Otherwise Known As: Winter’s Prince, Guardian of Fun, Jolly Rogue
Member of: The Guardians of Childhood, “The Big Four”
Commonly Featured In: Films & Stories
Admittedly, thanks to a recent film portraying him alongside the likes of Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and the Sandman, Jack Frost is not so unknown as he once was but the point remains that before the film itself, Jack Frost was a character that was not commonly associated with Christmas or even much of winter itself.
Though no exact date can be named for when Jack Frost came about, one can say that his story stems from Anglo-Saxon and Norse customs but his actual name likely originates from the story “Little Jack Frost” written and published in 1875 that first depicts Jack Frost as a prankster of sorts that has his fun before being chased off by Dame Nature to make way for spring.
Jack Frost also gained something of a royal heritage of sorts in L. Frank Baum’s novel The Life & Adventures of Santa Claus wherein the then young and still mortal gift-giver was a friend of Jack Frost. Though Claus, as he was then named, does like the mischievous prince, he doesn’t entirely trust him either and begged him to spare off on tormenting the children too much with his games. Jack Frost promised to do so to the best of his ability and continued on with his merriment wherever there was winter.
Jack Frost also gained further notoriety from “The Christmas Song” originally written in 1944. Though but a simple line of Jack Frost nipping at one’s nose, it is but one of many elements of his character that are commonly attributed to the winter sprite.
In films, Jack Frost has gained notoriety as being a misunderstood villain first in the Rankin/Bass television special, “Frosty’s Winter Wonderland” wherein he become jealous of the living snowman and sought to make him a lifeless snowman again. Ironically enough, that story ended not only with the two of them becoming the best of friends but Jack Frost even served as Frosty’s best man at his wedding.
Jack Frost would later get a cameo in another Rankin/Bass production, Frosty & Rudolph’s Christmas in July, before getting his own film and story in 1979. As I’ve already reviewed that particular film, I’ll just continue on further with the rest.
Jack Frost would have a jealous villain motive in the Disney film, The Santa Clause 3: The Escape Clause, which, sadly, did not share the same success as the first film for obvious reasons and led to a slight stain to the name of Jack Frost.
That is, until Dreamwork’s Rise of the Guardians film, which is in truth based on the children’s book series The Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce. Sadly, Jack Frost has yet to make an official appearance in the books themselves but he more than makes up for it in the film itself, becoming such a sensation that he all but took the Internet by storm alongside the likes of three other CGI film sensations to form “The Big Four.”
Heck, in the last year alone Jack Frost has become the de-facto love interest for Elsa from Disney’s Frozen amongst fans. Don’t believe me? As of the time of this posting there are over 5,200 pieces of art on DeviantArt that appear just from typing the two characters’ names in the search bar, and Fanfiction.net currently has 2,300 stories that of the two films in their crossover section.
Jack Frost in the film is only marginally different from his usual interpretations as far as powers and abilities are concerned. Living up to his namesake, Jack Frost’s primary ability has and always will be his ability to create fern frost, the beautiful etchings of frost that often appear on windows. However, contrary to most depictions where Jack Frost can do this by touch or will alone, the DreamWork’s version uses a staff and can fly only by the gentle arms of the North Wind.
Jack’s origin in the film is also… squeaky so to speak… In the novels, the Guardians are all mortal beings gifted with extraordinary powers or abilities but in the film it is heavily insinuated that they were all mortal men and women who had done some great deed that uplifted them beyond mortals. That is to say that their deeds and accomplishments became so great that only those who believed in them could see them and it was by that belief that their prowess grew to even greater heights. However, contrary to most whom either became spirits by their deeds or were born as such from the start, like the film’s villain Pitch Black the Boogeyman, Jack’s origins are… well… To put it simply…
He died and was resurrected by the Man in the Moon to become Jack Frost.
The only real thing that ever bother me between the Jack Frost of the film and the one from myths and old stories was that Jack Frost somehow ended up wearing a blue hoodie. I get that the choice was likely made so that modern kids could associate with him better especially considering how he acts and looks more like a teenager than any of the other Guardians but… Darn it, I actually liked his first outfit more, it gave him a real ethereal wintry spirit look and didn’t look as festive as the Rankin/Bass ones.
Still, whether it is the film version or the one told in stories and song, do I think that Jack Frost should stand alongside the likes of Santa Claus during the Winter Holidays? Yes. Yes, I do. Contrary to most other winter spirits, one of whom I shall discuss next time, Jack Frost represents the fun aspects of winter and his realm doesn’t go beyond the crafting of ice and pranks. True, at times he has played a malevolent role but those are rare and far between the good ones he’s had over the years.
I tell you though, somebody better give Elsa an actual love interest in Frozen 2 before the Internet is overrun… Though, I feel that I should mention that in his first feature film by Rankin/Bass, his love interest happened to be named Elisa…