mega-crossover pitch between these animated characters swiftly caught on.

We will recall that this took place right in the swell of “SuperWhoLock”— a huge Tumblr crossover of three popular shows, Supernatural, Doctor Who, and Sherlock — so the time for crossovers was ripe, and everyone wanted to draw and write their favorite characters interacting with their other favorite characters. SuperWhoLock continued to dominate most of Tumblr, but the now-titled Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons fandom occupied a very hefty space in the animation community.

Fan art exploded. Since there were four characters, artists commonly assigned them to motifs of four: four Hogwarts house, four elements, and, yes — four seasons.

The Seasons Alternate Universe (Seasons AU), as it was dubbed, stemmed from fans trying to figure out just how these characters would logically meet. They concluded that the only way to to do was to make the immortal, sort of like how Jack Frost gained his immortality in Rise of the Guardians. Namely, the Man in the Moon blessed notable figures with immortality in order to be guardians of specific timeless traits. Fans decided that each character would turned into a Guardian and assigned a season to represent. Jack, obviously, was winter; Merida was summer; Rapunzel was spring; Hiccup was autumn. This was loosely based on each character’s personality: Merida is brave and fiery; Rapunzel is full of creativity and rebirth; Hiccup is ... well, his assignment has something to do with change (he probably was the leftover).

As the years wore on, more characters joined the Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons pantheon — which, in some circles, became known as the “Rise of the Brave Tangled Frozen Dragons,” to include Elsa and Anna. Some fans started to nix the boys, since Elsa and Anna could take over the other two seasons. At this point, Merida moved from summer to fall, and Rapunzel to summer, since Anna was better suited for spring. Elsa, though, was clearly winter.

Eventually, the Rise of the Brave Tangled Frozen Dragons lost steam. Unlike the fall of SuperWhoLock, which is tied to the disastrous DashCon, Rise of the Brave Tangled Frozen Dragons just sorta ... drifted off. Perhaps it is because more and more CG-animated Disney and DreamWorks movies came out, to the point where stuffing all of them into one giant crossover grew exhausting, and it collapsed under its own sheer volume. Perhaps the shipping discourse grew too heated (Fans fought over Jack Frost, blood, tooth, and nail).

But the fall imagery in the trailer for Frozen 2 rose the sleeping brave-tangled-frozen dragon from its slumber. While those unfamiliar with the fandom can theorize about four seasons or four elements all they want, fans who recall the days of Rise of the Brave Tangled Dragons see this potential plotline as a call to rise once more.

So will Frozen 2 actually deliver on this long-gestating alternate universe idea, and fulfill the dreams of Rise of the Brave Tangled Frozen Dragons fans everywhere? We’ll find out on Nov. 22.